Cody's Car Talk: The Ford Crown Victoria -- R.I.P. 1979-2011

COURTESY PHOTO

Deputy Steve Hartwell from the Caledonia County Sheriff’s Department is shown with his 2010 Ford Crown Victoria.

BY CODY FACTEAU

Well, the Fat Lady has finally sung. It's over! On Sept. 15, 2011 the last Ford Crown Victoria rolled off the assembly line in one of Ford's Canadian auto plants. On sale for roughly 32 years, the Crown Victoria was a mainstay of the Ford lineup. And, in what can only be described as a double twist of dastardly death, the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada, which also made the Lincoln Town Car, will now be decommissioned and closed by the end of the year. Even in death, the Crown Vic claims yet another unsuspecting victim.

For years, particularly since 2008 when the Crown Vic became the fleet vehicle police mainstay, those who like to drive fast and furious have had to keep a close eye on the rearview to avoid the menacing and often costly glare of this truly ominous car. It is beyond a doubt the end of an era. Even though the Crown Vic was considered a dinosaur, it was simple, durable and rugged and it always had been. You never had to wonder what was under the hood either. The Crown Vic always had a V8, period. Aside from the Lincoln, the Crown Vic was the only rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame sedan left on sale in America. The Crown Vic also rode on the oldest continuously produced platform on sale in America, Ford's tough-as-nails Panther platform that was first used back in 1979.

According to Caledonia County Sheriff's Office Deputy Steven Hartwell, "I'm a big Crown Vic fan. It has lots of room and will just go anywhere." When asked if the Crown Vic had an impact on Deputy Hartwell's job and his solid reputation for nabbing the wayward speeder, his response was "It sure doesn't hurt."

So, what actually killed the Crown Vic? Was it too old and slow to keep up with the modern cars? Was it the shrieks of dismay from unsuspecting motorists that got nailed by their local law enforcement officers? Was its tough-as-nails image hiding a belly full of chicken and biscuits? If you answered 'yes' to any of those, you would be wrong. With the same sagging fuel efficiency of my mom's Chevy Suburban, most law enforcement agencies were opting for lighter, faster and smarter cars.

Not to worry, though. Officers will be offered a host of contemporary options as their new chariots of fire; like the Dodge Charger, the Chevrolet Caprice, the Carbon Motors Carbon E7 and Ford's own replacement, the Taurus Interceptor that has beefed up mechanicals and an EcoBoost V6. Somehow an EcoBoost V6 doesn't sound near as impressive as the Crown Vic's big, strapping V8.

So, if you live in Caledonia County, Vermont and a quick glance in the rearview mirror reveals the flashing lights and signature deadly stare of the Ford Crown Victoria, you might as well hang it up, pull over and take your lumps from Deputy Hartwell. For, the Crown Vic will continue to move quietly in the night, you won't get away without a fight; it will live on and survive, at least for a while longer as the standard that all future police cars are measured by.

A special thanks to the Caledonia County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Michael Bergeron and Deputy Steve Hartwell and his legendary 2010 Ford Crown Victoria.

Cody Facteau is a 15-year old homeschooler from East Burke. He enjoys anything to do with cars, particularly the Classics. He loves Le Mans racing, his favorite TV show is Top Gear (BBC), hobbies are Legos and PlayStation. Career goals? What else, cars!

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