The Grand Marquis has been a mainstay of the Mercury lineup for over 30 years, as well as the garages, driveways and car-holes of drivers who want a spacious, comfortable, durable and economical ride. If there were one word to describe this car it would be traditional.
Traditional for those who want a comfortable ride, and traditional for those who want good-ole affordable Rear Wheel Drive V8 power. This car has both. It also offers some suprises for the hoon within.
When you fire up the engine in this vessel, you'll be reminded of the Mustang pedigree that lies under the hood. It has the same single overhead cam 4.6L V8 used in the '96-'98 Mustang GT with about the same power output. For you right-pedal addicts, that means SN95 Mustang like acceleration from this 4-door beast. When I say Mustang-like acceleration, I don't mean from a dead stop, because you'll have to forgive the anchor of weight disadvantage that comes with this Silver Panther. From second gear, the modular V8 pulls quite steadily. I put the 'Precicion Trac' traction control system to some good use during my time with the car. The Silver Panthers that own these cars may never use the feature like I did, but it actually worked well for its intended purposes, cutting engine power and applying ABS only enough to cut the drama out back, but not hinder acceleration much.
Traction Control off, this Grand Monkey is more than happy to deliver smoky burnouts from the right rear wheel (no limited slip here). If you choose to mat the throttle around a corner, you'll be rewarded with a 70's movie car chase-like smoke plume from the rear tire, a bit of nostalgia that hints to this car's 30 year old heritage. The only thing missing from that scene is the flying hubcaps.
Power and stunt driving aside, most people who would buy such a car are going to enjoy its practicality. The interior is leather-clad and comfy. A younger driver like myself will find little use for the inflatable lumbar supports, but the seats are otherwise designed to be satisfying for any person, big or small. The rear seat doesn't have as much leg room you'd think there would be, but none the less it is suitable for sitting 3-wide. Girth is where this interior shines.
Trunk space is unparalelled, with room for plenty of baggage. This car is even equipped with a full size spare that can be put into the tire life rotation once you've burned off the right rear.
I attempted to use the Grand Marquis as practically as possible, so I used it to make a trip to the local Big Box-Mart to pick up a few items. I parked a little further out than usual as I noticed that this parking-lot battleship has its share of war wounds. Whether inflicted by the captain running aground, or by other vessels remains to be seen, so I set anchor off shore to be safe.
Walking through the parking lot on a weekday morning, I couldn't help but notice at least a half-dozen Panther platform-mates to the Grand Marquis (Town Cars and Crown Victorias). While I was driving that day, I passed countless Panther Taxi cabs and Police Cruisers. All of this goes to show the popularity of the cars, and means plenty of spare parts available at cheap prices. The fact that these cars are build solidly with body-on-frame construction and the overall design hasn't changed much over the years, means that you can keep your Grand Marquis, Crown Vic, or Town Car on the road for many years, with not much expense.
Average driving around town will return fuel average fuel mileage of 18mpg, but its the highway where this cruiser shines, delivering an average of 24mpg. This car had 100,000kms on the clock (60,000mi) and felt very solid. Its not uncommon to see these cars go many more hundreds of thousands of kilos as they're build with that in mind. As a car, I don't think you could draw a harder straw in life, than to be Grand Marquis or Crown Vic. Most start their lives as a Police Cruiser, running hard 24hrs a day, then retire to being flogged as a taxi cab for years, until they are mercilessly scavenged for parts.
The Panther triplets should not be overlooked on today's used car lots as they deliver a great combination of practicality, power, comfort and economy at a reasonable price.
Escpecially if the used car lot is an estate sale.