The Story of my Panther

This was my 2001 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. I bought her a year and a half ago for $2200. When I bought her, it was never my intention to keep her for long. We were deploying in three and a half months, but Kansas is big and few of my friends who lived in the barracks had cars, so I decided to buy a beater for the summer and for right after we got back from Afghanistan.

I remember the day I test drove her. It felt enormous, like I was taking up the whole road. But man, that 4.6 roared and the car seemed so right. Sure, she had hail dents, the rear bumper was cracked, and there were a couple marking left from her time in service, but she was a short term beater, and I was fine with that. Oh and the AC didn't work. But, it was my first V8. I quickly learned the hard way about how mpg actually matters when you're on a budget.

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Anyway, as the weeks rolled on, problems began to arise. The first, and this one I spotted on day one, was the tires. Oh man were those Goodyears close to being bald. But I said "Meh, it's barely rained since I got here. Shouldn't have any issue." And then I did. One weekend when I went to go pick up a friend, a shower had just rolled through and the roads were oily. Going up a banking hill, I lost grip but managed to quickly recover the car. Had I not, I would have ended up in a ditch or a tree. My hands were shaking the rest of that drive. On the way back, the rain picked up again. Annoyingly, the driver's side wiper was dull.

The second problem rolled in a week later. Going to pick up the same friend to grab a bite to eat, the car overheated- and he changed his mind while I was on my way over. Fuck! I carefully got her to a repair garage, where they went to work. It turns out, just about all the plastic parts in the cooling system had cracked. That hurt my wallet and my pride. I was driving the car pretty hard. Eight hundred dollars later, she was good to go- or so I thought. The only good to come from that was that it broke during Le Mans weekend, so I had no excuse to miss the race!

Her final two problems both happened around the same time, in late July. She began to not start and was taking a little longer to change into third or maybe fourth compared to before. Like it was skipping or something. I let those two issues carry on because there was no point to fixing them. In just a few weeks I'd be on a 747 going overseas. I put the car in storage the day before we left. Oh somewhere in that time frame I returned from leave to find my driver's side front flat. I couldn't help but laugh. Quickly got some air back into it and drove on. Decided to go without the plastic covers from that day on too.

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Fast forward to mid-April. We arrived back from Afghanistan, with that deployment money. Time to go pick up that stupid fucking piece of shit gas guzzling bitch. A quick adjustment to the idle and she's running. Oh how nice it was to hear an American V8 again. I drove it for another week before I began hunting for a new car. Frustrated with the small loan I received, I found the Mazda6 I drive now. Maybe it was just the fact that I was driving something made more recent than 2001, or the fact that it's actually a pretty nice car, but I was set on it. After some negotiations, I was set on it. The Crown Vic would be traded in for $1,000. I walked back to the car, knowing I'd only have a few more days with her.

I spent the last few days driving her gently, making sure I had all four keys and that all of my stuff was out of the spacious trunk. Then came the day to pick up the Mazda. After a small burnout, I made my way to the dealership. I said a quick goodbye and shut off the car.

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Am I writing this with buyer's remorse? No. I'm enjoying the Mazda6, working AC, and less trips to the gas station while still having fun driving. I'm just left wondering. Had I kept her, how much money would I have poured into making her a strong running car again? And after that, how much more to make her a badass Panther?

At the time of writing this, she's for sale at the dealership I traded her into. Annoyingly however, for $2,800.

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