I haven’t owned the Killer Queen for a full year, and she’s been through a detonated rear axle, an unfortunate encounter with a flatbed trailer on Seattle’s streets, and multiple suspension component replacements. As far as I’m concerned, it’s been an adventurous 2018.
Purchased in February 2018 with 100,000 miles on the odometer, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office 2010 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor had previously been in the hands of a second owner after it was auctioned off from police service.
That owner replaced the engine with one from a Seattle Police Department 2010 CVPI, as well as the ABS sensors. The engine had 25,000 less miles than the chassis. I did my usual due-diligence — had the transmission and engine oil flushed and replaced.
The first problem manifested three months after purchase. The car began running in limp mode, and the Chevy of Everett service shop, which does general service on all makes, initially diagnosed it at the EVAP Purge Valve.
I replaced the component, and the problem persisted. They traced it to a wiring issue with the ECM. It was simply not sending any signals to the purge valve. I contacted the previous owner who still had the ECM from the Seattle PD car, and purchased it from him.
The original ECM had the car’s options, which included traction control. The replacement did not. I made long term plans to purchase a brand new ECM directly from Ford and have a dealership swap it in.
Somewhere around this time, I went to the Oppo cruise at Mt. St. Helens. Many lessons were had that day on coordination. :P
Of course, other mechanical issues would conspire to delay my plans.
I took the Queen to a Moses Lake-area farm as part of a business trip for my previous employer, which specialized in producing cheese treats for dogs. After that, I traveled to Idaho to visit my grandmother, who was in hospice care after being injured in an accident.
About a week later, a routine oil change was done. I had plans to visit Murphy’s Auction in Kenmore, and when I set off from home on that same day, the ABS sensor light came on. I thought nothing of it. At the time, I also had plans to have the rear axle flushed.
It was the sensor being fouled by axle fluid. It wasn’t until after I arrived at Kenmore that my friend, who is also a CVPI enthusiast, jacked my car up and took a look at the wheels, and found the cause.
The right rear axle was in the process of destroying itself. I drove it gingerly 20 miles back to Everett, and pulled straight into the Chevy of Everett shop. This was the carnage they found.
The damage had been done. The entire axle assembly had to go, due to the shaft housing riding on the right axle. The bearing had destroyed itself. The car was in the shop for a week, and I approved the purchase of a remanufactured axle from O’Reilly’s.
With the new axle back in the car, the year was mostly uneventful with my focus on improving the cosmetics of the car. A new nameplate decal on the back, and did an experimental repaint of the pushbars.
I also made plans to refresh the suspension. At the next service, in October, I had them replace the tie rods, installed new winter tires, and set off to Seattle for my hearing aid service.
I didn’t expect to be spending a lot of money on the car in the wake of a $75 appointment.
As I was pulling out of parallel parking, I spotted a Chevrolet Tahoe passing me. I stopped just in time to avoid hitting it, but did not see the trailer until the last instant. I braced, and the damage was done. The left front tie rod was snapped, the alignment was trashed, and the fender, header panel, bumper frame, and bumper cover were destroyed. It was towed to a body shop Chevy of Everett recommended.
Insurance wrote off the car and offered me a settlement check. I kept the car and a reduced payout, which I used to cover the expenses that would ensue. Ironically, the value of the payout was greater than the price I paid for the car.
Where most would have been happy to send this car off to the salvage auction, I wasn’t about to give up on Killer Queen.
Special Interest Auto Body helped me immensely. They were able to get my car up onto jackstands so I could swap out the destroyed tie rods with a set that I’d picked up at the local Pep Boys.
After that was done, I set about getting the damaged bumper cover and bumper assembly off the Queen. The body shop then put it on the frame rack and worked their magic.
The front of the frame was off by only 5mm. It was impossible to determine if this was caused by the accident or by police service. Supporting the latter theory was the front crossmember having some bent metal where the bumper frame mounted to.
The Setina push bumper was mounted to both the frame and the bumper frame. In a PIT maneuver during a pursuit, the amount of force that typically gets applied would likely cause this kind of damage.
While I waited for the shop to finish their work on the frame, I shopped in Pierce County for replacement parts. Found a header panel and a bumper frame off of an ‘01 and an ‘06, respectively. Days later, a club member tipped me off to a $500 CVPI that was for sale in Federal Way with 200,000 miles and a slipping transmission.
This car became the donor for the replacement body panels, as well as all radiator components. Once the shop was done with my car and had straightened the frame, I reinstalled the bumper assembly and prepared it for the drive down to Auburn. This required a stop over at Chevy of Everett to have the car fully inspected for any necessary mechanical work. They also installed the radiator and crossmember I delivered.
The upper control arms were replaced, and the car realigned.
In Auburn, where my CVPI enthusiast friend had put the donor car in his front yard, we got to work on pulling the old header panel and fender, along with the core support. The goal was to just get the car roadworthy.
Of course, the header panel had a big fat white spot where all the paint had somehow been chipped off. The panel I’d picked up from the junkyard will be replacing it in the future. Also, my friend, who is an electrician by trade, installed the wiring for my new fog lights.
With this task done, the Killer Queen was roadworthy again. But I still had to deal with the lingering effects of the accident. The car had developed some behaviors that I wasn’t quite accustomed to. It wanted to wander the road a little bit at highway speeds.
So for the month of December, and the oil change that came with it, I had the front hubs (which I’d purchased shortly after the accident) replaced, and the bushings inspected very closely. They determined that the front lower control arms’ rear bushings were due for a swap, and I ordered a set of Moog heavy duties from RockAuto for overnight shipping. It arrived after Christmas.
The bushings were put in today, and an alignment administered once more. She drives a bit better now.
Currently, Killer Queen is awaiting the day I have enough money to fully restore the body. The game plan is to replace the header panel and fender with excellent-condition or like-new parts, the latter of which I will likely order directly from Ford.
And then I’ll have the entire car’s body fixed up and repainted. Unfortunately, due to my income, I have my doubts that I will be able to get her restored in time for Radwood Seattle in July 2019. I will need to prioritize getting the ECM replaced, as well as deal any electronic issues that may arise from that.
Maybe 2020 will be the Year of the Queen. When she’s fully restored, I will be changing out the nameplate on the back for one that says “Excelsior” where Drive Free or Die is.
P.S. I still have the original bumper assembly. Thinking about cutting off the damaged part of the bumper, and mounting it like a trophy on a piece of mahogany to hang on the wall. The plaque plate will say “November 2018 - Killer Queen”.