Saturday, September 04, 2010

Auto Biography - Biggus Vicus

With the new nut covers
Another installment in the Auto Biography series of vehicles I've owned. This one is my Ford Crown Victoria P71 Police Interceptor.

My friend Doug Lucy said it was 
"sphincter tightening" when I followed him 
in the P71
 I bought this car to do two things. First, I needed to civilize my 100 miles round-trip daily commute. It was just too noisy in the Miata, and noise is just too tiring. Second, cars should be either tiny or huge. A Miata, BMW 2002, Alpha Romeo GT Jr., or an MG Midget, all examples of great tiny to small vehicles, but great large vehicles are rarer.

A 7 series BMW would be grand, but for a great inexpensive highway mile consuming car, it's hard to beat a  Crown Vic. And a P71 Police Interceptor is the best Crown Vic you can get.  You can't buy a new one, but you can get a used one. I was lucky to find a 98 with a little over 50K miles.

So, why is a P71 so great? It's got stiff cop suspension, so you can flog it along on a twisty road. External oil, power steering fluid, and transmission coolers. Better, cop differential. High output cop alternator to drive all the lights and computers and stuff. You can disable opening the rear doors from inside to keep your kids from escaping. It's not got great 0-60 acceleration, but 60-130 acceleration is pretty sporty and thrilling. And it will go 130 mph without a complaint.

Kim in the P71 in Gettysburg
Downside is completely numb recirculating ball steering, which makes that flogging it through the twisty bits a bit nerve racking. This is no Miata carving up the canyon roads.

The calming effect the car has on other drivers who might otherwise drive like assholes is remarkable, and something I didn't anticipate when I got the car.  Drivers quail a bit when you come barreling along in a P71. You go blasting down the highway, and people move out of the left lane to let you go by, and generally try to drive like the traffic law abiding citizens that they aren't. You don't get cut off. You don't get tailgated. People use their turn signals. They don't use their horns.

Next to my 89 Vanagon
Last, you cannot get a speeding ticket in this car. Other cops recognize a P71 on sight and at a distance. I have blown past speed traps at high speed many, many times in this car receiving nothing more than a friendly wave from the cop with the radar gun.

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