Summary: Three decades after the first Crown Vics rolled off of the assembly line, Ford appears to be preparing a big overhaul to the marque. An unlikely source from down under may play an important role in helping to bring a new full sized Ford to the U.S. market.
One of the most well known names in autodom is poised to get its first major overhaul in nearly thirty years. Ford's Crown Victoria, introduced in 1979, has had only minor changes since its introduction, but a new plan by Ford to overhaul the crown jewel of its fleet is apparently in the offing. Thanks to government assistance - Australian to be exact - the new Crown Victoria will be a clean break from the current model and will help to spawn additional models for siblings Mercury and Lincoln. Yes, you may not have considered a Crown Victoria up to this point, but the coming new "Crown Vic" may just change your mind about that.
You have to go back all the way to the late 1970s to when "downsizing" was a term used by the auto industry to describe a shell game where large cars were dropped down a notch in size to sit on a platform slightly smaller than the previous model. Indeed, throughout the 1970s Ford's full size offerings the LTD/Galaxie 500 were huge beasts of burden. By the time the then new Galaxie 500 Crown Victoria was released at the end of the decade, Ford was playing catch up to General Motors who had earlier mastered the whole downsizing strategy.
Initially, the Crown Victoria had a broad appeal for drivers wanting a big car with all of the trappings. As time went buy the car grew less and less desirable as consumer tastes changed, but the Crown Victoria's style did not. As a pursuit, government, or fleet vehicle the Crown Victoria has done very well, but Ford has only made modest improvements to the car over the years. Indeed, America's #2 automaker has invested heavily in trucks, vans, SUVS and select cars, but the Crown Victoria quickly began to show its age. Today's model is terribly outdated and it hasn't had a thorough refreshing in more than a decade, so an overhaul is warranted.
Ford's impetus for change is coming from an unlikely source: a foreign government. According to news sources, Ford's Australian operation has received a $1.4 billion grant from Australia to build a production and research facility that will be used to design and build several new models. One of the Australian cars slated to benefit from this move will be the Ford Falcon, a full sized car that will become the basis of the all-new Crown Victoria.
While some have theorized that the new Crown Victoria will be built in Australia and imported to the U.S., this is unlikely to happen. Instead, Ford will expand the Falcon's production to at least one U.S. plant, make some technical refinements, and sell the car as a Crown Victoria. It will be targeted to police departments and fleet buyers primarily with some residual sales for personal buyers. In addition, the Crown Victoria will spawn a new Mercury Gran Marquis while a slightly stretched and much more elegant version of the car will become the replacement for the current Lincoln Town Car.
Yes, the Crown Victoria is well past its useful age. Thanks to some help from down under, the 2010 model should be a refreshing change. At least Ford hopes you will think so.