For years before production ended, the Panther rear-wheel drive cars at Ford simply became fleet vehicles. Ford Crown Victorias for police and taxi cab duty, Lincoln Town Cars for black car livery and the few thousand Mercury Grand Marquis’ for who knows what. That has come to an end though, and Ford doesn’t want to lose any business.
To combat Chevrolet’s primary entrant into the police vehicle market (the Caprice PPV), Ford introduced a set of heavily modified Interceptor models based on Taurus and Explorer. One of the advantages of the Panther cars was their body-on-frame design.
BOF enables accidents to be fixed easier and more cost effectively. Ford says it has answers to that problem, and the new models are up to the task though. The California Highway Patrol recently completed a series of tests to select a replacement for its ubiquitous Crown Vics. Testing was done by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Michigan State Police. The interesting part though is that the Taurus wasn’t considered.
That is thanks to CHP standards that required a payload capacity of about 1,700 pounds – four officers and all of their equipment. So, the two models that were in the running were the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor and the Chevrolet Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle. In the end, the Explorer Interceptor got the nod thanks to its better performance, as well as lower cost. Given that CHP approval is what allows local departments to purchase though, a few Taurus Interceptor sedans will be bought as well. This will enable local departments who don’t need the capability of the Explorer to opt for the Taurus ins tea.
The contract awarded to Ford is over a two-year period and includes the sale of 1,800 Explorers. It’s an interesting choice, given that the primary CHP vehicles will now be crossovers. That has to have an impact on fuel economy, as well as maneuverability – not performance though as the Explorer has the Crown Vic beat. These guys know what they are doing though, so congratulations to Ford on the contract. So far Ford appears to be winning the sales race for next-generation police vehicles around the country.