Yesterday I took a last minute business trip out to Charlotte. I arranged the travel myself since it was so last minute and the easiest way to do it was the all-in-one option at Expedia. When I got to the Dollar Rent a Car, the lady at the desk told me to “have my pick” of any car in the last row of cars. Thanks, nice lady! I said and I was out the door. When I got to the last row of cars, I found out I had just two options:
1) Baby blue Mercury Grand Marquis
2) Dusty gold Ford Crown Victoria
Alone in an airport parking lot in Charlotte, I had a long, hearty laugh. I just kept looking at both of the cars and laughing and laughing. I took off my backpack and put my hands on my knees and kept laughing. I finally got my breath back and knew I had to pick one, but it was really no contest: Crown Vic all the way! The Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis are essentially the same car, but I like Crown Vics better. There’s a lot of history there. I pulled up to the checkout booth and that lady had her own laugh as she told me:
Her: “Look! You didn’t even get the whole car around the curb! Haha!”
Me: “I know, I’m driving a cop car!”
Her: “Nah, our cops drive Chevy Luminas. This right here is Beverly Hills Cop-era.”
But once she got all her laughs out about the bench seats and other oddities and I was out on Wilkinson Road, I got quiet pretty fast. The car drives like a dream! They don’t have V8 engines for nothing. It was a smooth ride and I felt like I was in a yacht. Land Yacht. And 5 minutes later, it started pouring. On the highway heading into downtown (or is it uptown?) I was caught in a sudden, torrential downpour and I was so thankful to be in the Crown Vic. She handled herself just fine. I realized how silly it is to be embarrassed by a car, especially one as useful as a Crown Victoria, the model that’s served many a police department, taxi company, public school or thousands of other organizations. Really, what do we know about style? If a magazine says it’s cool, do we really believe it? Or do we just accept it? Do you need Pauly D or Pitbull to tell you a Crown Vic is cool or can you just see it for yourself? I’d like to think I can define my own style.
So if it’s time to buy a car and you want to save money but don’t see how since you don’t have $12,000 saved for a nice used Corolla, consider these reasons to buy a Crown Victoria:
- Crown Victorias can be purchased at a bargain at police and vehicle auctions. Auctions take place in most cities and towns on a weekly or monthly basis. Most require payment right away, but you can also buy a car for $1,000 or less. Sweet!
- Some of them used to be cop cars. You can really freak people out by driving up behind them really slowly and tailing them for a while.
- Roomier than most college dorm rooms. Compared to my compact car, you can comfortably seat 5 in there, and 6 if you want to take advantage of the bench seating up front. And imagine how much junk food you and your friends can stash in there!
- *BONUS* It’s a buyer’s market in the used Crown Victoria world. I know, we all hear it’s a buyer’s market in real estate and Blinkin has some bad news for us about the reality of that buyer’s market, but not so here! Listed for $2,800? Offer the guy $1,400 and you probably got a deal. I think there was some kind of accidental surplus of production from 1995-2011 (check out this nostalgic article about the last one ever produced) and so it’s always easy to find one for sale.
In short, Crown Vic’s are rugged, last forever and are comfortable. They do get pretty low gas mileage (but no worse than any F-150). I’m glad I got to drive that Crown Vic, it was a much-needed reminder of staying humble and not living to impress people. I do what I want!
What about you, would you drive a Crown Vic or any other manner of unexpected car? What’s your preferred big American sedan?