All the stressing and hand-wringing over my paint job was unwarranted. Everything sanded and buffed out just fine, and the car looks pretty damn good. The best compliments I’ve heard so far is that it looks too good- better than a police car should, at least. And that’s better than I hoped for.
So I haven’t bothered bloggering in a while because I’ve been busy. Busy at work: we just finished up the March issue, and busy doing what I like best: driving. Of everything I do with cars, driving is my hands-down favorite. Anyone bothering to read this understands. We work on cars to make them more fun to drive. And while we’re driving, we’re planning what to do next to make the car even better. I’ve put over 1,000 miles on the Vicky in the last two weeks, and they’ve been productive. While I won’t bore you with all my musings, here are some of the highlights…
The car is fun to drive. If you’re interested, go back and read my original two blogs titled Panther Cars are Cool (here). In them, I gushed over a 2008 Grand Marquis rental car. I think I even went so far as to call it one of the best American cars currently made. Well, I’ll probably have to start a new series, “Panther Cars Rule”. My time behind the wheel of the Vicky reinforces my proclamation: these are great cars. The stuff I liked about the Merc is even better in the Vic, and the stuff I didn’t like about the Merc is also better in the Vic. Being police spec, the car has more horsepower and accelerates faster. It also doesn’t try to upshift too early like the Mercury did. Plus, the combination of police springs, stiffest of all the Panthers, and bigger sway bars eliminate any wallowing in corners or over bumps. The brakes work great, too. Though I could smell brake pads after several repeated hard stops, I never experienced any fade nor saw any smoke. Impressive for a 3,900-pound car.
Everything gelled Sunday morning when I gave the Vicky a workout on Mulholland Highway (map). It was exhilarating. An awesome driver I am not, but I had a blast. Yes, this is a big, heavy sedan, but it brakes and corners much better than it should, and that’s where the fun lies. There are probably hundreds of cars that would negotiate The Snake’s twists and turns faster than this, but they probably cost a lot more and you have higher expectations when you’re in the driver’s seat. Driving an EVO, S2000, Z-Car, MX-5, or even a Mustang or a Camaro, you expect good brakes, high cornering speeds, a good power-to-weight ratio, and the ability to get back into that power early on corner exit. But you don’t expect that from a big, heavy sedan. That’s why it was so fun chasing people down in my $1500 big, heavy sedan.
Still, the car needs a few things. First up is the trans. I want it to shift more firmly and quickly. That’s easily done with the J-Mod (see PDF) or a shift kit. But it also does this annoying thunk when accelerating from a stop. Anyone familiar with 4R70W’s, please respond or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to discuss how this transmission works. Second, it needs a limited slip differential. Police cars either came with 3.55:1 gears and a Traction Lok diff, or 3.27:1 on an open diff. I’ve got the latter. I can buy a Traction Lok rear from Ford Racing for about $250, so I may do that and keep my stock ring and pinion to keep things affordable. And third, it needs more power. That goes without saying, right? I’ll be doing some basic bolt-ons soon- a Marauder airbox and Mass Airflow Sensor, ported throttle body, and maybe a new pair of cams and even cylinder heads. The airbox and bigger MAF require reprogramming the ECM. While doing that, I’ll be able to dial in a more aggressive timing curve reprogram the trans to shift harder and at higher rpm’s. Then I’ll really be able to give those sports car guys a run for their money.
The point is that the more you drive your car, the more inspired you will be to make it better. And the better you make it, the more you’ll drive it. It’s a beautiful, but never ending cycle.