The Panther Platform

Tate Larsen, Staff Writer

In 2009 my dad bought a 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis to have as a family car. It replaced an old suburban. Now 11 years later the car is still in the driveway, but now it is mine and it has been through a lot, like spring break road trips. The car has also been in an accident. I rear ended a lady back in June of 2019 and then we fixed the car ourselves, so now I have a multicolored 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis. I love that car. Driving a big car is like riding on a cloud as my friend Lucas would say. One reason for the smooth ride is the panther platform.

Ford introduced the Panther Platform in 1979 with a new two-door, four-door sedan or five-door wagon that came in two different levels: the Ford Crown Victoria and the Mercury Grand Marquis. The Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria trim (not part of the panther platform) disappeared after a two-year run in 1955 and 1956. The blue oval dropped the mid-sized Fairlane in 1970 and reintroduced the Crown Victoria name with the full-size panther sedans, some of the most iconic cars ever released. 

The 1979 Vics had two engine choices: a 4.9L (Ford called it a 5.0L) small block V8 with 129 horsepower and a 5.8L with 142 horsepower. One year later in 1980 Lincoln adopted the Panther Platform. The Panther Platform was a body on frame chassis meaning that the body sits right on top of the frame this was very common in the old days of car making but now can only be found in trucks and SUVs.

Throughout the 80s the sedans and coupes had many engine changes mostly not for the better. In 1987 Ford ended production of the two-door coupe. In 1992 the Crown Victoria got a nose lift that made it look similar to a Taurus. Ford also put the iconic 4.6L V8 into their cars that lasted until the end of their run. They also ended the station wagon and the LTD before the 1992 model year. 

The Crown Vic gets a few updated parts from 1992 to 1998 when it adopts the same body as the Mercury Grand Marquis. It also got a power boost to 200-215 horsepower. After the turn of the century in 2003 Ford upgraded the handling of the beefy Panther giving it monotube shocks in the rear and a front crossmember where rack-and-pinion steering were added, and the suspension was redesigned. 

In 2003 Mercury wanted to attract buyers younger than grandpas which led to the coolest Panther, the Mercury Marauder. It weighed on the heavy side at 4,195 pounds putting out 302 ponies, but it’s weight made it somewhat slow. The 18-25 year olds were not interested, and the line lasted two years – 2003-2004. A total of 11,052 were manufactured. 

2003 model year 7,839 Marauders made

328 were blue, making it extremely rare

417 silver

7,094 black

 2004 model year 3,213 Marauders made

980 dark toreador red

997 silver

1,236 black 

There was also a Crown Vic LX sport similar to the Marauder, but it only put out 250 horsepower just like its brother the P71 police interceptor. 

On Sept.15, 2011, the last of 9.6 million Panthers to be produced rolled off the assembly line ready for export to Saudi Arabia bringing an end to the historic 32-year run of the Panther Platform. This did not kill the large following of people it has with hundreds of forums on the internet keeping it alive. 

I am visiting my aunt in Florida over spring break and I have already located a Marauder for sale in Miami and my parents say we can stop and look at it. It is a blue 2003. I do not have the money to buy it, but I can dream.