Pity the car blogger.
Each morning they stare at a blank template that they’ll need to fill a few times during the day with content that will get ‘engagement’ in the form of likes, comments, and death threats. Thankfully, there are always a few go-to topics that are nearly foolproof for getting clicks. Self-driving car issues? Tesla controversies? Both of these together?
Another somewhat popular blog starter now is the death-of-the-sedan saga. We all know that the ‘crossover’ ate up the sport utility vehicle, which had already devoured the station wagon-killing minivan. Now, this all-things-to-all-people vehicle type has its sights set on what was once the most popular body style of vehicle sold. This growing extinction of the three-box vehicle is likely being hastened by the fact that the remaining sedans available are fastbacks that should really be hatchbacks, most with near-vertical trunk lids the size of library book returns.
Source: Toyota, Honda
Still, sedans have historically been strong sellers since many buyers like the noise isolation from the rear wheels and from cargo like smelly wet golf bags, peat moss, or bodies of gangsters that were about to turn state’s evidence (plus many feel it is more ‘secure’ in a real trunk). This topic came up again a while ago when a reader asked for The Bishop to make a “new” Ford Crown Victoria, something that might appear in Robocop 4 as the basis for a futuristic heavy-duty cop car. I typically don’t create modern car concepts, but this one seemed dumb enough that I had to at least take a look. I mean, I’ve put a total of about 100,000 miles on two different Panthers (don’t ask) and I’ve seen a few episodes of Cop Rock, so I’m quite qualified.
The ‘Panther’ platform Crown Victoria began life as a ‘downsized’ full-sized Ford LTD back in 1979. The basic body-on-frame rear-drive chassis stayed almost the same up until the by-then aero body-clad aluminum-engined final version ceased production over thirty years later, still being used by taxi drivers and law enforcement officers nationwide. Almost all Vickys have been retired by now, and I’ve rarely found a cop that doesn’t miss it. Imagine yourself putting on a bulletproof vest and a belt containing a gun, a club, and God knows what else and then stuffing yourself into a vehicle all day long. Do you want to climb into an Explorer, or cram yourself into a Dodge Charger? No, you want to slide down onto a big living room couch bench seat in a car you can steer with your pinky in total isolation from the pothole-filled streets beneath you and all of the shit rattling around in the trunk (with a horizontal lid, like God intended). That’s how you want to spend thirty or forty hours a week. Cornering prowess? Who cares. I mean, a perp can’t outrun radio, and the morons often drive home anyway.
Obviously, introducing a new sedan by a company that recently decided to end production of anything in that body style would prove problematic. I mean, I do fantasy work but not so far out there as to assume Ford or any Big Three would start a new platform from scratch. Certainly, it would need to be big and indestructible, almost like a truck. Wait a minute…don’t you think that a current Ford F-150 chassis has to be more advanced than the old disco-era Panther? What about the EV Lightning chassis?
source: The Autopian
Making a ‘pickup truck sedan’ is not a new idea. In Brazil they had offered such a thing by company called Tropiclassic.
Some websites like Sketchmonkey have made concept sedan versions of trucks, and in my opinion, they don’t do it particularly well (or the AI shit that’s been roasted before). Typically they get the proportions and details all wrong; they chop the height and leave a giant grille or some other such ham-fisted stuff. I’m hoping they’re doing it as a tongue-in-cheek joke since that’s what the results look like.
Not that our “F-1-Vicky” will be a thing of unparalleled beauty. There is only so much you can do with a truck-based vehicle, but then that’s part of what will work with the “ugly brute” aesthetic. I’m thinking about something akin to the Presidential limo ‘The Beast’:
source: Wikipedia/ Frank Schwitchtenberg
For an actual Ford example which is not truck based but just as imposing, there is the last of the big Lincoln Town Cars from 1976-79 as seen on Schitt’s Creek:
Or, better yet, the Russian limo ZIL. Just look at that thing below. Would you go knock on the window and ask a question without a missile strapped to your back or an M72 LAW rocket on your hip? Fuck no. That will be part of the look we’ll be going for – inspiring fear.
I’ll have to shrink the wheelbase a bit so my dream of using the skateboard chassis as-is didn’t work, but it’s still a very, very similar chassis albeit a bit shorter and sitting closer to the ground (likely requiring a taller floor to clear the batteries). We could use the chassis length as-is on a possible “stretched” model. Still, even chopping a foot or so off of the length of the Lighting truck, this thing will be HUGE. I’m estimating around 221 inches long, or the same length as a full sized cop car from 1974 like this one the City of Mount Prospect was practically giving away:
We’ll add a Crown Victoria style chrome grille in front, but the rest of the aesthetic will be more F-150 than the fastback Aston-Martin nosed things that comprised Ford’s sedan lineup before they were all killed off (and continue to be built in other markets). I mean, you could push and pull a Mach-E shape to this size and proportion but that would be pointless and detrimental to the function. No horizontal six foot long piece of glass for a backlight, no rear doors that sweep down to a few inches tall in back.
However, even though this thing is the size of an old school land yacht, it’s still shorter than a lot of full sized SUVs, and unlike an old seventies LTD this thing would have massive space inside. The interior is so large that you could do what I’ve seen images of some Havana taxi drivers do with their giant old American cars: they add another row of seats inside. This “three row” thing is a bit tight in those, but our Vic interior is big enough to make it work. The rear (and front) seats can slide forward and use some of the trunk space below the fold-down package shelf for jump seats, sort of the like the electric RAM Revolution truck concept. Of course, there’s a giant trunk, plus, don’t forget the frunk for luggage or weapons (for cops OR taxi drivers).
In back, the license plate is in the bumper, leaving a big vertical surface on the trunk lid since as a police or professional car you might want to add graphics or, as a cab, put on a large advertising banner. Oh, and old people could put on a continental spare tire hump.
Inside, the dashboard looks rather similar to the retired Crown Vic, big and slablike. However, that ‘slab’ has a secret: it’s all screens from left to right. This mean that you can configure the thing essentially any way you want or that makes sense for the use of the vehicle. I particularly like the idea since you are so used to seeing these things with screens and displays haphazardly stuck onto brackets on the instrument panel of cabs and cop cars.
For example, there could be a ‘civilian’ setting for the dealership-customized version designed to appeal to old people with a simple gauge cluster in front of the driver, a center stack with simple radio and climate controls, and a screen in front of the passenger that shows and accent panel in any image you want (walnut, brushed metal, etc.).
Here’s the Cab/Uber layout where the right hand side typically can show music playing, driver info, route, and cost. Note that David Tracy is driving to make ends meet on Jason’s tiny island nation since you guys won’t all sign up for memberships. See what you’ve done? Plus, he has to advertise for the only strip club on Jasonia; imagine what it’s like with drunk guys throwing giant Jasonian coins on stage.
Now the Police layout where the screen(s) are used for the purpose of the stuck-on laptops you see now, with a wireless keyboard for either officer to use. Sadly, David didn’t realize that Jasonia has reciprocity with US states like Michigan, with instant web access from the dashboard of the Vic, so he can’t escape his offenses there.
Who would walk into a dealership and buy one of these things? Likely nobody as a personal vehicle, except for a few old people if you add a vinyl roof. Honestly that’s the whole point- a purpose-built vehicle is not meant to appeal to those that don’t need that functionality (the popularity of Jeep Wranglers driven by teenagers to school tends to prove that point wrong). Besides, can you see Starsky and Hutch sliding over the hood of an Expedition? Or DeNiro piloting a Nissan NV cab in Taxi Driver? No, you cannot. Maybe most Americans don’t miss sedans, but some professionals still do, and they might buy this monstrosity.
Just our luck, some Gen Z “influencer” like Kendall Jenner would appear with one of these and this behemoth would suddenly the be next Maybach. Shit, they made a 1979 German Jeep (the G Wagen) an aspirational vehicle, so anything can happen. God help us.
source: Wikipedia/Georges Biard