For decades, Ford’s Panther platform cars have been internet enthusiast darlings. Durable, huge, and historically cheap, these metallic slabs of Americana are rugged, hoonable sedans with just enough powertrain commonality with Mustangs to offer hot rod-ability. While a high-performance variant, the Mercury Marauder, was briefly offered, most fast Crown Victorias are homebrew efforts. Not this one, though. A Bondurant driving school Ford Crown Victoria is up for auction on Bring A Trailer, and it might just be the ultimate Panther platform car.
As reported by Bangshift, Bondurant had 18 of these special, numbered Panthers, although the number 13 was reportedly skipped, presumably for superstitious reasons. This one wears the number 19, meaning it’s the last of the bunch. On each and every one, Roush yanked out the stock boat anchor 16-valve 4.6-liter V8 and dropped in the 320-horsepower 32-valve quad-cam 4.6-liter V8 from a 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra. From there, the front bumper was spliced with that of a 1997 Mustang Cobra, a rear spoiler was fitted, and the cars gained both bucket seats and a wicked set of alloy wheels. On the premise of the motor and coachwork, we’re talking about the same basic ingredients that made up the menacing 2003 to 2004 Mercury Marauder, except a few little additions made these Crown Victorias way cooler.
Oh hey, what’s this? Yep, that’s a Tremec T-45 five-speed manual transmission. Look, the 4R70W four-speed automatic that came in Crown Victorias of this era was smooth, but its wide-set ratios mean that a five-speed manual has real performance benefits in addition to extra engagement. Right behind the shifter sits a console-mounted handbrake, which is a bit surprising because no Crown Victoria came with a handbrake of this sort. That’s because the Bondurant Cobra Vics used Ford Contour center consoles that just about fit atop the tunnel.
Circling back to the powertrain, while Mercury Marauders came with 3.55:1 axle ratios, this special Vic has a 3.73:1 axle ratio. Combine that with the five-speed’s closer ratios, and second gear has an effective ratio 34.9 percent shorter than on a Marauder. Cowabunga it is. Add in a high-capacity radiator, an oil cooler, and a limited-slip differential, and you end up with a powertrain that’s ready to party.
Despite gaining a Watt’s link age for 1998, the Crown Victoria was never much of a handler. However, a few clever tricks should make this boat corner better than you’d expect. The battery has been relocated to the trunk for improved weight distribution, the anti-roll bars are beefier, the Eibach springs are stiffer than stock, and the tires are square 265/40R17 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar summers.
As these party-spec Crown Vics were meant to be hooned on track, each one received a full roll cage, racing harnesses, a dedicated fuel cell, and a halon fire system that might punch a small hole in the ozone layer if it were to go off. There’s also a nifty switch on the dashboard to kill the crude Y2K-era Ford ABS system, and a battery isolation switch. Needless to say, this thing’s pretty much ready to rock.
If there’s one downside to this Bondurant Cobra-swapped Crown Victoria, it’s cost — these cars are exceptionally rare, so this one certainly won’t be cheap. The high bid at the time of writing sits at $27,500, and there are still a few hours left on the auction. Granted, with just 600 miles on the clock and legendary pedigree, this might be worth breaking the piggy bank for.
(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer)
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