Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
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|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Also called||Ford Crown Victoria P71|
|Assembly||St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada|
|Body style(s)||4-door sedan|
|Engine(s)||4.6 L Modular V8|
|Wheelbase||114.4 in (2906 mm)|
|Length||1992-94: 212.4 in (5395 mm)|
1995-97: 212.0 in (5385 mm)
|Width||77.8 in (1976 mm)|
|Height||1992-94: 56.7 in (1440 mm)|
1995-97: 56.8 in (1443 mm)
|Fuel capacity||20 US gal (76 L; 17 imp gal)|
|Related||Mercury Grand Marquis|
Lincoln Town Car
|Engine(s)||4.6 L Modular V8|
|Wheelbase||114.7 in (2913 mm)|
|Length||212.0 in (5385 mm)|
|Width||2007 77.3 in (1963 mm)|
1998-2006: 78.2 in (1986 mm)
|Height||1998-2003, 2007-present: 56.8 in (1443 mm)|
2002-04: 58.3 in (1481 mm)
|Fuel capacity||19 US gal (72 L; 16 imp gal)|
|Related||Mercury Grand Marquis|
Lincoln Town Car
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The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (often referred to simply as CVPI or P71) is the law enforcement version of the Ford Crown Victoria. It is one of the most widely-used automobiles in North American law enforcement departments.
Though the name has been officially in use since 1992, the 1978–1991 full-size LTDs and LTD Crown Victorias and 1992 updated body style used the "P72" production code designation for both fleet/taxi and police models. From 1993–1998, the police car models of Crown Victorias were officially known as Crown Victoria P71s. The current generation of the car was introduced in 1998.
Due to the workhorse nature of the vehicle, is also used by many taxi companies. Since Chevrolet dropped the rear-drive Caprice, Ford has had a near-monopoly on the market for police cruisers because of a preference for its conventional rear-wheel drive, V8 power, and body-on-frame construction, all suitable for police driving techniques. As one of the few remaining passenger cars with body-on-frame, it is rugged, and enables inexpensive repairs after minor accidents without the need to straighten the chassis - an important benefit for a car frequently used by police forces for PIT maneuvers (ramming a car to spin it out) - making it preferable to unibody vehicles.
Although the Police Interceptor is not sold to the general public, these cars are widely available on the used car market in the US and Canada once they are no longer needed for law enforcement or fleet duty. When these cars are built they come equipped with a heavy duty transmission, heavy duty brakes,and a 250 hp (190 kW) engine. Used Police Interceptors are normally stripped of any police decals, radio and computer equipment and emergency lights by law enforcement agencies before being sold or auctioned.
The 1998 model year was an upgrade in body styling over the previous 1992–1997 "aero" Crown Victorias. Critics weren't fond of the 1992's solid grille insert (with the blue "Ford" oval) front-end. In the 1993 model year, the Crown Victoria was given a chrome front grille and a reflector strip between the taillights. Another minor restyle followed suit in 1995, with a new grille and taillights. To accommodate the design of the 1995's new taillights, the rear license plate was moved from the bumper to the trunklid, fitted between the taillights. The 1998 police package P71 had a chrome grille, chrome door handle trim, chrome bumper strips and a chrome-trimmed flat black rear fascia with the "Crown Victoria" badge.
The changes made in 1999 included a new "Police Interceptor" insignia on the rear fascia, a chrome-trimmed gloss black rear fascia, black door handle trim, black bumper strips and a gloss black slatted grille.
Midway through 1999 the tail lights were also changed. 1998 and early 1999 models had a separate amber turn signal along the bottom edge of each tail light housing. Starting in mid 1999 the extra bulbs were eliminated and the turn signals returned to the combination stop/turn circuits with red lenses found in many North American cars. Interestingly, although the lenses changed the housings didn't - they still had the chambers for the separate turn signals that early models had. These chambers were now empty, however, leaving a perfect place to install strobe tubes in police cars that would not affect brake or turn signal visibility.
For 2000, the rear fascia and taillights lost the chrome trim and the gloss black grille was dropped in favor of a flat black slatted grille. Further refinements were made in 2001, including removal of all trim on the plastic bumper pieces, and a new honeycomb-style grille, replacing the slat-style grille as is found on previous Crown Victorias and CVPIs.
2003 brought a minor redesign. The interior door panels and seats were freshened, with side-impact airbags becoming an option. The 2001–2006 CVPIs all look the same on the exterior; the way to tell the 2003+ cars from the 2001 and 2002 models is the wheels. The suspension, brakes, steering and frame all were re-designed for the 2003 model year. Because of the new underpinnings, the wheels for the newer cars have a much higher offset. The new wheels look almost flat, compared to the concave wheels on the older model years.
The 2004 to present Police Interceptor is rated for 250 hp (190 kW) because of the addition of a new air intake system. This includes a new airbox that resembles the Mercury Marauder airbox (raised airbox lid, deeper bottom) with an integrated 80 mm (3.1 in) mass air flow (MAF) sensor that is part of the airbox lid. This allows for much more precise flow calibration and reduces the chances of air leakage. P71 zip tube (the flexible rubber hose between the throttle body and MAF outlet) is also used to reduce NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness) as well as transfer air from the airbox to the throttle body with minimal flow resistance.
One can easily spot the 2005 model year from its rear-fender mounted whip antenna on the passenger side. This is the only year that the 1998+ CVPI had an external AM/FM antenna. Previous years and the 2006 model all have the antenna mounted in the rear glass.
Standard on the 2006 is a re-designed instrument cluster which now sports a tachometer, digital odometer with hour meter and trip meter features, as well as cross-compatibility with the civilian version's various features (these are normally locked out, but can be accessed through wiring modification). Kevlar-lined front doors, which might be useful as protective barriers during gun fights, are optional on the Crown Victoria Police Interceptors for the 2006 Model Year.
For 2008, the Crown Victoria is restricted to fleet-only sales, and all Panther platformed cars are now flex-fuel cars. The CVPI receives some interesting new options, such as the ability to have keyless entry. Presumably, this feature was added because of the Chevrolet Impala Police Sedan having had keyless entry as an option since its inception.
For the 2009 model year, the CVPI now has power pedals as standard equipment. Standard equipment across the entire Panther line is side impact airbags, and new federally mandated recessed window switches. No other appreciable changes have been noted yet.
Comparison with the Crown Victoria
There are few notable differences between the Police Interceptor and standard Crown Victoria. Both cars use the same Flex Fuel 4.6L 2V SOHC V8, Ford Modular engine and Ford 4-speed automatic transmission.
Engine and drive train
The Police Interceptor is equipped with an external oil-to-coolant heat exchanger to reduce engine oil temperatures, allowing the vehicles to idle for extended lengths of time without overheating. The engine oil coolers are notorious for seeping oil from the o-ring seals after extensive use.
The Police Interceptor engine calibration are a slightly higher idle speed (approximately 40 rpm higher) and minor changes in the emissions settings. The computer is tuned for more aggressive transmission shift points, and the transmission itself is built for firmer and harder shifts.
The 2006–present Police Interceptors equipped with a 3.55:1 rear axle ratio from the factory are electronically limited to 120 mph (193 km/h) due to the lower driveline-critical vehicle speed, while the Police Interceptors equipped with a 3.27:1 rear axle ratio have generally been limited to approximately 135 mph (217 km/h). This compares to 110 mph (177 km/h) for the "civilian" model.
Ford used an aluminum metal matrix composite driveshaft for the 1993-2005 Police Interceptors as a measure to allow safe operation at over 150 mph (241 km/h), but it was more expensive than the regular aluminum driveshafts. Ford re-introduced the 3.55:1 rear axle ratio in the 2006 model year Police Interceptors, and set the speed limiter at 120 mph (193 km/h) to reduce the risk of driveline failure.
Police Interceptors also have a reinforced frame and body mounts, an aluminum drive shaft (aluminum metal matrix composite for the 1999-early 2001 model years) and an optional limited slip rear differential.
Body and chassis
Another difference is Ford's "severe duty" shock absorbers that offer a stiffer ride than the standard Crown Victoria. They also have black steel wheels with stainless steel or chromed plastic hubcaps.
All Police Interceptors also come with T-409 stainless steel dual exhaust systems without resonators. Standard Crown Victorias come with a stainless steel single exhaust system, while the Handling and Performance Package and LX Sport equipped Crown Victorias have the same exhaust system as the Police Interceptor with the resonators. The resonators further reduce noise, vibration, and harshness without adding any restriction to the exhaust system. Police Interceptors have higher rate coil springs, approximately 0.8 inches (20.3 mm) of additional ground clearance, and thinner rear anti-roll bars than the LX Sport or Handling and Performance Package Crown Victorias; the base Crown Victoria does not have a rear anti-roll bar.
On 2004 and newer models, P71's have a 200 amp (A) alternator and a 78 ampere-hour (Ah) battery.
Ford also offers trunk packages for equipment storage (see below), and as of 2005, has added a fire suppression system to the Police Interceptor.
The bulk of police car modifications, such as installation of emergency lights, sirens, passenger seat dividers and plastic rear bench seats, are offered as aftermarket modifications by third parties.
The front seats have a steel "stab plate" built into the back so that a suspect being transported in the back seat cannot stab the officers in the front seat with a knife or other sharp object. Also, most Police Interceptors have a break in the front "bench seat" despite having the shifter on the steering column. This gap between seats is generally filled by a console holding radios, controls for emergency equipment, large firearms, and often a laptop computer used as a mobile data terminal (MDT). The Police Interceptor also has a calibrated 140 mph (225 km/h) speedometer.
The easiest way to distinguish most P71s is the small "Police Interceptor" badge replacing the standard "Crown Victoria" markings on the rear trunklid, although the Street Appearance Package Police Interceptors forgo the badge, so they used the standard "Crown Victoria" marking. However, the "Police Interceptor" badges are now available for purchase online, so this identifying technique is not as reliable as it once was. The only completely infallible way to identify a "Police Interceptor" is to look for the code "P71" in the VIN.
Police Interceptors will have the characters "P71" as the model code in the VIN, instead of P70 (Stretched wheelbase), P72 (Commercial Heavy Duty / Taxi), P73 (Base), P74 (LX), or P75 (1992 Touring Sedan).
Problems and criticism
Following the criticism of fires following rear-end collisions, 2005 and later model Police Interceptors now come with an optional automatic fire suppression system and special "trunk packs" designed to help prevent trunk contents from piercing the fuel tank in a collision. Each agency must pay an additional $150 for the trunk packs. For a more detailed discussion of the fuel tank leakage concerns that prompted these changes, see Ford Crown Victoria.
There were also some problems with early 2003 Police Interceptors. The newly designed steel wheels would rust prematurely, and the rack and pinion steering units would fail early (sub-10K miles). This was not limited to the Police Interceptor; some 2004 Mercury Marauders were also affected. A recent recall (04M05) affects the steel wheels used on 2003-2005 Police Interceptors.
Another issue with the wheels have been weld points which come loose causing rapid air loss in tires and the potential for loss of control. A recall was issued after investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. However, the company has created anger among civilian owners of 2003+ Police Interceptors by refusing to honor the recall unless the vehicle is still being used in fleet service. The only way this problem can be addressed is if the civilian customer complains to a dealership about air leakage problems, an inability to balance the wheels properly or a "nibble" or excessive vibration in the steering at speed. The issue is then addressed through the "Customer Satisfaction Program" that Ford has initiated for the same wheels.
- Ford Motor Company has announced that it is committed to the law enforcement community and that the CVPI will remain in production well into the future.
- There are rumors that a future replacement for the current CVPI (and the civilian Crown Victoria version) will be a vehicle based on the new Ford Interceptor concept car, due to its similar name and much bigger overall size and engine power.
- The Carbon Motor Company , run by ex-Ford employees, has released details of the E7 prototype car in late 2008 for planned production in 2012. Designed from the ground up for police duties after extensive research with US police departments rather than as a conversion of mainstream cars, it has received considerable publicity.
- Ford Crown Victoria
- Mercury Grand Marquis/Marauder
- Lincoln Town Car
- Ford Panther platform
- Dodge Charger (LX)
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- Ford Crown Victoria (U.S.A.): Police Interceptor | Commercial Version (includes long-wheelbase version)
- Carbon Motors E7 
Unofficial websites and resources