The Last Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor Is Retiring from the Vermont State Police

Pour one out for ol' P71.

Vermont State Police

The venerable Ford Crown Victoria—the police car for over a generation before production ended in 2011—has finally reached the end of the road at another one of our nation's law enforcement agencies. This week, Vermont State Police announced the retirement of its last active-service Crown Vic, which is headed back into the shop for a thorough refresh before being auctioned off like the maple-scented collector's item it will one day become.

There's no doubt that the newest crop of police cruisers are far more efficient than the hulking Crown Victoria, but there's a certain je ne sais quoi about the old girl. The car's three-decade reign on American roads left its perfect three-box form (not to mention those instantly recognizable headlights) embedded in our national consciousness. It's still a visual shorthand for authority, and its dead-simple powertrain was one of the last bastions of easy serviceability in the automotive world.

But the P71, as the Police Interceptor model is known, is disappearing from speed traps around the country as cars from the final production year age out of service—generally, they have to hang up their steel wheels around 120,000 miles. The photo shared by Vermont State Police on Facebook is as symbolic as they come: the last Panther, at sunset, in autumn. No one ever called the Crown Victoria beautiful, but its straight lines, low hood, and overall demure appearance are aging with an undeniable stateliness.

The wheezy, 4.6-liter V-8 and four-speed automatic transmission haven't aged quite as well, its 250 horsepower looking more dated as the years tick on. While it's hard to imagine a Crown Vic keeping up with a Hellcat, straight-line speed is never what made the Crown Vic the country's default patrol car. Officers prized its airy cabin, surprising ruggedness, and mineshaft of a trunk; stressed-out fleet managers loved that its decades-long production run meant any part you could possibly need was never far from hand. 

Modern cop cars all undergo a few key modifications to the intake, cooling, and electrical systems, but the Crown Victoria offered an inherent toughness that none of its replacements have been able to match. They also happen to look far less cool in police livery than the old Panther.

If you're sad about another piece of automotive history falling into unscrupulous private hands, don't be: Vermont State Police edited the post to add that they've held on to one "late-model" Crown Victoria and another example from 1997 model for posterity.