Like the United States Postal Service's Grumman LLV, the Ford Crown Victoria is a disappearing symbol of a time past. From taxi services to police departments, large operators like the California Highway Patrol have been retiring their fleets of the once ubiquitous sedan for years now. Even so, their numbers remain strong through 2023 at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, where hundreds are still in service. But even there, the herd is beginning to thin.
As one of the largest police forces in the country—and the largest sheriff's department—the LASD has been one of the Crown Vic's top users for decades. The department guaranteed it would remain so into the sedan's twilight years with a huge last-minute order of 600 cars in 2011, the final year of production, as accountants reckoned it'd save money in the long run.
Photos of this last big batch survive online, showing hundreds of the cars around the time of their delivery. Surprisingly, the vast majority of these 600 remain in operation today, with 429 still on the roster according to Sergeant David M. Davis of the LASD Fleet Management Unit.
"The Crown Victoria is a rugged and durable platform that has held up great over the years," Sergeant Davis told The Drive, stating that the Crown Victoria remains the top choice with older members of the force.
"Tenured deputies who have driven them for the majority of their patrol careers still prefer them to the Ford Police Interceptor Utility, which is also in use by the Department, while newer deputies seem to prefer the Police Interceptor Utility."
Another factor in the Crown Vic's long rein has been California's hot and dry climate, which doesn't present the rust risk northern climates do. This is also one of the reasons "California cars" of all makes and models are vaunted as some of the healthiest cars for their respective ages. Even so, Crown Vics are reaching the end of the road. It's impossible to say when they'll all be retired, but the department is already hitting a wall when it comes to maintenance.
"The biggest maintenance challenge we have encountered is the growing obsolescence of some mechanical parts that are needed for repairs," Sergeant Davis continued. "The cars vary in mileage which makes it hard to predict exactly how long they will remain in service. Parts availability will also be a factor in how much longer they remain in service."
One day, the Ford Crown Victoria will be taken for its final drive with the LASD, which may be the last big fleet user of the car. That day is within sight for one of its successors, too—the Dodge Charger—which is on track to turn out the lights around the end of the year. A handful may survive in ceremonial roles around the country, but one day the Dodge will go the way of the Ford before it. Even the largest private congregations of Crown Vics face this fate, for all things must end.
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