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Thread: New whip: '03 SAP P71

  1. #1
    Member a_d_a_m's Avatar
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    Default New whip: '03 SAP P71

    I realize I probably haven't chronicled all of my cars here, or maybe I have; I don't know. Here's a crosspost from CVN for a car I just grabbed today.


    That old saying, "you can't win them all", well, it was meant for cars like this. Here's the backstory.

    I've wanted to buy a car on GovDeals for a really long time. No idea why. Just really wanted to do it, and see what the experience was like. So, I finally decided to commit to spending less than $1000 on a car (I know, way over the CVN-approved price point) and looked around on GovDeals at the various CVs they had.

    Many were in non-running condition, were K9 cars that were described as quite smelly, or had too much visible and cancerous rust that I decided to pass. I was able to rule out about half of them based on those categories. The others that didn't fall into one of the previous categories, I was able to split into two categories: affordable, and not affordable.

    I then decided to try and find a good combination of low miles, clean interior, and not totally trashed on the outside. This narrowed things down considerably once I factored in the "under $1000" requirement. I ultimately landed on a 2003 SAP P71 near Pittsburgh based on the following pictures:







    Now, the ad mentioned 'some' rusting on the roof and the frame not being able to pass PA inspection without some repair work. But I have 'some' rusting on the roof of my LX, and the frame on it has zero chance of passing inspection on the best of days. Luckily, in Ohio, we don't have to deal with things like safety inspections, because we aren't soft pansies. I figured "hey, this is a 2003 SAP with low miles; whaddya got to lose?!" and let the bid fly. Started out at $500 and it sat there until about 12 hours before the auction ended, right before I was about to go to bed. At that point, some lurp decided to bid it up. Before I knew it, we were at $550!!! Can you believe it?!

    I woke up with only a few hours remaining in the auction with renewed purpose. I decided I was going to stand tall on this bid and risk my standing as a good (?) member of CVN. I was going to bid higher than the approved $600 "CVN Price". I waited until the last minute and threw in a $750 max. Automatic outbid! 30 seconds to go, I threw $760 in. No dice. Finally, in a last act of desperation, at the 10-second mark, I threw $810 at the wall just to see how stupid someone would be to have such a high max bid...only to find out it was me!

    Holy crap! I sprung from my seat, called my dad and told him to free up his schedule for a car rescue mission, and headed off to an eye doctor appointment.

    Slight aside here regarding the eye doctor: They gave me eye drops to dilate my pupils, which made me super dizzy for whatever reason. So I went pretty much straight home and decided to take a nap. I woke up two hours later to several texts from April (ElBlue89 - several of you remember her from STAP 2011) who'd driven down to Cleveland for a concert and decided to deliver some Wisconsin beer and a Christmas card in person. Of course I feel like a schmuck that I missed her because I slept right through the motherfkn doorbell.



    Doesn't the blue LX look like it's worth way more than $200? Yepppp. That's what I drove down to Pittspuke to pick up the '03 SAP.

    We made it down there without incident and the title transfer was flawless. No issues whatsoever. The fleet manager told me he felt that this was the best of the cars they were letting go, and pointed out some of the flaws with the other ones. He claims that this car was given to a lieutenant at the PD first, then turned over to the detective bureau where it accumulated most of its miles and wear. At the end, the police chief drove it for a few months while waiting for his newly-ordered Exploder to show up.

    I was pleased to see clean oil, trans fluid, and coolant; bonus points were given for a relatively fresh battery (10/2017), as well as marks on the valve covers indicating that the timing tensioners and guides had been replaced (confirmed by the fleet manager as I pointed them out). The frame was not nearly as rusted as I was thinking, and will get no attention from me beyond maybe some POR-15. Oh. Damn near brand-new RS-A's, which is both a pro and a con.



    (yes, the gas door closes just fine)

    Sadly, the car was a little further gone than I was expecting in other aspects. Interior is cleanish, but is gonna need a really good scrub to bring back to where I'll be happy with it. The 'some' rust on the roof was actually quite a bit of rust, rust that I'm not sure what I'll do with. Right now, I'm thinking of hitting it with a DA and some 220 grit to see what's left, then hitting it with some Rustoleum gloss black and calling it a day. There are some random dents along both sides of the car that would be consistent with perp slams. The trunk plugs were poorly done and I'm not sure what, if anything, I can do with them to be happy. I may keep an eye out for a trunk lid at the Pull-A-Part, since the lock is FUBAR anyway and only pops with the dash button. Oh, and the cruise doesn't work.



    BUT! The car drives super tight along the highway and around town. It cruises really nicely at 85. The brake pedal feels awesome. It has a 3.27LSD rear end and the car really hauls ass on the highway compared to the '04 LX. The AM/FM/tape head unit sounds way better than it has any business to (seriously - it sounds aftermarket).

    Oh, by the way, it only has 66k miles.



    Now, cue the Price Is Right losing horns...we drove 160 miles without incident. We switched cars about halfway, so dad was driving the '03. We both went to pass a slow-moving semi on a two-lane blacktop when the check engine light flashed a few times, then went completely out. The car started huckle-bucking. Of course, it's a misfire. Since the light stayed out, I told dad to just go easy on it and we'd finish the remaining 10 miles to his house, where the car will be staying until I have it dependable.

    Upon arrival at his house, it was throwing the ubiquitous P1000 code (shocker) as well as a P0316 (misfire on startup) and P0301 (misfire cylinder #1). First thing I did was pull the coil and plug. No wear on the coil, but this was definitely an original plug and it didn't look pretty. I decided to do the ol' swap trick, and switch #1 coil/plug with #2. Both plugs were worn evenly, and gapped way too much. I brought them back into spec and reinstalled.

    Test drive produced no CEL but still the same herky-jerk motion under certain throttle conditions. We drove it to dinner, and while it didn't get better, it didn't get any worse and still produced no CEL. After an hour, we headed back to my dad's house and it felt better. The fact that the car drives fine when it's not warm seems to be pointing toward a failed intake manifold (possibly busted when dad floored it to make that highway pass?) and not a failed spark plug situation, but I will continue to monitor and see if the misfire moves to cylinder #2.

    So yeah. Sort of a bust, but I'm gonna try to turn it into a win.

    Go ahead and rip on me for buying a total POS vomit comet below.
    Last edited by a_d_a_m; 12-06-2019 at 09:10 PM.
    '91 LTD Country Squire LX | '04 CVLX ($200 winter beater) | '03 SAP P71 | '03 Marauder

    formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 w/5-speed

  2. #2
    Member a_d_a_m's Avatar
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    For the tl;dr crowd...

    PROS:
    -66k miles
    -timing chains/tensioners were replaced
    -new LCM (forgot to mention that)
    -new alternator (forgot to mention that, too)
    -newish battery
    -drives very tight
    -3.27 LSD
    -unmarked car
    -brand new RS-A's

    CONS:
    -misfire that didn't occur until 160ish miles into the trip home
    -roof rust
    -bad plug job on the trunk
    -interior needs a good scrub
    -paid more than $600
    -cruisy no worky
    -although the RS-A's are new, they're still RS-A's
    '91 LTD Country Squire LX | '04 CVLX ($200 winter beater) | '03 SAP P71 | '03 Marauder

    formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 w/5-speed

  3. #3
    Hobbit
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    Nice score. I am amazed you still got Panther fever after all these years.

  4. #4
    Member EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    Looks like a great deal if you ask me.
    2007 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport

  5. #5
    Member a_d_a_m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bean View Post
    Nice score. I am amazed you still got Panther fever after all these years.
    I'm not sure why you would be amazed. I'm a big guy, and I hate working on cars unless it's to make them cooler/more fun to drive. A large, dependable, and reasonably efficient car is right up my alley. Panthers fit the criteria just fine! Plus, I've met a lot of great people because of this car platform, so nostalgia is obviously a factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by EaOutlaw1969 View Post
    Looks like a great deal if you ask me.
    I mean...I was super happy prior to the misfire.
    '91 LTD Country Squire LX | '04 CVLX ($200 winter beater) | '03 SAP P71 | '03 Marauder

    formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 w/5-speed

  6. #6
    Wagon Addicted Tiggie's Avatar
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    I’d bite too. Congrats on the new purchase.
    1988 Crown Vic Wagon - daily
    1990 Country Squire - weekend cruiser, former lawn ornament
    Other: 95 Ranger, 74 F250, 68 Mustang, 94 Mustang
    Sold: 1982 LTD and 1987 Crown Vic

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  7. #7
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a_d_a_m View Post
    I'm a big guy, and I hate working on cars unless it's to make them cooler/more fun to drive. A large, dependable, and reasonably efficient car is right up my alley.
    It was the included seat belt extender that made you do it? J/K


    I read it all. Good story. Memories.

    I dont know how bad the rust looks like but 220 is not very aggressive at all for rust. Again, depends on what type of rust we are talking about.

    The car looks nice from the pics. Sort out the issues and it may serve you well for cheap.
    ~David~

    My 1987 Crown Victoria Coupe: The Brown Blob
    My 2004 Mercedes Benz E320:The Benz

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

  8. #8
    Member EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    [QUOTE= I mean...I was super happy prior to the misfire.[/QUOTE]

    Not sure what else you expect for such a great buy. sounds like anything that needs to be repaired can be done cheap and easy.
    2007 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport

  9. #9
    Member a_d_a_m's Avatar
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    Oh for sure. Even if the misfire ends up being an intake, I think the car is far and away a decent buy with the low mileage, engine repair, and newer alternator/tires.


    Quote Originally Posted by 87gtVIC View Post
    It was the included seat belt extender that made you do it?
    Ha! I mean, I may keep it around for whenever I eat too much at dinner. That extra room might be necessary!
    '91 LTD Country Squire LX | '04 CVLX ($200 winter beater) | '03 SAP P71 | '03 Marauder

    formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 w/5-speed

  10. #10
    Member a_d_a_m's Avatar
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    Proof of low mileage:


    (unless it rolled over!)
    '91 LTD Country Squire LX | '04 CVLX ($200 winter beater) | '03 SAP P71 | '03 Marauder

    formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 w/5-speed

  11. #11
    I post a lot...
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    Well if it rolled over that might explain the roof damage.

    Nice find BTW.
    "X" car 89 Colony Park LS Mods>Engine delete, SS duals magnaflow hflow cats, 2010 Must GT mufflers, auto air shocks, Posi, Tran cooler, big front brakes, 03+ rear disks, Large 3g alt, Tripminder, GS grill, 86 seats, 16" HPP wheels, winter boots=96 Cartier wheels, 215-65/16 Goodyear ULTRA GW3 snows, pi rear sway, alum driveshaft.
    03 Marauder DBP, HS, 6disk, Organizer, Silver Stars, M&Z rear control arms, Oil deflector.
    02 SL500 Silver Arrow
    08 TC Signature Limited, HID's Mods>235/55-17 Z rated Cooper Zeon RS3-A, Addco 1" rear Sway, Posi, Compustar Remote Start, floor liners, trunk organizer, Winter=05 Mustang GT rims, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R-2 235/55-17

  12. #12
    Member a_d_a_m's Avatar
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    I thought about actually rolling the car over and letting the roof skid along the pavement to sand the rust off...
    '91 LTD Country Squire LX | '04 CVLX ($200 winter beater) | '03 SAP P71 | '03 Marauder

    formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 w/5-speed

  13. #13
    I post a lot...
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    Thinking outside the box... or aero... or whale
    "X" car 89 Colony Park LS Mods>Engine delete, SS duals magnaflow hflow cats, 2010 Must GT mufflers, auto air shocks, Posi, Tran cooler, big front brakes, 03+ rear disks, Large 3g alt, Tripminder, GS grill, 86 seats, 16" HPP wheels, winter boots=96 Cartier wheels, 215-65/16 Goodyear ULTRA GW3 snows, pi rear sway, alum driveshaft.
    03 Marauder DBP, HS, 6disk, Organizer, Silver Stars, M&Z rear control arms, Oil deflector.
    02 SL500 Silver Arrow
    08 TC Signature Limited, HID's Mods>235/55-17 Z rated Cooper Zeon RS3-A, Addco 1" rear Sway, Posi, Compustar Remote Start, floor liners, trunk organizer, Winter=05 Mustang GT rims, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R-2 235/55-17

  14. #14
    Member a_d_a_m's Avatar
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    Oh whale!
    '91 LTD Country Squire LX | '04 CVLX ($200 winter beater) | '03 SAP P71 | '03 Marauder

    formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 w/5-speed

  15. #15
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    This isn't punny.
    ~David~

    My 1987 Crown Victoria Coupe: The Brown Blob
    My 2004 Mercedes Benz E320:The Benz

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

  16. #16
    fomoco panthers !
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    Actually a pretty nice car since you are in the East. As long as the rust isn't in the A pillars, it is workable. Many of those car with double or triple the miles sell for what you paid. You can get your money out of it easy. Good deal.

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