Crown Vic the king of the mountain?

| 8/5/2003

Used police cars popular among residents in Appalachia are causing so many drivers to tap their brakes that they have earned a nickname from truckers: “Hillbilly Cadillacs,” The Associated Press reported recently.

The cars, mostly Crown Victorias, can sell for as little as $2,000 at auctions. The news service said the market in Magoffin County, KY, near the West Virginia border, is flooded with the used police vehicles. Economic difficulties in the region have accelerated the demand for the relatively inexpensive cars.

And that’s a concern for some. A number of officials across the country have raised concerns about the Crown Victorias, centered on the car’s fuel tank and the likelihood, they say, that it will leak and possible lead to a fire in a rear-end collision. Ford, the car’s maker, has disputed the safety concern.

Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Newton was in a Crown Victoria during a traffic stop when his vehicle was struck from behind by a small straight truck, triggering a fire that killed the trooper. It is one of several law-enforcement accidents related to the alleged defect in the cars.