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dannyzabolotny Reader
9/3/17 10:11 p.m.

Little by little this car will be clean, and you'll feel a lot better driving it. And you think the heat is bad there? I pushed a Porsche 944S around my backyard in 102º heat, and I've gone junkyard hunting in 110º heat. This is the norm here in Arizona. Somehow I haven't burned to a crisp in the three years I've lived here... I attribute that to genetics and copious amounts of spray-on sunscreen.

Gunchsta Reader
9/3/17 10:24 p.m.

From what I recall all the cars have the rear sway bar mounts/provisions on the rear axle, so you can just grab the bar and the apropos hardware and bolt it on.

This thing is going to be spotless when you're done with it!

pheo New Reader
9/4/17 11:49 a.m.

@clemsparks -- I may get it (rotor) if its still there.

@dannyzabolotny, omg! I used to be better about the heat, but even then I didn't like it. You are tough or determined to go out in heat like that. I was sweating just getting the barn organized this morning and getting Gerti in there. Our humidity is up right now too so that does not help.

LOL, I wished it would be spotless! Its smells much nicer inside. It still had an old slightly dirty smell until I got the trunk clean. This morning it was completely different. It is still drying, I can see spots of water here and there, I'm not going to towel dry it. This afternoon I will plug the holes backup and stick the carpet in.

Yeah I realized that the sway bars were the same when I looked under there. I found a large dia. one for the front. If it is still there I plan to grab it and the rear sway bars next trip. I think I will be better organized and be able to get more done the next time.

You would think you just grab your tool box and go, but there is more to it, you have to think about how to haul the stuff etc. One reason Bev sat in the truck was for the a/c and the other was to make sure the tires were still there when I got back.

pheo New Reader
9/4/17 1:01 p.m.

So here is the question. The title sort of gives a hint, this is an "Accidental" project. My first goal is to get it safe / street legal, but then what? Do I get big sway bars right off the bat? Or do I try an autocross (my first) in a completely stock Grand Marquis GS on mismatched all season radials?

That actually appeals, its bound to get some laughs as I slide, almost in control, slowly around the cones. I know the time will be horrible, but being my first time I really would not want a car way beyond my abilities.

Or do I keep the stock springs so the street ride is nice, add the big sway bars to control body roll and try to get a slightly better time, but still be kinda funny that I am autocrossing a barge.

Or do I add the cop springs, sway bars and see what it can really do the first time out? Maybe even find some sticky tires. I have been reading up on Panthers and see some comments where the cop springs are harsh for a daily.

Note, my sons 92 Miata is sitting there and he has said I should take to an autocross event. If he doesn't get it and one comes up, that might be what I do. Its a happy, capable car and handles really nice.


ClemSparks PowerDork
9/4/17 8:22 p.m.

My first thoughts would be: Focus on the items you'll need to pass technical inspection (Make sure the battery is held down properly, brakes, wheel studs, etc) for the group you'll be autocrossing with. I'd recommend showing up in what you have. No use "building" a car for a sport you haven't tried yet. If you get hooked (and it's likely) you can always start adding springs, bars, tires, etc.

And when you are ready to start adding parts, I can tell you this:

I daily drive an '03 P71 (slightly different chassis/steering/suspension than your car...but close enough) and can say that I can't imagine anyone thinking the P71 springs are "harsh." This car is comfy...but still an entertaining drive on the twisty state highways.

Stiff springs and heavy cars go together like Cocaine and Waffles

Shake and Bake!

pheo New Reader
9/8/17 6:52 p.m.

Sorry for the edits.

Third time to the Pick-n-Pull I think I got it right. AND I got that blanky-blank hubcap. Now I have a set of 4!

I also snagged a front 28.5 mm sway bar from a '99 Crown Vic to replace the 27 mm sway bar that was clanking, unconnected, in the suspension. I know its impossible to tell in the picture, but it measures bigger.

I pulled the rear sway bar off the same '99 Crown Vic. It measures 21 mm. So the handling should be much better. I couldn't get the springs and I haddn't measured mine any way to find out if these were the ones I need. It wasn't a P71 I know, it was some dressed up version.

I put the liner in the trunk and I think it looks nice. Looking at the $2017 Challenge I could get good points for the Con Cours part! smiley


Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
9/9/17 12:30 p.m.

Safe, reliable, and cool. In that order.

KevinGale Reader
9/10/17 12:06 p.m.

Nice, looking forward to hearing how it handles with these upgrades.  Mostly I just like the story of how you brought it back from a condition where most people would have just junked it. 

pheo New Reader
9/11/17 7:55 a.m.

I fixed the wiring harness that I cut in two pieces. I used solder because I do not have a good set of crimping tools. I used a good quality heat shrink to cover all connections and a wrap of tape to any that might possibly be thin. Then I wrapped the entire bundle with the tape, also a good quality. I get my electronic supplies from a place that does only electronics parts. The place I cut it and fixed it there should be minimal vibration.

Last night I crawled under it to remove the transmission mount and set the transmission on the cross bar.

Did you know Ford doesn't want a transmission to fall out on accident or with considerable effort and tools? Me neither.

There is a bolt on each end of the cross brace that is longer than the space between the mount and body. After bending the floor pan above it I was able to get one side loose so I could slide the mount out.

The tranny is lower and there is more space around the tunnel, but I may have to lower is some more to be able to replace that wiring harness. That will be later this week. I'll get pictures then.

@ KevinGale -- Junked? The though crossed my mind several times, especially when the rv passed me, going uphill. But I guess the fact it got me home, even half broken, made me want to fix it. Also, I guess watching Jeremy, James and Hammond all those times gave me bad ideas. wink

Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
9/11/17 10:05 a.m.

I have an irrational love for these cars.  Not because they are one of the GRM trifecta, but because I was the Design and Release Engineer on the front suspension for the 03 up chassis.  

My 84, going on 85 year old father in Law has a 03 he got new.  It's sitting more than driven these days as my Mother in law no longer drives, so he drives her 12 Fusion.  I have my eye on it, but he has an seriously over inflated perception of the 'value' of everything he owns.  If I could get it for $500 I'd jump and deal with the fall out from the spousal unit later.

It may be too late as you've already put the seats back in, but with seriously grotty interiors I pull the carpet out, pressure wash it and/or take it to the local laundromat and put it in the industrial sized washer.  Then I bring it home and re-dye it in the bath tub with RIT fabric dye.  As long as the carpet fibers aren't damaged you can get brand new looking totally stain free carpet for under $30 that way.  If it's really bad add bleach to the wash.  You'll need at least two bottle of RIT dye, maybe more for something the size of a Panther.  

KevinGale Reader
9/11/17 10:31 a.m.
pheo said:

@ KevinGale -- Junked? The thought crossed my mind several times, especially when the rv passed me, going uphill. But I guess the fact it got me home, even half broken, made me want to fix it. Also, I guess watching Jeremy, James and Hammond all those times gave me bad ideas. wink

Have you ever watched Road Kill?  That will also give you bad ideas.   If you haven't search for it on YouTube.

I have an RV, it is usually towing the race car.  I don't think I have ever passed a car on an uphill.  I'd certainly feel sorry for that car.  lol

pheo New Reader
9/13/17 9:22 p.m.

Yeah, I have seen a few episodes of Road Kill. smiley

Episode 66 with the Mustang they got from the junkyard.  I can really identify with that episode now.

I want "Stubby Bob". Period. I would pay the tickets just to drive it to Sonic every night and get ice cream! Yeah, with the zoomies, I would get tickets!

But Gerti isn't rough enough for a Road Kill vehicle. In fact its going to be quite unnoticeable. I have decided that I want to make it nice enough for an epic road trip, with a bit better than GS handling. But I am swamped this week, I hope to finish the wire harness install Saturday.

KevinGale Reader
9/13/17 9:49 p.m.
pheo said:

I want "Stubby Bob". Period. I would pay the tickets just to drive it to Sonic every night and get ice cream! Yeah, with the zoomies, I would get tickets!

I'd buy tickets for that.  :-)  I got to drive my race car down main street once.  They had a bit of a car show and we got a police escort.  It was great fun driving the Troyer down the street with everyone pointing.  :-)    This isn't something you normally see on the street

pheo New Reader
9/24/17 10:02 p.m.


So I finally got to work on Gerti this afternoon, had the wiring harness ready:


Wiring harness


And its not the same as the wiring harness in the car. surprise

The plugs are the exact opposite at the end that connects to the main harness

and the one in the car isn't separate like this but is bundled into the main harness

of the engine.

 This is the best picture I can get of the problem, those wires that you can see, your not supposed to.

With a mirror I can see the chew marks and copper conductor exposed on the other side.

It would be easy to fix if I could pull the body off the frame..... To orient yourself, to the right of the wires

is the back of the passenger side engine block freeze plug. And this is from under the car.



So tomorrow when I am not tired I will figure out plan "D" or "E", I forgot what plan "C" was but it sucked also.

pheo New Reader
9/29/17 3:50 p.m.

I just realized that the photos were messed up, I went back and redid the links, my fault for playing with Flickr, sorry.

So tomorrow I am ordering my front parts. Tonight I plan to get a little further on the wiring harness, or, just put the trans back up and tape over the check engine light. indecision Hmmm.

I think I am going with Rock Auto, I checked local, Amazon, etc. From what I understand Moog are good parts and they have a complete front end kit, its less than trying to get the separate parts.

Local Napa store, Dana parts, ouch..... luckily I had a firm grip on the counter....I'm still a little dizzy from that price.

einy HalfDork
9/29/17 7:15 p.m.

It never ceases to amaze me how much better the pricing is from RA vs any of the walk up stores.  Don't forget the typical 5% discount code they post here in the Shop Talk section unless you already have a better one!

pheo New Reader
10/1/17 7:40 p.m.

I found out there are several different wiring harness configurations even in the same year model Panther. I am going to drop the trans as far as I can and fix the harness on the car. I figure I will have to drop the cats also to get the room I need.

I just ordered front end stuff from RockAuto. I guess its a do or die trying now. Unfortunately I have to wait until the week after next for the parts.

I'm using the $2017 Challenge sheet to track stuff. Right now I have spent $745.90 besides the car itself. (we gave him more than it was worth, but I like the old guy) That gets a complete front suspension, sway bars / links, 3 good tires / wheels, new rear rotors (front are ok), headlight assemblies, all front end lightbulbs, trunk carpet, serpentine belt, idler pulleys, ignition coilpack, waterpump.

I still need a belt tensioner, brake pads, 1 tire, an emergency brake cable, tranny anti-shutter fluid and probably an oil change and I think it will be ready. I have fluids, brake cleaner and things sitting around so I shouldn't have buy to much extra.

And maybe a clone to get the work done....


edit PS einy, Thanks for the heads up on the code, I didn't know about it! smiley Saved me $22!

Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
10/1/17 7:50 p.m.

Also, brakes arw challenge budget exemt for stock replacements, and 1 set of tires is budget exempt.

einy HalfDork
10/2/17 6:18 a.m.
pheo said:

edit PS einy, Thanks for the heads up on the code, I didn't know about it! smiley Saved me $22!

No problem ... simply passing on the same tip another forum member gave me some time ago !!!


pheo New Reader
10/7/17 11:16 p.m.

Rock Auto stuff is arriving. I replaced the transmission range switch (which was frozen solid) with the one from Pick-N-Pull. Pinned the tranny back up and started on the front end.

I ran into a stopping point with the 18mm bolt that holds the caliper to the spindle. I dont think I have ever had to remove an 18mm anything before because I didn't have a socket or wrench in any flavor that was 18mm. So a trip to Harbor Freight and now the part is off, but it took some force.

I have a full week but I am going to try and devote an hour a day to getting the frontend under it.

bad shot of garage and my back

My barn looks like a dysfunctional chop shop at the moment. laugh

Oh! I found out why the brake system light is on (maybe), the sensor that sticks through the spindle and over the tone wheel is bent so it covers more than one tooth at a time. I would guess it got bent from mud being slung from the tone wheel itself. So it would not get a square wave signal (or pulse, I'm not sure), probably a sine wave if it got anything at all.

I found gravel that had worn to fit between the spring and a arm and other stuff in the suspension. The lower ball joint was gone, had a good 1/8 inch of play at the bottom of the brake disk when I jiggled it. I'm glad I went for the entire kit, I thought about trying to get away with just ball joints.

pheo New Reader
10/9/17 9:37 a.m.

I hit myself in the back of the head with a crow bar.... wait.... I'll start from the beginning..

Ok, so Matt is sitting there listening to me tell how I tried to get away without a spring compressor. I said, "I'm not going to add that to the thread." Matt says,"I will..."


So here is what happened, I got the drivers side disassembled, had the lower a arm back on and was levering the coil spring back into place with a 3 foot crow bar. I got it onto the lower A arm, raised the arm with a jack and was really  proud of myself, until I notice it had spun and wouldn't sit in the A arm correctly. Dang it.

I let the arm droop and popped it back out, gingerly because these things store lots of energy, even extended most of the way and started again. At one point I almost had it, the curled end of the crowbar over my shoulder and behind my head, and it slipped. So with most of my strength I popped myself in the back of MY OWN HEAD with a crowbar.

Go ahead and laugh, I did while rubbing my noggin. It barely broke the skin and sounds worst than it is but I decided to give up for the night and rent a spring compressor.

Edit -- the upper and lower a arms are on and the rotors will work, the inner and outer tie rods are on. I have to get brake pads and bleed it. I didn't put the shocks back in, I am thinking about replacing them.

Then there is this:

egg shaped ball joint,


Its a little hard to tell but the ball is badly worn. You are looking past the ball into the socket. This is the worst one, but none of them were in good shape.

pheo New Reader
10/23/17 8:28 p.m.

So life is life, I did manage to get a few things done,

First Gerti got her cataracts fixed:



And she got new garters:




First of the month I'll be getting more parts to finish up. I got pads and fixed the front brakes.

The disks were flat but had a ridge inside and outside, so I cheated and cut the ridges off. With new pads they work nice.


And it was a good thing I did, the new pads would have ridden on the ridge. I bled the brakes and they feel good. I still have to do the back brakes, but I need pads and I'm broke until payday.

And yes I have a small machine shop, and probably a lot of new friends when I post this.....

N Sperlo
N Sperlo MegaDork
10/23/17 9:28 p.m.

Hate to pop in late and not read the entire thread, but there is a pretty tight group of Panther drivers/fans in the Midwest. Most in St Louis and in Kansas City. The guys are always willing to lend a hand and some knowledge to other club members. Hit me up if you're interested. We have everything from stock to lifted, to slammed, to early, to late, to engine swaps, to transmission swaps.

Over two months late because I'm not so active in here, but welcome to GRM.

failboat UberDork
10/31/17 12:35 p.m.

good snag on the swaybars. the 21mm rear is what you want. Sounds like you pulled it off an HPP optioned car. You do NOT want those rear springs, those cars have a rear load leveling system and I think the springs are even softer than your car.  Hold out for P71 rears for a bump in springrate.  ADTR.net sells poly swaybar bushing and endlink kits. 

Might you be interested in a 98 P71 PCM? Been sitting in my garage on a shelf for years now, shoot me message and we can work something out. I'd have to look to see if I have any other small odds and ends, I might still have a set of collared lugnuts and tall P71 centercaps. 


EDIT: PCM may not work with yours, I think its compatible 98-99 only.

pheo New Reader
11/5/17 6:39 p.m.

yeah I think the one I pulled that off did have load leveling. I dont remember seeing hpp on any labels but then I am not an expert on Panthers.

Well I have been busy, with everything else but Gerti. Its that time of the semester when ALL the homework is dumped us.

I can make it, just 3 more full weeks and finals! surprise Oh heck.

I also got another project and that kind of ate Gerti's non existent budget for Nov. I am now in the process of deciding what to do with everything. I now have 3 cars plus my wifes truck.

This week I plan to get the rear brakes done and that sway bar up under the rear end. I got the lights mostly adjusted and drove around our gravel road at night, its nice to be able to see.

On a side note, accordianfolder is having rodent cleaning blues on his yellow race car, I have great empathy for him. He resorted to bleach as well!

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