RK Nation: John Brown’s Resurrected 2001 Ford Crown Victoria

We’re fans of the rescue. Animal rescue, old car rescue, and, “Hey, are you going to eat that,” last french fry rescue too. So we’re all for people rescuing a late-model car—especially one with rear-wheel drive and a V8—from the junkyard. Georgia native and RK Nation member John Brown has done exactly that with this 2001 Ford Crown Victoria. John knew the original owners, who were about to send it to the crusher for scrap value with the engine on its last legs, until he gave them $200 for the old Panther platform car. When was the last time you saw a red Crown Vic?


John tried to drive it the 20 miles from the shop to his home in Dacula, Georgia, but the Ford 4.6-liter engine made it all of four miles before it lost oil pressure and, very shortly thereafter, all power. A 16-mile AAA tow later, it sat in his driveway, where it cast a shadow over the modicum of hand tools he owned. John had, until this point, only done some basic maintenance so an engine swap was a huge step up from wheel bearing changes and fluid flushes. But hey, there’s no better way to learn than by doing, right?


For a replacement engine, John opted for a junkyard engine and found what he was looking for in a scrapped 2011 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, the last model year the Crown Vic was sold stateside. 


In preparing that engine, he found three exhaust manifold studs had broken off in the cylinder heads so he had to remove those with a left-hand drill and easy-outs. He then had to chase the threads, but all was well from there.


Some more parts swapping from the old engine to the new one showed that engine sludge was at least partially responsible for the engine failure. Yuck. By the time he was ready to swap in the ‘11 Crown Vic engine in June, John had amassed considerably more tools and had replaced all of the gaskets on the replacement engine. It was then a simple matter of gathering up some friends to help with the swap and the engine bolted up to the transmission with only a couple hours worth of finagling. Check out this timelapse John made of the swap.

Since then, John has largely finished the engine swap by checking off a few dozen items on his Roadkill-approved to-do list:



“Over the next couple of months, delayed because of work schedule changes, I got the torque converter bolted to the flexplate, found that the transmission dipstick tube was leaking and fixed it, instaleld the intake manifold, EGR tube, radiator and fans, exhaust, catalytic converters, power steering, AC, alternator (for which I had to find a proper bracket), throttle tables, hoses, fuel rail, ignition coils, etc. I went through the process of priming the oil pump, replaced the spark plugs, and got the top side cleaned and buttoned up. The last point of contention was the exhaust manifold flange studs, one of which I stripped while trying to install the catalytic converters (start your bolts by hand, folks). Just this morning, I got the flange stud replaced, the exhaust bolted on, and the last two O2 sensors plugged in so that the engine could fire up without waking the neighborhood, and finally installed the windshield wiper motor. Unfortunately, I also found that the pressure line for the power steering was leaking slightly, so that’s going back on the list. Aside from that minor issue, it’s all fluid top-offs and burping the cooling system.

“Then I can start on the suspension and steering.”


We like his spirit and we like to see him resurrecting one of Ford’s last V8-powered sedans. You can see more about this car, including many more photos and hopefully a full write-up soon, over on John’s RK Nation page. You can join RK Nation now to share your project photos and updates and to interact with other Roadkill fans.

Something to Say?

6 thoughts on “RK Nation: John Brown’s Resurrected 2001 Ford Crown Victoria

  1. ive got a project thats slightly more ambitoious but good, i got a 1980 camaro with a clean title for 300$ on craigslist, the only catch, it hasnt had an engine since 2005 and has rusty floors a beatup 350 smallblock in need of a rebuild and a transmission cause no wayg in hell im wiring a 4l60 up, everything is rusty though which is rare for a texas car, now trick will be having it running for the lemons race here in the spring.

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    1. You may find that grabbing an L05 or LT1 and 4L60e out of an early 90’s Caprice or K5 Blazer/truck as a complete package with mounts, harness, and ECU yields an easy to work with combination. Mounts should line up with some combination of factory mounts. Add an EFI fuel pump and put the ECU someplace out of the rain, figure out a driveshaft, and you’re good to go. More money up front, but less time spent sourcing parts or sending things to the machine shop.

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  2. Who in their right mind resurrects one of these? I went to the junk yard last weekend to hunt down a proportioning valve for the cheap to test on a 55 Chevy 210 and I walked by about 100 yellow crown vic’s. Every single one missing an intake. Imagine that! 4.6 that needs an intake. I dont miss working on police cars at all.

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    1. While it’s true that I’m in this thing (between parts/tools) for almost as much as I could get a much newer one for, and I could have done things cheaper by pulling the old engine and swapping parts from it rather than buying new here and there, it was a learning experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.

      Plus, now the thing has new power steering, water pump, spark plugs, motor mounts, serpentine belt, exhaust manifolds, oil pan and pickup, etc.

      The original engine had the plastic crossover intake, amazingly without a crack. The new one has the updated aluminum crossover, just had to drill and tap the bung.

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