2003 Improvements to the Panther Platform:
||The LSE model, built from May '01 to Dec. '02 for model years
2001-2003 was distinguished with 5 passenger,
dual power bucket seats, center console with floor
shifting automatic, air springs, HD shocks, rear swaybar and dual exhaust;
of the line Grand Marquis in 2003.
||4.6L SOHC SEFI 8 239HP, new for '03: - A new engine knock
sensor allows the engine computer to set the optimum spark advance for
operating conditions, A 20 percent larger, six-quart oil pan extends the
life of engine oil, A new variable-speed engine cooling fan is quieter
overall than the previous two-speed fan.
||4 spd., AOD, EC Automatic transmission, 3.27:1 Axle. New
for '03: the exhaust pipe hangers are now mounted to the frame rails instead
of a crossmember for better isolation and a new air intake and resonator
improves airflow and reduces noise levels.
||*Rack & pinion variable assist power
steering, *new electronic brakeforce distribution system, and dual rate brake
booster, *Frame updates: hydroformed front rails, new crossmember frame, *new monotube shocks
at all 4 wheels. The shock absorbers are now mounted outboard of the frame
rails, which allows them to better manage the unsprung mass of the axle.
This reduces the transmission of road impacts into the car's structure and
helps keep the rear of the vehicle firmly planted during cornering on rough
roads or washboard surfaces.
||*All 2003 Panther platform cars (Lincoln Town Car, Grand
Marquis and Crown Victoria) had an issue with the rear axle. The only cars
affected were some of those built before January 2003. Of those cars,
the recall only affected fleet vehicles, meaning Taxi, Police and Livery use
vehicles. The problem was that the axle may not have been heat treated
properly causing premature wear. Usual Axle/bearing check will reveal
a problem. (Noise or play in rear wheels) This was sometimes
treated as a silent recall, and handled by the dealership on non-fleet
* Timing chain
guide. This affected all Grand Marquis and Crown Victorias from
2000-2003. Excessive wear and noise. (metal and nylon grit in oil)
This recall is already done if your car has these markings on the
right valve covers.
* Steering shaft and u-joints: This recall
was initiated in 2014, but only covered Panther platform cars back to 2005,
although 2003-4 also have the exact same setup. Failure of this
assembly was due to rust and eventual breakage. It is replaced where
necessary. Here's a shot of
the assembly on my car. It has some surface rust, but is solid and ok.
Difficulty steering, or noises while steering may indicate a problem here.
* LCM: This recall was with regard to the Lighting Control Module, and
covers all Panthers up to 2011. This seems to be prone to failure.
This recall DOES include the 2003, but only up to 15 yrs, and only in the
event of failure. It is not replaced otherwise. Headlights, or
other lights may not work when this module fails.
- Car Built in November 2002, and put into service on 11/15/02
- First owner purchased car from a dealership in Sandusky Ohio.
- I Purchased the car used in August of 2003, with 13,662 mi. in Westlake
- Currently (2/15/2014) has about 48,500 mi.
- Ordinarily not taken out if the
roads are wet (at least in winter,) but the first owner from Sandusky Ohio, drove through the car's
first winter with perfect abandon causing
noticeable corrosion, especially on
the aluminum. I drive the car primarily for local errands, and vacation
trips, as well as "Sunday drives." So far the car has been
driven to Kingston N.Y. (Nov. '03) and Concord N.H. (Oct. '04).
Charleston S.C. and Savannah GA. (Nov. '05 and '12), Whitefish Bay, MI (Aug. '06)
It's a fantastic highway cruiser!
Problems and Anomalies:
So far the car has been functioning perfectly, but there have been a few
issues, as with all cars. One of the first things I noticed was that the
engine was getting
greasy/dirty in the front with only 15 or 16K miles. I suspect the
Power steering pump. Mercury Service says that is normal, but I don't
believe it. They were good enough to clean off the engine compartment
there, so I can keep an eye on it. Another irritant, was the way a
tiny fly managed to find his way into the
side marker light lens and
get trapped. The dealer said it could not be removed without great cost,
and that it would just dissolve on its own. But that is not happening.
I know it is all pretty minor stuff.
Other fun facts:
Gas mileage is running about 23-26mpg on the Highways, and about 19-22 mpg
I am changing the oil and filter every 3000 miles with Motorcraft 5W-20
Semi-synthetic blend at the Mercury Dealership
The color is called Spruce Green Clearcote Metallic. (kind of a gray
that leans to green in certain lights)
Options not installed are the moonroof,
trunk mounted 6 CD changer, Safety side glass and side curtain airbags, all of
which I believe were available on the 2003 LSE. I may get the trunk
organizer someday if I ever have $200 to blow.
Done! The OEM trunk organizer was used in the Mercury Marauder,
Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria. Currently listing around $285.00 with
Ford Parts, better prices can be found if one shops around. I found mine
for $212.00 with Bob Utter Lincoln Mercury Ford Dealer in Texas.
Full size spare on LSE rim added.
The LSE rim has a new Bridgestone Turanza tire mounted. The original
never-used mini-spare (and cover) was sold.
The only OEM recognition of the LSE name from Mercury is in the
special floor mats
that come with the LSE.
above: the 2003 Grand Marquis
Mercury's Press at the introduction of the LSE:
CHICAGO, Feb. 8,
2001 - Based on the success of its premier full-sized luxury vehicle, Mercury
introduced the 2001 Grand Marquis LSE and the 2001 Grand Marquis Limited at the
Chicago Auto Show today.
With sales of
122,572 in 2000, Grand Marquis celebrated its best year in a decade, and these
two new vehicles will continue to boost consumer interest in the vehicle.
The Grand Marquis
LSE package combines a finely-tuned suspension, 16-inch lacy-spoke wheels, and a
new five passenger-seating configuration with center
console. The result is a car offering exceptional handling and stability, sports
styling details and amenities.
"The Grand Marquis
LSE features a compelling balance of performance and comfort," said Jennifer Moneagle, Mercury Group brand manager.
The LSE delivers
driving intensity, thanks to its dual exhaust system, 235-horsepower V-8 engine,
and a specialty-tuned, firmer suspension.
To go along with
that muscle, the LSE is complemented with a full range of amenities. The
five-passenger leather seating features dual 8-way power seats, including lumbar
and power recline and Electronic Automatic Temperature Control. The driver
interface includes leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio, temperature and
speed controls. The standard column shift is replaced with a leather-wrapped
floor shifter mounted in a custom center console. The center console includes a
large storage bin, padded armrest, concealed power point, dual cup holders and
center stack mini-storage bin with cigar lighter. A rear armrest with dual cup
"Building on an
already successful platform, the Grand Marquis LSE offers both performance and
classic refinement," said Tony Picarello, brand manager for Mercury Grand
Marquis. "The size, power, comfort, convenience and luxury of the LSE are
remarkable attributes, especially considering its price tag of $28,295 MSRP. I
believe this package makes it one of the best values in its class."
The Grand Marquis
LSE's agile road manners, improved off-the-line acceleration and cornering are
achieved through its dual exhaust for increased engine power, revised shocks and
spring rates and stabilizer bars, rear load leveling air spring suspension, and
a 3.27:1 rear axle ratio. Sixteen-inch lacy-spoke aluminum wheels with
P225/60TR16 black sidewall "Handling" tires provide extra grip in the corners.
Introduced in mid-year 2001, the model
was continued through 2002, and redesigned in 2003. It was discontinued
for 2004, and is being re-introduced in 2005. Technically, according to
Ford it is a trim package, and is not specially designated in the VIN. All
LSEs are Handling & Performance Package (HPP) versions of the Mercury Grand Marquis
LS model. They are comparably equipped and outfitted with the Ford Crown
Victoria's LX Sport model (with
the exception of the rims)*, and they were both introduced at the same time.
The LSE name in not new to Mercury, however, and was used on some earlier
models. LSEs are very rare, and although an official count from Mercury has not
been obtained, I think it would be safe to surmise that less than 1 car per
dealership per year is made**. This would put the count somewhere around
the low thousands.
* The Crown Victorial LX Sport comes
with 17" mag style wheels, whereas the LSE comes with the 16" split 9 spoke
wheel. The standard LX uses this 16" split 9 spoke wheel with the
difference shown in the link above.
** I base this guess, on the basis of
anecdotal talks with several local Lincoln/Mercury dealers which I take to be
representative. Several dealers I talked to never had one for sale in
their dealership, and in fact never even saw one in the three years they were
available. The LSE was offered once again in the 2005 model year, but
very few were made.
||The LSE badges to the front fenders and trunk, a few
miscellaneous badges inside, and a couple of wide angle mirrors.
||New Bridgestone Turanza Tires.
© RWG 2011, all rights reserved.