Ford’s Crown Victoria, or Crown Vic as its affectionately known, was once the image of an American police patrol car. If you saw one in your rearview, you instinctively tapped your brakes - just in case. Times have changed, however, and the Crown Vic just isn’t as popular as it used to be, especially among the buying public. That’s why the 2008 model year will be the last to be offered for consumer sale - after that it’s strictly to be offered as a fleet car.

Compared to total sales of over 50,000 Crown Vics in 2006, retail sales of only 3,000 for the same year show that the car is already primarily a fleet car - Ford is just making it official. Sales in 2007 are down nearly 10 percent so far, reports Ward’s Auto. The Mercury Grand Marquis - the Crown Vic’s corporate sibling - is still doing relatively well in retail sales and will remain on dealer lots for the foreseeable future, although sales are down 17 percent since last year, selling just over 38,000 units, most at retail.

The fleet market for the Crown Vic is drying up too, however. New York’s taxi cab fleet currently holds 2,500 Crown Vics, but by 2012 the hybrid-powertrain requirement will boot them from service. Police are finding the more powerful 340hp motor of the Dodge Charger suits their purposes better than the aging Crown Vic’s 224hp V8. Ford has even told the plants that produce the Crown Vic, Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car (the third corporate sibling) that they shouldn’t expect production to extend past 2010.