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Old 04-02-2004, 12:21   #1 (permalink)
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Need soft smooth ride for '96 Grand Marquis (aka Crown Victoria)

Ok, my wife has a '96 Mercury Grand Marquis (it's not an ex-police car or anything, pretty much standard all over). She has bad back and neck problems, so the bumps in the road *really* hurt her a lot. The car has around 120k miles on it right now, and I don't know when the shocks were changed last (she bought it at 70k or 80k miles, her dad maintained it 'til she moved to the city where I was when it has about 100k miles, so he might've changed them once).

So I am looking to buy new shocks for this thing that will give me the smoothest ride possible, regardless of handling. She drives very cautiously, so I don't have to worry about sharp turns and quick braking much at all.

I've heard about air bags, but it sounds like those would cost around $2000 or more. One guy at Tire Kingdom said that Gabriel is the smoothest that they have (but I could only find a model # match for Gabriel Guardians, their standard model, and couldn't find a match for Gabriel Ultra, their premium model). Autozone has Bilstein shocks on their website, and the Bilstein Comfort Rides seem promising.

So what would you folks say is the best option for me without *totally* breaking the bank.

Last edited by sowellfan; 04-02-2004 at 21:00.
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Old 04-08-2004, 09:13   #2 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: Need soft smooth ride for '96 Grand Marquis

IMHO you are looking at the wrong suspension. As long as the car give a safe, controlable ride don't worry about the shocks. Worry about the "people suspension", the SEATS.

I'm one of those people who others call "stupid" for spending several hundred $$$ for aftermarket seats such as the Recaro brand. And I am the one who has problems getting the other guy's wives out of my Recaro seats when I let the wives sit in the car.

Yes, the aftermarket seats seem to be hard to the touch, but that's not the secret. I think what your wife really feels is the muscle strain caused by her body trying to stay in an upright position while riding in the car. The stock seats give little support to the lumbar region, upper body (side to side movement) , thighs, you name it.

Put the human body in a seat that provides proper support and muscle strain is reduced. Talk to your wife's doctor about this, he should agree.

Problem: costs. Haven;y priced seats lately but paid $US300 back in 1977 for a next to bottom of the line seat. Top seats were $US1050 each back then but offered steros speakers in the headrest, heat, motorized lumbar support/side bolsters, etc.

Was it a good investment? I have know several guys for 30+ years whose wives have back problems and need medical attention. These guys are still married to the same wives because they invested in aftermarket seats for every car they have owned during their marrige. Is that proof enough?
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Old 04-08-2004, 11:02   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Need soft smooth ride for '96 Grand Marquis

I hadn't thought of seats before, but several people on a couple of other forums that I posted this query to suggested that I get some Lincoln Town Car seats. She's riding passenger for now, but she'll be driving sometime soon, so if I go that route (or with other aftermarket seats), I'll be replacing both seats.

The Grand Marquis has cloth seats, but she has always liked the leather seats in my '97 Sable LS considerably better than the seats in the Grand Marquis. I think I tried inflating the lumbar support once for her, though, and I don't think she liked it much. On the other hand, when she rides in the Grand Marquis, she has a small pillow to go at the small of her back. Maybe I can get us a test drive in a Town Car.

It'd be nice if I could get seats in good undirtied condition for cheap, but I guess I'll probably have to buy new ones if I go this route. It's just hard to justify spending so much money on a car that's only worth a few thousand now.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:24   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Need soft smooth ride for '96 Grand Marquis

Yep. Got to thinking about what I had posted about an hour later. I was driving a car I don't own and got to noticing what I was physically feeling while going through a freeway interchange loop.

Weather's not helping my hip problems and spreading to my lower back. Minor pain but muscle strain is quite noticable. The car was circling to the right (I'm in the States), I could feel my lower back muscles tightening to not only resist the pull to the left but to also keep my body seated in the upright position.

I could sense my lower spline was curved slightly to the rear, the human spine is designed to carry the weight of the upper body when the lower spine is curved FORWRD towards the center of the body. Most people forget that while we sit the spine still has to support the upper body, just as if standing.

Also noticed some strain in my left shoulder due to the need to keep pressure on the wheel to make the car turn AND the need to also hold onto the wheel to keep my upper body from moving to the left. Got to thinking that if there was support behind my left shoulder the muscle would have to do less work to keep pressure on the steering wheel.

Now, think of what a passenger would feel as the car turned to the right in the same type of stock seat. Everything the driver felt PLUS having to do without the support the driver obtains by holding onto the steering wheel.

Orthopedic seats serve the same purpose as orthopedic shoes (when properly fit, I know that from experience!). Up until the late 70's the cars that ran the big race at Bathurst were required to use production seats per the rules. While watching the film recap of various years i noticed the mention of drivers sliding about on the vinyl seats while fighting to control the increasingly faster cars.

That's one reason Ford OZ made the Scheel seats an option in the XC Falcon Cobra, the racing versions had an orthopedic seat to help the driver's with control and lessen driver fatique. Aftermarket orthopedic seats aren't just for "one upping" others, they serve a purpose.


As for replacing your seats with other Ford product seats-

Ford U.S. tends to use the same seat base with different backs. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it isn't. Saves money when they have to build a production seat that fits a 90 pound female and over 250 pound male with a "reasonable" seat.

I suggest taking a look inside the Lincoln LS. That's the most "European" design in the U.S. Ford line up so I won't be surprised if they have European seat design (more orthopedic then typical US cars.)

As for justifying the cost of orthopedic seats:

Don't sweat it, take them out when you sale the car and install them in your next vehicle. Most of the designs I see require an adaptor that fits between the seat frame and automobile floor.

At each corner of the Recaro seats, for example, you will see three mounting holes in a vertical pattern. That usually gives you the option of mounting the seat at different angles to the floor when seen from the side. One major problems I see in street rods is that people take seats from one car and mount them in another without trying to adjust the seat angle to fit the human body inside the new installation. That's asking for disaster through body/muscle fatique, etc.

In other words you don't just "throw" the seats into the car and force your body to contend with the results!

And speaking of justifying costs, didn't want to mention this in the other post, I bought ONE Recaro seat to put into my new 1977 PINTO Crusin Wagon. Recaro kept sending the dealer an adaptor for a Capri because they didn't believe anyone who had bought a Pinto was worthy of their product. Funny thing is the Mustang II and post 1979 Mustangs had the same seat. My Recaro went from that Pinto to a used Pinto and before going into my 85 Mustang LX cop car.

My other Mustang has Lear-Singer seats that were part of one of the Mustang Cobra packages. Don't like them as much as the Recaros (which are getting harder to find).

And a bit of trivia:

Ever notice the "Command Seat" on the various Star Ship Enterprises and the seats in the smaller landing crafts? SCAT aftermarket automotive seats. I hear there are a lot of Mustangs and Cameroes out on the West Coast with the same seats. And not because the seats are shown on Star Trek!

(Don't get me started, I wrote on of my college papers on automotive seating...)
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Old 04-10-2004, 07:47   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Need soft smooth ride for '96 Grand Marquis

Some other thoughts. Make certain that your wife isn't sitting directly on her tailbone as that is where all the nerves for the lower body come out of the spine.

The upper seat cushion supports the back but you should not just "sit" on the bottom cushion. Some cars have lower seat cushions that are very long (measured front to back), some have cushions too short. Put a short person on the long cushion and the back of the lower thigh, just above the knee joint, comes into contact with the cushion and the blood suply to the legs is decreased. NOT a good thing for long trips lasting 3 or more hours unless the person get s out and moves the legs now and them.

The decrease in blood pressure leads to the formation of blood clots which can work their way upward into the lungs, or worse, into the heart and cause fatal results.

But you do want to have pressure on the back of the upper thigh to help spread you body weight which would otherwise be carried on the "tail bone" of the spine. Again, a lot of this depends on the angle of the seat cushion to the floor, it has to be tilted back "just so". The knees should be bend less then 90 degrees when in the normal riding position.

Thanks for bringing the orthopedic seats back into my attention. The seat hinge bolt on the Recaro that used to be in my Mustang brole several years ago after lllloooonnnngggg use. I never got around to locating the needed LEFT HAND meteric flat head bolt that Recaro used to fix the seat. Since posting the first message a few days ago I'm at the point that the seat I am using just has to go!
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Old 05-25-2005, 14:51   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Need soft smooth ride for '96 Grand Marquis

I have a Grand Marquis with lumbar support. I cannot DECREASE the lumbar support and it is killing my back. I have tried this on numerous Grand Marquis', and you can increase it, but you can't decrease it. It there some trick. They can't possibly have made something adjustable that can only be adjusted in one direction. That's like making a driver's power seat that only goes up but not down. HELP! My back is a wreck. I don't want any lumbar support. Is there some way of making is go back down?
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