On Oct. 7, 1913, Ford’s team rigged a rudimentary final assembly line at the Highland Park Assembly plant. Engineers constructed a crude system along an open space at the plant, complete with a winch and a rope stretched across the floor. On this day, 140 assemblers were stationed along a 150-foot line and they installed parts on the chassis as it was dragged across the floor by the winch. Man hours of final assembly dropped from more than 12 hours under the stationary assembly system to fewer than three. In January 1914, the rope was replaced by an endless chain.
We weren’t the only members of the enthusiast media who heard of the Panther Platform swap. Hot Rod Garage stars Tony Angelo and Lucky Costa got the idea by talking with fans at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Doing some additional research, they discovered the wheelbase for a Crown Victoria and an early F-100 shortbed pickup are nearly identical, so they hatched the plan to swap the entire frame and drivetrain from a retired cop car to an F-100 they purchased locally. The result is a really cool shop truck that combines the awesome looks of an old car with the modern underpinnings of a new vehicle. It rides, corners, and stops like a Crown Vic, which is actually better than you may think. The last generation of these cars was far removed from the luxo-barges of the 1970s, and longtime Car Craft readers will remember we had our own Panther Platform project car: a 2003 Police Interceptor we bought at an auction and turned into a fun, reliable, and stealthy street machine.