'What a design': Marcy Kaptur credits discontinued Ford Five Hundred with saving her life
Photo of Liz Skalka
SEP 10, 2019 6:24 PM
Friends are hard to find and even harder to replace. Just ask U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur.
Last week, the longtime Democratic House member lost a “best friend.” The relationship ended suddenly after 14 years.
The friend in this case is a discontinued Ford sedan that met an unceremonious end after colliding with the business end of an excavator, rendering it totaled.
Now the search is underway for its replacement.
What’s she looking for? Something reliable and American-made, in the exact mold of its predecessor. Preferably the same make and model.
“What a design,” Miss Kaptur said of the 2005 Ford Five Hundred, a full-size sedan that made up for in space and practicality what it lacked in sleek design and general attractiveness. “Ford should have never stopped making it.”
Above all, Miss Kaptur credits the car with saving her life on Sept. 4 after an excavator’s bucket slammed into the roof on the driver’s side. She had been traveling through a construction zone on her way to a food pantry to drop off vegetables from her garden.
“The engine didn’t stop running. The seat belt didn’t strangle me. The driver’s seat was like an astronaut’s chair,” Miss Kaptur said, describing the car’s suspension seating.
First responders were able to rescue her through the driver’s side door, and she emerged virtually unscathed and ready to head back to Washington this week after Congress’s summer recess. Neither Miss Kaptur nor the equipment operator were cited by officers, who noted in their report a lack of eyewitnesses.
“He pushed the handle and the door opened, and his jaw dropped,” she said of the first responder. “He couldn’t believe it.”
Miss Kaptur continues a long tradition of lawmakers backing American automakers and driving their cars. Before becoming President, Barack Obama drove a Ford Escape hybrid and Chrysler 300C, and had said after leaving office he would purchase a Chevy Volt. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) drives a Ford and a Chevy, and Republican Sen. Rob Portman drives a Chevy pickup truck, their offices said. Sen. Sherrod Brown drives a 2017 Jeep Cherokee, the last model year made in Toledo.
Since entering the U.S House in 1983, Miss Kaptur has been a staunch supporter of labor interests and domestic auto workers. She voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement and has concerns about President Donald Trump’s proposed replacement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Judging from a quick search online, Miss Kaptur won’t have trouble acquiring another Five Hundred, if she chooses to go that route. It would come cheap and used. Ford only made the car between 2005 and 2007, envisioning it as a replacement to its Taurus and Crown Victoria sedans, both of which have also been discontinued in the U.S.
Reviews of the Chicago-made Five Hundred weren’t glowing. The New York Times described it as “tall, spacious and bland,” the automotive equivalent of the color beige.
But Miss Kaptur doesn’t mind that. She’s just happy to be healthy and back at work. In an interview with The Blade, she mentioned wanting to track down the Ford engineer who designed the Five Hundred to personally thank them for making the vehicle, which departed her garage that day in “mint condition” and with only 110,000 miles after more than a decade on the road.
“It really, really performed, in the most unexpected manner,” she said. “I mean, who thinks you’re going to be greeted by a bucket? They don’t teach you about that in driver’s school.”