By on April 4, 2013

An alert REDDIT reader (manuelv 19) spotted the Seattle Police Museum’s 1970 Plymouth Satellite patrol car responding to calls on the coffee scented streets of dowtown Seattle earlier this week. According to the Seattle Police Museum website, only 53 Special Order Police Satellites were produced in 1970 and 21 of those were purchased by the Seattle Police Department. The cars were mid-size police vehicles and featured the 383 Super Commando engine package complete with 4 bbl carburetors. They were reputed top be quite fast at the time.

This particular vehicle, known as Unit #521, was wrecked with only 9000 miles on the clock and sold at public auction eventually ending up in Los Angeles. The Seattle Police Museum located and purchased the vehicle in 2006 and spent a year returning the car to its former glory. More information on this vehicle is available at the Seattle Police Museum website of by calling (206) 748-9991.

http://www.seametropolicemuseum.org/

http://www.seametropolicemuseum.org/docs/Seattle_Police_Car.pdf

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

52 Comments on “Historic Police Car Spotted Responding to call on the Not-So-Mean Streets of Seattle...”


  • avatar
    tjh8402

    sweet. gotta love it when people have a sense of history and like to bring something like this out to play instead of just sitting in a museum all day.

  • avatar

    God how I remember these things. In 1982 the cops in my little town north of Seattle brought in an older Satellite to chase down us crazy kids in our hopped up cars.

    When that sucker rolled in behind you, you didn’t dare do anything stupid.

    Also, just to verify this was on-the-job: http://i.imgur.com/BK8wdcb.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      readallover

      Seattle had this, but the State Patrol had the 440 Polaras.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      For several years I owned a 1976 Dart Pursuit whose first owner was the Bellevue Police Department. They bought the 360-powered sedan for high-speed work on the two freeways that pass through Bellevue. That was a fun car to drive – it would corner flat at surprisingly high speeds, and it was also not a slow car.

  • avatar
    Yeah_right

    Sweet. I know it’s the wrong city, but if you kindof squint you can just about imagine 100 or so of these bad boys chasing a pair of sunglass-wearing blues musicians down Lower Wacker Drive.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Wrong cars as well – they used 1974 Dodge Monacos in the movie.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        Yup, though most of the pursuers were the latter ’76-’77 Dodge Royal Monacos, same thing, but with a fancier front end with hide away headlights and less power. The Chicago PD cars were more then likely equipped with a 2 barrel single exhaust 360, complete with catylitic converters which you can see after they all flip over and crash!

        God I love that movie.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      At Empty Bottle in Chicago, there is a door from a CPD car of this era hanging on the wall. I smile every time I see it.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Just imagine, even with that hopped-up special 383, it is highly probable that the cheapest econoboxes built today could easily smoke that thing.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The ’68 Roadrunner with the same drivetrain, platform, and not much less weight would do 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.0 @ 96 mph. Looking at the trap speed, it would probably get to 60 in the mid 6s on modern tires.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Not likely. Those late sixties Mopar machines were something else. They once interviewed the guy in charge of selecting cars for the California Highway Patrol after his retirement. When they asked which cars he liked, he replied “’69 Dodge–they were real rocket sleds.”

      • 0 avatar
        Lt.BrunoStachel

        Yeah and these were the same clowns who swore up and down that they had a 58 Impala with a 348 and tri-power that could do 150MPH with out a sweat. Another “myth” or “urban legend” that needs to be put to rest. Until somebody posts a road test from 68 of a 440 Magnum cop car to prove his statement than I’m calling that total BS.

        I’m not to familiar with Mopar powertrain combos of the 60′s but I’d bet that even with the most powerfulest motor available these examples were still pigs at WOT. Combine that with bias ply tires and drum brakes and you’re back into real world reality.

        Instead of comparing apples to oranges why doesn’t anybody say how much better the current Charger cop car with a Hemi is compared to a cheap ecobox. Or that your average 60′s muscle car could smoke any heavy cop car sedan back in the days.

        • 0 avatar
          BobAsh

          Your average muscle car could maybe smoke the heavy cop sedan back in the day. But this was no heavy cop sedan.

          Police Satellite is basically Road Runner with four doors and lights on top. Or maybe better to say it other way around – the Plymouth Road Runner, even in the base form one of the quicker muscle cars of its day, was a two-door Satellite with beep-beep horn, chicken decals and crazy paints.

          What you’re looking at is genuine muscle car in police form.

          And about the weight – these suckers were quite light for their size. The Road Runner had 3450 pounds, this one could be maybe 50-100 pounds heavier (lights, police equipment – four doors don’t make much difference).

          You you have 3600 pound (at most) with 335 SAE gross horsepower – which would translate to something like 300 todays horsepower.

          So its significantly lighter and not much less powerful than today’s V6 Charger (and you could have 440 magnum powered Police car, which was closer to today’s Hemi in power).

          In the straight line, this thing was no slouch even by today’s lofty standards. A 9C1 Caprice or P71 CrownVic would be left for dead.

          • 0 avatar
            Synchromesh

            Actually 335 gross hp would probably be somewhere around 260-270 net hp. The difference tends to be around 75hp give or take a few depending. Also, don’t forget aerodynamics, today’s cars are far more so than something from 40 years ago. There are lots of other things too like higher powertrain efficiency, better automatics, etc.

            0-60 for anything over 6.0s is relatively slow. Most muscle/performance cars can do it under 5. And we won’t even start talking about handling. Basically, any modern performance car will wipe the floor with this thing in most situations.

        • 0 avatar
          old fart

          You put a modern driver in the old car and he would have problems ,these guys grew up with the technology and could handle it. They could feel what the cars were doing without stability control and all the other hand holding that goes on with today’s cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Commando

        I understand fully your saying that comparing today’s cop Chargers to econoboxes is a more accurate analogy.
        But it’s not nearly as much fun…

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        @Jim Brewer- that’d be the legendary ’69 Dodge CHP Polara. 440 equipped, these cars top speed was officially clocked at 147 MPH on Chrysler’s Chelsea proving grounds, even more amazing that yes it was indeed a fullsize Brontosaurus of a 4 door, but that it did on the tires of period, not even the fabled Mustang 5.0 ‘Special Service’ police could touch it, those topped at 137 MPH. It took the ’94 Caprice 9C1 with a LT1 5.7 to break the 140 MPH barrier.

        LT. Bruno- I do call BS on the older stuff like the 50′s era cars being that fast, but not much ran away from a late 60′s to early 70′s ‘E86′ 440 equipped Mopar, even the smogger 440′s could move, a ’78 Dodge Monaco if so equipped could hit 129 MPH or so, emission components and all; it was faster then the Trans Am and even the Corvette, though the Corvette was an absolute dog in the late 70′s. The police Dodge/ Plymouth were the fastest American made cars in ’78.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Actually, the CHP special ordered their patrol cars, so you won’t find any street models like them. The horsepower was gross, not net, but those engines put out a huge amount of torque, easily handled by the 727 Torqueflite. That said, the ’69 Dodges mentioned were still “rocket sleds” for that time period. Incidentally, bias belted tires were available in the ’60s, and radials were on the market in the postwar 1940s, while front disc brakes were optional in the ’60s – even AMC offered them. A CHP-spec ’69 Mopar probably would have had belted tires, maybe radials and at least front discs – the Imperial had 4-wheel discs that year.

        • 0 avatar
          roger628

          Imperials didn’t get 4-wheel disc until 1974-75.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The Chrysler Crown Imperial had standard 4-wheel disc brakes from 1949-1954. It was the first car to have disc brakes, beating the Crosley HotShot by a year.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          For a discussion of the CHP(California Highway Patrol) cars in the last 47 years, Jay Leno’s Garage taped an 18 minute episode, starting with the introduction of the new 2013 Ford Explorer police package, and including examples of the ’66 Polara, the Fox-bodied Mustang, Crown Vic, ’70 Mercury Monterrey, and the full size Dodge that replaced the Mercury. Two officers narrate the discussion, one talks about the new Explorer, and the other is knowledgeable about the cars preceding and including the Crown Vic.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0pjW8Ss0WI

          If you have trouble with the link, search Jay Leno CHP Explorer on youtube.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      A Kia Sportage SX AWD Turbo will do 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and 1/4 mile in 14.7 seconds. Nostalgia is nice, but reality bites.

      The Kia’s not ‘the cheapest econobox’, but it gives perspective.

      http://www.zeroto60times.com/Kia-0-60-mph-Times.html

    • 0 avatar
      Maintainer

      In all likelihood the Econoboxes of today could pretty much easily smoke the exalted Crown Vic.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        The advantage the crown vic had was in the bends as silly as it sounds. I grew up in a P-71 detective model and you can press a car like that to the very edge because the insanely wide stance. A honda civic flooring it would pull away slightly then be caught because front wheel drive in those cars aren’t setup to press.

        It’s really the only reason why the Crown Vic lasted so long. It was cheap to repair and could catch up to most everyday drivers.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          From what I remember, the police spec Crown Vic has different suspension tuning from civilian spec. My understanding was that the police tuning was closer to what SVT tuning for a Contour, back in the day, might be.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        That’s not saying much. The Crown Victoria was always chronically underpowered for its size – a Caprice from 1996 could easily outrun a Crown Victoria from 2009.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Totally true. I raced against a caprice SS from I want to say 96/7. He tore me to shreds in the straights, just blew me off. But the second we were in the curves his body roll had him screeching on the brakes where I could just keep punching it until I felt the tires ready to break free. The small nose redesign in 92 made them want to nosedive but also made their body roll actually work with you. It’s hard to describe unless you’ve driven it. You could push it, feel the car pitch, punch it harder and just correct until you were either going straight again or you were lateral. The bigger ponderous Caprice would not play that way. It was much more like the roadmaster and the other heavy GMs from that time, it just wanted to undulate until it was righted.

          Technically the last few years of the Crown Vic had decent HP numbers and I know a few police departments simply switched the headers and manifolds from junked mustangs to grab up the extra HP that was just floating free. The only problem I ever truly faced with the Crown Vic was top end of the revs she would become gutless, like you were standing on it in third gear and I could literally lift myself off the seat trying to put more gas down on through that pedal and it didn’t care. 4th gear though was weird. If you managed to reach 4th gear at about 70-75 you could pull away from just about anybody. It was not a gas saving ratio up there…

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      You should see some of the models on the European market – you could possibly smoke them with a bicycle.

    • 0 avatar
      GoCougs

      Wrong. The “cheapest” econoboxes of today will be lucky to break into the 16s. A 383 Magnum/Commando-powered Mopar B-body of mid/late ’60s vintage in proper working order will break into the 14s with relatively ease.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Nice ! . I too like to see ‘em on the road where they belong .

    The Ca. CHP models had white steering wheels so your hands didn’t get hot in the desert sun .

    A family member is with L.A.P.D. in the Hollywierd Division , he says a Yaris outran his new Tarus Police special last week… those things are slugs with all the standard equipments and two beefy Cops inside .

    Doesn’t handle well either .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I personally would prefer the last of the desotos (56-57) with the fabled 500 block that was only ordered for drag and police use. By modern standards these cars are slow though. The new hot mustangs or beefier M3s would toast even the fastest of these cars which is why the ticket municipalities use them. Even by todays standards a fast 69 mustang wwould barely parity a top-HP camry. We live in the golden age of power and no need for massive displacement.

    Even my little xB has 158 officially but dynoed it came up aroind 170-180. These cars make HP in spades today so that sub-8 seconds to 60 is standard anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Do you mean the Dodge D-500 engine that displaced 361 ci and was used in special DeSotos at the time? The last DeSotos were 1960 models, although maybe they weren’t available as police cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Yes. Thank you CJ for that. The 1960s were carryovers from 1959. The last full year of production was 1958 and 1957 for the full line up. I believe police and municipal orders were capped then as well with all future orders being divided between Chrsyler and Dodge.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    In 1970 here in Serpico/Lindsey era NYC police officers mostly drove the Fury I Police Special. Also with the 383 Super Commando package. There is a 72 at the police museum. I think it is 360 equipped.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Back then most police cars had an identification decal on the front doors and a couple of roof rack beacons, transferred from the previous vehicle. Cost in today’s dollars perhaps $200. Today’s police cars have a $500 stripe job and new $1,500 light bar.

    And we wonder why some jurisdictions are waist deep in the financial big muddy.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Not to get into fiscal standards (those decals actually cost less than the real paint work that went into the 50′s cars.) But has anybody seen some of the obscene decal work now? I just saw a recently enriched suburb that has a major shopping district get a makeover of their police vehicles and honestly they look weird now. The LA cruiser is really distinct and for good reason, it was highly visible and a strong presence. These new ones I just saw are just weird, the word police is scrawled in a strange barely legible font, the color of the vehicle is pearlized so it’s even harder to see the writing, and the new low rise light bar make it just seem like a bad mockup of what a police car could be if somebody were to order all the stupid options from the dealer. Worse yet it’s a Ford Explorer so it’s bulky and hard to tell what’s behind you or be sneaky when they want to be.

      The whole affair sticks out like a sore thumb which is funny because the shopping district is split so there are two police forces that patrol it and the other side who had silly looking decals went to a much plainer white on green style in line with the municipality’s colors. It wasn’t even as if their crappy designs converged, they simply traded places.

  • avatar

    Ah, the 383 Super Commando V8. I had one in one of my odder cars, a 1967 Fury. This car was spec’d with two doors, deluxe everything, and was sold to a guy as his last car, I think. I picked it up fifteen years later when it was a well preserved old car good for a student.

    I had this lead sled for two years, drove it from Brooklyn to Boston and back again over and over. With Polar Blast AC, it got 8 mpg, and with it off, maybe 16 highway if you stayed in the two barrel.

    Six foot benches front and rear. You could sleep in it. This was about as big as cars practically got-my current Golf is half the size. You sat on the living room couch, and idly moved the wheel back and forth-power assist ? Hah ! More like power domination…you video game like point the car.

    Despite being shackled in the best road hugging weight Chryco could do at their peak, the 383 was a nice engine…good pull, good harmonics, happy at work.

    One day, my GF asked “where’d you leave the car ? Out front, like usual…it’s not there”.

    Knew I should have pulled the emblems off….

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      My long-time Mopar owning Grandfather had a 67 Fury III 4dr hardtop in dark blue with a black vinyl top with a 318 and most options including AirTemp A/C. Gorgeous car with a nice smooth ride, must be the torsion bar suspension. He owned it till the mid-70′s when a Florida palm tree fell on it and he had to upgrade to a 72 Fury III 4dr hardtop in copper. Always a fan of the fuselage models from 69-73.

    • 0 avatar
      Whuffo2

      The 383 Super Commando had a 4 barrel carb; if yours had a 2 barrel, it wasn’t a Super Commando. Lots of badge switching took place, so you might not have known the difference.

      I had a ’67 Sport Fury – the fastback model with bucket seats and a console. It had the 4 barrel Super Commando 383 and it went like a rocket. The trunk was huge – but there were a couple of things that I didn’t like about it. One was the console shifter for the auto box; that release button was designed to pinch fingers. And the brakes were totally inadequate for that level of performance. Really awful; a hard stop from 80 would cause them to fade out before you stopped rolling.

      I liked the styling, but the terrible brakes and thirsty engine made me a short-term owner.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I actually have a photo I took of that car last year, the cops were getting coffee and donuts… It’s used for light duty and a bit of PR but I thought that was supper cool.

  • avatar

    This reminds me how some people continue to fly old airplanes way past their storage date. Last year in Australia a 1923 or 1926 Dragonfly went down with a loss of all 6 onboard. It was in a perfect mechanical order, just not suitable for the weather conditions. And it was in revenue service, too, not just excursion. Hopefuly no red light runner t-bones the historic police car.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Holy friggin cow…who in the hell cares if a modern car can “wipe the floor” of this? Heck, a new Camry can outrun a Ferrari 308. Which car would I rather drive? The Ferrari. It’s great to see old cars out and about. Sure, they could drive a “Maytag” sedan as a cruiser, but to tool around in this would be simply awesome and way more interesting. Leave the comparos out of this…we all know technology moves forward and today’s “it” is better than yesterday’s. That said, I can still greatly appreciate old metal (now…if I can just find my old C-64 and play a rousing round of Omega Race! Who needs a PS3…LOL).

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    This picture really looks like a (very good) miniature superimposed over a real street scene. Check out the texture of the pavement it is on. The grooves aren’t proportional to the size of the car.

    • 0 avatar

      I was just looking at and admiring the photo as well. I’m not sure if the photographer intended to set it up that way, but it looks great with the blurry bus and police officer in the background. They add a sense of motion and the Satellite gives a sense of stability and statliness. It would look great on the front page of a newspaper.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        Yeah, this is either a composite photo or the car is in fact not moving — likely the latter. If shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the car’s wheels and the bulbs in its strobes, the bus or police officer wouldn’t be blurred. If it were a tracking shot of the car in motion then the blue car in the foreground would be blurred as the camera swept by it, as would the buildings in the background.

        Very cool pic and very cool car though.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States