By on October 21, 2013
One of these is the last Crown Victoria Police Interceptor made by Ford, now owned by the Kansas Highway Patrol

One of these is the last Crown Victoria Police Interceptor made by Ford, now owned by the Kansas Highway Patrol

My brother got picked up at Parker’s, got him a ride in a new Crown Vic.
They said that he was movin’ on a federal level but they couldn’t really make it stick.
Never Gonna ChangeDrive By Truckers

At a site where Panther love reigns, it should come as no surprise to the Best & Brightest that now that Ford’s  Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, out of production since 2011, is gradually being taken out of service, law enforcement officers are wistful about the Crown Vic’s impending demise. A while back, the New York Times took a look at the last Crown Vic bought by the Washington State Patrol, assigned to Trooper Randy Elkins. “It’s kind of the end of an era. My goal is to keep it to the end, right to the last mile,” Elkins told the NYT. With about 1,000 miles put on the cruiser in a typical week and the WSP’s designated retirement mileage of 140,000, that last mile will come within three years.

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Adam 12 replica #1 – Full Gallery Here

The Crown Victoria assigned to Trooper Elkins is the last Panther purchased by the Washington State Patrol, but the very last Crown Victoria Police Interceptor that Ford built two years ago now is on duty in Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol made a point of finding and buying that car, which is being preserved with duty restricted to parades, recruitment drives and other public relations use.

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Adam 12 replica #2 – Full Gallery Here

The big body on frame Ford isn’t the first vehicle to be etched in the public’s mind as a cop car. Television has a role in shaping that consciousness, with Joe Friday and Bill Gannon’s Ford Fairlane from Dragnet, the ’55 Buick that Broderick Crawford drove in Highway Patrol, Adam-12′s Plymouth Belvedere, and Sheriff Andy Taylor’s Ford Galaxie continuing to be what many people think of when “police car” comes to mind.

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1968 Cadillac ambulance – Full Gallery Here

Maybe that’s why there were replicas of some of those television cars, along with a few genuine vintage police cars, ambulances and firetrucks on display at the 13th annual Ferndale Emergency Vehicle Show held just east of Woodward Ave on the Friday immediately before the gargantuan Woodward Dream Cruise. Parked along the south side of Nine Mile Road were police cars and on the north side of the street were ambulances and fire trucks. In addition to vintage (and replica) police cars, there were also a number of new cruisers on display representing various police agencies operating in the Detroit area.

For those of you who don't know southeastern Michigan, Washtenaw County is immediately west of Detroit's Wayne County and it's the home of the University of Michigan in oh-so-green-and-politically-correct Ann Arbor.

For those of you who don’t know southeastern Michigan, Washtenaw County is immediately west of Detroit’s Wayne County and it’s the home of the University of Michigan in oh-so-green-and-politically-correct Ann Arbor. Full Gallery Here.

There was a Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Dept. Chevy Volt, appropriate for the home of the EPA lab in Ann Arbor, along with at least a half dozen other police departments participating in the car show. Some of the late model police cars were accompanied by volunteer auxiliary members of their respective departments, but there were also some fully fledged LEOs in attendance like the bunch of burly, ballistic vest clad United States Customs and Border Patrol agents who trundled out of their official SUV after they parked it with the other cars in the show. I asked them what they were doing there and if they were on the clock. They told me “PR”, and yes, they were getting paid to be there. Detroit is one of our busiest international borders, with Windsor, Ontario, Canada just across the Detroit River and it’s good to see those agents vigilantly protecting our border at a car show.

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1977 Cadillac ambulance, Full Gallery Here

Cars from police agencies weren’t the only new vehicles at the show. In addition to cruisers and SUVs representing police departments, there were brand new and late model police vehicles from a number of companies in the police equipment industry trying to sell stuff to to the police personnel doing the representing. For the same reason there was a display of Ford police vehicles like the Taurus SHO based car that currently carries the Police Interceptor name.

Some professional car makers offered dual use vehicles, often used in smaller communities, that functioned as both ambulances and hearses. Mid to late 1960s Cadillac based.

Some professional car makers offered dual use vehicles, often used in smaller communities, that functioned as both ambulances and hearses. I believe that the Cadillac that it’s based upon is a 1971 model. Full Gallery Here.

Between the replicas of police cars and replicas of television police cars, it’s possible that real police cars were in the minority at the show. Real police cars get used up and worn out.  Also, what gets more attention, just another Ford Galaxie or something in the livery of the Mayberry PD? There were replicas of the aforementioned Adam-12 and Andy of Mayberry cars, in fact there were two of each. In addition to the replicated versions of Andy Taylor’s own replicated police Galaxie, a Starsky and Hutch Ford Torino, and two almost identical clones of the Adam-12 Plymouth, there was an actual authentic movie cop car, a matte black Ford Taurus used in the filming of the first Robocop movie, the dystopian cop film set in a future Detroit. The owners told me it was the only surviving Robocopcar from the first movie (though, like many things I hear at car shows, I can’t verify that) and it still has the prop guns from the movie’s production. Based on this Taurus fan site, the Robocop car has equipment that identifies it as from the original, not the sequels.

I'm not sure which of the three Robocop movies this was in, but the owners say it's the only surviving Robocopcar. Based on the shape of the lightbar, it could have been in the original. It still has the prop guns from the movie hanging on the divider between the front and back seats. Full Gallery Hear.

I wasn’t sure which of the three Robocop movies this was in, but the owners say it’s the only surviving Robocopcar from the original film with Peter Weller. Based on the shape of the lightbar, the multispoke aluminum wheels and cornering lamps, it must have been in the original. It still has the prop guns from the movie hanging on the divider between the front and back seats. Full Gallery Here.

Over on the other side of the road, there weren’t any replicas, clones or make-believe emergency cars, just real ambulances and firetrucks. Fire departments tend to do meticulous maintenance on their equipment while waiting for fire calls and I’m guessing that ambulance companies maintain their cars better than police departments as well. The ambulances at the show dated back to the 1960s, mostly Cadillac based, but there was also a fuschia colored ambulance based on a mid-1970s Oldsmobile Ninety Eight.

This ambulance is based on either a 1967 or '68 Cadillac. Since the emergency equipment companies have longer product cycles than the auto companies, eventually there are some anachronistic styling touches.

This ambulance is based on either a 1967 or ’68 Cadillac. Since the emergency equipment companies have longer product cycles than the auto companies, eventually there are some anachronistic styling touches… Full Gallery Here

... as you can see, comparing the emergency lights tot he rest of the Cadillac.

… as you can see, comparing the emergency lights to the rest of the Cadillac. Full Gallery Here

I’ll plead guilty to sharing Alfred Hitchcock’s attitude towards the police, so it might have only been my perception, but the folks hanging out on the north side of Nine Mile Road with the ambulances and firetrucks seemed to me to be a bit more laid back and friendly than many of the cops, retired cops and cop wannabes on the other side of the street. One woman was even catching a nap next to her 1939 Ford based Bickle firetruck.

I suspect that may be because it appears to be a dual use professional car, with interior appointments you'd expect on a hearse. Up front, the emergency lights and sirens look like they'd fit better on a 1959 or 1960 Cadillac, not one made more than a decade later.

This may be a dual use car because in back there are interior appointments you’d expect on a hearse. Up front, the emergency lights and sirens look like they’d fit better on a 1959 or 1960 Cadillac, not one made more than a decade later. Full Gallery Here.

professional cadillac high roof_r

Most of the ambulances at the 2013 Emergency Vehicle Show are owned by members of the Motor City chapter of the Professional Car Society. “Professional cars” is the term used for ambulances, hearses and limousines. Full Gallery Here.

This post started out as a suggestion back in August from our managing editor that I do a historical note on the last Panther police cars. When I mentioned to him that there was an emergency vehicle show being held as part of the Woodward Dream Cruise festivities, Derek got very excited and said, “I love police cars, can you cover the show?” Sorry for the delay but there were a lot of photos that had to be formatted and captioned. Enjoy them.

Before the Ford Panther platform was popular with police departments, the Chevy Caprice with the 9C1 police package was widely used after GM downsized its fullsize sedans for the 1977 model year. Full Gallery Here.

Before the Ford Panther platform was popular with police departments, the Chevy Caprice with the 9C1 police package was widely used after GM downsized its fullsize sedans for the 1977 model year. Full gallery here.

Just like alphanumerics like Z06 and Z28, 9C1 is a production code, in this case for Chevy's police package. There is an active 9C1 enthusiast community. A 1976 9C1 Nova is on my lottery list. Effectively it's a four door Z28, only with less body flex.

Just as with alphanumerics like Z06 and Z28, 9C1 started out is a production code, in this case for Chevy’s police package. There is an active 9C1 enthusiast community. A 1976 9C1 Nova is on my lottery list. Effectively it’s a four door Z28, only with less body flex. Full Gallery Here.

Does this 1974 Dodge Monaco police car look familiar? I'll give you a hint: " It's got a cop motor, a four hundred and forty cubic inch plant, it's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks, it's a model made before catalytic converters, so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say?" Full Gallery Here.

Does this 1974 Dodge Monaco police car look familiar? I’ll give you a hint: ” It’s got a cop motor, a four hundred and forty cubic inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks, it’s a model made before catalytic converters, so it’ll run good on regular gas. What do you say?” While tv and movie police cars seemed popular at the Emergency Vehicle Show, I’m not sure that the folks on the south side of Nine Mile Road would have fully appreciated a Bluesmobile replica. I think they identify more with Robocop than with Jake & Elwood. The Dodge Monaco was also used as William Shatner’s ride in television’s T.J. Hooker. Full gallery here.

 

This Dodge Coronet 440 has Tactical Mobile Unit on its flanks and I'm sure what cops then thought was a trunk full of gear, but it's probably a fraction of what a typical police car carries around today, "tactical" unit or not.

This Dodge Coronet 440 has Tactical Mobile Unit on its flanks and I’m sure what cops then thought was a trunk full of gear, but it’s probably a fraction of what a typical police car carries around today, “tactical” unit or not. Full gallery here.

The mid-1980s Dodge Diplomat was a popular choice for police agencies looking to downsize for better fuel economy.

The mid-1980s Dodge Diplomat was a popular choice for police agencies looking to downsize for better fuel economy. Full gallery here.

 

When in service, this 1947 Mack Firetruck served the residents of Clawson, Michigan, just a few miles away from where the Emergency Vehicle Show was held.

When in service, this 1947 Mack Firetruck served the residents of Clawson, Michigan, just a few miles away from where the Emergency Vehicle Show was held. Full gallery here.

 

Firetrucks with the Ahrens Fox brand have been sold for over a century.

Firetrucks with the Ahrens Fox brand have been sold for over a century. The company’s trucks looked great and show signs that attention was paid to styling. Full gallery here.

 

American LaFrance's roots date to 1832. Their first motorized firepumper was made in 1907. The introduced the cab forward firetruck, still used today, in 1947. This open cab 900 Series (1958-1974) firetruck served the people of Stonefort, Illinois. Full gallery here.

American LaFrance’s roots date to 1832. Their first motorized firepumper was made in 1907. They introduced the cab forward layout to firetrucks in 1947 and it’s still the standard layout today. This open cab 900 Series (1958-1974) firetruck served the people of Stonefort, Illinois and it is known as “Old Frankie”. Full gallery here.

Didn't I tell you that the folks with the firetrucks were more laid back than the people hanging out with the cop cars? 1939 Ford based firetruck made by Bickle. Full gallery here.

Did I mention that the folks with the ambulances and firetrucks were more laid back than the people hanging out with the cop cars? 1939 Ford based firetruck made by Bickle. Full gallery here.

 

American March firetruck based on a 1959 Ford truck. Stuffed dalmatians are apparently the firetruck show equivalent to . Full gallery here.

American March firetruck based on a 1959 Ford truck. Stuffed dalmatians are apparently the firetruck show equivalent to time out dolls at car shows. Full gallery here.

This Ford based OWL FD firetruck wears 1948 Michigan license plates but there is no town in Michigan named Owl. There is, however, the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department in Virginia. Perhaps this is one of their retired trucks. Full gallery here.

This Ford based OWL FD firetruck wears 1948 Michigan license plates but there is no town in Michigan named Owl. There is, however, the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department in Virginia. Perhaps this is one of their retired trucks. Full gallery here.

 

What's a police car show like without a cop hot rod, a pursuit special? The 1992 Ford Mustang was used by the Michigan State Police. Full gallery here.

What’s a police car show like without a cop hot rod, a pursuit special? The 1992 Ford Mustang was used by the Michigan State Police. Full gallery here.

 

The same car was on display at the big Mustang Memories show the week before. Note the shotgun rack built into the door panel. Full gallery here.

The same car was on display at the big Mustang Memories show the week before. Note the shotgun rack built into the door panel. Full gallery here.

This Dodge Diplomat was a more typical Michigan State Police car back then. It was just up Woodward at Chrysler's Dream Cruise display. Full gallery here.

This Dodge Diplomat was a more typical Michigan State Police car back then. It was just up Woodward at Chrysler’s Dream Cruise display. Full gallery here.

This 1941 Ford, belonging to Lake Orion, Michigan is still theoretically in service, with municipal plates. I evokes black and white memories of Broderick Crawford, though he actually drove a '55 Buick in Highway Patrol. Full gallery here.

This 1941 Ford, belonging to Lake Orion, Michigan is still theoretically in service, with municipal plates though it’s really just used for PR. It evokes black and white memories of Broderick Crawford, though he actually drove a ’55 Buick in Highway Patrol. Maybe if police departments put less effort into “public relations” and more effort into treating the people they serve with respect, there’d be more respect for law enforcement. Full gallery here.

A more recent Ford, a 1989 LTD Crown Victoria, was used as a pursuit vehicle by Arizona state troopers. With only 180 hp, it needed a 2.73 rear end to reach its 120 mph top speed. Full gallery here.

A more recent Ford, a 1989 LTD Crown Victoria, was used as a pursuit vehicle by Arizona state troopers. With only 180 hp, it needed a 2.73 rear end to reach its 120 mph top speed. Full gallery here.

 

This is a real P71 Ford Police Interceptor but it's never been a police car. It's a demo unit for a company that sells cop gear. Full gallery here.

This is a real P71 Ford Police Interceptor but it’s never been a police car. It’s a demo unit for a company that sells cop gear. Full gallery here.

This isn't just a real P71 Police Interceptor, it's a real police car that may still be in service in Ferndale, Michigan, which hosts the Emergency Vehicle Show every year on the day before the big Woodward Dream Cruise. Full gallery here.

This isn’t just a real P71 Police Interceptor, it’s a real police car that may still be in service in Ferndale, Michigan, which hosts the Emergency Vehicle Show every year on the day before the big Woodward Dream Cruise. Full gallery here.

 

This Crown Vic is in the familiar colors of the California Highway Patrol. Many of the actual police cars, as opposed to replicas, at the Emergency Vehicle Show, the survivors, are former highway patrol and state police vehicles. They probably don't get the abuse that urban or even suburban police cars get. Even with cop cars there is something to "easy highway miles". Full gallery here.

This Crown Vic is in the familiar colors of the California Highway Patrol. Many of the actual police cars, as opposed to replicas, at the Emergency Vehicle Show, the survivors, are former highway patrol and state police vehicles. They probably don’t get the abuse that urban or even suburban police cars get. Even with cop cars there is something to “easy highway miles”. Full gallery here.

 

This 1923 Ford Model TT paddy wagon has a provenance with significance to automotive history. If you note, it belonged to the Highland Park, Michigan police department, not far from where it was likely built at Ford's Highland Park factory. It also probably carried a Ford employee or two on a Saturday night after payday. Full gallery here.

This 1923 Ford Model TT paddy wagon has a provenance with significance to automotive history. If you note, it belonged to the Highland Park, Michigan police department, not far from where it was likely built at Ford’s Highland Park factory. It also probably carried a Ford employee or two on a Saturday night after payday. Full gallery here.

Another replica of a television police car, in this case the unmarked Torino from Starsky and Hutch. Stereo pics here.

Another replica of a television police car, in this case the unmarked Torino from Starsky and Hutch. Stereo pics here.

The may be the only police car that makes people smile when they see it unexpectedly. Sheriff Andy Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show set in fictional Mayberry, and his deputy Barney Fife drove a series of Ford Fairlanes and Galaxies on the show. That may have had something to do with that "vehicles loaned for promotional considerations" during the credit roll. Full gallery here.

The may be the only police car that makes people smile when they see it unexpectedly. Sheriff Andy Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show set in fictional Mayberry, and his deputy Barney Fife drove a series of Ford Fairlanes and Galaxies on the show. That may have had something to do with that “vehicles loaned for promotional considerations” during the credit roll. Full gallery here.

For the 1962 model year television season, FoMoCo had the producers switch Sheriff Taylor switched to the more upscale Galaxie 500. Full gallery here.

For the 1961-62 model year television season, FoMoCo had the producers switch Sheriff Taylor switched to the more upscale Galaxie 500. Full gallery here.

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I’m not sure if the Oakland County Sheriff’s Dept’s mobile command center was parked at the Emergency Vehicle Show for public relations or if it was being used to coordinate the massive annual police presence at the Woodward Dream Cruise. Officers from around the state are deputized under mutual aid pacts. All that manpower is needed to police the widely distributed million person crowd. That must be why the motorcycle cops travel in packs of up to 20. Full gallery here.

This 1974 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight based ambulance was used by the Reuhle's Ambulance Service in suburban Detroit. My guess is that the Reuhles might have driven their ambulances to the beat of a different drummer. Full gallery here.

This 1974 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight based ambulance was used by the Reuhle’s Ambulance Service in suburban Detroit. My guess is that the Reuhles might have driven their ambulances to the beat of a different drummer. Full gallery here.

My guess is that this 1958 Plymouth Plaza wasn't ever a real police car. I'm not sure exactly why, but it may have something to do with the Donutburg Donut Patrol decal on the door. Also, it's a two-door, which makes it rather difficult to get prisoners in and out of the back seat. Full gallery here.

I’m not sure exactly why I don’t think that this 1958 Plymouth Plaza was ever a real police car, but it may have something to do with the Donutburg Donut Patrol decal on the door. Also, it’s a two-door, which makes it rather difficult to get prisoners in and out of the back seat. Full gallery here.

It has a 440 cubic inch V8 that puts out 375  hp (25 more than non-police cars), a 3.23 limited slip rear end, heavy duty disk brakes up front and bigger drums in the back and a top speed at over 140 mph.

This semi-marked Michigan State Police freeway pursuit car has a 440 cubic inch V8 that puts out 375 hp (25 more than non-police cars), a 3.23 limited slip rear end, heavy duty disk brakes up front and bigger drums in the back, and a top speed between 140 and 150 mph. Few factory cars in the day, even muscle cars, could run it. It’s also a great looking car. Full gallery here.

George Patak is an operations manager for a security company and a retired police officer. He restored his 1963 Plymouth station wagon as it would have been used by the Detroit Police, whose academy is where Patak got his training. Full gallery here.

George Patak is an operations manager for a security company and a retired police officer. He restored his 1963 Plymouth station wagon as it would have been used by the Detroit Police, whose academy is where Patak got his training. Cop car or not, it has great lines. Full gallery here.

 

Before Caprices and Panthers, many police departments favored Mopar products. This 1967 Plymouth Fury I belonged to a township police department and doesn't look like it have very severe usage. Full gallery here.

Before Caprices and Panthers, many police departments favored Mopar products. This 1967 Plymouth Fury I belonged to a township police department and doesn’t look like it had very severe usage. Full gallery here.

The 2013 Emergency Vehicle Show was an international event, with this restored 1957 Pontiac police car brought by the LaSalle, Ontario police department. Full gallery here.

Ferndale’s 2013 Emergency Vehicle Show was an international event, with this restored 1957 Pontiac police car brought by the LaSalle, Ontario police department. Full gallery here.

 

This 1970 AMC Rebel The Machine was not at the Emergency Vehicle Show. I spotted it at the American Motors Owners meet a week later. The sign on the dashboard says that it's a barn fresh unmarked police car from Havre, Montana. It makes more sense than a Mustang. Who is going to suspect an AMC, an AMC with a hood mounted tach at that, of being a cop car? Full gallery here.

This 1970 AMC Rebel The Machine was not at the Emergency Vehicle Show. I spotted it at the American Motors Owners meet a week later. The sign on the dashboard says that it’s a barn fresh unmarked police car from Havre, Montana. That makes more sense than a Mustang pursuit car. Who is going to suspect an AMC, an AMC with a hood mounted tach at that, of being a cop car? It even has 4 speed on the floor. Full gallery here.

 

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When I was a child,  behind the building where I went to school there was a 1927 Ahrens Fox firetruck and a decommissioned Michigan National Guard F-84F fighter jet specifically put there as playground equipment. I doubt that would happen today, what with lawsuits and nannies, but kids still like firetrucks.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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63 Comments on “There Were Police Cars Before the Crown Vic, You Know? 2013 Emergency Vehicle Show (w/ Firetrucks and Ambulances and Plenty of Crown Vics Too!)...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Maybe if police departments put less effort into “public relations” and more effort into treating the people they serve with respect, there’d be more respect for law enforcement.”

    The whole rest of the article has nothing to do with this quote, and it’s rather tactless. It irritated me such an opinion would be inserted into coverage of a car show.

  • avatar
    86er

    Any 69 Polaras at the show?

    • 0 avatar

      I think all of the vintage cop cars at the show are pictured in this post, so I guess there weren’t any ’69 Polaras.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        If so, bummer.

        The ’69 Polara (police package) is an incredible car, even by today’s standards. This was one of the cars that made the California Highway Patrol so fearsome back in the day. The official top speed was marked at 147 MPH, a huge battle ship size car on 60′s era tires, the 440 Magnum could make that car fly…. in fact some CHP officers substantiate that car could go faster then even that astounding number. I want one. This was the Dirty Harry of police cars, but then again you needed some heavy duty machinery chasing down Z28′s, Road Runners, Super Cobra Jet Mustangs and the like.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Thanks Ronnie for a wonderful trip down memory lane!

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    The red Superior ambulance is a ’67, easily identified by its forward-canted fenders and lack of side marker lights integrated into the taillight housings.

    And, quite frankly, you really need to do a better job of framing the vehicles in the shot. The plethora of cars with their corners lopped off in the photos is inexcusable.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      I take many pics at shows myself, so I know. The best pics are 3/4 shots, either front or rear, to get as much of a vehicle in as possible. And don’t be afraid to crouch or stretch. For instance, the ’67 Fury pic would have been better if you scooted over to your left to get more of the car in the shot, and lowered the camera to avoid the tree.

      • 0 avatar

        There are some clear rear 3/4 shots of the Fury from the other side of the car over at Cars In Depth. Just follow the link in that caption. I shoot in 3D, so sometimes I’ll leave objects like trees or lamp posts in the foreground. One of the nice things about my stereo rig is that it’s triggered by a switch that’s connected to the cameras by cables that are about a meter long, so I can raise or lower the camera without having to stretch or crouch too much.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Havre, Montana, having a Machine pursuit car? Maybe the nearby metropolis of Miles City, or even Forsythe, but surely not Havre?

  • avatar
    mikey

    The late 80 to 82 recession hit us hard at the GM Oshawa plants. Truck production was cut to one shift. The “A” plant had just started running the Celebrity, and the Pontiac 6000. Sales could not support two shifts.

    On the “B” side, we had already absorbed the high seniority folks from both plants. We were down for a month at Christmas 81. It sure looked like “B” was going to one shift. My seniority date was getting closer, and closer, to the cut off date.
    To that point, it was the worst times my generation of auto worker had ever experienced. Little did we know that 80-82 was just a bump in the road. The old timers talked of 58 -60. They all said, that was the worse ever. Me thinks 2007-2009 trumped all.

    I remember all the hoopala in early 82 when we got an order from C.H.P. I can’t recall if they were Impalas or the Caprice. I remember them being 350 cu.in. with heavy duty everything. I worked in final assembly at the time. GM assigned a special crew just to monitor final production.

    We must of done something right. That, or GM was cutting a great fleet deal. We started running 75 percent Police, and Taxi packages. I can recall looking down the line,and seeing nothing but Police cars.

    By the spring of 83 the economy had picked up. Shifts were recalled. Overtime was scheduled. Life went back to normal.

    Even today when I see an old Chevy box on the road, I think of all those cop cars.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Nice story, thanks for sharing.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You were involved in a significant event. The CHP was Mopar for decades until the last full size, RWD R-body Chryslers were discontinued. They tried to get by with Diplomats, but CARB ruled out the 340 and any bigger engine Chrysler made and the strangled 318 wasn’t working out, even with a 4bbl. It was the lure of the GM 350 that made the CHP make the switch, since Chrysler didn’t have the money to make their bigger engines CARB-compliant.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        Those were Impalas as the Caprice was at that time a higher trim level, the Impala trim being better suited for a police car with it’s more basic features and less luxuries.

        It was a big deal as Lorenzo noted. The Impala just was the better performer that year. Plus Dodge had the disasterous ’81 St. Regis debacle the year previous.

        After the 440 Mopars were discontinued by Mopar, as was the Fury/Monaco fullsize cars, the R body Mopars became the fullsize police cars in ’79. While not as fast as the 440 cars, the 360 equipped St. Regis was for the most part well received by officers. The 360 did well enough for most. However, California had stricter emissions standards then the other states and by ’81 only the 318 was the only available engine in that state for police cars. The ’81 Dodge St. Regis A38 ‘police package’ came with a 318 cu. in. 4 bbl carb with a pathetic 155 hp. That’s it. It didn’t move the brick shape fullsizer too well, much less if you had a gigantic ‘Twinsonic’ lightbar on the roof….. top speed was allegedly 95 MPH on absolute flat roads.

        Needless to say the CHP HATED this car. Pretty much anything with more then an angry hamster under the hood could out run the St. Reject, St. Regret, “the stone”, “Patrolman’s worst nightmare” and “the dog”. Chippies would often tell stories of VW Bugs getting away and even cars that weren’t purposely trying to escape, often would because the Dodge couldn’t keep pace and intercept the speeder and they would often lose the offender in traffic.

        The Dodge St. Regis is why there was a Mustang police car. Really that was the reason.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Cool. Thank you for posting this.

  • avatar

    Two door police cars were pretty common in the 40s and 50s up here in Canada. I had three uncles who were members of the RCMP and they drove plenty of two doors during that era.

  • avatar

    I thought all the old squad cars were destroyed in the Blues Brothers movie.

    • 0 avatar
      Carl Kolchak

      Grew up in Chicago about the the time the movie was filmed. One junkyard was filled with crashed cop cars. Not a lot of use for parts for a full size 4 door , except for the 440 engine, 727 trans and rear end.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    while I get a kick out of the Panther love-fest, it makes me sad that the other significant death in 2011 (the Ranger) gets so little attention.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Putting aside my own feelings on the discontinuation of the Ranger, the loss was memorialized on TTAC. The ongoing Panther love-fest is more about lamenting the loss of the American car. The American truck is alive and kicking, albeit in super-sized form (the forthcoming Colorado and Canyon are smaller than full size, but probably won’t be by much).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Great article Ronnie, I love a car show, especially one with such unique offerings.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    No 9C1 ’80s Malibus?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    IIRC the ’57 Plymouth driven by the Sheriff in the Martin Sheen movie The California Kid was also a 2 door. He wasn’t really much for taking prisoners, so he could have made due with only 2.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Thanks for sharing the pictures, I always like looking at older emergency vehicles, that vintage paddy wagon takes the cake though.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I like the old fire trucks…there’s still appreciation for old fire vehicles around here. The big local car show (Perkasie, PA) brought out a 1955 Mack B-85 fire truck and a cab-over Mack of similar vintage, and I made sure to give them a good look.

    Hell, the fire department up the street still uses a 1988 Mack R water tanker because it hasn’t become too worn out to keep fixing and water tanker tech hasn’t really changed at all.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Great article ! .

    Decades ago I had an ex Sacramento Metro unit , a 700 series Malibu , too cheap to have the Chevelle appearance group ~ 250 I6 and a slip ‘n slide powerglide it was a great car .

    In the 1960′s we had a 1929 Chevrolet pumper fire truck on the farm , another great rig .

    When I began @ L.A.P.D. in 1984 the ’82 Impala & Caprice were the cock of the walk and always will be to me ~ even better than those wonderful Dodges of the 1960′s .

    My 1980 Caddy S & S Victoria Hearse (base model built on a Fleetwood chassis) is tired but still a great road car .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    ajla

    “The mid-1980s Dodge Diplomat was a popular choice for police agencies looking to downsize for better fuel economy.”

    As a former Diplomat owner, if the M-body was the “fuel saving” option, I am frightened to imagine what the “gas guzzling” police cars managed.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You echo my thoughts.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        R-body!

        • 0 avatar
          Joe McKinney

          The R Body was one of the worst cars ever inflicted on law enforcement. Lousy gas mileage, lousy build quality and lousy performance.

          In contrast the M Body was more attractive. Gas mileage was no better than a Ford LTD Crown Vic or Chevy Caprice so economy was definitely not a selling point. However the optional 360 V-8 gave the M Body decent performance by the standards of the time. The M Body was also more rugged and reliable than other mid-sized police sedans like the Ford Fairmont and Fox Body LTD and the Chevy Celebrity.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Wow I didn’t realize those were even offered as emergency service vehicles, both the R-body and the Chevy Celebrity [!].

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            CARB wouldn’t certify any Mopar engine bigger than the 318 in California, which is why the CHP switched to GM cars in 1982, with the demise of the R-body. And yes, lots of police liked the St. Regis, Newport and Grand Fury, though their maintenance shops didn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Joe McKinney

            1982 was also the year the CHP bought its first Special Service Mustangs.

            For a short time the R Body was popular with police fleets. It was only made from 1979-1981 so it was not used as long as other contemporary police sedans which had much longer production runs.

            One of the biggest disappointments with the R Body was that it replaced the 1977-1978 B Body which had been available with the 440. The biggest engine offered in the R Body was the 360. Going from a 440 to a 360 or 318 must have been quite a let down.

            Imagine the delight felt by a California Trooper when his old Dodge St. Regis was replaced with a new Special Service Mustang.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    No Volvo cop cars? They were used by a number of towns in Maine in the ’80s. Turbos and n/a’s both. Friend of mine still has an ’85 244 that was a patrol car in Augusta. Cloth front seats, hose it out vinyl in the back just like the big boys. No cage/divider, they are fairly rare in Maine outside of Portland. Trimmed like an n/a on the outside, but it is an intercooled turbo.

    My hometown used Diplomats until they couldn’t get them anymore, then went Ford. Just traded all the Crown Bricks for Explorer PIs recently. The chief is a relative of mine, I’ll have to ask how they like them when I see him next.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’ve heard things about Saabs being used in Aspen as police vehicles but I wasn’t aware Volvos were also used stateside.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Funny you should bring that up, because I distinctly recall in Dumb & Dumber, they were in Aspen and when the cops showed up at the hotel at the end, they were in Saab 9000s. I always had felt (even as a child) that wasn’t believable.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I can’t 100% confirm it but I have heard this is what Aspen did in the 80s and 90s.

          • 0 avatar
            Johnnyangel

            Aspen had Saab 900 police cars in the early 80s for sure. I have pictures I took there at the time (unfortunately on film and not readily accessible) …

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Aspen had Saabs up until the mid ’00s. Ended with 9-5s. I have seen pictures of them at the ’99 or ’00 Saab Convention, which was in Colorado.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I’d like to know how they liked the Volvos, I’ve heard they were pretty popular if pricey with the police.

      I’ve heard from a Missouri Chief that the new Explorers hold the road well and have plenty of space and power, but they didn’t care for the the new cramped Taurus, wishing Panthers were still around.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s pretty much what I heard from my brother and his officer friends.

        The advantage of the 244 for police would be longevity vs other police options of the period, esp if they were only being used for run of the mill borough police tasks and not highway duty.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          That and I’m sure they liked the turbo models handling, I remember hearing of a test that was run in the 80′s testing various cars for police duty and 240s were at the top of the ranks, very popular in Europe as police cars too for their time.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            From what I understand the beancounters seldom ask for the officer’s input about handling or model preference. Evidently the lack of room/visibility in the Taurus was so bad some of the officers here complained to the union which is the only reason the beancounters switched their next batch of orders to Explorer.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          If I was a cop, I would sure rather spend 8+hrs a day in a Volvo seat than in what the American makers laughingly refer to as “seats”.

          No reason that Volvos wouldn’t be just fine in highway patrol duty too – they certainly were in Europe where they ran a heck of a lot higher speeds than they would have here in the ’80s. Volvo wagons are pretty much THE standard issue highway patrol car in all of northern Europe to this day. City cops tend to get Golfs or Astras.

          Given how cramped I found my rented Taurus, I can’t imagine how the average Maine State Trooper fits in one with all their gear on. Those boys tend to be on the LARGE size. They grow them big in rural Maine.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can’t speak for the turbo because I’ve never had the pleasure of driving one, or what goes on in Europe. But your standard redblock wasn’t exactly a modicum of acceleration, even against 80s rides which is precisely what cops want in their interceptors.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It was a very different era. A 107hp non-turbo B21 240 is a road slug today, when a Camry has 180hp-270hp and sports cars have 400hp+. Back in ’82, my Subaru 4dr with the BIG 1.8l had 80hp… Most American 6s still had carbs and barely 100hp. Corvettes had ~150hp. Exotica had 200hp – Ferraris and Porsches. A BMW 318i had only a couple more hp than a Volvo, a 325e in ’83 had only 120hp. A non-turbo 240 was not really any slower than the non-pursuit special cop cars – 0-60 in 10 seconds was considered pretty quick in those days, the non-turbos did it in ~12. The turbos were down in the 8 second range with a stick – that was nearly Ferrari 308 or 911 speed! And the turbos were faster in gear. The early Volvo turbos had 135hp, and the later intercooled cars had 160hp (with both having disproportionately more torque than the n/as)- those cars were MISSILES by the standards of the mid 80s. The cop cars were LIGHT too – they did not have all the luxury stuff the regular turbos had.

            If you have never driven an early Volvo or Saab turbo, you really should find one to take for a spin. The 0-60 time really does not do justice to the speed they are capable of, because the turbo lag kills them off the line, especially with an automatic – doubly so for the 3spd Saabs. But the passing acceleration is phenomenal, and the wait, wait, wait, WHOMP!! of the power delivery really adds to the thrill of it all. Great fun, which sadly got neutered somewhat as turbo tech moved on to smaller turbos with less lag. Took a lot of the fun out of it all.

            Raw speed has rarely been much of a benefit in police cars anyway – as the old saying goes “you can outrun the Mopar, but you can’t outrun the Motorola”. If anything, cops have been at a bigger disadvantage driving Crown Vics in recent years than even the non-turbo Volvo guys back in ’81. A Crown brick is a relatively much slower car vs. todays average car.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            It’s funny we’re talking about this because the only completely intact 200/700/900 series turbo I personally know of is an absolute mint 87 744 that the owner is so funny about he only allows my mechanic personally to drive or work on it while its over at the shop. However an acquaintance in my company’s other building just three weeks ago acquired an ’84 242 Turbo 5spd out of Alabama that looks like it went through WWII. I eventually tracked him down after I noticed it showed up more than once in the parking lot, he said he plans on beginning to restore it as a winter project. Perhaps I’ll have some ass-kissing to do come spring for a test drive.

            Off to watch the Walking Dead, I missed it last night, see ya.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            The darnest thing with Taurus’s is that the platform-mate 500 before them is fairly roomy, would be better without the center console.

            Otherwise I wonder how repair prices were on both the Dodges and the Volvos vs the bof stuff, since Panther buffs will always tout cheap repairs in accidents.

            I do like Swedish seats over Americas padded park bench’s for seats, I always said I should strip a junkyard Volvo and use a seat for my video games.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      The Hampden Maine PD ran Volvos in the 80′s.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        The CHP ran a test fleet of Volvo sedans in the late 90′s and early 00′s, S70′s if I recall. Those were equipped with the 2.3 Turbo 5 cylinder. They were fast, but not as durable as a Panther, plus much more expensive to purchase and maintain.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        The CHP ran a test fleet of Volvo sedans in the late 90′s and early 00′s, S70′s if I recall. Those were equipped with the 2.3 Turbo 5 cylinder. They were fast, but not as durable as a Panther, plus much more expensive to purchase and maintain.

  • avatar
    TheAnswerIsPolara

    That ’74 Monaco brings back memories… My mom bought a new ’74 Monaco hardtop. it was triple white with plaid cloth inserts on the white bucket seats. a real head turner…

    Anyway… She had bit of a lead foot. When she’d get on the freeway, everyone would slow down thinking it was one of the local constabulary running unmarked. No end to her consternation trying to get them out of her way!

    She only kept the car a few years and traded it in on a ’77 1/2 Chrysler LeBaron. I’ll save that story for another day :)

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    “Fix the cigarette lighter.”

  • avatar
    AJ

    Wow! Thanks for sharing the pictures and information.

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    These pics stirred a lot of memories for me, thinking of my time on an Ohio sheriff’s department in the early ’60s. I was sworn in just in time to drive the last standard transmission cruiser, a ’57 Ford 312/245. Then on to the fabled 390/330s….

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The only TV cop car you didn’t mention was the one Robert Stack drove in the Untouchables. My dad could tell 1920s cars apart but I couldn’t. He said the ones they crashed or put bullet holes in were Fords, but the ones the characters actually drove were Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I remember the bad old days where the Toronto force had to downsize their lemons from Monacos to Aspens. Man, that was a killer!

    BTW, where is Dave Hestor these days? He should have good stories about some of these rides!


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