By on January 27, 2016

 

Chevrolet Caprice Cop Car

(Sarah Nader/Northwest Herald)

An Illinois sheriff knows a barn find when he sees one.

According to the Northwest Herald, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Stadler spotted an old parade Chevrolet Caprice with 4,000 miles gathering dust in a shed and decided to bring it back into service.

The 20-year-old, LT1-powered police cruiser — which sports none of the modern police cruiser amenities including USB ports, massive touchscreen or even traction control — was pressed into service when Stadler’s Impala was retired.

“I could see the diamond in the rough,” Stadler told the newspaper. “Your non-car person would look at this thing and think, ‘Why would I want this 20-year-old thing covered in dirt?’ Where I was, ‘I really want to clean this thing up.’”

Hell yes.

Stadler said the car needed about a month of work to bring it up to service-duty snuff, including installing radios and a laptop, but said that the one-of-a-kind Corvette-powered Caprice will run until the bitter end. He’s put about 30,000 miles on it over the last year he’s used it, which include full, 40-hour work weeks.

“Those cars were on the road for 10 years,” Stadler told the Northwest Herald. “I don’t know if this one will be around for 10 years on the road, but I’m sure going to enjoy it as long as I have it.”

According to Stadler, the car has been named “Christine” after the possessed Plymouth Fury of the same name.

Click through for a video about the car.

(Photos courtesy Sarah Nader/Northwest Herald)

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41 Comments on “Sheriff Resurrects 20-year-old LT1-powered Chevrolet Caprice...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This reminds me of how quickly I memorized grill/headlight patterns on vehicles available with a police package back in my “salad days” (1993-2000). I still check my speed instinctively when I see a Charger/Tahoe/Explorer/Taurus.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      During the mid to early 70’s the Toronto Police used a version of the Plymouth Fury. These had distinctive amber lights. Originally set low under the front bumper and then with newer models set into the grill ‘inside’ of the headlights.

      If you knew what you were looking for, you could spot them miles away.

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      Amen to that. I don’t know what it is these days, but I find it much more difficult to ID cruisers in the dark. Probably because the patrol models are also driven by so many civilians? These days, I’m more likely to just drive a a reasonable speed so I don’t have to worry about it.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Honestly I don’t drive fast in the dark (maybe 5 over) because of the safety aspect of not being able to see far ahead. In good weather in the broad daylight Police Explorers are easy to spot because they have a sinister attitude. They are blacked out (0 bright work) and have a nose down stance.

        My problem is that there are too may white Tahoes being sold to civilians around here plus the problem of being in an area with lots of government cars (usually Tahoes/Suburbans) with no enforcement authority.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      I used to sometimes drive a Caprice government car in MY salad days. It had a seal of my obscure government agency on the side, so no one could tell what it was unless they were practically along side.

      Those were the 55 mph speed limit days and the general practice was to fall in a respectful distance behind someone going 65 or so.

      I was a fit young guy fond of aviator sunglasses. I couldn’t make any time at all.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      I remember instinctively knowing the headlights between the square and round body LTDs and the cockroach Caprice. Had the first Escort XYK band radar detector hidden in the dash for driving through Virginia. The few times I got busted for speeding around in my 300ZX was by STs in their mod’ed ‘Stangs. Hated but had to give respect to those 5.0s. Still want one.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    There are still some of these in daily use in small towns around here.

    I like them, easy to spot. The darned cop Taurus/Exploders blend into the scenery too much. As do the state cop Mustangs, though they don’t drive those in the winter.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I still have a house in McHenry County, I’d be proud to be pulled over there by this.

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      My condolences. I’m still working on my escape plan. But first, I have to get ready for my yearly fight on my tax assessment. On the plus side, I get to visit Woodstock, IL, filming location for the movie Groundhog day. The square is nice, but not quite as charming as the movie makes it out to be.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        It’s cool. I live in Arlington Heights, I just still have my (underwater) place in Crystal Lake.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        I grew up in Marengo and have many, many fond memories of my mom taking me to Bohn’s on the Square. I still have the many, many Transformers that were bought there. And the Woodstock Theater, I can’t count how many movies I saw there.

        I’ll echo the sentiment already expressed though regarding this being a maintenance unicorn, I’m not sure how that works.

        As for the article, keep in mind that this is a goodwill/puff piece written by almost certainly a non-car person. A search for her byline shows she’s written for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle as well. Looks like she graduated from North Central College in Naperville so I guess she’s more or less a local.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    During the mid to early 70’s the Toronto Police used a version of the Plymouth Fury. These had distinctive amber lights. Originally set low under the front bumper and then with newer models set into the grill ‘inside’ of the headlights.

    If you knew what you were looking for, you could spot them miles away.

  • avatar

    very good looking car. Classic.

  • avatar

    It’s great that they are using the car, but I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of buying a car and not using it in the first place. Ahh, government.

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      I think the article mentions that it was set aside for parade duty. Not sure why. There aren’t that many parades around here.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      It could have been purchased for “traffic enforcement” constantly parked (low hours) and then parked under a policy that called for some sort of mandatory vehicle retirement based on years in service and not related to mileage.

      Just my 2 cents from a guy who has to deal with (on a daily basis) asinine policies bestowed from on high.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        More than likely bought on the last model year on a state budget that had already been approved. Then on the next budget came the new fleet of whatever had already been approved. This car with no traction control was probably considered not suitable for patrol duty and was put to pasture.

        Working for the Army for eons, I can attest to the mad need to spend every last cent of money granted because if you don’t, you don’t get the same amount next go round.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice!

  • avatar

    Outstanding!

    I will add this – Local Clearwater PD uses Caprice PPVs as undercover cars and run them unmarked.

    Why?

    Their very existence denotes them as squad cars.

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      Only to people that cue in on that sort of thing. I’m sure that to most people, it’s identified as “car”. Just like an unmarked police Tahoe or Explorer is “SUV”. Even with the extra antennae and spotlight, I’m not sure the majority of drivers recognize it for what it is.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      You know where they auction those away at when they finish with them?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Try publicsurplus.com and Govdeals.org two of the biggest internet auction sites for public agencies. Many organizations use their services to dispose of most if not all of their vehicles. Of course not every agency use those. For example my county sells their vehicles at an on site auction twice per year in a holding lot where they accumulate the vehicles between auctions. The state uses publicsurplus. A couple of local cites use Govdeals and another uses both an ebay seller and a local auction company where their vehicles are mixed in with private fleets and general consignments.

        Many larger agencies have the info on how they dispose of their surplus. So try googling the state, county or municiplaity and surplus or surplus vehicle(s).

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          GovDeals is where everything…EVERYTHING…goes after use in some jurisdictions, even if an employee of the jurisdiction is willing to give many times the worth of the item to get it. Then good luck trying to grab said item..worse than eBay!!

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Im glad sone of these old fuzz boats are being resurrectedx jusy pleae do nit sell it. We dont need more B Body donk.

  • avatar
    aycaramba

    I mentioned to Mark when I forwarded this story along that I was at a stoplight and this guy was in the lane to my left about a week ago. It was a little funny, as I had one of those “Wait, what?” moments once I realized what I was looking at. I figured it had to be some sort of weird low-key attempt at public relations. I really wouldn’t have expected that they would seriously run a 20-year-old patrol car. Not here in salt country.

    I guess it does work from a PR perspective. The article mentions that people ask the deputy about it all the time. And I resolved that I would be sure to stop and do the same to figure out the story the next time we crossed paths.

    I wonder if he lets you off easy during a traffic stop if you recognize what he’s driving?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      From what I understand, a new cop car with all the bells and whistles is like $80K. I’d be happy if my local PD would keep their cars for 4 years; 20 is a taxpayer’s dream.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @Vogo, true the cost savings seem legit, but like a Top Gear episode where Jeremy is adamant that a Porsche 944 Turbo is the perfect ambulance and will save so much money, there’s so much more to take in.

        Maintenance for example will have to be stepped up as this is an old vehicle with parts that aren’t already on the shelves of the maintenance department and the mechanics may have no idea how to diagnose faults. Not to mention insurance is going to love this vehicle for not having the safety features expected of patrol cars today. Having done fleet management for years, there’s nothing I LOVE better than having a Unicorn in my fleet.

        Prior to going to OIF III, had to prepare all parts and maintenance support for the 4/1 BDE’s deployment of over 1,500 vehicles and trailers. One vehicle was a 5 ton build-up with data plate from 1951 that had originally saw combat in Korea, again in Vietnam, and Desert Storm. Parts were insanely difficult to find as were the mechanics who knew WTF they were looking at and how to diagnose faults on something that has no electronic helper. I tried (and failed) to get the damn thing accepted by the Post as an Historic Vehicle and put out on the Petting Zoo.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The Seattle PD has an ex-Seattle PD 1970 Satellite which they reacquired and use for actual patrol duties downtown during the summer months. It’s a neat sight on downtown streets.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/patrolling-vintage-seattle-police-car-draws-attention/

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So much win in this story.

    Hated the B-Bodies when they came out. Thought they looked awful – Panther baby. But there is just something so cool about finding an old B-Body that wasn’t raped by the donk crew.

    Someone in my ‘hood has a B-Body Buick Roadmaster, faux wood panels and all – there is just so something awesome about it now.

    • 0 avatar

      You feel the same way about donks that I feel about riced-out Civics and Integras.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Oh no, I feel the same way about riced out Civics and Integras also.

        A coffee can is not approved muffler, your camber being that far off looks horrific, and let me know when the unibody fails from driving on those cut springs.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My favorites are the “bubble donk in progress” when the car has a lift but the owner hasn’t saved up yet for a downpayment at Rim Tyme, and in the mean time the car has a set of steelies and some fat 80 series sidewall black wall no name tires. I am a ghetto sled connoisseur, “box” b bodies are a daily sight in beat up daily driver guise around my way, “bubble” B bodies like the car in this story are likewise super common. I find them all quite endearing.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    These are great cars. I had a 95 SS as a DD for several years, a great combination of power, ride, handling, comfort………subject to the usual GM design/build issues of course.

  • avatar
    chris724

    McHenry County! I’ve lived here my whole life. The only Republican county in the Chicago metro area. :)

  • avatar
    Seanathin

    Cool article. I just did something very similar myself with a 96 Impala SS. I thought of it as somewhat of a rescue mission since it’s super rare to see one not ruined (either from neglect or opposite of neglect)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Pretty cool ! .

    Good use of Taxpayer Dollars too .

    Pity about the salt , though .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Putting it into service may be a good use of taxpayer dollars, but buying it and using it only for parades before parking it for a decade was not a good use of taxpayer dollars.

      • 0 avatar
        aycaramba

        Agreed. There’s a part of me that admires making use of what you’ve got. Then there’s a part of me that screams about what a waste it was in the first place. Especially as a taxpayer in the jurisdiction that’s the subject of the article.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Right arm! They are no better now than they were then. You got luck getting to keep an LT1 Caprice Classic. Relax, stretch out and keep givin’ ‘er. You’re not trashing the sky any more than you would be in an “Eco” boost. ‘Course like Arthur Daily says, there were even airier, softer, wider, sweeter and more comfortable cruisers in the uncongested low population past. Long live the King.

    http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_401125-Plymouth-Fury-1972.html

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The quality of the story in the NorthWest Herald is a classic example of why it isn’t worth reading most news sources. “Stadler drives a 1995 Chevrolet Caprice, a car that was produced for only three years and was one of the first performance vehicles made for police.” That’s far from the truth, as any fan of Chrysler’s squad cars of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s could tell you. The car I used during driver’s ed on the range at AHS was a 1976 Pontiac LeMans Enforcer with a 400-4 barrel V8 and a set of performance option badges glued to the dashboard. The fact-checker of the year goes on to write the the Caprice has 350 hp, perhaps aware that the actual figure of 260 hp wouldn’t impress people much today, or perhaps not. Either way, such writers are worthless for learning much about the world.


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