By on March 12, 2010

There’s lots of places to find old cop car photos, but I was perusing a 1953 Popular Science at bed time the other night, and remembered a story about the just-opened NJ turnpike and its new fleet of cop cars. Here are one of each of the fleet of 23 Fords and stealthy Chryslers. The Fords came with Mercury engines installed; their 255 cubic inch flathead V8s had a whopping 125 hp instead of the stock Ford 110 hp. The also had dual exhausts, “souped up rear ends”, and heavy duty cooling systems. The ten unmarked Chryslers “are capable of 120 mph”, which I wouldn’t question given their 180 hp hemi engines. Three “portable” radar timers (roadside, not hand-held) were also in the arsenal. And every trooper was trained in auto mechanics as part of the training; they would have known how to stop their runaway car.

Old Popular Sciences are a treasure trove of the bizarre and curious, reflecting American’s folksy inventiveness. I couldn’t resist scanning just two of these and sharing:

This one is a real gem; why didn’t I think of that! A table saw you can drive to the job site! Looks like he stole his kid’s pedal tractor. Which would probably be just as fast, as the top speed of this conveyance is four mph in high gear.

This one doesn’t need any commentary. Have a nice weekend!

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11 Comments on “Cop Car Friday Finale: Hot Rod 1953 Fords And Hemi Chryslers (And Other Vintage Oddities)...”

  • avatar

    Who would want to ride a table saw to work?

  • avatar

    Great stuff. No copy cats here. Truly independent thinking. Too bad it’s not also useful.

  • avatar

    Our crazy lawn-obsessed* neighbors across the cul-de-sac could use that car with rollers!

    *So crazy that the woman of the house set up an elaborate system of lawn chairs, orange cones, and police-type tape to keep the snow plows away from their precious grass!

  • avatar

    The lawn roller car would have worked better, faster, and without the hassle of changing wheels for rollers, if this dude had just kept the rear tires on it, and built (probably about the same amount of work) a full-width split rear roller (something like those WW1-2 French military half-tracks (renault?) had mounted in the front), that mounted to the rear frame-rails/bumper-mounts and swung down like the rail-wheels do on railway pickups … forward propulsion could have been provided by a belt or chain between the rear drive wheel of the car and the rear roller … to steer on the lawn, I think he would still have needed to replace the tires with the front roller wheels…

  • avatar

    Great article-my dad subscribed to all of the major magazines like Popular Science,Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated.

    Typically they had great car articles but the other part of the equation was this “think way outside the box” stuff like mobile riding saws and car lawn rollers.

    As a kid, I remember being fascinated by these real life inventions and the way these magazines would take on stories like those highway patrol cars.

    Definitely a great facet of the past-there was always that 50s optimism woven into these magazines.

  • avatar

    Thanks again for another great find Paul!

    I also enjoy old Popular Science magazines, both because I voraciously devoured them as a kid (yes, I was – probably still am? – a geek), and now becasue you’re absolutely right, they’re great insights into what we thought the “future” would look like. Optimistic, creative, imaginative, sometimes bizzare, naive, and probably impossible. But, in many ways, more out-of-the-box thinking than we have now in the sobering realities of resource constraints and long-term economic slugishness.

    Funny thing about the future, it never turns out the way you think it will, or should.

  • avatar
    buzz phillips

    NJ Turnpike opened in 1949 and used Chrysler New Yorkers and Saratogas for many years, both marked and unmarked! They used Fords on regular state highways.

  • avatar

    Google Books has a treasure trove of past issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. And they’re easily searchable for that article you remember from the mid- to late ’70s:

    Popular Science

    Popular Mechanics

    Alas, I’ve spent far too many rainy weekend afternoons perusing these pages…and a few sunny afternoons, as well.

    EDIT: Paul, I just read the article about the NJ turnpike patrol, and almost spewed my coffee when I read, “…there are 10 sleek, unmarked black Chrysler sedans.” I suppose the term “sleek” is relative, but one I’ve never felt applied to Chryslers from the K.T. Keller era!

    • 0 avatar

      Curse you, BuzzDog. I went to your first link and got sucked into wasting the next two hours. Found an article on one of my first Japanese cars, the RWD Mazda 626. Hilarious to read about the revolutionary Chevy Citation….and more….and more…..

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