By on February 28, 2012

The Fox-bodied Special Service Mustang probably saved more lives than roll bars at the Daytona 500 for one simple reason: Scofflaws feared these fast little ponies.

They gained a “more fact than fiction” reputation of invincibility in a high-speed chase because they could crack out insane 0-60 times and top out at well over 135 miles per hour. That’s pretty fast in 2012. In 1985,-it was Warp Speed 10.

Gord Holdcraft wants to make it faster.

Holdcraft is the current owner of this vintage police car, and his vision for the Special Service Mustang is measured in quarter mile times. Gord was a drag strip guy in his misspent youth, and he saw a bright future with this car. The ‘stang has seen track duty already because the rear end has been swapped out for a stouter track-rated ratio.

This car was originally an Oregon Highway Patrol vehicle. That explained why Gord reported: “It’s a totally rust-free car from Bend Oregon”. He found the light bar in the trunk and added it as part of a static display at car shows. He said “he brought them out for the novelty” and clearly the strategy worked because the little pony car was surrounded immediately when it arrived at the show.

Gord had to re-learn a manual transmission even though he is a professional driver. He drives a taxi for 14 hours a day. He that admitted “it’s been 40 years since I owned a stick and this clutch is a little stiff but it all comes back plus the 5 speed is great.”

He’s done a very thorough assessment of the Mustang and he has found a few surprises.  He found that the seats were originally red, then dyed blue and there were surprisingly few equipment holes in this ex-police vehicle. Gord’s main goal at this point is to map out a strategy for the next phase in the car’s life.

He’s highly impressed with the overall condition of the Mustang and admits that “it’s a lot less work than I expected plus it’s a sedan instead of the fastback – I like that too.”

Part of Greg’s plan might sound like heresy to fans of vintage police vehicles, but he’s “considering swapping in a 351 T-bird motor” to get the car to another level of performance at the track. Regardless of the shift in designated use for the Special Vehicle Mustang, Greg takes pride in the one thing as he explained, “I’m an average car guy now that I’ve got something to work on”.

This Special Services Mustang is a classic example of an entry level hobby car and its new owner has already embraced the average car guy philosophy.

The hobby has gained a new disciple.

For more of J Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com

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13 Comments on “Car Collector’s Corner: 1985 Oregon Highway Patrol Special Service Mustang...”


  • avatar
    gessvt

    Gord/Greg has found a true collectible, that being a pre-1987, “four-eyed” SSP car. Even so, any modifications he plans on making can probably be reversed. Hope he knows to hang onto the 5.0 and especially the steelies.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Absolutely. This is a very collectable car. He’d be better off keeping it a few years and selling it, this thing has not hit it’s peak collector value yet. It’s even got the original light bar. Holy crap! DO NOT BUTCHER THIS CAR!!!!

      I’m also not surprised that it doesn’t have a lot of holes drilled inside. These cars never had a cage installed in back, they were never intended to transport prisoners.

      Yes, boy racers feared these things. I remember when the NYPD had one. When it came down the highway, the boy racers would all be doing exactly 55 with their hands at 10 and 2 o’clock.

      Interestingly enough, while a civilian could not order the Mustang police package, by careful use of the option sheet, a civilian could duplicate this same car. That’s what I wanted to do back in 1985, but I was a college student at the time and I didn’t have the money.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Brings back some not so fond memories of tickets I’ve gotten.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Car’s almost certainly worth more original — you want a faster Mustang, sell this one to a collector and buy a different one with less history to wrench on. Maybe one of those scofflaw cars.

  • avatar
    John

    If you want one for the strip, buy a ’91 coupe. They are the lightest, the most rigid unibody (there will probably already be cracks where the rear driver’s seat bolts go through the frame from the engine’s torque twisting the chassis), have a mass air flow system which makes a little more power than the older speed density, and have forged pistons from the factory. I agree, this ’85 Highway Patrol model is a collector’s car, hacking it up for the strip would be like hacking up an original Shelby Mustang.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    I have some great memories of the Special Service Mustang. From 1986-91 I was a member of the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary. Several of the Troopers I used to ride with had Mustangs. These cars would top out at 135 mph while carrying two passengers and fully loaded with police gear. The acceleration was even more impressive than the top speed. This allowed Troopers to chase down and stop violators quickly as opposed to the more lengthy pursuit times required for the full-sized sedans of the time.

    I do not believe Mr. Holdcraft’s lightbar is original to his car. The photo gallery at SpecialServiceMustang.net does not show any in-service Oregon State Police Mustangs with this style of lightbar. The lightbar they used on 1985 models was a completely different configuration.

  • avatar
    nikita

    The CHP had a few of these, marked, but in pastel colors, on the Grapevine (I-5 north of LA). Most CHP cars had no light bars back then, to “lessen drag”, certainly not to be less visible in the days before they were authorized to have radar.

    Somehow the tiny Seal Beach PD convince the city council to buy them a Saleen Mustang to patrol arrow-straight Westminster Ave.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I remember being tempted by an ad in the paper for a GT mustang still wearing FHP colors. I went and looked at the car. It had a higher rear end gear ration than original and according to the current owner had hit 155 MPH on the beeline highway outside of WPB in a measured mile.
    The lights and equipment were long gone and the logos were hastily sprayed over. But the high mileage it had, bald tires, and oil leaks concerned me and I ended up passing.

  • avatar
    J Sutherland

    One of the byproducts of an interview with owners is an occasional overwhelming sense of “I wouldn’t do that to the car” and this was one of them. The Mustang was really solid,seemed to run fine and it stole the show in stock form.
    The light bar was in the trunk-he just plunked it on for effect but he didn’t think it was correct.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      That lightbar would look more at home on a Dodge Diplomat or Ford LTD Crown Vic.

      The FHP Mustangs used the Federal Signal Jetsonic lightbar which has a very streamlined appearance and still looks good today.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    During this era the Texas state troopers drove these, equipped with a stick. Oh those bad old malaise era days with the ridiculous 55 mph speed limit. I was living in San Antonio,always driving to Dallas to visit my GF or Houston to visit GF or my family . What driver was going to drive less than 70 on an interstate in Texas for Chrissake? I got more tickets than any time in my life, often from DPS guys in one of these admittedly cool Mustangs whose flashing lights I always dreaded. Ah the bad old days.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    Very nice find, thanks for sharing. A former co-worker had an ’84 5.0 convertible 5 spd <50K which he babied for years before selling it to pay for roof repairs on his house. I kept saying 'Al, priorities man… roofs not caving in, it can wait'. Alas.

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