By on May 16, 2018

Chevy Tahoe PPV

Government surplus is a weird thing. Sometimes, the vehicles churned out of the federal machine are used up like old newspapers. Others have few (we’ve seen as low as 18) miles on their odometers. Pretending to even fathom the purchasing process is an exercise in futility.

But the Ace of Base shopper cares not one whit, as he or she is simply after one thing: the deal. Cop cars are, by nature, sparsely equipped versions of civilian units.

Generally clad in Oxford White, some low-mile Taurus Interceptors haven’t even had their interiors sullied by the bodily fluids of America’s Most Wanted. Good news (shades of James May) – it’s not a complete and barren wasteland inside the Interceptor. A single USB port resides across the cabin while a backup camera embedded in the rearview mirrors helps prevent drivers from reversing over peasants. Get one now before Ford exits the sedan game.

There are plenty of Crown Vic Interceptors to go around, too (our own Murilee enjoyed such an example in his California days). Many are under ten grand and most south of three. Included with many is an A-pillar-mounted spotlight perfect for blinding random winos, plus an honest-to-gawd column shifter like nature and Henry Ford intended. Interceptors tinted a natty shade of blue or brown allow drivers to indulge in gritty undercover detective fantasies. Caveat emptor: these are the type of used cop car most likely to wilt under the harsh inspection of a UV light. Wear gloves.

Dodge Chargers now abound on the used market, turfed from police fleets for whatever reason. Like its Taurus cohort, it is also less likely to have been used as a toilet by troublemakers than a Crown Vic. AutoTrader shows a 2016 AWD V8 example for just $22,488, which includes the enormous cop-Jumbotron in the centre stack (now we know the testing grounds for Ram’s new 12-inch unit) and, hey, is that a column shifter? Why, yes it is.

Don’t count out the Explorer, either, a model which is increasingly giving fits to freeway drivers across the nation. More likely than most to be deployed as a K9 unit (not unlike the Tahoe), check for doggie presents in the cargo area. A 2017 unit with dog-dish hubcaps and virtually no miles on the clock is advertised in the great state of Pennsylvania for a hair over 30 grand. It is, of course, four-wheel drive.

Speaking of the Tahoe, a good many of the PPV units advertised online in America are two-wheel drive units, save for the scattered 4×4 in northern climes. Most of them are sold fitted with enormous bull bars, perfect for occasions when you just need to arrive at a party like gangbusters. One thing’s for sure: filling up the mirror of a left lane lounger with all nine yards of a Tahoe PPV grille fitted with a bull bar will get them out of your way in a hurry. That alone is worth the mid-$20s price of admission.

Ace of Base contenders then? By this author’s measure, definitely the Tahoe (because Tahoe) and the Charger (that jumbo screen and column shifter). I’m not as sure about the others. I’ll leave it up to the B&B to argue their merits in the comments.

[Image: eBay]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

35 Comments on “Ace of Base – Used Cop Cars...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    You forgot the Caprice PPV, the 2014+ are great places to spend time and come with phone integration and have available 6.0L engines. I’m constantly on the look out for a good Caprice that I can trade the interior of a wrecked SS out with. And then rebadge it to have two proper Holden cars in my driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      And they are also much more likely to come through auction with announcements of major issues that led to their early retirement but not too far ahead of the Chargers with Hemis.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Due to the 6.0Ls having cylinder deactivation, simple fix either pull a 6.0l or of junkyard and rip out cyclinder deactivation, or pull 6.2L LS3 out of junkyard/parts SS and never worry about those issues.

        As plentiful as GM LS series engines are that’s not something I’d invest too much worry over when the end result is a fullsize saloon car with RWD, a LS V8, and the chance to have a holden badged car in the drive.

        https://goo.gl/images/dNGzQm
        Yes please

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The thing is that at least around here it seems most are buying them for the power train as wrecked ones bring 80-90% of the price of one in good condition. And you are not going to be rebuilding those wrecks because the parts are not cheap since they are not common.

          The trick of course is to find a supervisor or chief’s car as they often are better kept, less abused and may have fewer interior and exterior holes from removed equipment.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          https://goo.gl/images/jw6yQJ

          Or this

          I’m surprised by the number of police departments still putting roof lights on their cars. In NC most departments have entirely switched to interior lights along with grille and existing light flashers.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I was surprised to see that a local city seems to have gone to all unmarked with interior and tail/headlight mounted lights. The other day I was heading out of the town and looked in my rear view mirror to see a rapidly approaching police motor cycle. About the time he got to me I could see 3 more sets of lights. They were all Black Tahoes with the hidden lights. When we got to the incident there was another stealth Tahoe, but full Stealth painted silver with the aluminum wheels.

            I know Ford has several options for the stealth lighting factory installed and at a price that is much cheaper than up-fitting a light bar after the fact, so that may be a driving factor in some depts move to the interior lighting.

  • avatar
    gtem

    The only one worth considering is a Caprice PPV since the civilian version (SS) is so darn pricey. Otherwise, what the heck is the point of risking dealing with weird issues (potentially) of holes drilled in the sheetmetal and inside interior pieces, potential abuse or whatever else to barely save anything at all? Okay the column shifter in a Charger would be cool, and a Tahoe without the clearance-robbing chin is neat, but hardly worth the hassle. A used Charger V8 can be found for barely any more than the cop version, and will likely have a better and less sullied interior.

  • avatar
    Malforus

    Would ex-cop Tahoe’s and Explorers make good tow vehicles? It was my understanding that in most larger SUV police vehicle roles these vehicles get additional transmission cooling.

    Or should I be barking up a different tree?

    • 0 avatar
      OzCop

      Most police units, regardless of style, were spec’ed with heavy duty oil and trans coolers…at least they did back in the days I was writing them…even the 2.6 police version K cars…

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I would say now on the Ford Interceptor Utility as a fare number of them go to auction because of a failed or failing transmission. So even if you got a good one I’d be concerned that towing any real load would quickly do it in. Tahoe PPVs and SSVs as well as Expedition SSVs would be good choices though.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      From what I’ve read, the rear end used in the Tahoe PPV cuts down on the towing capacity (prior gen wasn’t tow-rated at all, and current gen is only rated for 4000lbs), I believe because it’s supposed to put undue strain on the transmission (half-remembered hearsay, which I might have misinterpreted). Assuming you’ll never need to hit 130mph, swap in the stock rear end, and you should be fine?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    La Migra Edition, Ford Raptor.

    thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-ford-svt-raptor-united-states-border-patrol-edition/

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I went to High School with a guy with the coolest dad. Bought his 16 year old son an ex highway patrol ’84 Mustang. Hated him.

    • 0 avatar
      OzCop

      I bought my son an ex Atlanta 78 Plymouth Fury for his first car. It only had a 318 cu. in. motor, but still had all the heavy duty suspension, oil and trans coolers, and even a spot light…which I disconnected first thing. It had 80 K miles, heavy duty vinyl seat, and rubber floor mats. A brake job, tune up, and repaint, and it was a pretty awesome looking/driving car. I did repo it from him after a couple of years when I found he was not keeping it up, to the tune of brake rotor cut in two due to worn brake pads, which caused him to damage a front fender when he contacted a parking lot light pole at low speed. Plus, he had reconnected the spot light. I sold it to another police officer. Wish I had kept that thing…My son’s next car was on him…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    There are very good reasons ex-police cars sell cheap. Regardless the odometer reading sit idling 24/7. Also, bouncing over curbs and slam shifting from drive to reverse to drive are not good for longevity.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It depends on the application. Thankfully many now have idle hour and/or total engine hour readouts. The agency that used it is a huge determiner of how much idle time they have. In general State/Hwy patrol units have much lower idle hours than a city unit. State patrol cars are also more likely to be 1-man 1car while most city cars are hot seated through multiple shifts in a day. County units are hit and miss with some going the hot-seat route and others doing the 1-man 1-car. The car itself also determines if those high idle hours are a problem or not. The old 2v 4.6 used in CPVI’s doesn’t care if it has thousands of idle hours it is still ready for another 200k of taxi work. Hemi powered Chargers on the other hand are likely to need a new cam and lifters due to poor oiling design.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Your concerns about the transmission are valid, especially ecoboost models. Otherwise, the vehicles (can only speak for Ford) are designed to bounce over curbs and idle. They’ve much better cooling and suspension. The vehicle itself is reinforced. There’s a lot to like about a used PI.

      Also generally agree with scoutdude.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I didn’t think a V8 AWD Charger was available in the 2016 MY – not for love nor money.

    I’d love me a Tahoe PI 4×4. It’s my understanding that the interceptor version of the Tahoe 4×4 sits about 2 in lower in the front than the retail models. It would make an interesting all-weather long distance cruiser.

    I’ve been pulled over by a Taurus PI (ecoboost) – state hwy patrol in NM now insists that you step out of the car and come over to the cruiser. THE HEAT radiating off that beast was enough to give me pause.

    • 0 avatar
      The Comedian

      The Tahoe PPV’s are set up for an odd size tire from the factory that accounts for over an inch of that lower ride height.

      PPV 265/60R17
      Civilian 275/55R20

      You can run other tire/wheels on a PPV, but if you move to easier to source tires the speedometer may be way off. (PPV running LS 20″ factory rims will be off by 5mph at 60. Dealer can reset computer for new diameters.)

      Aside: The Tahoe cop cars also don’t have the rails for mounting roof rack cross bars. I shopped PPVs and SSVs before buying my 2016 LS Tahoe that a dealer really wanted off her lot.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I would never buy and old police car for civilian use. The only reason they handle so well is because the shocks are filled with concrete, the springs are as stiff as iron, and the tires are cop-car-specific and cost about $400 apiece, and you might not be able to find a tire dealer who will sell them to a civilian.
    The interiors are clad in the lowest-rent plastic imaginable. The odometer reading is bunk because of so much idling, it would better to have an hour meter. And don’t even get me started on the seats.
    How do I know? I work for a Village, and some of the old police cars get assigned to Public Works after the cops are done with them. I decided I would rather drive a 17 year-old Ford Ranger than a 5 year-old Crown Vic PI.
    If you have a Crown Vic fetish, get a civilian model or a Town Car/Grand Marquis. The PI’s are horrible for regular driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Sorry but the tires are not some totally unique size that there are not other options. Plus the RS-A the #1 OE police car tire isn’t that big a part of the vehicles handling. Now I do agree that the Firehawk PV-41 is really really expensive, but it also crap in the wet and should be avoided at any cost.

      Also all of the vehicles listed in this article other than the older CV’s have hour meters, some with total and idle, some with idle only. Multiply those numbers by 33 to get a mile equivalent.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike Beranek

        Per our village’s mechanic, the tires aren’t a unique size but are a unique construction. They are those Firehawk PV-41’s you mentioned. He said our local dealer is “prohibited” by Firestone from selling them to civilians, but I’m sure somebody out there would for the right price.
        Of course, you could pick up a set of narrower rims and go with “regular” tires.
        And I know there are some PI Vics that are much nicer, with better interior trim, like a chief’s car or one for detectives/inspectors.

    • 0 avatar
      road_pizza

      ” The PI’s are horrible for regular driving.” Horseshit. I’ve been DD’ing P71s for the last ten years and LOVE ’em. Th seats are damned comfortable and durable, and they handle quite nicely for a large car. As for the spartan interior that’s a virtue as it’s very easy to clean.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Mike, if your goal is to purchase for comfort than I agree, you’re probalby looking at the wrong vehicle.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I do some conrtact work for a police department and recently found out that not only do their Charger’s have the V8 and AWD, they have the 6.2 V8. Is that combo available civilian or is that police only spec?

  • avatar
    carguy67

    “… More likely than most to be deployed as a K9 unit …”

    Not in California. The CHP uses Explorers almost exclusively, and I’ve never seen a CHP K9 unit (but I’ve only lived in CA for 65 years). Local gendarmes use them too, and the locals typically only have one or two K9 units.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The best of the bunch are the few CVPIs that are still trickling out of service and the Tahoe either in PPV guise or the more common SSV. The rest are crap and you will see those retired early due to a major failure fairly often. Not mentioned in the article but still a Police vehicle are the F-150 SSV and they are good but pretty rare, at least in my area.

    Which brings up the names of police cars.

    If it is a Ford and rated for extended driving at top speed it is an Interceptor. If it has much of the HD equipment and spartan interior but not rated for high speed pursuit than it is a SSV or special service vehicle.

    Over at GM if it is rated for extended high speed operation it is a PPV and just like Ford without that rating it is called a SSV.

    If it is a Chrysler rated for extended high speed operation than it is a Pursuit while their lesser models are Special Service.

    Fact is that many depts have no reason, place or business that requires or would allow for the car to run at its top speed for an hour or more. So many of those Tahoes that come out of city service are not PPVs and are actually SSVs this is particularly true of 4×4 versions as the PPV 4×4 is a relatively recent addition to the line up and those that are spending more for the 4×4 will often make up the difference by selecting the cheaper SSV. Either way they are all good however many state and county agencies will keep them to near 200k miles and by that time they are pretty rough around the edges.

    Crown Vics are still trickling in and the newer ones have idle hour meters if you are concerned about high idle hours, though the 4.6 doesn’t mind long idle hours and servicing based purely on miles. There was a day when you could pick up decent ones all day long for $1000-$1250, unfortunately with the lower supply that, or more, is the going rate for crappy ones now.

    Chargers are likely to come through with bad engines, transmissions steering columns, suspension and electrical issues.

    Caprices often come through with bad engines, transmissions and electrical issues.

    Current Interceptor Utilities come through with bad transmissions and while I haven’t seen any Interceptor Sedans I would bet they also have transmission issues at a similar rate since they are shared along with essentially all the Interceptor specific items.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Depending on the paint scheme some states/municipalities give you X amount of time to have the vehicle painted, even sans logos.

  • avatar

    Ok. We are all thinking cop motor, cop brakes and cop suspension. Cheap speed.

    One fly in the ointment….most people are attuned to cop cars. The minute you drive one everyone slows to speed limit plus three.

    We once had a stripper Caprice in the family…it had a lame engine, but from the outside, looked cop. It’s tougher to make time than you’d think. Drive a sportscar or known prestige brand, and folks will generally scatter if they pay attention….drive a cop car and everyone clutches.

    Funny moment…back when CB was still useful…..hearing about a Bear in a plain Brown wrapper…..following me my whole trip. (it was me)

    Unless you find the car the Village Manager drove, or the car the Chief of Police had, I’d avoid. These cars lead tough lives.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I find that lots of people get out of my way when driving my CVPI and it is much easier to find a hole to merge into. You also see a lot of people drop their phone or put on their seat belt before they move over. Two lane roads can be a problem though when you do come up on the person that slows to the speed limit.

      Many do not lead particularly tough lives, and most are much better maintained than civilian cars. However the current crop are not the tough old police vehicles of yore sans the Tahoe, Expedition and F150.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Elwood: It’s got a cop motor, a 440 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, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?

    [a brief thinking pause while Jake attempts to light a cigarette]

    Jake: Fix the cigarette lighter.

  • avatar
    gtem

    My top picks, that I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    1980s Subaru GL Coupe:
    bringatrailer.com/2015/11/03/rare-hatchback-impressive-1987-subaru-gl-coupe/

    1980s Sentra 4wd liftback wagon:
    bringatrailer.com/listing/1989-nissan-sentra-xe-4wd-wagon-2/

    Both are awesome snow cars, but the ultimate irony would be that I’d be mortified to use either in the winter for fear of starting the tin-worm process.

  • avatar
    Igloo

    At some auctions, you can find ex BP Tahoe’s with a 3 inch lift kit, an attachment in the front for a winch and part of the plastic front bumper cover cut away.. The rest of the vehicle is stock.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Urlik: They’d rather raise lighting standards so they require $2,000/housing headlights to get a high rating.
  • DenverMike: How are ’60s muscle cars unreliable? Maybe if you weren’t familiar with points and stuff but...
  • Inside Looking Out: “mating habits of the blue specked ass gnat” That is very important for the future of...
  • mcs: It’s the same EV or ICE, going to an independent is cheaper. There are ex-Tesla techs that have left and...
  • Lou_BC: @DenverMike – turning wrenches for HP is different than factory muscle. An ECU tune on a new muscle car...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber