It’s only been over the past few years that Dodge Chargers have truly come into their own as police cruiser of choice. Until the last Crown Vic was produced, its full-frame allegedly made it the police car of choice, but with it out of the picture–in much of the midwest, at least–Chrysler’s entrant seems to be outselling the Chevy Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle.
This, of course, does not seem as novel to those of you who lived through the ’60s and ’70s, and the very recent ’78 Dodge Monaco and ’67 Plymouth Fury miniatures pictured here are a useful reminder to today’s children of the modern Charger’s unibodied law enforcement heritage.
This Monaco, made in 2008 by Mattel, represents a dark time for Chrysler. The civilian version of the same car fell out of favor with private buyers soon after it was released as the Coronet in 1971, and fleet sales were a valuable lifeline for Dodge. Not that police departments minded, as it was justifiably popular, especially with its 440 V8. Until the 5.7 liter Caprice of the mid ’90s, these were the last cop cars to break 130 miles per hour. Those of us who lived through the ’80s will remember large leftover stocks of these cars being crashed to death in action movies, but today’s kids may not have benefited from exposure to such high art.
Many more of us, however, won’t remember the time when full-size Furies were used as police cars. I’m a real C-body fanatic, at least when the 1965-1973 versions are taken into account, and couldn’t ignore this model, made in 2011 by a company whose insignia is too small to make out (I kept trying and my eyes kept crossing).
It’s the better detailed of the two, with clearly visible Fury II call-outs on the fender and an opening hood, though none of these is of especially high quality. Someone better acquainted with 1:64 scale cars is free to correct me on the latter point.
I’ve read that, compared to such cars as the Impala and Galaxie, these Furies were not the most popular big sedans, but that they created reasonable business for Plymouth, despite their deeply conservative shape. At any rate, sales to fleets were a way of building sales for these late ’60s beauties, and highway patrol departments benefitted from attractive deals.
Toys like this are a cheap must-have for any Mopar enthusiast seeking to indoctrinate his children into the Chrysler cult, or for those enamored of law enforcement (i.e. not me). Playing with them made me not only feel somewhat like a kid again, but made it easy to imagine introducing such toys to the children I currently have no plans to have. I even managed to get my partner and our friend–both serious grad students–to have fun crashing them against each other and launching them off the table. With the resulting gouges in the wooden surface, along with some chips left on the toy cars’ finishes, it was also a reminder of parenting’s less glamorous side. Any more bad behavior from those two, and perhaps this post would’ve also included some real, live pictures of the local PD’s Chargers.