Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the good stuff that’s right in your backyard; one must stop, look around and smell the roses in order to see it. In the spirit of rose smelling, I took a short journey to the free (one of my favorite four-letter “f” words) museum at the Missouri State Highway Patrol academy here in Jefferson City. There is some good stuff there, despite the intended purpose of most of it.
A while back I brought you a full Curbside Classic on a 1968 Mercury Monterey (here). That car was a replica, whereas these are not. These cars actually were in service, and having performed their duty, are now enjoying a well-earned and cushy retirement. Hanging out in the basement certainly beats the typical police car retirement that involves shouts of “Hey, taxi!”.
This 1988 Mustang, one of the first 17 Mustangs to be put into service by the state of Missouri, had a purchase price of $11,146 with an automatic transmission…you have to love those fleet discounts! I remember seeing these along I-55 when they were new. The Mustangs were a radical departure from the Ford Crown Victorias, Chevrolet Caprices and Dodge Diplomats typically in service at the time.
Powered by Ford’s 302 cu in (5.0-liter) V8, the Mustang set law enforcement on its ear throughout the 1980s. According to museum sources, it helped shorten the time and distance it took to apprehend speeders, which made things safer for both law enforcement officers and the motoring public at large. The last Mustang was retired from duty in 1996.
The aforementioned ’68 Mercury wasn’t the only winged messenger to wear a light bar, as is evidenced by this ’78 Mercury Marquis which does, yet doesn’t, look like an LTD. In my opinion, Mercury’s halcyon days ended in 1978.
I once struck up a conversation with a gentleman in St. Louis. He happened to be a trooper, and his first assigned car was a ’78 Marquis like this one. On one occasion when he checked his fuel mileage following an extended pursuit, he discovered that thanks to high speed and frequent hard acceleration, his Mercury’s 460 cu in (7.5-liter) V8 achieved just a hair over four miles per gallon. Billed as “the last of the full-sized cars”, its purchase price was $5,976.
Interestingly, museum information claims a top speed in the 130-mph range for both the Mustang and the Mercury.
To be a total geek: If you consider Newton’s Second Law of F=ma, the Mercury has more mass (m) than the Mustang, and thus a higher overall force, (F). Apparently, the Mercury provided more than just psychological benefits!!! For reference, the weight of this Mercury is about the same as that of a new Honda Odyssey minivan.
And how about that interior! It certainly beats the 50 shades of gray you’ll find today. This is genuine, right down to the 140-mph speedometer. Please remember that the lighting here was poor, causing many of these pictures to come out very dark. I’ve lightened them, and I hope that hasn’t compromised their clarity.
Even the penalty box in this Mercury doesn’t seem too bad. It’s downright cheery–maybe a reemergence of such interiors would make criminals less rowdy on their way to the crossbar hotel.
While Ford dominated the newer displays, Chevrolet was well represented on the older end. One such example is this 1942 Chevrolet in one of my favorite automotive colors, black.
The interior still had an Art Deco theme going on in 1942. When was the last time an interior looked so inspired?
It was stated that these cars were kept running even well after World War II, albeit with many of them really dragging their tongues toward the end of their service. Looking at this fine ’42, I can certainly think of worse rides to use for four or five years.
Last up on our tour is this 1953 Chevrolet.
Recently, I took a tour at the old Missouri State Penitentiary here in town, which operated from 1836 until 2004. In 1954 there was a very intense riot at the facility. Our tour guide (who was the retired warden) stated that when the riot broke out, troopers all around the state were dispatched to Jefferson City to help control it. Many of them arrived, from every corner of the state, in ’53 Chevrolets driven at full throttle during the entire trip. Once they’d put down the riots, patrolmen returned to their cars only to find the engines seized. This was followed by a very large-scale engine replacement program.
Nothing at the museum confirmed the tale, but certainly the then-warden would be in a position to know.
It really makes you wonder what you could learn if these cars could talk.
When I visited the museum, nobody else was around. As I viewed the displays about Bonnie and Clyde, methamphetamine and Prohibition, I noticed something quite enticing. Realistically, I knew it simply wasn’t possible, but it did make me pause and daydream for a minute. With the windows of all the cars down, I knew half the fantasy was possible.
The Mustang’s keys were in the ignition, and I was ready to go for a spin.
I know the Mustangs were popular in some states for a while, but its cramped cabin was quite uncomfortable for a burly trooper and all of the requisite LE gear. The fact that it was nearly undriveable in the rain (let alone snow) didn’t help either. Its only asset was dry weather speed. Although slower, most in LE continued to prefer full-size Caprices and Crown Vics.
By the time you’ve got 300lbs of radio and riot gear in the trunk and with decent tires they have zero problems in the rain or snow. A former customer of mine was a Washington State Trooper for a while and he did commercial enforcement. One of the vehicles he used was a Mustang (this was after Ford quit making the SSP version) and he had no complaints about it’s abilities in the constant rain we have around here. Don’t know if he ever used it in the snow though. In some ways he preferred it to the Volvo Turbo that replaced it. Since they were undercover commercial enforcement they changed out the cars every 6 months or so as word would get around what the latest car looked like.
These Mustangs were a necessity in the Lo-po 80’s. With the early 80’s Diplomats, Impala’s and LTD’s being so slow, cops complained they couldn’t chase down speeders. These cars were a good temporary solution, until the larger cars performance started to improve in the late 80’s (the Caprice was much fast by the late 80’s, especially once they got the 350 TBI’s and 3.42 gears). If I remember correctly, it was CHP that experimented in the late 70’s with Camaro’s, and they worked very well. But the Camaro’s had reliability issues and when the officially started to use Pony cars in the early 80’s, Ford was the choice.
The LT1 Caprices pretty much killed of these cars. They ran as good or better on most police tests as a 5.0L Mustang, and they were a full-sze practical car.
I’d be very surprised if that 1978 Merc could do anywhere near 130 MPH with it’s wheezer 460. This vintage was luck to put out 200 hp. Pre 1975 460 PI’s were decent engines making in the neightbourhood of 260-275 hp (net), but after 1975 performance really dropped off. The only late 70’s cop car that could hit a geniune 130 MPH, were MOPAR’s 440 powered intermediates/ I’d put money on a 1978 Caprice with a 170 hp 350 out running that Merc.
They Canadian-spec ones had no trouble burying the 200 km/h speedo. Those cars were making at least 250 bhp. At least we had one advantage in those days!
The real question, however, is do we really want to give a 20 something cop with an exaggerated sense of importance a car that will do 130 mph? And what for? Thankfully we don’t do that in these parts anymore, making the roads a safer place.
Maybe a Canadian spec could bury the Speedo, but I’d be surprised if they were a true 130 MPH car. Keep in mind a Modern Crown Vic will out accelerate and will actually can do 130 MPH compared to these 78 Merc tanks And the CVPI is one of the slowest cop cars out there today.
The slower the better when it comes to cop cars. The radio works at 243,000 km/s/. Can’t outrun that.
The Crown Vic is 220 hp in a very heavy car. They are not performance cars by a long shot, nor do they need to be.
They did end up with 250hp for the final run, but as you say they didn’t become the preferred cruiser due to their speed, the final Caprices had them outgunned. It was their reliability, durability, and safety (integral roll over protection was an option) that made them the choice over the faster Caprice.
You’re wrong about the CVPI being chosen over the Caprice, if anything the LT1 Caprices were prefred to the Vics, but both were very competitive. The Caprice and Vic both had good track records as cop cars, and the Caprice’s were known to be safe, tough and reliable just like the Vics. But the Caprices were generally prefered by highway patrol for their strong performance advantage in the 1990s. The LT1 Caprice was one of the only cars to win every MSP test category Many, many police depts were very disappointed to have their Caprices replaced by CVPI’s in the 1990’s. Both are good cop cars though.
In 2003, CVPI’s had updated frames, suspension and the 250 hp rating, so that means the last 8 years had this rating, or the majority we have seen on the road in the past 10 years. These cars came closer to the Caprice’s performance, but didn’t quite match it. They did have more refined handling by this time.
The CVPI can the prefered car after 1997 because there were no other real options. W-body Impalas were terrible, so were intrepids, Tahoes were expensive. Today they are still prefered by fleet operators for there durability, not speed as they are one of the slowest police cars available.
The Caprice may have been preferred by the people driving them but they were not the ones responsible for making the purchase decision. The fleet manager was and despite the higher purchase price the Crown Vic had a lower overall operating cost. They got better MPG, the brakes lasted at least twice as long and their resale value was higher.
Fact is that for most departments the top speed and 0-60 time of a police car is not the top priority despite what the MSP tests might indicate. The CVPI became the preferred option for most depts before the Caprice went away.
Sorry, you are incorrect. From the Encylcopedia or Police Cars by Edwin Sanow, the Chevrolet Caprice took the postion of top selling police car from Dodge in 1986 and retained this position until the end of production.
I quote from the book
“The top-selling police-car title migrated from Dodge to Chevrolet.”
“In 1988 Chevrolet caprice was the nations number-one selling police car”
“For 1989 the Chevrolet Caprice was the number-one selling police car…”
“For 1992, Chevrolet retained the title of top-selling police-car
“In 1993, Chevrolet contiuned to dominated the police market…”
” In 1995, Chevrolet contiuned it’s dominace of the police market in terms of police car-sales and police-car performance”
“When Chevy announced the withdrawal of the Caprice from the police market, Ford, the only remaining full-size rear-wheel-drive, police pusuit package manufacturer became the sales leader in the police-car market.”
You get the point, the the Caprice was the best selling and best overall Cop car from 1986-96.
Oh and performance is a large factor for many highway patrol depts, which brings us back to the original topic of the Mustangs….
Another quote too from the book
“…the 1997 Crown Vic failed to meet the minimum acceleration standards set by the Michigan State Police and agreed upon by the automakers. Police-fleet managers had flashbacks of 318-ci Powered Dodge St-Regis being outrun by Volkswagens…”
Don’t get me wrong, the CVPI’s are awesome cars, The 1990’s ones were okay, they improved in 1998 but in the it took until about 2003 until they got really good.
Note how the wording changes there.
“For 1989 the Chevrolet Caprice was the number-one selling police car…”
“For 1992, Chevrolet retained the title of top-selling police-car
“In 1993, Chevrolet contiuned to dominated the police market…”
” In 1995, Chevrolet contiuned it’s dominace of the police market in terms of police car-sales and police-car performance”
Goes from the Caprice is the best seller to Chevrolet sells the most to Chevorlet dominates. So I’d say that does not prove that the Caprice outsold the CV past 92-3 since they started adding other police spec models.
Around here the Caprices quickly fell out of favor and by the time they stopped making them they were largely gone from fleets. Yes there were a few hold outs but for the most part once the dept tried a CV they didn’t buy any more Caprices.
Certainly to hwy/state patrols the top speed and acceleration is a consideration. However there are far more city and county cars and for many cites there is absolutly no need for a car that even does 130 MPH. There bigger concern is total operating cost and up time which the CV was much better at than the Caprice.
The Charger blew away the CV in terms of performance but they largely disappeared around here. One local city was so disgusted with them they decided to refurbish their existing CVs and up the performance a bit while they were at it shortly after Ford stopped taking orders for P71s the first time.
You have yet to offer any concrete evidence to prove the CVPI outsold the Caprice ever. The only other police car Chevrolet sold during this time was the Lumina, which they hardly sold any of because they were awful. When Sanow says “Chevrolet Dominated”, I think it’s pretty clear they had a significant sales lead. The wording changed because in the late 1980’s Chevrolet only sold one police car, in 1990’s it had the Caprice and Lumina.
Further, your evidence that the CVPI has a better reliablility record is unproven. I worked at GM dealer during this time and the Caprices had few problems even under the police abuse. In about 94 they were some bad batches of ball joints, but for the most part they were bullet proof. Further, I know for a fact that the 9C1 Caprice had much better resale value than the CVPI, as I wanted to but one at this time and they were much more expensive than the CVPIs.
You have offered nothing but anecdotal evidence, when I offered real evidence. Just because your area liked the CVPI better doesn’t mean that there were more sold nationwide. Sorry, but get your facts straight.
CVPI’s have 250 hp, not 220 (that’s the Civi rating), and have had so for many years. They are governed at 130 MPH. Read MSP testing, and you’ll see the Vic will run that speed, and in fact it’s 0-100 MPH (a Police car bench mark) time is faster than most 1970’s cop cars. I know for a fact they will do 130 MPH, as I have done that in a retired CVPI (well worn with 100K + miles). A modern CVPI would run circles around that 78 Merc, and would probably give a 5.0L a run for it’s money (although the Stang is probably a bit faster).
Police car testing has been well documented over the years, and these Mustangs were fast, but like I said, a LT1 Caprice was faster (142 MPH), and many other’s are faster now than even these cars today (Hemi Charger, Eco-boost Taurus, Caprice PPV 6.0L all run around 150 MPH). Even other cop cars today, like the Impala’s, and non-turbo Taurus’s, Tahoes will run faster than 130 MPH or faster easily. That’s when pony car cop cars have been irrelevant for a long time. Police cars today are faster than ever.
Many depts found out the 2nd gen Camaro was also to low for curb climbing and center median “general tearing ass through” that many cop cars do,interesting though that after the Mustang SSP never returned when the Mustang was re-designed in 1994, and the 1993-2002 9C1 Camaro slipped into that slot with depts, the FHP still had one or two Camaros in service until a couple of years ago when they were at best and 8 year old car.
This obviously has no bearing on the question of whose police package model was better by whatever measurement, or which was more popular nationally, but in my area (Central Mass.) the LTD/Crown Victoria dominated as far back as the ’80s. When I picture a police car from that era in my mind, I picture a Ford. Caprice police cruisers were a clear minority and I don’t really remember seeing any Mopar police cruisers around here at all. The Massachusetts State Police used “whale” era Caprices in the 1990s, but they stick out in my mind because they were relatively uncommon otherwise.
Terrific article, Jay. Love that Mustang. And I too, wish I could take it for a spin.
I’ve mentioned this before but my family had the contract for fixing the local RCMP vehicles. The Mustangs did not last for long. There were a couple of reasons; first, the cops tended to beat the bark off of the cars and they were not strong enough to handle the abuse. You want to see abuse? See what a car looks like after a month of 24 year old cops driving it around. The ‘Stangs came in with all kinds of abuse related issues, like burnt brakes, tires worn out by burn outs, busted front end stuff, you name it.
Second, in this area anyway, there was a public outcry about the number of people being killed in high speed pursuits. Then, low and behold, the cops realised that the perp can’t outrun the radio and all you have to do is wait for him at home to bust him. Real rocket science, eh?
The Mustangs were only around these parts for about a year.
A friend who is the head of the city shops/public works for a local municipality cited similar reasons as to why they only bought a single batch of the Charger police cars. Unlike what the Chrysler sales rep told them in the real world they used a lot more gas than the Crown Vics or Tahoes, in part due to the fact that because of internal issues they run through rookies like crazy, so every stop light looked like a Christmas tree to them. Also the brakes and suspension didn’t hold up. So since they missed the order window for more Crown Vics they turned to Tahoes and all of a sudden they were spending less on fuel, maintenance, repairs and the number of cars wrecked by officers went way down too. The WSP came to the same conclusion.
Good observations, Eric. Cop cars are bought by the Provincial Purchasing Commission here, which actually works with several other provinces to increase buying power. They have also gone to Tahoes, and they are run of the mill 5.3 litres.
When the CHP introduced the Mustang LX, it changed the game quite a bit. They were stealthy little things, and one had to update the rear-view mirror identification software to not get caught by them. In the mid eighties, a Dodge Mirada stuck out like a sore thumb in CA; in fact pretty much any big American sedan did.
Here in Vancouver, one can assume any domestic car is a cop car. The locals don’t much like products from Detroit.
I also live in Vancouver, and I have a question to ask you.
I arrived in this city in 1993 from eastern Canada and I was immediately blown away at how many “curbside classics” there were out here. In most of Canada because of harsh winters and road salt cars tended to rust away in 10-15 years but out here due to the mild climate I saw lots of old cars still on the road in good shape and used as daily drivers; VW Bugs, Valiants, Falcons, Ramblers, 64-66 Mustangs, 65-70 big Chevys, etc… But now there are hardly any cars on the road here over 15 years old. But when I cross the border into Washington, I immediately see lots of ’60s to ’80s cars and pickups, not restored like you see up here, but well-worn drivers.
What happened up here? (I know Vancouver Island was and old-car paradise, but I haven’t been there in years)
our airscare or emission nazis does rendered a lot of older cars redundant.
other than that i really dont have a lot of answers.
when i first came out here from winnipeg in 76 there were tons of older cars, wpg was same anything > 10 yrs will be rust buckets.
back to air care they did mentioned about fading them out soon, in a yr or 2.
I have a feeling our liberal govt do have to subsidize the a/c corps.
during the 90s when a/c was first implemented all the waiting lines were long, as yrs went by is getting fewer & fewer, also newer cars were exempted from a/c anyways. is very much a cash grab.
in the old days the city test can be brutal, they check anything but the kitchen sink.
the ethnic minorities only have themselves to blame, multiple truck accidents ruin everybody in the business!
A Mirada was like a Cordoba, your thinking St.Regis. Grand Marquis still make do a double take, even with the chrome grille the profile is so “cop car” that its automatic.
Yup the GM makes people do a double take, check their speed and put on the seat belts. Even my 15 YO daughter figured that out learning to drive in ours and commented how she loves to drive because people think she is a cop.
my grandmother had TWO Caprices; my father had one (an Impala) and my great uncle had one as well.
Love those cars.
Grandma had a ’95 with 350 (civie model). Only 108 mph top speed but the 0-60 was still the 7.3-7.6 that the 9C1 and Impala had…3.08 gears. People would let her go by and she didn’t know why for the longest time. She would be in the center lane and people would get over!
Her ’91 was a 350 and it was literally, whale grey 🙂 350 LO5, 180 hp. It was an LTZ. Most were 305s.
As far as the ’78 Merc…The last 460 had about 219 nhp and 360 lb/ft of torque, so the last stats I know off the top of my head had it at 17.2@80–or about as good as my 1ZZFE Corolla with 130 hp and 125 lb/ft of torque.
Top end was probably around 125 though…The downgrade to the 351-HO under Panther in ’79 was not that big of a drop–the cars were marginally slower and still hit 120–so it wasn’t that much of a difference. Quarters were low 18s at that point vs. mid-to-high 17s.
Brougham Police Cruiser? Sorry my head just exploded from a Police Cruiser with hidden headlights!
Yah – I wonder about that, too.
For a brief time, my rural New York State county used Dodge St. Regii cruisers; but the garage removed the clear-plastic headlight doors.
Likewise, I can see a Marquis as law enforcer…but those eyes have to be OPEN. Imagine if a sudden pursuit came to be, and then the headlight doors wouldn’t open? That’s actually likely, since the motors operated on vacuum; and manifold vacuum is gonna be nothing in a wide-open-throttle ride.
So…what was the story? Were they propped open? Taken off and then put back on for the display? Is the display a lie and that Marquis a pretender, a stand-in for the REAL hero cars?
Can’t say about the Marquis in question but on some of the era Fords vacuum held the doors closed and springs opened them. On other Fords of slightly later vintage vacuum did both but they had a large reservoir that had a check valve in it’s connection to the manifold so there would be enough vacuum to switch the position once and the check valve would keep it there.
All right (although I know the 1968 LTD doors opened with vacuum and the poor owner had to know how to do it by hand, as the car got older)…
…but what about winter patrolling? Car’s sitting there in the median as snow starts falling…building up on the shelf-like bumper…and then the word goes out, accident down the road. Lights on…but the headlight doors are frozen shut. And visibility is about fifty feet – policy aside, Smokey can’t MOVE without those lights. People are laying there bleeding on the pavement, and help doesn’t come because MHP is throwing hot coffee on the pivot poings of the cruiser’s covered headlights.
vettes have a manual overide vac switch, can leave on all the time.
my first car was a 69 marquis brougham, has same deal door over the lights, not sure if it has a manul overide vac switch.
with the vettes i always kept her up when finish driving at night, reason is the filament can be brittle when hot, so to shut them means banging them down, I burnt out a few bulbs, then left them up and was able to keep the bulbs for a longer time.
The 75-78 Ford Custom 500/LTD cop cars had open round headlights. The Marquis on display maybe had the covers put back in place.
Chicago Police had 1977 Dodge Royal Monacos with the headlight covers removed, too. Check the opening credits of “Hill Street Blues” and the “Blues Bros” chase scenes to see these cars of action.
To be more precise, the 1975-78 Custom 500 and lower-line LTDs (successors to the former Galaxie 500), which were probably the only fullsize Ford models available as police cruisers, had open round headlights. The higher-end 1975-78 LTDs (successors to what had been the LTD prior to 1975, and predecessor of what would become the LTD Crown Victoria in 1980) had hidden headlights like the Marquis.
did owned a 74 dodge monaco with 440, it was pretty fast.
then gas was pretty reasonable circa 75-76.
Though the keys might be in the ignition, the stance and jackstands lead me to believe these might be engineless. Theres a closet somewhere in that museum stuffed full of 302 and 460.
It’s common for museums to use jackstands on exhibits to take the weight off the suspension, tires and bearings when they sit for years. At the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon there are cars that haven’t moved since the 70s.
Yeah, but the stance on that Mustang screams “no engine”
Did the Mo State PD require “whorehouse red” as a mandatory interior color? Kinda like the CHP required white steering wheels until the early 70’s.
I was visited by one of the Mustangs in the early 90’s on Hwy 63 outside of Jeff City and the was given a ‘certificate of accomplishment’ for exceeding the limit. One of the largest humans I have ever met face to face stepped out in a Smokey the Bear hat which eventually filled the space previously occupied by my driver’s door window. Memorable moment: car AND the bear.
Back in late summer, ’92, the unredeeming Laura & I, took my 1990 Seven UP Mustang 5.0 convertible for a trek from NJ to Fla. & NoLa. I did a brunt of the driving but outside of charleston sc she took the wheel and got promptly pulled over by a SC state trooper in one of these—never saw the guy!
Furthermore: that was one humorless SOB.
we were very polite & no one disputed the ticket (for 75 in a 65 or whatever it was) but treating people like they’re colombian drugmules was uncalled for and very ignorant –but hardly surprising considering ‘the other carolina’.
Long story short: glad it was her driver’s record that got blown up and not mine….. that was a painful ticket to digest.
As for the 53 Chevy, this was the big rap. The old stovebolt 6 was good for normal use, but it was either the Ford flathead or even better, the Plymouth flathead 6 if you really wanted to thrash it. The Chevy did not have pressure lubrication, and still used dippers/splashers for internal lubrication. Plainly not up to long full throttle use.
I remember Mustangs in Indiana for awhile too. The police had fun with them, and they were very stealthy – sneaking up on a lot of people who were used to looking for big Ford or Chevy sedans.
Funny that the museum did not feature the most ubiquitous of police cars, the big C body Mopars (and the 78-79 B body Monaco/Fury). These ruled the midwest during the 1970s, with an occasional GM or FoMoCo sedan just for a little variety.
Didn’t we have cop Camaros in Indiana, too?
I believe that you are right. Some time for a short stretch in the late 80s? They didn’t seem to get the notoriety of the Mustangs, but maybe because the Mustangs came first, if I am remembering correctly.
Here in Nebraska Territory the HP used both Mustang SSPs and Camaro B4Cs back in the 90’s. They only used them because of their superior 0 to Perp get up and go speed. And all were 3 pedal models. I knew one of the Camaro drivers and he liked the B4C over the SSP. The only thing he hated was that the B4C sat a little lower to the ground which made jumping the berms on I-80 a little nerve racking.
OK I need a little favor from you MO guys. I collect speedometers and gauge clusters. Yes I know it’s a weird hobby. Anyway I’m more of a Buick guy than anything else and I have Cop Car speedos from just about every Buick Cop Car that was ever built. You think these Mercs are strange for The Man to be driving? Hey Kojak drove a Cop-Spec 73 Century. Any way I have a genuine certified to 125MPH speedo from a 77-78 LeSabre in my collection. I’m thinking the car I grabbed it from was from the Show Me State as one of my friends remembers getting a prize from the MSP back than. All I’m looking for is a geniune photo of a REAL LeSabre Police Car. I’ve searched all over the interweb and came up zilch. Oh sure there are some posuer clones out there but nothing of a real one. If you know of anything let me know and I’ll tell you how to send it to me. Oh and if you are wondering what the engine was, it’s a Buick 350/4V. The Police-spec Pontiac B-Body was the only real Cop Car in 77-78 as it used the Pontiac 400. You can see hundreds of those in “Smokey and the Bandit”.
I lived in FL for a while at the beginning of the century. Back in 2000 FHP recieved a fleet of B4C Camaros. They had Fox Mustang SSPs in the 80’s-90’s. Anyway according to the FHP website only those troopers who showed exceptional ability in traffic enforcement got the B4C. In other words those who wrote the most tickets. I always joked you knew you were going to get a ticket if you saw one of those Camaros in your mirrors. A few years later they recieved a small fleet of Mercury Mauraders in undercover clothes to replace the Camaros. The same website said they were donated by an anonymous donor. Hmmmm? Who could that be? At the time Ford was embroiled in that other exploding gas tank recall for the CV and as I understood it out of the 11 confirmed LEO deaths 2 were from the Sunshine State. Could these MMs be part of a out of court settlement? Oh, I’m full of conspiracy theories. Today these MMs are prized by enthusiasts across the country. IMO they made to many 4th gen B4Cs to make them worth anymore than their civilian counterparts.
Check out Ed Sanow’s “Encyclopedia of American Police Cars”. Several Buick’s of that vintage, if I remember correctly.
Here you go.
That’s the picture I had in mind.
Muchas Gracias! That’s the first time I’ve seen that pic on the interweb. I wouldn’t be surprised if my speedo came from that exact car.
Full wheelcovers on a police car? You would have thought it would have had dog dishes?
Nothing weird about collecting instrument clusters: I collect car clocks…which sort of bleeds into instrument clusters. Police speedos are hard to come by & the only ones I still have are a ’77-8 Impala, ’76-’77 LeMans Enforcer, & my personal favorite a ’75-6 Catalina. I did have a ’71-’74 full-sized Chevy speedo but the face surface-rusted pretty bad while stored in the barn. I still got $75 for it off E-bay (when E-bay didn’t suck).
I’d love to see a pic of the LeSabre speedo.
I would love too see some Buick police speedometers. The police cars used in the first Smokey and the Bandit were A-body Colonades with the 400’s, I think the Catalina based B-body police spec cars were 403’s.
There were Pontiac block 400’s available in the 1977 models. The were rare but I had one and man-o-man did it haul well in the light car with no power toys!
Yeah, I know, I took one in on trade when I sold Pontiacs, but I think the police spec Pontiac B-body didn’t have the 400 as an option, from what I recall from looking at a 77 Pontiac police spec brochure.
The 400 was available in the “Freeway Enforcer Package” in both B and A body versions according to this brochure, unless of course you were a California dept and then your large engine option was the Olds 403. http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Pontiac/1977%20Pontiac/1977%20Pontiac%20Police%20Cars/dirindex.html
CA must have been what I was thinking of, I would like to find a police spec Catalina, but they seem to be super rare.
In MSP tests for 1977, the Pontiac 400 was tested. It was actually out-performed by the Impala with the 350, even though it had 10 less hp. The Impala ran 0-100 MPH in 33.7 secs, top speed 115 MPH. Pontiac, 0-100 MPH 34.6 secs, top speed 110 MPH. Ford had an LTD II with a 400, 0-100 MPH 41 secs, top speed 118 MPH, and Buick’s LeSabre powered by a 350, 0-100 in 46.4 secs, top speed 110 mph. Both Buick and Ford were disqualified for not meeting acceleration standards.
The fastest car by far was the 77 Plymouth Fury 440, 0-100 24.8 secs, 133 MPH top speed.
By ’93 the MSP standards were harsher than the ’78–it took that long to get back to snuff.
Still the weird thing–the decline and rise of the 350…
77 was not too bad; 170 hp and 270 lb/ft of torque, 0-60 9.7 and 117 mph top speed.
82 it was down to 150 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque, but 0-60 in 12.1 and 107 mph top speed WITH THE 350!
83 it was back up to 115 mph, then settled in between 115-118 mph up to ’87, at which point it was up to 180 hp and 0-60 dropped from 11 to 10.3, so it was a big improvement. 10.3, 34.8 to 100 and 118 mph is about equal to a ’94 Neon automatic. 🙂
By ’89-90 things were improving-0-60 under 10 seconds, down to 9.8 and 16.9 quarter at 82, with top end at 122.
As a member of the biggest Marauder forum out there I’ve never heard anyone attach any more value or desirability to the former FHP Marauders. They aren’t any different than a regular Marauder.
As a member of a Maurader club, I am sure you have no bias when posting regarding the CVPI.
Hey I’ve made it real well known around here that I am a fully biased Panther fan.
On the other hand I’m biased against the P71 as it is the worst version of the Panther, the HPP/LX Sport cars in most of the years have all the go fast goodies as the P71 and in the real world when you don’t have 300lbs of gear in the trunk they handle way better, and when you do have 300lbs in the rear they do just as well thanks to their air suspension adjusting the spring rate to meet the load. The only “good” things about the P71 are their oil cooler and the ability to jump curbs and blast through medians at speed thanks to it’s higher ride height and much stiffer springs.
However bias or not I am reporting the facts as told to me by the person who purchased cars for a local city and the guy that managed that shop who’s personal cars I worked on. I’m also going by what another friend who worked in the combined city-county purchasing dept in another part of the state in regards to the real world costs of operation of the CV vs the Caprice as the city preferred the Caprice and the County the CV.
As far as the popularity of one vs the other I am going by my limited knowledge of what went down in my area when the P71 was introduced and the fact that the local County, State Patrol, and many local cities made a quick change over to the CV before the Caprice went away.
I also fully acknowledge that the Charger is a much better car in terms of performance but once again the depts in my area only used them for a short time because they were much more expensive to operate overall than Panthers or even Tahoes.
Fine, I didn’t know your were huge Panther fan, although I suspected as much. I understand what your are saying about your local source, but I am quoting a reliable, and acredited source that is not anecdotal in nature. Just because one area switched away from Caprice, doesn’t mean that all areas did. You forget that often time fleet choices are also strongly influenced by lowest bidder costs. Sometimes certain areas have much better Ford fleet dealers, or GM or Mopar.
You should know that I do like Panther cars to, but I also like B-cars and have owned both and have lots of miles on each platform. Each have their pluses and minuses. I really like the 2003+ Panthers, one of my all time favourite cars. However, I prefered the 90’s Caprice specifically LTZ, 9C1 and Impala SS) over the pre-1998 Crown Vics. Compared to the 2003+ Vics, it’s a toss up.
I probably have more miles on the Panther cars than any other single car design (B-body would be second). I have always prefered large RWD tradional cars (although my DD has now a become a Pickup instead of a sedan).
I would agree with you that Chargers do seem to be more costly, although I admit this is solely based on anecdotal evidence.
Here is a video where the fleet manager for Portland OR states that the on the road cost of the Charger was about $40K vs $32K for the CV.
Of course this was done shortly after getting their first Chargers so it does not discuss the long term costs. What I find interesting is his comment that they haven’t wrecked any yet contrasted against an officer who says it’s pretty easy to get in trouble with the Charger by over driving it. That holds true with my friend who is in charge of a local city shop and makes the purchase decisions for all city vehicles, who personally chose the more expensive Charger over the CV, who watched the number of cars wrecked skyrocket compared to the CV, often in 1 car accedents. He also said the cost of operation skyrocketed with the Chargers blowing the fuel budget. (Most officers seemed to think every stop lights were Christmas trees when they had a Hemi under foot) Upon crunching the numbers the next purchase was for Tahoes (they already had one or two) since they couldn’t get any more CVs and the PPV, sedan and utility interceptors weren’t yet available.
Yes but the title says first owner was the FHP. Provenance my freinds. And these particular MMs have more provenance than any other Panther out there. Plus they have more power than the P71. http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/photogallery/2004/PG120904.htm
Like I said I’m a big Buick fan. Been a GN owner for over 25 years now. I also own a 84 Riviera T-Type. Back in 86-87 the FBI purchased 100 Regal T-Types for use in under cover. Now there aint nothing special about them except that maybe the 125MPH top speed was disabled in the ECM. No special 9C1 codes or anything to ID them. Today if you can prove that your T-Type was one of those cars the value of it almost doubles. The problem is that people who claim to own one can’t prove it because 25 years ago nobody gave a hoot about stuff like that. Today they do and because of that these FHP MM’s will hold their Curbside appeal.
IMO you lose the arguement about the Panther being the better squad angainst the LT1 Caprice 9C1. Long after 1996 there were a couple of companies refurbishing the 9C1 for departments because of it’s strengths and abilities. That’s how popular they were. It was cheaper to rebuild a 9C1 than go out and buy a new CVPI. I’m guessing since that’s going on 15 years ago that these companies no longer rebuild them because the demand is’nt there.
As far as the best darn Cop Car ever built I’m voting for the 1995 Caprice 1A2 Special Service Vehicle station wagon. http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/1991_Chevy_Caprice.html
Why 1995? It has the LT1. It does not have OBD2. And it’s got better mirrors than the 94 and older. Although I would not kick a 1 of 9 built 1996 1A2 out of the garage just because of the OBD2.
Maybe in another 10 or 15 years it will matter but it does not now. As far as the title reflecting who the first owner is I don’t know about other states but it certainly doesn’t say who the previous owner is on titles in WA state. Plus it’s not like the Marauders that weren’t in Police service aren’t desirable.
As I’ve said before the Caprice is the faster car and it may be better in performance aspects but for the majority of depts the ultimate performance is not their main concern. There are companies that rebuild the P71, a local PD was the instigator of one such company in WA due to their dislike of the Charger which also is a better performer than the CV but is not as durable and is more expensive to both purchase and operate. http://www.systemsforpublicsafety.com/performance.html The name for the package, 404, is in tribute to a fallen officer (his badge number) a gear head who championed this project in part due to his dislike of the Charger.
Back in the day, Alabama State Troopers used AMC Javelins. Here’s a couple of links.
Man does that Mustang bring back memories! I remember when Alabama used those on the highways. I was being carted around in my Dad’s ’85 Mustang at the time and I thought it was so cool that the cops were driving around in them.
After that they used mid 90’s Camaros.
I read this book in the early 90s, and I distinctly remember an account by the author that the MSP always insisted on top-line patrol cars, often, but not always, mimicking
the CHPs choices for any given model year.
Also, how many radios were in that Mustang?
I can see the Low-Band whip on the left, which many State Agencies were still using then & a High-Band whip on the right. One might be for a CB (passe by then) but the fourth?
Ken Rex committed suicide – at least that’s what the official story is. I’ve been to Skidmore many times and it’s a weird little town, hardly representative of rural Missouri. I’ve seen the bar and where his pickup was parked. I’ve also heard the unpublished side of the story. Quite fascinating.
Yes, Missouri has traditionally had high end patrol cars. I remember Mercury’s being used through the early 80’s. Perhaps their selling them at 50,000 miles has an influence.
Don’t forget Paul’s amazing Coronoroc bi-directional cop car.
The longer this is up the greater my lust grows for the 78 Grand Marquis.
“Fancy” trim police cars are an odd thing, Chevy, Ford, Plymouth…you can see that, but a Mercury, Buick or Oldsmobile police car, now thats a rare thing. I know that Mercury still had a police package option until the early 80’s on the GrandMa, silver faced certified speedometer anyone?
Protect, Serve and Brougham…….
To Brougham and Protect.
Whoa that’s awesome… Love.
I knew a guy back in high school in the ’80s who had an ex OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) Marquis. It was an early to mid-80s model. It had a 220 km/h (140 mph) speedometer and dog-dish wheels. I don’t remember the OPP ever using Marquis’; they used Impalas and LTD/CVs. I’ve never seen another police package Marquis.
Okay, after thirty some years I -FINALLY- have answered one of the questions in my mind!!
My father had a 1976 Grand Marquis, white with a black vinyl roof, the vinyl strip between the tail lights was also black. Being a good buddy, he had a CB of course, with a long whip antenna on the back. One day we were on the interstate driving to Rochester, MN when this car was noted to speed quickly up behind us, slow down suddenly and then s-l-o-w-l-y pass us. When we stopped at a rest stop, the car that passed us was there and the driver mentioned to my father that he thought the car was a police cruiser!
I’ve always thought…what the HECK city/state has the budget for a Mercury Marquis police cruiser?!??
Well at this point I know this is years ago, but used to buy aution cars from NJ, and had a little bit of everything from the 70’s and 80’s. Hands down during my time the 74-77ish full size Plymouth/Dodges were the best with the E86 440 Police PKG etc. They would actually get 15-16 on the highway if driven reasonably. The Carter bolonga sandwich 4bbl Thermo quad carberator was either ok or something that had to be rebuilt from time to time. I actually had a 78 LTD Police PKG 460 bought from the state at one time. It was fast off the line but 8mpg at 30 or 120 it didn’t matter. I’ll take the mopars of the day all day.