The introduced for the 1979 model year Chrysler R body cars: Chrysler Newport, Chrysler New Yorker, and Dodge St. Regis along with the introduced for the 1980 model year Plymouth Gran Fury were short lived only making it to 1981. All of the R bodies, save for the New Yorker, were offered as police packages. Despite the short run, they were very familiar to viewers of movies and TV shows. The 1979 St. Regis above was one of the cars used on the classic William Shatner police drama T.J. Hooker in later seasons.
The California Highway patrol used the St. Regis and as expected they eventually showed up on the Erik Estrada police drama CHiPs.
The Philadelphia Police used the 1979 Chrysler Newport, this one was a real police car used in the movie Trading Places.
The Sûreté du Québec also used the Newport.
The Cincinnati Police used the St. Regis.
As did the Kentucky State Police.
The Minnesota State Patrol used the St. Regis in 1979,
but switched to the Gran Fury in 1980.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police used the Grand Fury for 1980.
The Ontario Provincial Police used the 1980 Grand Fury.
The Chenago County Sheriff in New York State used the 1980 Grand Fury.
The New York City Police Department used the 1980 Grand Fury only for highway patrol duties, while the precinct RMPs were the F body Plymouth Volaré.
Too many have been cop-cloned as a result of TV. Having owned 4 Rs I can say they aren’t as bad as frequently portrayed, usually by those who’ve never driven one. The frameless windows were a dumb idea, and the window regulators sucked, interiors had bean-counter issues, but seats were comfortable, and with a conversion away from Lean Burn and disconnect of the lockup feature of the 904, they were decent drivers as were their B body predecessors, and actually relatively rust-proof. My 2 ’79 Newports, ’80 NYer, and ’80 Saint were cars that I never regretted owning.
I’ve never understood Chrysler’s affinity for frameless windows on these. I get it on earlier 4-door hardtops and the sporty coupes, but the R-body sedan simply made no sense.
The only thing I can guess is that, maybe, the original plan for the R-body was to have an upscale, four-door hardtop version, sans B-pillar, like the outgoing, full-size C-body (probably for the New Yorker) but, at some point, the decision was made to cancel that one due to budget considerations, and they stuck with the frameless glass doors since it was already in the pipeline.
A shame because a four-door hardtop R-body would have been cool.
Bit of memory trivia. As an MP in Alabama, the State Police there had some R’s in 82-83. The troopers I met called the units “St. Regis Dodges” putting the series ahead of the brand.
My MP vehicle was a ’75 Plymouth Fury b-body with a 360 that had somehow escaped being replaced with more economical Mavericks and AMC Concords. During a prisoner exchange, the trooper met my Fury with his St. Regis. Wondering how the Rs performed, I asked the trooper about his St. Regis.
I found his comment kind of funny, which is probably why I still remember it. He said his St. Regis was like an old dog. Takes a bit to get her moving, but at least she was comfortable.
I don’t remember many of these in use by the California Highway Patrol, or at least not for long. They did have a formal look.
CA emissions rules meant the biggest cop car engine there was only the 318.
The whole story of the R body (on a revamped 1962 B platform) here:
The Chrysler/Plymouth dealer I worked for in 1979 serviced the Ventura County based CHP. When it came to those ‘R’ body cars, as has already been stated, they only had 318 CI engines with a Carter Thermoquad 4 barrel carb. The A727A Torqueflite transmissions were equipped with the High-Stall, Lock-Up Torque converter which made the car even slower in picking up at speed unless downshifted to 2nd. The CHP had also cut out the muffler, replacing it with a straight pipe so there was no restriction from the catalytic converter back. It really didn’t help much and the cars were not loud without the muffler. After servicing the 440 CI ‘C’ body Polaras for so many years, those ‘R’ bodies were a joke!
CHP decided to get out of the 318 St. Regis early. They sold off cars that had not yet been placed into service, to local and county police agencies looking for a bargain. Cars already in use were sent to districts where they would rack up a lot of miles; once they reached retirement mileage they were sold off. CHP replaced the St. Regis with Dodge Diplomats.
Which is why CHiPs got them before the series ended in 1983. They had Ford product placement for several years but CHP was so famously an (almost) all-Mopar fleet in those days that they couldn’t use manufactuer-supplied LTDs in the show, so the Dodges they had tended to lag a few years behind, being real but retired patrol cars.
Had a 1979 St. Regis as a fed. govt. ride for a couple of years. Police package 360. Not nearly as bad as depicted by many. Comfortable and trouble free. Not fast, but no slower than the 1975 Ford LTD with the 460 that it replaced.
The 1980 Dodge St. Regis squad was unarguably slow at a time when civilian cars were just starting to come out of the malaise era. It was roomy and comfortable and quiet, perhaps the Brougham of police cars, and in police trim, rode firmly but not uncomfortably. When my department had them, though, I preferred the 1978 Plymouth Volaré, for 360 good reasons.
Amusingly, I grew up in Philadelphia, and don’t remember the R-body police cars at all. I guess they just barely pre-dated my car-watching years. From what I recall, throughout the 1980s, the Philadelphia police department mostly stuck with M-body Diplomats — I think the rationale was that they were smaller than Caprices or Crown Vics, and therefore more suited to big-city streets.
But I really mourned the loss of Philadelphia’s blue polices cars — once the Philadelphia PD switched to white, many of the suburban districts did too, with each then being distinguishable by only the color of striping and the jurisdiction’s name.
The same comment regarding the opp cruisers. I grew up in eastern Ontario and don’t remember st Regis cruisers at all. Everything seemed Chevy around that time with the occasional old fury still motoring on.
If they ever do a St. Regis model kit or diecast, the fleet markings I’d put on it would not be police at all but CNN.
There’s a story that in 1979-80 Lee Iacocca and Ted Turner met at some rich-guy networking thing just before Turner launched his 24-hour news channel and Iacocca the K-car, and put together a barter deal. Cars for airtime.
Chrysler got rid of several hundred unwanted Sales Bank cars, many of which must’ve been R-bodies, and widened the advertising platform for the K launch without spending more cash; CNN got a fleet for correspondents’ use and the prestige of a Big 3 automaker’s ads in their portfolio while seeking other advertisers (if you watched Mad Men you’ll know what “having a car” meant in the ad business).
I remember the Kentucky State Police St. Regis’s and every one of them I ever saw was some kind of gun metal grey. Years later, I found an unmarked St. Regis police cruiser minus the engine and transmission but otherwise completely intact and in good shape in a salvage yard. The car had a title and the yard wanted way too much for it. That car was white. Have no idea which department it served with.
MSP had these back in the day, during a period of using a “What-the-hell-were-they-thinking-?” yellow livery.
These cars would have looked so much better in the classic olive green & black livery that they retuned to (and currently use) after a brief stop after the yellow with a cool looking coppery-gold livery with an olive green reflective stripe. While I don’t recall the Saint Regis using this interim livery, it looked pretty good on the boxy B-body Caprices.
I’m late to the party on this topic but had to pass along a pic of a 1980 Gran Fury owned by an RCMP member in Alberta.
This is one of at least two restored such cars in western Canada. It has a 360 under the hood and all the usual police equipment. The first owner was also an RCMP member and was able to scrounge up all the accessories to make this Gran Fury look authentic. The second Gran Fury in similar condition from the picture I saw, is on display at the RCMP Depot in Regina.