Vintage Snapshots: The Cars Of The Missouri State Highway Patrol

The good stuff to be found on the Facebook page “Missouri’s Historic Highways” just keeps coming.  One theme I saw in exploring there are various cars used by the Missouri State Highway Patrol from 1931 to 1964.

The Patrol was formed on July 21, 1931.  Initially there were 155 troopers to patrol the 114 counties within the state.  There were not enough cars to go around as there were thirty-six 1931 Ford Model A roadsters purchased initially.  These cost $413.18 each.   The website says this equates to right at $7,000 in 2019 value; the Bureau of Labor Statistics equates that value to $6,700.

While this example is a marked car, in 1954 the Patrol bought their first unmarked cars in something other than black.  They were all equipped with a 160 horsepower Y-block V8; Ford ads from the time reveal it to be a 256 cubic inch mill.  This was the first year Ford offered an overhead valve V8 engine, finally laying the old flathead to rest.

In 1956 the Patrol began replacing cars at 25,000 miles instead of their traditional 65,000 miles.  By 1959 (featured here) they were even obtaining two-door hardtops as patrol vehicles.  This Dodge appears to be a 1957 model.

Their car purchase in 1956 was four hundred units.  By 1957, an order for 455 new 1958 Chevrolets was made.

Here’s one of those two-door hardtops.  It appears to be a 1960 Dodge.  What series?  From blowing the picture up, I’m wagering it’s a Matador, as the shape does not appear correct for a Polara.  Yes, there was a Dodge Matador for 1960; it was the lower trim series.

The Dart, a full-sizer at that time, did not have a nameplate on the front fender.

These last two pictures are part of an anti-littering campaign in 1964.  These pictures were taken on US 54 north of Jefferson City.  There are so many good things in this picture, not least of which is that 1964 Dodge.

But something else also caught my eye.  That tan Chrysler is making its presence known.  So let’s take a better look.

The Chrysler is a Saratoga two-door hardtop.  Scouring does not clarify whether this is a 1957 or 1958 model as the chrome on this one does not match what is shown for a Saratoga for either of those years.  There were only 4,466 Saratoga two-door hardtops produced for 1958, less than half the volume from 1957.

There is still a little bit more to come from my latest mining expedition.