1991 Ford LTD Crown Victoria

13 Iconic Police Cars That Patrolled America’s Streets

Let’s hit the rewind button and zoom into the world of classic American cop cars! From the iconic Ford Model T to the powerhouse Chrysler Enforcer, we’re cruising down memory lane to check out 13 legendary vehicles, including the formidable Ford Model B, that once kept our streets safe and secure.

1988 Dodge Diplomat Police Package

1988 Dodge Diplomat
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The Dodge Diplomat, produced from 1977 to 1989, was a significant player in law enforcement fleets. Initially sharing design elements with the Chrysler LeBaron, the Diplomat was equipped with various engine options, including the robust 1bbl or 2bbl 225 slant six, or the 2-bbl 318 V8. However, it wasn’t until 1981 that the Diplomat really shone in law enforcement with the introduction of the Police Package featuring a powerful 4bbl 360 V8 engine, coupled with a 727 Torqueflite three-speed transmission. Despite this upgrade, many police agencies continued to favor the reliable 318 V8 engine, solidifying the Diplomat’s reputation as a dependable police vehicle.

1975-1978 Plymouth Fury A38 Pursuit

1978 Plymouth Fury
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The Plymouth Fury, with its A38 Police Pursuit Package, is a classic example of American law enforcement vehicles. Available from 1975 to 1978, this seventh-generation Fury was transformed into a formidable police car. It featured heavy-duty tuned suspensions, 7-inch-wide heavy-duty wheels, and special fabric-belted radial police pursuit tires. The interior boasted durable bench seats with heavy-duty cloth/vinyl upholstery. Notably used by the Virginia State Police, the Fury A38 Pursuit was distinctively wrapped in silver and blue, equipped with a red beacon on the roof, symbolizing authority and resilience.

Plymouth Belvedere Police Car

Plymouth Belvedere Police Car
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The Plymouth Belvedere, particularly popular with the LAPD and NYPD from the mid-1960s to early 1970s, was a dependable choice for law enforcement. Known for its affordability and power, the standard 1966 Belvedere Police package came with a 383-cubic-inch V8 engine, delivering an impressive 330 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. This powerhouse was connected to a 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission, making the Belvedere a formidable pursuit vehicle in the urban landscape.

1980–1991 Ford LTD Crown Victoria Police Car

1991 Ford LTD Crown Victoria
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The Ford LTD Crown Victoria, produced from 1980 to 1991, was a mainstay in police fleets, competing with the Chevrolet Impala/Caprice 9C1, Dodge Diplomat, and Plymouth Gran Fury. It was powered by a standard 5.0-liter V8 engine, with an optional 5.8-liter V8. The most significant updates came in 1990, including driver’s side airbags, power amenities, and improved safety features. In 1992, it was succeeded by the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, marking the end of an era for this iconic law enforcement vehicle.

1972-1974 AMC Matador PPV

AMC Matador
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The AMC Matador PPV, available for a brief period in the early 1970s, gained popularity with various departments, including the LAPD and LA Sheriff’s Department. Its screen presence was notable in the TV show “Adam-12” and the James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun.” The Matador’s short-lived yet impactful presence in law enforcement demonstrated AMC’s ability to produce a car that was both practical for police work and appealing to the public.

1960 Ford Fairlane Police Package

1960 Ford Fairlane
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The Ford Fairlane, widely used in the 1950s and 1960s, was a popular choice for police fleets. Known for its V8 engine and affordability, the Fairlane was a large, comfortable cruiser that served various departments, including the Illinois State Police. Its cultural impact was immortalized in the 1960s sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show,” where it appeared as a squad car, highlighting its widespread recognition and reliability.

1982-1993 Ford Mustang SSP

1993 Ford Mustang SSP
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The Ford Mustang SSP, built from 1982 to 1993, was a unique foray into law enforcement for the muscle car. Originally requested by the California Highway Patrol, the Mustang SSP was a modified Fox 5.0 Mustang, tailored for police use. Approximately 15,000 units were produced, serving various agencies including the DEA and FBI. Its combination of power and agility made it a standout choice for highway patrol and law enforcement agencies.

1972 AMC Javelin

1971 AMC Javelin
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The AMC Javelin, specially outfitted for the Alabama Department of Public Safety, is a notable example of a pony car in law enforcement. Initially equipped with a 304-cubic-inch V8, the department eventually received models with a more powerful 401-cubic-inch V8. The Javelin’s deployment marked the first time a pony car was used for high-speed pursuits and responses by a U.S. police department. This unique partnership between the Alabama Department of Public Safety and AMC resulted in a vehicle that was both distinctive and effective for law enforcement, showcasing the versatility and performance of the Javelin in demanding situations.

1991 B4C Chevy Camaro

1991 B4C Chevy Camaro
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The Chevrolet Camaro B4C, offered from 1991 to 2002, earned its place in law enforcement history as a legendary highway patrol car. This “Special Service” police package was outfitted with robust features like oversized sway bars, four-wheel disc brakes, and a high-output alternator. Chevrolet sourced many of these heavy-duty parts from the regular Z28 and the 1LE package, creating a car that was not only effective in law enforcement duties but also made appearances in popular TV shows like “Texas Ranger,” “The X-Files,” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” The B4C Camaro’s dual role as a law enforcement vehicle and a pop culture icon highlights its unique appeal.

1974-1978 Dodge Monaco

1978 Dodge Monaco
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The Dodge Monaco, along with its siblings the Dodge Coronet and Plymouth Fury, was a mainstay in American law enforcement during the 1970s. The 1974 Dodge Monaco Police Pursuit model was powered by a 440-cubic-inch Magnum engine and was notably used by the New York State Police. Its fame extended to the silver screen, with a 1974 Dodge Monaco patrol car featuring prominently in the classic 1980 American musical comedy film, “The Blues Brothers.” The Monaco’s presence in this iconic film, as well as its real-life service with law enforcement agencies, cements its status as a classic American police car.

Ford Model T

1908 Ford Model T
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The Ford Model T, often hailed as the car that put America on wheels, was not just popular among the public; it was also a favorite of early 20th-century police departments. The Model T’s appeal to law enforcement was largely due to its affordability, mirroring the reason for its widespread popularity among the general population. Equipped with a modest four-cylinder engine, the Model T wasn’t a speed demon by any means – its top speed hovered around 45 mph. Yet, it was reliable and economical, making it a practical choice for police departments during a time when motorized vehicles were just beginning to replace horse-drawn carriages in law enforcement.

Ford Model B

Ford Model B
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Introduced in 1932, the Ford Model B became a go-to vehicle for police departments grappling with the financial constraints of the Great Depression. What made the Model B stand out was its revolutionary flathead V8 engine – an innovation that offered more power and efficiency than the engines typically found in affordable cars of that era. The Model B’s combination of affordability and relatively advanced engineering made it an attractive option for police fleets. Its adoption by law enforcement agencies during this challenging period is a testament to Ford’s ability to produce vehicles that met the needs of a wide range of consumers, including budget-conscious government entities.

Chrysler Enforcer

Chrysler Enforcer
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In the early 1960s, Chrysler introduced the Enforcer, its last official police package, based on the Chrysler Newport model. This vehicle found favor with police forces in states like Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The Enforcer was a purpose-built police car, designed to meet the specific needs of law enforcement agencies. Its tenure in service lasted several years, during which it played a crucial role in aiding police departments with a reliable and robust vehicle for patrol and pursuit. The Chrysler Enforcer’s significance lies in its role as a dedicated police vehicle during a time when manufacturers were increasingly recognizing the specialized needs of law enforcement in their vehicle designs.

Author: Abbie Clark

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