Getting pulled over is a real bummer. What’s an even bigger bummer is getting pulled over by a lame V6 SUV, or some goofy compact that’s not suited to deliver pizza, let alone chase down an outlaw like you.
The once-respectable police car seems to be the latest casualty of modern design. Fortunately, many departments and car enthusiasts recognized this automotive plague early and held on to a few cool cruisers of the past, so here’s 4 of the coolest (V8, rear-wheel drive) cop cars ever made.
4. 1977-1990 Chevrolet Caprice (aka The Floaty Boaty)
Anybody who was alive in the 80s is sure to remember these. The enormous 1977-1990 B-Body Caprice was the quintessential American police car for a decade. One can’t help but picture this car flying down the road to the sound of ‘Axel F’ (from Beverly Hills Cop).
The interior of the old Caprice is properly tacky, but comfortable nonetheless. Cloth bench seats were standard, and some even came with cruise control. And if you were lucky, the rear seat was also just as plush.
The suspension and handling characteristics of the Caprice are just how you’d expect them to be; the car is boat-like, with light but vague steering, and handles like an oil tanker. But really, what’s wrong with that? Police officers spend countless hours in their cars, so it shouldn’t be unreasonable to appreciate ride comfort. Besides, an old Caprice with steel bumpers can plow through a brick wall without hesitation, so I think its handling ‘deficiencies’ can be forgiven.
3. 1998-2012 Ford Crown Victoria
Many a teenager mastered the ability to spot those cross-eyed amber lights in the rear view mirror. I never thought I’d see the day when we’d feel nostalgic about this car. Growing up, the 1998-2012 Crown Vic embodied the very meaning of ‘Police Car’. The Crown Vic really was the last true big American cop car; body on frame, rear wheel drive with a big V8.
Well, maybe not a BIG V8, but still. Even up to 2012, the Crown Victoria was built on the Ford Panther platform, which dates all the way back to 1979. The interior was properly basic, but still comfortable enough to spend the work day in. The back seat, not so much…
Many departments still run a few Crown Victoria Interceptors to this day. As a testament to their build quality, just remember this next time you see one: The last new Crown Victoria rolled off the line in 2012, 7 years ago, so the one you’re looking at is at least that old.
2. 1969-73 Dodge Polara
This has got to be the grand daddy of police cruisers. With a top cruising speed of over 130 MPH, the old Polara was an absolute monster. At the time, there was no police car that could beat it, because no other police car came with a 440 big block.
Even today, the big block Polara would smoke 90% of typical cars you’d come into contact with on the road. But back in 1969, any production muscle car owner would have real reason to be concerned if they broke the law around one of these. For the first time, a common Highway Patrol vehicle had a real chance to run them down.
1. 1987-1993 Ford Mustang SSP (CHP Fox Body)
The 1987-1993 Ford Mustang Fox Body earns the #1 spot on this list. Any mustang enthusiast (especially if they live in California) would love to be lit up by one of these (if they absolutely must be lit up).
The Ford SSP, or Special Service Package, was designed per request of the California Highway Patrol who wanted a light, fast pursuit vehicle. The Chevy Camaro almost fit the bill; unfortunately for GM, common mechanical problems at high speeds swayed CHP over to Ford. About 15,000 were produced between ’82 and ’93, all with the venerable 5.0 Windsor (302) V8, and many with a 5-speed manual transmission.
That’s right… a 5-speed cop car with a small block V8.
Wether knowingly or not, the CHP asked Ford to build what many would consider ‘the perfect Fox Body configuration’.
The ‘notchback’ SSP Mustang is probably one of the most interesting police cars ever used in America, which is why it earns the #1 spot on this list. And let’s be honest here, wouldn’t you want to chase down a bad guy in a car like that?