28 February 2014

Six Of The Best TV Cop Cars

The cop show genre goes back to the pre-TV days of radio (where you had to imagine what black and white your favorite cop was driving).  Here are some of our favorite full-size, rear-wheel-drive American cop cars from 60 years of the best cop shows:

  1. “Adam 12” (1972 AMC Matador): Although it was shot in the 1970s, in many ways, “Adam 12” was a throwback to 1950s cop shows in which gangs, heroin dealers and street snitches didn’t exist and officers Reed and Malloy played by Kent McCord and Martin Milner rarely drew their guns, let alone actually capped anyone. In seasons five through seven, they drove an AMC Matador. In actuality, the LAPD was always a strong supporter of underdog American Motors; they owned more than 500 Matador black and whites at one time.

  2. “TJ Hooker” (1979 Dodge St. Regis): The post-“‘Star Trek’ the TV series” and pre-“‘Star Trek’ the Motion Picture” years saw William Shatner in a relatively forgettable cop show that starred perhaps the least believable cop of all time, Heather Locklear. For much of the show’s run, Shatner drove an equally forgettable Malaise-Era Mopar full-size sedan, the Dodge St.  Regis. It’s fascinating to see them on the show because few people can remember the last time they saw one on the road — they’re nearly extinct.

  3. “Hill Street Blues” (1976 Dodge Monaco): The opening title sequence of “Hill Street Blues” with a memorable Mike Post theme song and a gritty look featured several fishtailing Dodge Monacos hightailing it out of the precinct. The Monaco in police surplus trim also served as The Bluesmobile in the film “The Blues Brothers.”

  4. “Southland” (1999 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor): No list of great cop cars would be complete without the classic Ford Crown Vic. The last full-size rear-wheel-drive Ford was produced from 1992-2011. It was the most widely used police car and taxi in the U.S. and Canada, and although they’re starting to give way to the Dodge Charger, they still show up in the rearview mirrors of speeders everywhere.

  5. “The Andy Griffith Show” (1963 Ford Galaxie): The Mayberry Police Department was fond of Fords. We’re partial to the ’63 300 Galaxie with the classic gumball-machine light on the roof. Over the years, fans of the show have built hundreds of loving replicas of Sheriff Andy’s cruiser.

  6. “Highway Patrol” (1956 Buick Special): Perhaps the granddaddy of all TV cop shows, rough-hewn Broderick Crawford drove a huge assortment of Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Dodges through the 1955-59 run of the show. We particularly like the ’56 Buick Special.

8 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Roger Florida March 1, 2014 at 01:19
    Perhaps the first highway patrol show was "Could this be You" recorded by SGT George Amans of the Washington State Patrol and broadcast in prime-time on Seattle radio stations. This was pre-television. Aman's parents were my neighbors in Lacey, Wa. He packed a flashlight with a wire attached to a crude tape-recorder that captured his conversations with drivers that he'd apprehended. For KVI and KOMO radio in Seattle, the live recordings were edited to ultimate the foul language that SGT Amans regularly recorded. Amans regularly appeared before men's groups like Moose, Elks, Masons with UNEDITED versions of his interviews. Those presentations were a great hit! "Could be this you' in the early '50's was a huge hit in the Seattle area and lead to TV hits like CHP with Broderick Croffard,
  • 2
    Brian Stewart Newark, Ohio March 2, 2014 at 18:19
    Where's Starsky and Hutch Ford Gran Torino? Everyone remembers the striped tomato.
  • 3
    Mike PA March 2, 2014 at 19:41
    How about the black and white Nash police cars on Superman and Inspector Henderson's unmarked black Nash.
  • 4
    dm alaska March 2, 2014 at 22:53
    As a kid in the 50's I use to watch Highway Patrol on the black &white. If memory serves me right, I think that Crawford drove a 1949 ford in the opening of the show series. He also used the term 10-4 a lot. I don't think they had car radios installed at that time , but I could be all wrong on both counts. After all it was many years ago. I still like some of the old movies just to see the old vehicles. I think that the 49 ford was solid black with a siren light on top. What do you think?
  • 5
    Vegas Vic Las Vegas, NV March 3, 2014 at 05:03
    Did the author ever actually watch any of these shows? Did they even "google" them? Adam-12 was a pretty good cop show in its day, and yes they did have gangs, drug dealers, and informants. And Reed and Malloy pulled their guns quite a bit. Also, Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out in 1979, while T.J. Hooker didn't premiere until 1982.
  • 6
    Dennis Madison March 3, 2014 at 09:46
    The 62 Ford Galaxie is pictured.
  • 7
    WL GT40 NASA Road One, TX March 10, 2014 at 10:59
    They are partly right about the car(s) in Adam 12. Martin Milner and Kent McCord cleaned up the streets of Los Angeles Patrol duty was handled by a 1968 Plymouth Belevedere 383 for the first three seasons. The final half of the show’s run saw officers Malloy and Reed making the collar in their ’73 AMC Matador with a 401, The only TV Cop show I believe ever used an AMC car.
  • 8
    Charles Portland, OR April 23, 2014 at 12:34
    Ya...Highway Patrol was an Olds.

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