Patrolled roadways in style
British police constabularies have always had a passion for using open-top British sports cars.
The oldest example I recall was a fleet of 1933 MG Magnas ordered by the Lancashire Constabulary. A few decades later, in 1962, the Southend-on-Sea County Constabulary commissioned and put into service a Triumph TR4. The police spec TR could reach a top speed of 175 km/h, and came equipped with a Pye radio to communicate with base, a Winkworth bell, air horns, a windscreen-mounted hand-operated lamp, front and rear police signs and a rear police stop sign.
I think if I was a villain in a MKII Jaguar having just pulled off a bank robbery, I would fancy my chances a little more with the Triumph chasing me (zero to 100 km/h in 11 seconds!) than being chased by some of the other police sports cars.
These include: Sunbeam Tigers (201 km/h top speed, zero to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds); Daimler SP250 fitted with V8 Hemi engines (198 km/h top speed, zero to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds); or an Austin Healey.
In the late '70s, police patrolled the M4 Motorway using Jaguar E-Type V12 Coupes, while the Oxford police used a Yellow Ford Capri 3000E, complete with brown vinyl roof fitted with a roof rack, luggage — and a turbo-charger!
Closer to the home, the Vancouver Police Department caught a few unsuspecting motorists with their blue pearl Subaru WRX STi that they used to use to patrol Granville Street.
Retired Superintendent Bill Burles of the Southend-on-Sea Constabulary recalls having allocated the TR4 the task of “fast pursuit car,” and that it went out on two shifts a day, seven days a week, clocking up approximately 1,600 kilometres a week.
And his officers jumped at every opportunity to drive with the top down; when they did, they always wore their helmets with chin straps in place. Probably a smart move considering the lack of a visible roll bar!
Vanguard Models have produced 1500 limited Special Edition models based on this actual car with the number plate 4100 HJ.
With its unique history and exemplary condition, the car was one of 100 vehicles offered for sale at last week’s Historics Auction at Brooklands in England, with an expected selling price of between $54,000 and $62,000. Unfortunately, no one wanted it that badly and it did not sell.