It seems there’s never a cop around when you need one. That’s what we used to think—before we asked our Facebook community, “What’s the coolest police car ever made?” Law enforcement was on the scene so quickly you’d think we had just shouted, “2-for-1 sale at Dunkin Donuts!”
Nominations came from near and far, and they included everything from serious to absurd. Among the cop cars that elicited puzzled smiles were a Mini Cooper S and Triumph Spitfire GT6. But you didn’t stop there. Gareth Beynon nominated his daughter’s “ex-London metropolitan police Morris Minor 1000, which served from January 1971 to sometime in 1973.” And Wally Ray swears he “once saw an Isetta police car. I think you could outrun it on foot.”
Otto Heydorn nominated a number of police vehicles from his native Germany, including a BMW 501, Porsche 924, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volkswagen Type 82E “used by police after WWII,” armored 1977-96 Mercedes Benz Unimog “used during the street fighting years and those of the German terrorist group RAF,” and his personal favorite, “our most beloved Wasserwerfer in Hamburg.” Otto included a video of the Wasserwerfer (German for “water cannon”) in action, and let’s just say if you want to stage a protest in Berlin, you’d better learn to swim.
We drooled over the exotic police vehicles that allegedly patrol the streets in some Arab nations, including Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS gullwing coupes. But we wondered, where do they put the suspects after they catch them? Shotgun? Roof?
Among the iconic American police cars nominated were the 1971-2 AMC Javelin pursuit vehicles employed by the Alabama State Police, a fleet of white Pontiac Trans Ams used by the Catoosa County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Department in the late 1970s/early ’80s, and the seriously black Buick Grand Nationals used by a number of state law enforcement agencies in the late 1980s.
Several of you posted photos of late-model Corvettes, and Dave Sanders wrote that the Texas city of New Braunfels “now has a Z06. That’s pretty cool.” We checked it out, and he’s right. The thing even has its own nickname: “Coptimus Prime.”
Ford enthusiasts weighed in too, and many of you nominated the Fox Body Mustang. There were a lot of pics of all-blue Michigan State Police Mustangs, and Jim Voteary added, “Argument over!”
Although our question included the word “car,” Chuck Webster nominated his grandfather’s “Harley Davidson trike from the 1940s.” And former police officer Robert Mitchell bent the rules too by naming “the worst police cruiser in history”—any of three Checker cabs that the Claremont (N.H.) Police Department purchased in the late 1970s. “The good thing was you could put 4-6 people in the back, plus they were like rolling tanks!” Darryl Powell’s suggested, “They could pay for themselves by picking up fares,” which jogged Robert’s memory. “Once in a while I would drive by the teenagers’ hangout, turn on the intercom and ask, ‘Taxi? Who called for a Taxi?’”
Darren Quigley didn’t even bother choosing a make or model, writing that the coolest police car is “the one chasing someone else!”
Chris Winslow asked if it was OK to nominate cars from movies, then he went ahead and named one: the V-8 Interceptor/1973 Ford Falcon XB GT coupe from Mad Max. “Technically, it’s a cop car,” he reasoned.
Several of you followed Chris’ lead and nominated the Blues Brothers’ 1974 Dodge Monaco “Bluesmobile,” as well as the Ford from the 1960s television hit, The Andy Griffith Show. It’s difficult to be more specific than “Ford” since ol’ Andy drove a different vehicle in each of the show’s eight seasons, from Fairlanes to Galaxies to Customs. Matthew von Hobe wrapped it up in a nice little bow, however: “Mayberry’s Finest.”
Other movie/TV cars nominated were the 1955 Buick Century driven by Broderick Crawford on Highway Patrol (1955-59), the 1959 Peugeot 403 that Peter Falk drove on Columbo, Sheriff Buford T. Justice’s 1977 Pontiac Lemans from Smokey and the Bandit, the 1972 Dodge Polara from Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974), and the 1969 Plymouth Belvedere that was used in the second and third seasons of Adam 12 (1969-70).
Now back to reality … The Plymouth Fury has been a popular choice among police officers through the years, and Chris Slade, Shane Grauman, and Thomas Hackney each nominated a different one. Chris chose a 1968 Fury I two-door sedan; Shane picked the “light blue and white mid-1970s Fury cruisers” that he remembers in Weatherford, Texas; and Thomas went with a “1974 Sport Fury 440 Police Interceptor, preferably in Michigan State Police colors.”
Dave Sanders remembers the Oldsmobile 442s used by the Glen Ellyn (Ill.) P.D. in 1966. “They were unmarked for a few weeks before they put on the lights and markings. There were a lot of drag-racing arrests made in those first couple of weeks before the word got out.”
Walter Wazniak followed Dave’s lead. “Allen Park, Mich., 1963 Ford Galaxie 2-door sedan … 427, 4-speed, unmarked with Sun Super Tachs on the dash. The police didn’t wear their hats or ties. They would try to get you to run them, and when you did … BUSTED.”
Last but certainly not least—since no serious discussion about police cars would be complete without it—is the 1992-2011 Ford Crown Victoria. “The Crown Vic was hands down the toughest, most reliable, and practical police car,” Josh Ua wrote. “I own a Charger RT and love it, but I can attest that they aren’t good police cars… The Crown Vic was an all-around great car. Simple design, affordable, and V-8 engine on a frame (as opposed to a unibody design).”
Ray Yates wholeheartedly agreed. “The cops loved Crown Vics because they were tough, fast, and had room in the back and trunk for equipment. So dependable.”
Almost as dependable as a joke about cops and donuts.