Monday, March 28, 2011
Here, speeder, speeder. A look at police vehicles, past and present
Behind the scenes, the men and women behind the wheels of these rolling billboards of law and order are putting their lives on the line everyday to keep the world safe from killers, thieves, and other miscreants. We’d live in a pretty rough world without their service.
More visible, at least to the public, is the police car during traffic enforcement duty. The last thing we need are drivers thinking they can recklessly bomb thorough residential neighborhoods with no regards for the safety of others, and to that end, this is also an important function of the police car. Of course, that noble service can get muddled a bit when you see one of these cars hiding at the bottom of a hill on a lightly traveled roadway, nabbing people that venture five-miles-per-hour over the posted speed limit.
The first police car was commissioned in Akron, Ohio in 1899. Officer Louis Miller, Sr., controlled the electric beast, which could hum as fast as 16-mph. The city engineer actually built the car for a mind-boggling $2,400.
The unwavering body-on-frame construction has been the perfect balance of durability and maintainability. Many big police departments actually have frame straightening equipment to get damaged cars back on the road faster. Parts are interchangeable. And once they’re ready to be sold, there is a strong secondary market in the livery service.
All good things must come to an end, and the days of the body-on-frame car, and indeed the Crown Victoria, have all but ended for the 2011 model year. What are the police departments going to do?!
Ford is replacing the venerable Crown Victoria with a new Taurus-based, front- or all-wheel-drive police cruiser, or for added room, an Explorer-derived version is available. And even though the new car won’t be equipped with a V8 engine like the old Vicky, the optional twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter “Ecoboost” V6 will outperform it in every way, with a healthy 365-hp on tap for those high-speed chases.
In the meantime, take a look at the slideshow below. There, you will find lots of manufacturer factory photos and publicity artwork of police cars through the ages. I think it’s a pretty entertaining little slideshow, and you’ll agree that there have been some pretty neat police cars roaming the highways and byways over the years. Just be careful coasting down the hills.