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Buick/Olds/Pontiac Police Cars


poci1957
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How in the world I missed this first time around, IDK.

Most local PD around here used Mopar or Ford police cars, though in 1977 Danville City bought a fleet of LeMans with 301s. I understand the cars handled fairly well but could barely get out of their own way with the weenie engine. The local Pontiac store had bought back the first GTO they ever sold and used to take it out and bully the 301 police cars with it. When all the LeMans were worn out, you saw a bunch of Dodge St Regis cop cars here- and it seems the vast majority of those ended up in Hiatt's junkyard. They couldn't even get rid of them at the surplus auctions, they had such a bad rep. The Diplomats that replaced them were apparently better cars than the St Regises. When Chrysler pretty much abandoned the cop car business in early 90s, they switched to 9C1 Caprices as long as they were available.

They're using Malibus and Impalas here now and the cops hate them. One described driving them as like sitting on a toilet seat.

Goes without saying that Lansing MI PD and surrounding counties and townships used Oldsmobile police cars.

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I believe I am correct that the CT State Police also used some Grand Nationals.

John

Ya they did. I remember them driving on the interstates in the center lane at 10 over the speed limit. They had no markings and deep tinted windows.

When guys would blow past them they would get nailed.

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Interesting reading - I asked about Maine police cars on a different site but didn't get any response. As much as I'm into cars, I don't remember what the Maine State Police used through the years except for certain models. I do remember '59 Ford Customs, 2 door sedans with a V8 and 3 on the tree. I'm pretty sure I remember '64 Customs as well, also with manual transmissions. Then in '67, they had 2 door Bel Airs with automatics, but for some reason replaced the 3 spoke Chevy steering wheels with 2 spoke ones from Buicks. They even had a sticker in the middle of the wheel covering up the Buick name. I remember them in used car lots. Seems like they used Plymouths in the early 70's but then had Malibus and Caprices in the late 70's, early 80's. At some point in the 80's, they went back to Fords which they mostly still use. A lot of local towns that used to use Fords have gone with Dodge Chargers - as has my town, although they still have an Explorer as well. The city where my wife grew up tried Volvos back in the 80's but that experiment didn't last very long.

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Here is a photo of a Checker, plus a Volvo for John in Maine, both from the Krause Publications "Police Cars, A Photographic History" which has some great material on this subject but I am still interested in more.

Note that lots of single civilian cars seem to have been thrown into small town police departments on a budget or cars for light duty use, but what I am really interested in are factory police package cars purchased for actual patrol use. The Buick photos are great and I will try to get a few more from this book. Thanks to all who contribute, Todd C

PS--slightly off topic but maybe nostalgic for some is this yellow and blue Mopar spotted at Hershey in 2009

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PS--slightly off topic but maybe nostalgic for some is this yellow and blue Mopar spotted at Hershey in 2009

The NYS Police car brings back lots of memories. I saw literally hundreds of them auctioned off back in the day. The auctioneer's name was Rex Accurso and his company (Rex's Auction Barn) had a contract to travel all over NYS selling surplus vehicles. One of his favorite sayings (probably not politically correct today) was 'You take this car like you take your wife...you find out what you've got when you get it home!'.

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So did the FBI use Grand Nationals

As I recall hearing, the FBI had the only GNs that didn't have the normal speed limiter setting, but one much higher . . . if at all. Allegedly used in FL to chase down Lambos and the people in them. I imagine they had something more appropriate than the normal Goodyear Eagle GTs the "consumer" GNs came with!

But then there is the story of one of our former chapter members. He was deeeeep into the GN thing, having made numerous trips to "The GN Doctor" for upgrades. One night, he saw what "he thought" was a Corvette ZR-1, so he tried to follow the Corvette. Key word is "thought", as he almost lost it going around a corner to try to get closer to the Corvette. He never got closer enough to determine if the tail lights were ZR-1 tail lights.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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Here is a photo of a Checker, plus a Volvo for John in Maine, both from the Krause Publications "Police Cars, A Photographic History" which has some great material on this subject but I am still interested in more.

Note that lots of single civilian cars seem to have been thrown into small town police departments on a budget or cars for light duty use, but what I am really interested in are factory police package cars purchased for actual patrol use. The Buick photos are great and I will try to get a few more from this book. Thanks to all who contribute, Todd C

PS--slightly off topic but maybe nostalgic for some is this yellow and blue Mopar spotted at Hershey in 2009

Yes, I remember seeing Augusta ,Maine police using Volvos for police cruisers 80's/90's

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  • 1 year later...

I am specifically looking for any police agency that used a full size 1961 Buick, preferably a LeSabre, for their police cars. I have come across a picture of a fire chief's car, but never a police unit. I have my great-grandfather's 1961 LeSabre that he used when he was a detective in the 60's and I know he used it on duty. It was never a marked unit though. I would like to restore it into a marked police car but I want reference photos.

Edited by brianmcfa (see edit history)
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Several cool old police cars showed up for the Branford (CT) Veterans Day Parade last fall (actual date: Sunday, November 11, 2012). I got a couple of shots of them before the parade when they were gathered along Town Hall Drive right by the Branford Town Green, before the start of the parade:

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Then when the actual parade started, they got called out into line right behind me. I was driving my 1960 VW Bug, and took this picture of them through my rear view mirror, as the line of them stretched out behind me, during the actual parade:

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My car was a noisy place to be in that parade, since those guys could not resist playing with their sirens.

I do not know the owners of these vehicles, but I think they might be affiliated with a vintage police car group that I think is locally based in CT, ref: Police Cars

Edited by stock_steve (see edit history)
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I used to hate seeing those 70-74 Dodge and Plymouth State Police cars here. You could tell the Plymouths at night by the location of the parking lamps, but I found that 69-70 big Oldsmobiles had similar parking lamps. Probably kept me out of a few tickets 'cause I'd always slow down when I saw those lights!

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Albany NY my home town, used strictly Buick police cars from the early fifties until 1964. Four door Specials until 58 then LeSsbres . In 63 only they used some compact two door Specials. The Fire dept and water dept also used all Buicks. In 65 they all switched to Dodges. The mayor and few higher ups still got Buicks for a few more years . All the Buick police cars they had were very plain base model all black no white doors or roof. ALBANY POLICE on the door in silver letters. No emblems or badges etc. One red roof light,a siren and an antenna. Some did have the two stop lights in the back window.

Edited by misterc9 (see edit history)
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I don't suppose you have any pictures?

Albany NY my home town, used strictly Buick police cars from the early fifties until 1964. Four door Specials until 58 then LeSsbres . In 63 only they used some compact two door Specials. The Fire dept and water dept also used all Buicks. In 65 they all switched to Dodges. The mayor and few higher ups still got Buicks for a few more years . All the Buick police cars they had were very plain base model all black no white doors or roof. ALBANY POLICE on the door in silver letters. No emblems or badges etc. One red roof light,a siren and an antenna. Some did have the two stop lights in the back window.
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  • 1 year later...
Ahh, yes...... I have some of those Highway Patrol videos with B. Crawford. They were the Century model 68. I believe Buick only built 270 of them in '55, exclusively for the California Highway Patrol.

Of course, the TV car could have been some kind of Hollywod mockup. Just thought it was strange to see the Special badge and the Roadmaster ports.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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Backing up a bit, when I was a kid I remember watching Highway Patrol with my mother every Friday night. I always loved the show because of the cars they used and had been checking the internet for years trying to find it on video. I found the first season on HULU a couple of years ago and last year, my wife found seasons 2-4 on DVD on Amazon and got them for me for Christmas. I have enjoyed watching them particularly for the police cars. In season 1, they primarily used the '55 Buick with the 4 portholes although I remember seeing some 3 port hole models. From the sound they made, I believe they were manual transmissions. In the very first shows, they also used a '54 Oldsmobile with a manual trans and a '55 Mercury 2 door sedan. In season 2, they graduated to the '56 Buick, '56 Dodge and '56 Mercury and late in the season, '57 Buicks started showing up. Season 3, which is where I am now, they are using '57 Buicks, '57 Mercurys and '57 Dodges. I love hearing those Dodges start up and move out. I believe they must have had the D-500 package. I wonder how many of each car they actually had, can't be more than 2 of each. One episode I watched last night combined stock footage -Dan Matthews left headquarters in a '57 Dodge, was shown on the road in a '57 Mercury and arrived in a '57 Buick. Of course, the "bad guys" have their own cars some of which have been used in multiple shows and also as "undercover" cars - particularly a '57 Ford Fairlane, '56 Ford Custom sedan, '57 Plymouth Plaza, '56 DeSoto wagon, '56-'57 Mercury convertibles, '57 Olds 88 sedan, etc. The shows are kinda corny now - and "innocent" as they sometimes don't even handcuff the bad guys - but I love seeing the cars.

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Backing up a bit, when I was a kid I remember watching Highway Patrol with my mother every Friday night. I always loved the show because of the cars they used and had been checking the internet for years trying to find it on video. I found the first season on HULU a couple of years ago and last year, my wife found seasons 2-4 on DVD on Amazon and got them for me for Christmas. I have enjoyed watching them particularly for the police cars. In season 1, they primarily used the '55 Buick with the 4 portholes although I remember seeing some 3 port hole models. From the sound they made, I believe they were manual transmissions. In the very first shows, they also used a '54 Oldsmobile with a manual trans and a '55 Mercury 2 door sedan. In season 2, they graduated to the '56 Buick, '56 Dodge and '56 Mercury and late in the season, '57 Buicks started showing up. Season 3, which is where I am now, they are using '57 Buicks, '57 Mercurys and '57 Dodges. I love hearing those Dodges start up and move out. I believe they must have had the D-500 package. I wonder how many of each car they actually had, can't be more than 2 of each. One episode I watched last night combined stock footage -Dan Matthews left headquarters in a '57 Dodge, was shown on the road in a '57 Mercury and arrived in a '57 Buick. Of course, the "bad guys" have their own cars some of which have been used in multiple shows and also as "undercover" cars - particularly a '57 Ford Fairlane, '56 Ford Custom sedan, '57 Plymouth Plaza, '56 DeSoto wagon, '56-'57 Mercury convertibles, '57 Olds 88 sedan, etc. The shows are kinda corny now - and "innocent" as they sometimes don't even handcuff the bad guys - but I love seeing the cars.

Try catching Perry Mason reruns for lots of FOMOCo productsincluding a T-Bird with a mobile phone.

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When I was working as an Oldsmobile mechanic back in the 80s the instructor related a story about the FBI and their Grand Nationals. The FBI complained that the engines were "shutting off" while in use. The cars were returned to GM for repair minus all of the special FBI equipment. The problem could not be duplicated. The cars were sent back to the FBI and the problems persisted. GM requested that the cars be sent for repair with all of the equipment installed. Apparently the FBI did not want the general public to know what was on the cars. The FBI relented and sent one car with the special equipment installed. GM discovered that the FBI radio was creating a very large magnetic field when the mic was keyed. The EMF would wash over the PCM and cause the car to stall. All of the cars received special shielding on the PCMs and related harnesses. The problem was corrected.

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  • 5 months later...

Firepower,

Thanks for the photos! The 49 Buick is a King Co. Sherriff's car (Seattle area) I'm old enough to have seen them but I guess not old enough to remember.

Grays64,

I know the 57 Mercury, talked to the owner for several years at the Covington cruise night. He seemed dedicated to the car and it's history and seemed unwilling to sell. Do you have anything to add to the story?-Bill

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Yes, NYC had Pontiacs in 1976.

For some reason I don't remember them, I know the TV Kojack used Pontiacs I only recall Plymouths, the Pontiacs used for the show were the only Pontiacs I ever recall seeing, unless they were mostly used for detective cars

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For some reason I don't remember them, I know the TV Kojack used Pontiacs I only recall Plymouths, the Pontiacs used for the show were the only Pontiacs I ever recall seeing, unless they were mostly used for detective cars
I thought Kojak drove Buicks?

The folks on Naked City drove Pontiacs.

Broderick Crawford on Highway Patrol drove Oldsmobiles and Buicks, among others.

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