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Buick/Olds/Pontiac Police Cars


poci1957
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My dad actually restored a legitimate 71 Fury police car with the growler and everything. He was able to trace the VIN back to the department that operated it.

5917545724_fc1da529da_s.jpgLOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT (LASD) - PLYMOUTH FURY by Navymailman, on Flickr

Edited by 1940_Dodge (see edit history)
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Apparently Virginia State Police required troopers to furnish their own vehicle at one time. Local trooper had a '47-'48 Pontiac coupe that he traded on a '49 Ford V-8. A resident of WV bought the Pontiac and was using it to commute to work in Covington, VA. One evening the trooper spotted his former Pontiac moving too fast and gave chase but the Pontiac outran the Ford. He found out who had bought his tradein and tried to buy it back but Williard would not sell it.

About 1952 that same trooper became sheriff of Alleghany County and apparently liked unmarked cars. My friend came out of the military in 1953, was hired as a deputy and given a brown '53 Plymouth. Can you imagine that car outrunning anything unless it was a Model A Ford. In '54 the rest of the dept. got '54 Chevrolet 150 sedan. I think there were four, black, powder blue, turquoise and one more that I do not remember. They must kept the Chevys several years. The next thing I remember is a friend getting hired as a deputy as driving a pale lime green '59 Ford. The next county cars I remember were '62 Dodges. Those things were hideous. They were traded on '67 Dodge Coronets and two of our neighbors bought the '62 Dodges. One was white and the other was brown. Another friend wrecked his '67 Coronet one night during a chase and when he came back to work they got him a '68 Plymouth Fury I, an unmarked white car with a 440 magnum V-8. I had a '68 Chrysler 300 with a 440 and it was fast but that Plymouth would fly. He'd hit the gas and you'd hear the carb sucking air and that thing would leap forward screaming. I'm thinking the '67 Dodges might have been replaced by AMC's and I think that lot was all the one color, brown. Before that you knew which deputy you met by the color of the car he drove. Now they have an assortment of Fords, Chevys, and Dodges, some marked, some unmarked but for years all the sheriff cars were unmarked. I had several late night rides in that '68 Fury and one night I was instructed to pickup an army carbine from the floor and use it if I needed to to but that is another story.

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One of the Milwaukee (WI) fire chiefs had a Fiesta Red 1957 Oldsmobile 88 four door sedan. It was an absolute base model with standard shift transmission, standard steering wheel, poverty hubcaps, radio delete, but did have a heater. I met the guy who bought it from the auction, painted it black, then later sold it, never to be seen again. Milwaukee also had '57 Chevy 150 police cars, but predominatly Nashes and Ramblers and some '63-'64 Plymouths. A friend told me that he once owned a '62 Chevy Biscayne for door sedan with a 409 CID and standard shift with overdrive formerly used by the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Edited by Larry W (see edit history)
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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.

I know this is an "aged" thread, but it's still neat reading.

On the "when the mike's keyed" issue, in the later 1980s, an oil exploration Chevy pickup came into the shop with a similar problem. When the mic was keyed, the engine would lose power and die, when un-keyed, it ran as designed. They were using a powerful FM business-frequency radio. When I heard what the problem was, I went upstairs to the break room, where some aluminum foil (leftover pieces) were. I got a piece big enough to cover the detonation limiter box (behind the glove box) as I suspected it had to be some sort of RF issue. I told the shop foreman what my suspicion was. He loosely wrapped the metal box in the foil, with attention to the connector plug, and it fixed the problem. Everybody was happy!

At that time, all the pickups had was the detonation limiter for the ignition. It would retard the spark until the "knock" stopped, even if it did it long enough to kill the motor, by decreasing any ignition advance in the system. As a test, if you tapped an exhaust manifold with a wrench, it'd start taking timing out of the motor and rpms would drop. On the "full ECM" cars, it might also have affected the carb/injector activities, too.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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There are some very interesting Mopar Police Car stories at www.allpar.com , look for "Curtis Redgap" as the author. Seems that his grandfather started a Chrysler-Plymouth store which his father later took over. It was a higher-tier store that handled the "bid" vehicles, including law enforcement vehicles. There are MANY interesting stories on the CHP car tests of the later 1950s. Plus later Dodge/Plymouth division rivalries in the law enforcement vehicle arena in the earlier 1960s. VERY interesting articles!!

The two Mopar Police Car books are also very interesting!! Many insights into the various types and equipment combinations which some departments used. A good bit of CHP vehicles are mentioned, too.

In Texas, the prominent police car was the full-size Ford, from the later '50s until more recent times. As a Ford enthusiast, back then, it made me proud to see Fords as police cars, even in Mayberry. But the "badder" ones were the Dodges and Plymouths. More of a hard-core hot rod that could stop and go around corners, than the Fords generally were. Amusing to us was that a department would even consider a Chevrolet over a Mopar or Ford! I'd guess they didn't have much crime to chase in that area. When our local town opted for Chevys in 1971, they all had noisy valve lifters inside of a year. They were later transferred to the public works dept, still with noisey lifters.

Texas DPS consistently used Fords and Plymouths. Partially for the better higher-speed handling of the Plymouths and their ultimate top speed capabilities. They all had a reputation of being fast, reliable, and durable. In the later '60s, they were 383 4bbls, although they got 440s in '68, for one year. Generally, more Plymouths where the new Interstates were, especially in West Texas. Fords more toward the slower-speed metro areas.

Don't forget about the national police car vehicle club!

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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Along about 1972, I was in a junior college government class. In that class was police officer from a neighboring town. Later he went to work for the TX Dept of Public Safety (at that time). He was working out of the same neighboring town.

Once, his regular patrol car (a Plymouth or Dodge) had to go in for service, so they pointed him toward an old, slightly unmarked Plymouth at the back fence of their lot. He kind of turned his nose up at it, but IT was all he had. He got in and got it fired off. It ran a little ragged, but it ran. He was babying it for general principles (older and with "miles" on it), but when he met a speeder, his reflexes took over. He made a U-turn, hit the lights, and floored the throttle. What happened next was totally not expected by him. Seems the 383 4bbl came to life, the TorqueFlite went into action, and pushed him back in the seat like his regular car did not. By the time he was near the top of 2nd gear, he had caught the speeder, who wondered "Where'd YOU come from?" That was the LAST time he questioned the mettle of an older Mopar police car, possibly even wanting to put his regular car in the shop more, knowing he'd have that Old Plymouth as his backup vehicle.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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I remember the RCMP using Pontiac's here in Canada. Some were equipped with 427's & later 454's. These were the Canadian Pontiac's that used the Impala chassis and Chevy engines

The City of Edmonton had some 1966 or 1967 Pontiac Beaumont police cars.

Craig

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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.
a tad off subject, but we had a fluorescent light that use to shut off our Mitsubishi TV....
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I love this topic. I was with LAPD for 27 years. LA had the Fwys until about 65, or so. They had 60 Pontiac Catalinas and then moved on to Oldsmobile. They all had roll bars and the guys wore helmets and across the chest restraints. Rumor has it now and then a unit would go out of service. They would then "drive" to Las Vegas. Elapsed time was logged....when the CHP too over the fwys they had 440 Dodge Polaras. LA then went to Plymouths with the 383. Nothing like asking for help and hearing the carburetors screaming to get to you.believe it or not in 72, 73 and 74 we used AMC Matadors, 401 Buick engine we were told and the Chrysler Torqueflite. Don't know how true that was. The 72 held the track record at driving school until the 85 Caprice came along, but that Matador was a ball to drive. But......in 74 they de tuned the hell out of the poor thing plus those hunky bumpers came to be. The car could not get out of it's own way. By the way the Olds and Pontiacs were called Freeway Fliers. Also our early version of Swat, called Metropolitan Division drove Olds F85s. The bad guys knew not to mess with the guys in the little Oldsmobile. Thanks for letting a new guy chime in. Oh, almost forgot, in 70/71 we had Mercury Montegos, with either 428 or 429s. Talk about fast....but they could not stop and they ran HOT. In the summer with a dark blue wool uniform, you wanted to die.

Edited by exbcmc (see edit history)
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exbcmc, the AMC V-8s were complete of AMC origin and design, NOT Buick's or any other makers. The Matador 360s and 401s were some of the fastest sedans of their time. Part of that was due to the Chrysler TorqueFlites getting the power to the rear axle, I suspect.

The Mopar Police Car book mentions that some of LA's freeways had narrower lanes than others did, so Plymouth Belvederes were used for those roadways rather than the larger Furys or Oldsmobiles. Those police car books also mention how much power equipment LAPD or CHP did not get on their cars, like power steering in some cases, plus the white steering wheels.

One of our friends was a "young cop" in Houston. He's got a picture of him posing by his '57 Plymouth 2dr sedan. White top, black body, and only "windows down" air conditioning. He mentioned how (physically) hot it was inside that car in the summer.

Ford did some 3-door police cars for Texas, circa 1958 and 1959. Only the driver's door on the driver's side, but two normal doors on the passenger side. Made it harder for the "passengers" in the back seat to get out. In later mid-'80s full size Chevys, the genuine police package cars had the inside door handles deactivated, such that only the outer handles worked. On the famous '79 Chevy Nova 9C1 police cars, the back seats were little more than padded and upholstered plywood. A few more inches of rear leg room and easily fixable and cleanable than the normal rear seat.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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  • 4 months later...

Bet he had fun with that restoration. The CHP Mercurys had highly a modified suspension, as well as a unique rear axle. Ford outsourced the modifications, which may also have included engine mods to a shop in California... may have been Bill Strope's operation since he was sponsored by Ford and developed the tri-power setup for '58 Mercury 400 hp Super Marauder Engine.

 

I have the whole article with pics but can't find them.  1958 Mercury base 'Medalist' I think.  Something said about Lincoln brakes 100 amp alternatorJ code 430 super marauder tri power now extremely rare. Multi Drive,  Just to think now,  back in high school I had a three yr old 58 Park Lane conv. J code tri power

constant problems keeping carbs in sync so in the trash it went replaced with a 4 barrel intake & Holley. then it ran well.  Other day on ebay just the

tri air cleaner $2900 bucks. oh boy....BUT back then it could be bought local Linc Merc dealer  ....

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  • 3 weeks later...

Along about 1972, I was in a junior college government class. In that class was police officer from a neighboring town. Later he went to work for the TX Dept of Public Safety (at that time). He was working out of the same neighboring town.

Once, his regular patrol car (a Plymouth or Dodge) had to go in for service, so they pointed him toward an old, slightly unmarked Plymouth at the back fence of their lot. He kind of turned his nose up at it, but IT was all he had. He got in and got it fired off. It ran a little ragged, but it ran. He was babying it for general principles (older and with "miles" on it), but when he met a speeder, his reflexes took over. He made a U-turn, hit the lights, and floored the throttle. What happened next was totally not expected by him. Seems the 383 4bbl came to life, the TorqueFlite went into action, and pushed him back in the seat like his regular car did not. By the time he was near the top of 2nd gear, he had caught the speeder, who wondered "Where'd YOU come from?" That was the LAST time he questioned the mettle of an older Mopar police car, possibly even wanting to put his regular car in the shop more, knowing he'd have that Old Plymouth as his backup vehicle.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

I love this. I retired from LAPD. When you asked for a back those 383 Belvederes were music to your ears....'68/'69's
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The speed limiter was just one byte. The secret was which byte.

ps I remember toodling along the Sunshine State Parkway in the late 60's in an E-type with the top down at 70ish when another car passed moving a bit faster. In my rearview I saw an FHP cruiser make a fast U-turn with headlights wobbling a bit. Caught up with me and just as he passed going considerably faster I heard that 440 change note as it shifted. Nothing quite like it.

Was said at the time that one requirement the FHP had was at least a 140 top end.

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  • 5 years later...

Very interesting thread, even if very old. I just ran across it via a link on the internet as I was researching pictures of '60s police cars.

 

I just purchased a '66 Bel Air that is a very accurate replica of a Maine state police car. It's a 2dr post with a 396 and three in the tree. I sent an email to the Maine state police and got a response the next day from a retired trooper. He said they did in fact have 3-speed column shift Bel Airs in '66. That was the last year they used manual transmissions in patrol cars.

 

I was a deputy in the '70s and '80s, and one of the most unusual patrol cars I remember was a '79 Cougar. We had a couple of them in our traffic division. They were also used by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. 

 

nqjteOO.jpg

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When I was about 21 or so I purchased a 1970 Plymouth Fury I that had been a police car in my town. Apparently a Captain had used it for his personal car. 383, 4 bbl., torqueflight. For it’s size it would move.  I routinely would cruise on the tollways at 90+.  Never found a place to safely test top speed but I did have it to 115 mph with more to go.       

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Mid to late 70's Catoosa  County GA?, use Pontiac Trans Ams. At one time I knew of one documented car that was to be restored but it fell off the grid. Any other infor would be great.

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On 2/6/2015 at 5:11 PM, Larry W said:

Milwaukee also had '57 Chevy 150 police cars, but predominatly Nashes and Ramblers and some '63-'64 Plymouths. A friend told me that he once owned a '62 Chevy Biscayne for door sedan with a 409 CID and standard shift with overdrive formerly used by the Wisconsin State Patrol.

In 1960, the Milwaukee PD special order 56 Studebaker Lark Marshal police cars.  So far, one survives, which is getting restored in Westmoreland, PA:  https://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/forum/your-studebaker-forum/general-studebaker-specific-discussion/23307-60-marshal-updates#post849176

 

Studebaker built a demonstrator 1964 Marshal for the Wisconsin State Patrol for them to evaluate, but Studebaker ceased South Bend production before the term was up.  This car survives as well:  https://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/forum/your-studebaker-forum/general-studebaker-specific-discussion/23307-60-marshal-updates#post849176

 

Craig

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55 minutes ago, TAKerry said:

Mid to late 70's Catoosa  County GA?, use Pontiac Trans Ams. At one time I knew of one documented car that was to be restored but it fell off the grid. Any other infor would be great.

Yes they did use Trans Ams in 79. I was stopped at a gas station with a restaurant across the road in Georgia at that time and watched 3 of them leave in a hurry. One was a 4 speed.

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7 hours ago, plymouthcranbrook said:

When I was about 21 or so I purchased a 1970 Plymouth Fury I that had been a police car in my town. Apparently a Captain had used it for his personal car. 383, 4 bbl., torqueflight. For it’s size it would move.  I routinely would cruise on the tollways at 90+.  Never found a place to safely test top speed but I did have it to 115 mph with more to go.       

Check out Post #14 here----------> Studes in Roadside Americana photos - Studebaker Drivers Club Forum for a period photo of a '70 Fury I police car in action.

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, TAKerry said:

Mid to late 70's Catoosa  County GA?, use Pontiac Trans Ams. At one time I knew of one documented car that was to be restored but it fell off the grid. Any other infor would be great.

 

I responded earlier with a discussion of Sheriff J.D. Stewart and his Pontiacs. Let's see if this link works:

 

Pontiac Police Cars - Pontiac & Oakland - Antique Automobile Club of America - Discussion Forums (aaca.org)

 

Don

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Thanks Don, I apologize for not looking through the entire thread.  Usually with the older ones I just start at the new reply section.  I am active on a Trans Am forum and quite a few years ago there was a young guy on there that had a documented Catoosa Sheriff car. His uncle was a deputy and bought it from the department when it was retired or something to that effect. These cars were unique in the way they were settup and the car this kid had was def. the real deal.  He kept talking about a restoration then one day announced he was getting divorced or something and didnt know what was going to happen to the car. He fell of the grid and we never heard a thing again about it. 

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On 2/22/2015 at 10:07 PM, Pomeroy41144 said:

In 1972 and 1973, Calumet City, Illinois, had Buick Century Police cars.

post-75225-143142983845_thumb.jpg

Where's the Blues Brothers car?

I have a picture of 1935 Buick police cars in Austraila.They are showing off their new wireless police fleet.

IMG_20200813_175501.jpg

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Had a friend in California who purchased the wrecked remains of a '59 Dodge Highway Patrol car from a wrecking yard and then installed both the long crossover two four barrel engine and the push-button transmission in a somewhat modified 1920's Studebaker frame with the front half of the touring car body resembling a T-bucket hot rod, popular at the time. The shift buttons and cables extended up from the transmission through a length of tubing mounted at a convenient height between driver and passenger. The carburetors hung out over the frame rails. I don't recall exactly what running gear he used, but probably the Dodge rear end from the wreck and a split wishbone early Ford front axle. I only had one ride in that contraption, but I don't think a rocket could have screamed down those two residential blocks any faster! That was the closest I ever came to losing my lunch (and maybe my life !).

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very interesting thread. someone mentioned the AMC matadors of the early 70's.wilmington delaware had a fleet of them. i think they were so popular because of the 5/50,000 mile warranty that really was "bumper to bumper". even covered wear items like brake shoes. we hated working on them for factory rates. i also recall talking to a GM instructor at the moorestown new jersey site that mentioned a big block corvette pursuit car the jersey turnpike police used. he said the passenger seat was removed to make room for radio equipment. my final odd cop car post involves me drag racing my GTO against a 396 camaro. it was on a main highway, and we were spotted by a newcastle county police officer. we split up, and i parked my car behind a gas station. i got out, bought a coke from the machine, then watched the cop (in full pursuit mode) go by in his 4 cyl international scout, lights flashing and siren blaring.

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1 hour ago, rocketraider said:

Boy, that's really good stewardship of public money!🤑

The car was supposedly confiscated from a drug dealer and used by the Gastonia, NC police department as a public relations tool in fighting drug use. Who knows if it was effective or not.

 

Don

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