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  #1  
Old 09-18-2021, 4:47 PM
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Default Police Patrol Vehicles throughout the 20th Century.

Hello Fellow Calgunners, hope all are well.

I thought I'd make a thread of all the Police Patrol Vehicles Cops used throughout the 20th Century. I was talking with an old LASD retired Lieutenant years ago and he was telling me his old Patrol stories during the 70's and 80's, I had asked which Patrol Vehicles he used but I can't remember any of the models now. I think he said an early 70's AMC Matador and a Ford something from the 80's.

Anyways any Current/Retired LEO'S can you please post what Vehicle (Make, Model, Year), you used to Patrol in from the 20th Century (1950 to 2000), and what agency you work(ed) for. Please post pictures if you have any, thanks!

Last edited by thehunted777; 09-19-2021 at 7:14 AM..
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Old 09-18-2021, 4:58 PM
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Dodge St Regis. 0 to 60 in about a mile or so.
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Old 09-18-2021, 5:35 PM
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Dodge St Regis. 0 to 60 in about a mile or so.
Very cool looking Patrol Car, it was only made for 3 years (1979-1981). I think I see why now, hahaha.
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Old 09-18-2021, 6:58 PM
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My first patrol vehicle was a 1972 Dodge Polara. It had manual steering with a real low gear ratio. You had turn the wheel like five times to make a normal turn. We then went to the Dodge Aspen and that was pretty much an ideal car. It drove real well, and you had outstanding visibility from it.

When I moved over to LASD, we were just retiring the Novas and going to Malibus. They were also a pretty good patrol unit. We had a couple of Plymouth Furys in the fleet. They were pretty universally disliked. They had a bad habit of stalling if you hit brakes while turning left. We had a hard time getting enough miles on the last Plymouth on our station fleet and we assigned it to a deputy who had a tendency to crash cars. He totaled it, and was looking at a couple of days off as a result. We voted him a financial honorarium from the station fund for finally getting rid of the Plymouth, but the Captain vetoed it.

The Ford Crown Vic then became the mainstay and was a pretty solid patrol car. It was still in service when I left. I had always thought that Crown Vic was a "Made in the USA" vehicle and was quite surprised to learn that it was an imported vehicle.
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Old 09-18-2021, 7:08 PM
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Started in the Chevy Malibu, then to the Impala, then to the 1990’s Chevy Impala “Shamu” unit , then to the Crown Vic.
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Old 09-18-2021, 7:27 PM
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Originally Posted by RickD427 View Post
My first patrol vehicle was a 1972 Dodge Polara. It had manual steering with a real low gear ratio. You had turn the wheel like five times to make a normal turn. We then went to the Dodge Aspen and that was pretty much an ideal car. It drove real well, and you had outstanding visibility from it.

When I moved over to LASD, we were just retiring the Novas and going to Malibus. They were also a pretty good patrol unit. We had a couple of Plymouth Furys in the fleet. They were pretty universally disliked. They had a bad habit of stalling if you hit brakes while turning left. We had a hard time getting enough miles on the last Plymouth on our station fleet and we assigned it to a deputy who had a tendency to crash cars. He totaled it, and was looking at a couple of days off as a result. We voted him a financial honorarium from the station fund for finally getting rid of the Plymouth, but the Captain vetoed it.

The Ford Crown Vic then became the mainstay and was a pretty solid patrol car. It was still in service when I left. I had always thought that Crown Vic was a "Made in the USA" vehicle and was quite surprised to learn that it was an imported vehicle.
Very cool information and story, thanks for sharing! Didn't know the Crown Vic was imported either, what a trip!
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Old 09-18-2021, 7:30 PM
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Started in the Chevy Malibu, then to the Impala, then to the 1990’s Chevy Impala “Shamu” unit , then to the Crown Vic.
I remember the Shamu units, those are cool! I've seen a couple of them throughout my career with LASD, wish LASD still used them even though they're way out of date.
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Old 09-18-2021, 7:46 PM
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Here's an awesome old school police training video from 1988 from the Indiana State Police. Maybe you guys know what car is shown in the beginning.

https://youtu.be/b2B48FmLkys
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:22 PM
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There’s a Ford emblem on the grille. Maybe the old Ford LTD.
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:26 PM
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I remember the Shamu units, those are cool! I've seen a couple of them throughout my career with LASD, wish LASD still used them even though they're way out of date.
Santa Ana P.D. used a few Shamus up until about 2008 or so. They were revered for their stoutness especially going over high curbs. Caprice, not Impala.

Last edited by jarhead714; 09-18-2021 at 8:29 PM..
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:31 PM
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There’s a Ford emblem on the grille. Maybe the old Ford LTD.
Yeah that could be the model, old school law enforcement...love it!
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:32 PM
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Just sayin'
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:33 PM
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Santa Ana P.D. used a few Shamus up until about 2008 or so. They were revered for their stoutness especially going over high curbs. Caprice, not Impala.
Oh very cool, didn't know they used them that recently.
That's right the old Chevy Caprice...Classic!
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:34 PM
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Just sayin'
Lol!
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:36 PM
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Oh very cool, didn't know they used them that recently.
That's right the old Chevy Caprice...Classic!
In civilian form, maybe the ugliest cars of the decade, but in black and white they looked tight. The wagon versions were in huge demand on the custom car scene. Most of those are in Japan now.
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Old 09-18-2021, 8:44 PM
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In civilian form, maybe the ugliest cars of the decade, but in black and white they looked tight. The wagon versions were in huge demand on the custom car scene. Most of those are in Japan now.
Agreed, not a handsome car in civilian form. But when I was a kid growing up in the 90's, I would always see the Chevy Caprice Shamu units and always thought they were super cool. Didn't know about the custom car scene and the following of that, pretty cool.
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  #17  
Old 09-18-2021, 8:52 PM
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The Ford LTD!!! learned how to do "J" turns in that model. EM car with reclining seats!! I remember turning the air cleaner top upside down on the Malibu.
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Old 09-19-2021, 7:02 AM
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The first car I was assigned was a mid 70s full-size Pontiac. It had plasticky vinyl seats, roll up windows, no air conditioning, and had a bubble gum light on the roof with two canned red/amber lights. Driving that car was tricky because it drove as though it had only springs and no shock absorbers at all.

The other cars at the time were Dodges, one was a blues Brothers clone, and the next one was a leftover CHP fleet vehicle. It had the 440 magnum engine. That car hated being driven around at slow speed, the engine loaded up and would only burble and fall flat on its face if you suddenly floored it. It would take about a minute to clean itself out and then proceed to smoke all the rubber off the rear tires. It was insanely fast once it got cleaned out.

Then came the Novas. Handled like go carts but you had to listen to the incessant complaining of prisoners riding in the backseat because there was no legroom between the seat and the cage. They were followed by an assortment of Ford Fairmonts and Dodge Aspens. The 79 Dodge Aspens ran very well, but the 1980 version felt like it had a four-cylinder engine in it. It couldn’t get out of its own way.

Next up were the Ford LTD‘s, which were essentially a fox body Mustang with four doors. They were plenty fast, but the handling left something on the table. Then came the Dodge Diplomats. Certainly a proper looking police car and a great do-it-all patrol car, but it didn’t do anything particularly special in any category.

The final cars are used were a collection of Crown Vics and Shamus. It was amazing how well some of those larger cars could get around corners.
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Old 09-19-2021, 8:14 AM
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1968/9 when I was at West Covina PD we had Fury IIIs purchased from local dealer. Covina used Pontiacs they purchased from the dealer in Covina.
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Old 09-19-2021, 8:26 AM
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Buford T Justice had a modified...

Nothing like the new.
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Old 09-19-2021, 10:35 AM
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We had a beat up old oxidized Caprice at my unit until about 2007 - 2008. I have no idea what year it was. It was flat light blue because the clear coat had peeled off completely and had the lights inside instead of on the roof. I’m pretty sure it was a detective’s car that got given to my unit second hand. It was the station chow run car because all the Crown Vics were used every day.

It was fun to drive because the rear end broke loose so easily.
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Old 09-19-2021, 11:00 AM
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Back in the late 60’s, the San Jose cops had a few Plymouth Road Runners, powered with the hemi.
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Old 09-19-2021, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickD427 View Post
My first patrol vehicle was a 1972 Dodge Polara. It had manual steering with a real low gear ratio. You had turn the wheel like five times to make a normal turn. We then went to the Dodge Aspen and that was pretty much an ideal car. It drove real well, and you had outstanding visibility from it.

When I moved over to LASD, we were just retiring the Novas and going to Malibus. They were also a pretty good patrol unit. We had a couple of Plymouth Furys in the fleet. They were pretty universally disliked. They had a bad habit of stalling if you hit brakes while turning left. We had a hard time getting enough miles on the last Plymouth on our station fleet and we assigned it to a deputy who had a tendency to crash cars. He totaled it, and was looking at a couple of days off as a result. We voted him a financial honorarium from the station fund for finally getting rid of the Plymouth, but the Captain vetoed it.

The Ford Crown Vic then became the mainstay and was a pretty solid patrol car. It was still in service when I left. I had always thought that Crown Vic was a "Made in the USA" vehicle and was quite surprised to learn that it was an imported vehicle.
Was the Polara equipped with a Brodie knob?
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Old 09-19-2021, 12:00 PM
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Was the Polara equipped with a Brodie knob?
Nope, One officer did made the suggestion, but it got shot down. It woulda made life a lot easier, but the academy taught "Suffle Steering" and that was difficult with a knob on the wheel.

I did my field training in that car and just trying to make a simple turn, using the "Shuffle Steering" mode was a major effort. But that car had a lot of power and could come up to speed real fast. No need to flip the air filter cover.
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Last edited by RickD427; 09-19-2021 at 2:36 PM..
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Old 09-19-2021, 2:08 PM
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Here Jay Leno has a few masterpieces.

https://www.nbc.com/jay-lenos-garage...hp-cars/318516
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Old 09-19-2021, 2:33 PM
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Here Jay Leno has a few masterpieces.

https://www.nbc.com/jay-lenos-garage...hp-cars/318516
Some beauties!
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Old 09-19-2021, 3:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofeugene View Post
Back in the late 60’s, the San Jose cops had a few Plymouth Road Runners, powered with the hemi.
I need more proof of this. Hemis were very rare in RRs. The RR was a 2 door. I'd wager 4 door Satellites with 440s. Maybe the traffic guys added a RR hood and badging as a PR exercise when hanging out with the car clubs to deter street racing.
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Old 09-19-2021, 7:10 PM
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download.jpegWhen I was a boot LAPD officer in 1981, my training officer and I would often get stuck with the worst and most dangerous police vehicle of the time, a Ford Fairmont V8. It had the radio equipment mounted on a board between the officers on the seat! It was super over powered and squirrely. Most were crashed and signed-out to field supervisors when repaired. Really small and scary.

Last edited by Spaffo; 09-19-2021 at 7:14 PM..
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Old 09-19-2021, 10:30 PM
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Dodge St Regis. 0 to 60 in about a mile or so.
The horror stories I keep reading about this specific vehicle.
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Old 09-20-2021, 12:26 AM
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Attachment 1036577When I was a boot LAPD officer in 1981, my training officer and I would often get stuck with the worst and most dangerous police vehicle of the time, a Ford Fairmont V8. It had the radio equipment mounted on a board between the officers on the seat! It was super over powered and squirrely. Most were crashed and signed-out to field supervisors when repaired. Really small and scary.
Very cool looking, it definitely looks fast! Man what a different time back then for law enforcement...40 year old vintage goodness...
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Old 09-20-2021, 3:49 PM
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I remember (I think) around 68 that SJPD used Plymouth Satelltes or Belvederes with the 383. Quick.
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Old 09-20-2021, 3:53 PM
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My first patrol vehicle was a 1972 Dodge Polara.
When I started our whole fleet was Polaras. Best patrol car ever. We had kill switches for the tail and brake lights. When we rolled on a hot call at night we would kill the lights but with 2 or 3 polaras we would rattle windows for 2 blocks. It was a sad day when we replaced the polaras with matadors (matahogs).
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Old 09-20-2021, 4:21 PM
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When I started our whole fleet was Polaras. Best patrol car ever. We had kill switches for the tail and brake lights. When we rolled on a hot call at night we would kill the lights but with 2 or 3 polaras we would rattle windows for 2 blocks. It was a sad day when we replaced the polaras with matadors (matahogs).
It was a great car, except for that manual steering and the visibility out of the back window.

I don't think that I've ever driven a car that had the acceleration of that Dodge. I never had a pursuit in that car, but it sure would have been an experience.

The Aspen that replaced it was also a great car. It was Dodge's venture into the mini-car market to counter the Nova. It handled real well and had great visibility. It was the first car I drove that had the thick rimmed steering wheel and it felt real solid wrapping your fingers around it. The Polara had a skinny steering wheel that felt like soda straw.
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Old 09-20-2021, 8:27 PM
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Like one of the other posts, my first black and white was a Dodge Polara, it had all the guts you wanted as long as you stayed in a straight line. Radial tires had not come out in 1977, well for the cops anyway. I remember my 1st run at 120 mph, on the freeway. You couldn't hear the siren on the roof because the tires made so much noise in the car and they felt like you driving on squares.
Next were Dodge Monaco's and the dumb headlight covers. Left the S.O. to the local PD and they had the same crap and a few Ford Futura (a real POS).
Eventually, we got '87 and '88 Chevy Caprices. The '88's had the LT 1 engine and it kicked ***. Best police car ever in my book. Drove a desk as a Detective a few years then back to patrol with Crown Vic's and then W.C. in the Chevy Blazer. There are some other pieces of crap cars in between but I can't remember all.
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Old 09-21-2021, 6:43 AM
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Crown Vic, Expedition, and now the soccer mom car (Explorer).
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Old 09-22-2021, 9:35 PM
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I remember Ford LTD, Boxy Chevy Caprice, Shamu mobile Caprice Classic, Crown Victoria.

I was in from 1986 to 2016.
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Old 09-23-2021, 7:43 PM
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Here's a cool Vintage Police Cars parade in Hollywood from 2013, some real classics in there. Gotta love the old school police sirens.

https://youtu.be/f9awBGmK8s4

Here's another old school police training video for pursuits circa 1990 from OPP police in Canada.

https://youtu.be/mEpqZlomvrM

Last edited by thehunted777; 09-23-2021 at 7:55 PM..
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Old 09-23-2021, 9:50 PM
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NOT a COP ...... NEVER DROVE A PATROL CAR.

Rode in a few back seats. But that's another story.

That out of the way. My oldest memory of Police Vehicles is the three that an OLD family friend drove on duty, and garaged at his house. As the Contract Deputy from LASD, that lived and worked in the City of Paramount.

A 1950 Ford 2 door, [all black], and later a 56 Ford 4 door,[B&W], and a 1940s vintage knucklehead Harley 3 wheeler.

His name was "Deputy Bob Day", and us kids called him "Bob the Burner". A title he actually took pride in. He was a member of the Local Elks, and an active, well respected, member of our young growing community.

RIP "Bob [the Burner] Day". You are remembered fondly and with respect.
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Old 09-23-2021, 10:02 PM
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NOT a COP ...... NEVER DROVE A PATROL CAR.

Rode in a few back seats. But that's another story.

That out of the way. My oldest memory of Police Vehicles is the three that an OLD family friend drove on duty, and garaged at his house. As the Contract Deputy from LASD, that lived and worked in the City of Paramount.

A 1950 Ford 2 door, [all black], and later a 56 Ford 4 door,[B&W], and a 1940s vintage knucklehead Harley 3 wheeler.

His name was "Deputy Bob Day", and us kids called him "Bob the Burner". A title he actually took pride in. He was a member of the Local Elks, and an active, well respected, member of our young growing community.

RIP "Bob [the Burner] Day". You are remembered fondly and with respect.
Very cool story, and interesting LASD history. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 09-24-2021, 1:02 AM
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Originally Posted by thehunted777 View Post
Very cool story, and interesting LASD history. Thanks for sharing!
You're welcome sir. Those are fond memories that predate the opening of the Lakewood Station. Bob worked out of Norwalk before Lakewood opened in 59.

During most of Bob's early days in Paramount. There were still more cows than people in the City. And more "Drive through Dairies" than any town in the US.

Elementary schools had fences to keep the young'ns from wandering off. But the only fences at the High School and Junior High were around the athletic fields, So balls didn't get kicked into traffic. We rode bicycles and home made steel wheeled skateboards in the halls on week ends.

And nobody worried about vandalism. Because it hadn't been invented yet.
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