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25 Intriguing Classic Police Cars

Vukasin Herbez August 15, 2019

Today’s police cars are becoming moving fortresses on wheels. Many are big, tough-looking Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) with push bars in the front and all kinds of high-tech equipment inside. Although modern police cruisers are undoubtedly efficient, powerful, and fast, they lack the cool factor of several classic law enforcement vehicles.

So we took a look back at 25 of the most iconic classic police cars from around the world. You could say these are the coolest cruisers ever made. Not all of them are fast or powerful, but every car on this list is fantastic in its own right. Check them out right here:

Citroen SM Gendarmerie
  1. Citroen SM Gendarmerie

One of the coolest looking, most exclusive Citroen cars was the gorgeous SM, which they introduced in 1970. This elegant coupe had some interesting features. And when Citroen presented it, the SM made the competition look and feel outdated and old. The aesthetics were clearly French with a hydro-pneumatic self-leveling suspension and front-wheel drive.

But instead of an underpowered four-cylinder engine, it had a 2.7-liter V6 Maserati developed. And it provided enough power for a lively performance. The Gendarmerie chose this car because it could cruise at high speeds necessary for catching criminals on the highways of France.

AMC Javelin AMX

  1. AMC Javelin AMX

Today’s law enforcement agencies use various vehicles in their patrol duties. But back in the days of those original muscle cars, police cruisers were big and slow sedans. Detroit was producing fast cars capable of achieving high speeds and outrunning the police, but the cops still used large, heavy, four-door automobiles.

So in 1971, Alabama State Troopers saw the need for fast and capable patrol cars which they could use to chase suspects. The cars also needed the regular police components with enough space for two officers and their gear. After a short search, they decided to purchase the AMC Javelin AMX with a 401 V8 engine delivering 335 HP.

The Alabama State Troopers chose this car since it was one of the cheapest available and ended up buying 133 examples which served during the ’70s. This was the first time that an official police force used a true muscle car. As many retired officers will testify, the Javelins proved to be the best choice as veterans of many highway chases.

Volkswagen Beetle

  1. Volkswagen Beetle

The VW Beetle is one of the definitive cars of the 20th century. Since over 22 million of them were sold, it is logical that people use it for numerous purposes. One of them is as a police car. In Germany and many other European countries, the VW Beetle has been a legitimate patrol car for many years.

It may not have won any high-speed pursuits or proven itself on the Autobahn. But for patrol work and as an urban police car, the VW Beetle was more than appropriate. Its look is no doubt an iconic and intriguing one.

Dodge Diplomat

  1. Dodge Diplomat

Anybody who remembers the 1980s remembers the Dodge Diplomat/Plymouth Fury cop cars. They were the favorite basic transportation of many law enforcement agencies all over the country. These cars were ordinary sedans with rear-wheel drive and V8 engines in the front.

Although not particularly fast, these Mopars were tough and durable. Most Diplomats were powered by a 318 V8. However, they made others for pursuit purposes with a 360 V8 with a four-barrel carburetor. Those cars were somewhat fast, but not as fast as the SSP Mustang or Camaro B4C.

Ford RS200

  1. Ford RS200

When Ford introduced the RS200 in 1984, it was a mid-engine, turbocharged sports car. The RS200 featured lightweight body construction, a 2.1-liter engine with 250 HP and two seats. It was a race car with no intention of hiding it. And thanks to the all-wheel drive, it was capable of jumping from 0 to 60 mph in only five seconds flat.

However, the road version, of which 200 were made, was detuned from 450 compared to 500 HP of the race version. The RS200 was basically homologation special with no real-life usability. But somehow, several examples went to the British police for use as high-speed chase cars for the better part of the ’80s.

Dodge Polara

  1. Dodge Polara

American police cars were always interesting to car lovers since they featured full-size body styles and powerful engines. Also, their tough mechanics helped them cope with everyday crime-fighting activities. One of the most respected classic police cars is the Dodge Polara 440 from the late ’60s.

Since the new Polara arrived at the height of muscle car popularity, the 440 V8 with 375 HP proved to be a common choice. Interestingly, many law enforcement agencies purchased the 440 powered Polaris for their ruggedness and power. In fact, there are still some retired officers that claim the 1969 Polara with the 440 was the best patrol car they ever built.

Alpine A110 France

  1. Alpine A110 France

One of the best French classic sports cars was the Alpine A110. Available from 1961 to 1977, the A110 was an incredibly light, fast and nimble coupe. Soon, it proved itself on the rally stages and won numerous events. However, it has also found use as a police car in France during the early ’70s.

Since the A110 was small, it could only seat two people, so it wasn’t much in terms of comfort. But it was effective for flying through narrow streets at high speeds and running down the highways.

Range Rover

  1. Range Rover

The British Police needed tough and quick SUVs for patrolling and emergency runs back in the early ’70s. However, the only available model was the painfully slow Land Rover Defender. So, when the introduced the Range Rover, the UK law enforcement agencies snapped it up.

This was a capable and upscale model since it had modern driving dynamics as well as a 3.5-liter V8 with decent performance numbers. Even today, the British Police still uses Range Rovers for various purposes.

Ford Mustang SSP

  1. Ford Mustang SSP

One of the biggest automotive legends among law enforcement officers in the USA is the Ford Mustang SSP. This is a special order package for Fox-body Mustangs they produced from 1982 to 1993 for various agencies and military organizations. The SSP stands for Special Service Package and it includes a specially tuned 5.0-liter V8 engine. Also, it has a heavy-duty suspension, engine cooling, brakes and a lot more.

Ford developed the SSP package in the early 1980s after the California Highway Patrol realized their officers couldn’t keep up with those Porsches and other fast cars. To catch them, they asked Ford to produce a special package for the Mustang. They wanted Ford to give it more power, high-speed stability, braking power, and dynamics.

Ford responded with the SSP package and soon, no Porsche in California could outrun police cars anymore. The package proved popular so when production stopped in 1993, they built and sold more than 16,000 Mustang SSPs to numerous fleet buyers in almost all the states and Canada.

Tatra 603

  1. Tatra 603

The Tatra company is one of the more interesting Eastern Europe car companies. But the most unique of their cars was the T603 they introduced in 1956. It featured a strange egg-shaped design that was aerodynamic. Behind the passenger compartment, there was a 2.5-liter V8 engine producing around 100 HP.

That was enough for respectable performance numbers and solid cruising speeds. The Tatra T603 was a luxury car they exported in limited numbers to other communist countries and on select Western markets. Production stopped in 1975 after they produced more than 20,000 cars. Also, on the domestic Czechoslovakian market, the Tatra 603 was also in use as a police car.

Japanese Police Mustang Mach I

  1. Japanese Police Mustang Mach I

The Mustang entered the police forces all over America in the ’80s when they presented the SSP package. However, the Japanese Police Forces used the Mustang long before their American colleagues did.

In 1973, the new Mustang Mach I joined the Tokyo police as a high-speed chase car. Back in those days, most Japanese cars were compact and slow, so the mighty Mustang Mach I had no problems outrunning anything on the road.

Jaguar Mk2

  1. Jaguar Mk2

One of the most iconic classic police cars is the Jaguar Mk2, which many still regard as the greatest police car ever. During the ’60s and early ’70s, the British police used a number of fast Mk2 sedans with powerful 3.4 and 3.8-liter straight six engines producing over 220 HP. Although Jaguars were always luxury cars and a strange choice for a police cruiser, there were two good reasons in favor of the Mk2.

One is the fact that Jaguars were the cars of choice of bank robbers and criminals, so police couldn’t catch them in ordinary Fords or Minis. To keep up, the police needed a capable performance car. The Mk2 was the obvious and logical solution.

Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2

  1. Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2

Long before the Dubai Police entered Ferraris as their parade/show cars, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE roamed the streets of Rome. In fact, it was one of the fastest and most expensive police cars of its day. The Rome Police department wanted something to show its power. The GTE also provided an option as a high-speed escort or to catch criminals driving fast cars.

So, what better choice than a Ferrari coupe with flashing lights and sirens? The car entered service in the early ’60s and they used it every day until the early ’70s. Even though it was a marketing gimmick more than a regular patrol car, it was active in catching troublemakers and even involved in a few shootouts with criminals.

Porsche 911

  1. Porsche 911

For decades, the Autobahnpolizei, which is German for Highway Patrol, used Porsches as patrol cars. So, the white and green color scheme became a common sight on German roads. The Porsche 911s the Autobahnpolizei used came with heavy-duty suspensions and brakes, as well as latest communication equipment. Also, the Porsche 911 was a high-speed pursuit car in Belgium and the Netherlands as well.

The first Porsche police cars were classic 356s that entered service in the mid-50s. Based on the VW Beetle, the 356 was a durable but not overly fast vehicle. However, when they released the 911, it had the same qualities, but with more power and performance. The Porsche even released a special police package for the European law enforcement agencies.

GAZ 24 V8

  1. GAZ 24 V8

The Soviet company GAZ, a producer of family cars and trucks, introduced its new and modern model they named the GAZ 24, or the Volga, in the late ’60s. And it was a modern car, even by Western standards. This was a large sedan, almost the size of a full-size U.S. model with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing just 95 HP.

The performance wasn’t great, but by Russian standards, it was a prestigious automobile. In fact, you could only own it if you were a respected member of the Party or a KGB operative.

However, for the special police or KGB, GAZ presented the Volga with a V8 engine pumping out 190 HP. And it also had a dual exhaust and three-speed automatic transmission. It was a potent vehicle the Special Forces used as a chase car, often in plain black without the flashing lights on the roof.

Ford Capri 2.8i

  1. Ford Capri 2.8i

As the prime example of a European muscle car, the Ford Capri was popular with street racers during the ’70s and the ’80s. So in Britain, police decided to get themselves a fleet of Capris with 2.8-liter V6 engines and fuel injection.

Even with something like 160 HP from 2.8-liter V6, the Capri was quick. And that made it popular with the officers for its dependability, performance, and comfort.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Carabinieri

  1. Alfa Romeo Giulia Carabinieri

Back in the early ’60s, Alfa Romeo introduced the legendary Giulia as a compact sedan. They equipped it with high revving four-cylinder engines, good handling, four-wheel disc brakes, and lively performance numbers. Immediately, the driving characteristics drew attention from the Italian police and the Carabineris, their Special Forces Unit.

For the rest of the decade and a good part of the ’70s, the Giulia in green or dark blue was the most common and favorite Italian law enforcement car. Best of all, it was compact enough to squeeze through the narrow streets of Italian towns. And yet, it was fast enough to catch even the most powerful cars. Soon, this model became synonymous with the Carabinieri and Italian gangster movies from the era.

Renault Le Car

  1. Renault Le Car

Back in the early ’70s, economy models were so popular, many foreign companies started importing cars on the American market in significant numbers. The French company, Renault, was present in the U.S. So, they thought it would be a great idea to send the new supermini they called the Renault 5 or Le Car to America. Unfortunately, due to the tight emissions standards, the Le Car was painfully slow.

Also, it was strangely designed, small and badly put together. Soon, it was considered the worst choice in the compact car class. And that is why it was strange that the town of Ogunquit, Maine had a Renault Le Car police cruiser. It was probably the first time an American police department used the foreign car for patrol purposes. But that same car was one of the worst choices on the market.

BMW 520i E12

  1. BMW 520i E12

The first generation of BMW’s venerable 5-Series debuted in the early ’70s. Immediately, it became one of the best sports sedans on the market. The combination of powerful engines with a capable platform and the good handling E12 chassis code was almost revolutionary for the times.

Several police departments all over the world used the BMW 5-Series. But the most interesting application was by the Moscow police. Back in the day, the Moscow police had only slow Ladas and Volgas, so using a Western-made BMW was controversial. However, the BMW 5-Series proved its worth racing the streets of communist Russia back in the ’70s.

Nissan Silvia CSP 311

  1. Nissan Silvia CSP 311

You probably know of the Nissan Silvia for its widely popular S14 and S15 versions. They produced the car in the ’90s and it became the definitive drift car. But the story of the Silvia as one of Nissan’s most legendary sports cars dates back the to mid-60s. In fact, the cool-looking Silvia CSP 311 coupe was one of the first modern and proper sports cars from this brand.

Nissan unveiled it in 1964 at the Tokyo Motor Show, and the Silvia CSP 311 was a big step for this still obscure manufacturer. The car had European looks and proportions but it was luxurious by Japanese standards of the times. This car was a sports coupe with rear-wheel drive.

They powered it with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 96 HP, which gave it decent performance. However, the first Silvia was an expensive car for the Japanese domestic market. As a result, they sold just 554, most of which stayed in Japan. As you can see, they used some of them as police cars.

Chevrolet Camaro B4C

  1. Chevrolet Camaro B4C

Even though the California Highway Patrol used the Camaro long before the appearance of the Mustang SSP model, Chevrolet didn’t release a full “cop spec” model until 1991. They called it the B4C in factory code. And, it was a special Camaro they designed for law enforcement work and high-speed pursuits.

The B4C was basically a Z/28 Camaro with a 350 V8 engine and five-speed manual transmission. However, they removed a lot of exterior details so the car looked as stock as possible. They beefed up the suspension and brakes and added several heavy-duty parts to the package. Chevrolet offered the Camaro B4C until 1996, making less than 3,000 of them.


  1. MGB GT

Debuting in 1973, the MGB GT was a coupe version of the popular roadster. It was powered by a 3.5-liter V8 engine producing 175 HP, which was a good figure by early ’70s standards. Immediately, it became a strong seller because it combined the practicality of a bigger cabin and trunk with the performance of the V8 engine.

The MGB GT achieved a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of just 7.7 seconds. So, the British police loved the new MGB GT since it offered more than decent performance numbers. But best of all, it had space for equipment. So, the police often used it as a patrol car or a high-speed cruiser.

Ford Crown Victoria

  1. Ford Crown Victoria

The Ford Panther platform is one of the longest-serving platforms in the car industry. They first used it in 1978 and it served until 2011, underpinning many models like the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car. This chassis proved sturdy and durable in extreme conditions, so it was the perfect base for many police cars and taxis.

The Crown Vic was the favorite car of American law enforcement agencies from the early ’80s to recently. That was when they replaced the aging Crown Victorias with the Taurus or Dodge Charger. However, the combination of durability, dependability and overall presence will long live in the memory of most people.

Mini Morris

  1. Mini Morris

It may be hard to believe, but the Mini was one of the most popular police cars in Britain they widely used for various purposes. It was inexpensive, easy to maneuver and could carry two officers with their gear. However, it was too small to put a suspect into, so if you apprehended a suspect, you would have to wait for a van.

Trabant 601

  1. Trabant 601

This was a communist economy car, diminutive in every way with a body built out of composite material. It had a tiny 600 cc, two-stroke engine with two cylinders and 26 HP. Since it weighed just 1,300 pounds, it offered some performance, but it was far from satisfying. Yet somehow it managed to find its way into the Eastern Germany police fleet. And, although it’s doubtful it was all that successful in catching criminals, they dressed it up with lights and sirens.

Thanks for reading p on 25 of the most interesting classic police cars ever. Some are infamous, others are rare and obscure, but they’re all up there with the most intriguing law enforcement vehicles of all-time.

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