Looking back at police cars in Canada
By Dave Brown
In 2019, Blue Line celebrates an incredible 30 years in publication. Looking back, we seem to be hitting 100 per cent with our predictions for the future. We have never predicted flying cars, but we did say that a full electric police vehicle will not happen for decades. (They won’t.) We called out the Carbon Motors E7 as a promise emptier than nitrogen-filled tires. The whole thing turned out exactly as we predicted — a scam. In consideration that some readers weren’t even born when Blue Line started 30 years ago, let’s have a look back.
By Dave Brown
We started publishing the results of the Michigan State Police vehicle tests in December 1998 for model year 1999. That year, MSP started dividing test vehicles into two categories: Police category vehicles, designed for general patrol, and special service vehicles for K9 and other special duties. In 1999, there were only three cars: The Ford Crown Victoria, the Chevrolet Lumina and the (very curious) Volvo. The much-loved, monster-sized Chevrolet Caprice was out of production in 1996. The Ford took nine seconds to get to 60 MPH, and got a whopping 16 miles per gallon on the highway.
Chevrolet rolled out their front-wheel-drive Impala as a police car, but the lack of shoulder room meant it was destined for a life of report cars, detective cars and single-officer detachments. It finally fell off the MSP radar in 2017. It handled better than anything on the market, but early models had an unnerving habit of dying as you went around a corner. Chevrolet fixed the electronics issue but they could never address the lack of shoulder room.
There were only two cars tested in the police package category – The Ford Crown Victoria (soon to be called Ford Police Interceptor) and the Chevrolet Impala.
Chrysler re-entered the police market with the front-wheel-drive Intrepid. Looking more like a fine Italian sports car, it suffered from much premature engine wear and oil consumption.
Chrysler (now Fiat Chrysler) resurrected the Dodge nameplate and the field now grew to six, with Chevrolet adding the two-wheel-drive Tahoe to the mix and Dodge entering two versions of their new Dodge Charger.
This was the last year for the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.
Ford rolled out two new models, the Police Interceptor Sedan and the Police Interceptor Utility. Many officers still missed the Crown Victoria, especially when they tried to get used to the early seating positions in the new Fords. Sales of the Dodge Charger Pursuit shot up.
This was the year of both four-wheel-drive (4WD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) as all three manufacturers now included one of those categories in their offerings. The 4WD Tahoe was finally tested in the police category. Dodge rolled out an AWD Charger with the hemi engine and Ford’s sedan and utility both came in optional AWD versions.
Both the Ford Sedan and the Ford Utility had matured into some of the fastest (and most fuel-efficient) police cars on the market, and Ford celebrated by introducing the first police category hybrid. Dodge quietly made their Charger even faster and improved the brakes to the point that almost nothing except that Ford twin-turbocharged EcoBoost sedan could go as fast or stop as short as their very popular AWD Charger with the 5.7-litre hemi V8.
* Find this sidebar story as it appeared in the February 2019 edition HERE.
Dave Brown is Blue Line’s firearms and police vehicle contributor, as well as the Best Dressed Police Vehicle Awards judge. He is a tactical firearms trainer and consultant based in Winnipeg, Man. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.