What’s the best-ever police cruiser?


In 1977, the NJ State Police used a Pontiac Catalina equipped with the TransAm 400 CI engine for patrol work on roads like Garden State Parkway and Turnpike. I remember reading an article in the local paper where the officer said the thing could “cruise @ 140 mph and not break a sweat”. Not sure about that but with police-level cooling packages and tall gearing, I think the claim would have been plausible.


The CHP used to hold a “Cops and Rodders” car show at their West Sacramento academy. In the middle of the show they would put on a demo on their EVOC track featuring motorcycles, a helicopter and their 2002 Camaro pursuit cars. I was lucky enough to weedle a post demo ride on the EVOC track in one of the Camaros after their performance. At the time my daily driver was a 2000 Z28, so I felt right at home in their car until we started traveling sideways a lot. The driver, who was the chief instructor on that track, was actually steering with the palm of his hand through amazing maneuvers, the absolute best of which was a full 360* spin in front of the grandstands. Mechanically these cars were basically stock with LS1 engines and 6 speed manual transmissions. The driver told me they tore through brake pads and tires at a weekly rate. Great experience.


The mid-seventies Gran Furys had to have been better than the early 80’s Fury’s. Transmissions replaced on what seemed like monthly intervals. And I actually had a lady bring in a spring shackle to the front desk after she saw it fall off one of our cruisers. IIRC they had a 360 CID 4bbl with (for it’s time) good acceleration. But handling was as sharp as a bowling ball.


@ragtop69 - I could imagine an LS1/6-speed going through brakes and tires pretty easy while on duty. I remember being pretty impressed by LS1 F-bodies when i was introduced to them.


Yep, that was the first one that came to mind for me.


I vote for the 63-65 lightweight Plymouths with the 426 Hemi that the Texas highway patrol used in West Texas as well as many of the sheriffs. Nothing I’ve seen mentioned could outrun those cars.


Unless you’re talking only about it’s contemporaries, I disagree. And many of those mentioned can also turn and, equally important…stop.


From some years ago but ran across it again and thought it appropriate for this thread…


Who said anything about stopping? Well, maybe at my advanced age…


I see lots of them come up for sale on publicsurplus.com. No SRT8s. Mostly 5.7, but a few are six cylinder. Police cars are really hacked up nowadays. Almost every department pulls and tosses the console and puts in a shelf to hold the computer equipment. Many toss the rear seats and put in a fiberglass seat for drunks to throw up on. Those that don’t do that have vinyl rear seats and cloth front seats. And of course, there are all the holes from spotlights and antennas. And old police car is too much trouble to try to restore now.


Chrysler didn’t install race engines in police cars.

In fact, the Hemi didn’t come out till 1964.


It had to be the 413 then. Those guys swore by them.


In my small town I remember the 85 Diplomat, Silver and Black. The deputy convinced the chief to let him but a Paxton on it. So cool sounding! It sold silent bid when I was 15. My bid was my $860 saving, it sold for 1280!


The Mopar pursuit cars used the 413, later the 426 wedge, and the 440.
The engines for pursuit ( high speed chase capable, not the average patrol car) came out of Chrysler Marine Division and were factory blueprinted. The California Highway Patrol sold there cars off at 75K miles, and if given regular maintenance, would easily run well past 150K with no major issues. A CHP car with a single 4Bbl carb & the same gears would run down a stock 440 6-pack car top end by close to 10mph because of the blueprinted engine. I owned an ex-Federal
'62 Plymouth with a 361, and she was as fast top end as my buddies
'62 Jag E-type over a 10 mile perfectly straight stretch of brand new freeway - right at 140mph, based on the reading of his tach and the circumference of his tires and rear gear ratio. Oh, by the way, this was in 1968, and my Plymouth had 92,000 miles on it at the time !


Yeah, I got online and figured out cop cars did not have hemis, apparently never had hemis. I was hanging out at the courthouse in Hereford, Texas. I was about 12 years old, talking to the deputy sheriffs. They were driving 63 Plymouths, and of course I was peppering them with questions like how fast will it go, etc. I guess they took their liberties with me. Once I got online and did a little research, in fact Plymouth didn’t even offer a big block in 1963, much less the hemi.

However, I did read that there was almost no difference between the 361 performance and the 413 performance. I believe your story.

I also did not know they were blueprinting engines. That’s amazing.

I never had any fast cars growing up. I knew I was putting myself through college, so I was pretty conservative.

Getting 92,000 miles out of most engines was quite a feat back then. It is interesting how quickly specs have tightened. I drive a 2010 CTS V with 185,000 miles on it. I am not afraid to nail it at any time.

I sold my wife’s 225,000 mile 2000 Suburban over her objection, but only because it was a good year for me to write a check for a new one. I don’t do car payments.

I just bought a 2018 Z06. I will probably die with that car. It might kill me, the wife might kill me, or I might not wake up one morning. But I will still own that car.

The 50’s and 60’s were the good old days, rightly so, but courtesy of the EPA, fuel injection, and catalytic convertors the technology has evolved to the point that we can all go stupid fast. Thank goodness for traction control and anti-lock brakes.

I may be old but I am still stupid when it comes to cars.

I appreciate the post and the history.


That 361 got transplanted into a '63 ex-Yellow Cab which had started life as a 318 County Sherrif’s car

after the '62 got t-boned. When I traded the car for a '55 Chevy Bel Air with a 235, automatic and factory air ,

the engine had 156K on it. I told the guy to check the oil every time he got gas, and use Valvoline 50W, as she was using a lot of oil by then. I drove the car hard - it had 12" x3 drums up front, and beefed up rear springs.

We lowered the front by 1 1/2 inches, and moved the upper a-arms back as far as they would go, the lowers as far forward as they would go by moving the shims, and with the same shocks the CHP were using, she cornered

damn well - enough to embarrass a guy with a 67 Porsche 911 on a twisty road - I could pull away from him at will

in my “Yellow Cab”.

The pushbutton Torqueflite was fun - coming in to a tight corner, you could punch the button for 1st gear, and when you got down to 30mph or less, if you stabbed the gas it would downshift. As you begin to accelerate past the apex, you would hit 2nd, steering with the gas pedal, and as soon as you could apply full throttle, punch Drive-

she wouldn’t upshift until about 95 if your foot was hard on the gas !

My buddy forgot to check the oil before a drag race with a GTO - he was 2 quarts low, and spun a rod bearing at 162K… He then transplanted in a 426 Wedge out of a CHP car. The trans started to slip at 188K, after all that hard use. For the times, it was hard to beat the Mopars for drivetrain longevity, unless you were into Volvos.

Now my daily driver is a 2001 Subaru Forester that I bought in '04 with 84K on it - just turned over at 276K, still averaging 23-25mpg in mixed driving, & will get me where I want to go in snowy conditions. We bought my wife

a new Outback last year, and she loves it. Probably the last new car we’ll buy - I keep my eyes open for a decent

2004-8 Forester with low miles, but they’re hard to find for sale around Reno - folks just hang on to them. They’re pretty easy to work on if you have a Haynes manual, and the local Pick’n Pull usually has a few for replacing bits and pieces.

I was one of those guys who had to learn to work on cars to be able to afford to drive something I wanted - came up in the “If it don’t go, chrome it” era of the mid 60’s - started out with a $35 '55 Chevy that didn’t run. With the help of a neighbor built an engine from a bare block, gradually upgraded to dual quad carbs and a 4 speed - and a rattle can paint job. Sold the car to a buddy when I went on my Southeast Asia trip, bought that Plymouth when I got back for $425.

Thanks for the response !



It was an interesting read. I’m beginning to think along the lines of “this may be the last car I ever buy”. I put miles on them as well.


Chrysler had the original fire dome hemi out in the 50s


Prob true, but I was responding to Boyd’s comment about 426 Hemi cop cars.


Well that may be true on the 426 but Chrysler did put the 325cid hemi in 1957 Dodge cornets and Plymouth police cars.I have had 3 426 Hemi powered cars over the yrs,they are a handful especially with a 4 speed. I especially like the 60s to 70s cars