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Cop Car Evolution

Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you look in the rear view mirror to see those dreaded blue and red flashing lights? Whether it’s genuine shock and surprise accompanied by “I’m sorry officer but I have no idea why you have pulled me over,” or that we know we’ve done something wrong and thought we got away with it, those cars belonging to the boys in blue can strike fear into all of us.

But it wasn’t always like this. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, horses and bikes were the only way for police to chase down law breakers. Then in 1915, the first patrol car was introduced and motorcycles the year after. Things got serious in 1925 when the NSW Police Commissioner returned from a field trip of the USA and Europe to drastically increase both cars and motorcycles in the Police Force. What he saw on his travels also led to Australia’s version of a Highway Patrol.

Zoom forward and up until 1978, Police Cars weren’t that different from what you or I could buy from a dealer. Any mods that were required were an individual aftermarket arrangement. And the makes and models through the years were numerous and varied to say the least. From the Chrysler Royal V8s, Ford Zephyrs and FJ Holdens from the 1950s, the Ford Anglias and Morris Mini 1100s from the 1960s, to the Chrysler Valiants and Ford Interceptors of the 1970s.

Then in 1978, Ford approached the NSW Police and offered to build a ‘Police Special’. In consultation with all the other Australian police forces, a long list of mods was agreed to and production began on the first purpose built Ford Falcon Police Car. GMH also entered the fray in 1981 with the Holden Commodore.

The list of modifications for these purpose built vehicles was long but included such things as: upgraded suspension; a revamped electrical system so as not to cause interference to police radios; increased alternator output and a heavy duty battery with couplings to connect to and cope with police specialty items; a specially calibrated speedo to detect speeding offences; a long range fuel tank to allow driving distances of 450 kilometres and an additional automatic transmission oil cooler, just to name a few.

Zoom forward once more and the current crop of modern day police cars look more like spaceships compared to days gone by. A shining example of this is what is recognised as Australia’s most advanced and powerful police car. With an earth shattering 800 horsepower or 600 kilowatts, the Ford Falcon GT-F that belongs to the NSW Police Force has 200 more horsepower than a V8 Supercar! Sure, this Dick Johnson tuned monster is a one off, but with that kind of horsepower on tap in addition to the fact it can tell if you’re speeding or unregistered even from a kilometre away, the chances of getting that sinking feeling, in NSW at least, have never been higher.

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