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Good-night, Crown Vic; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
March 23, 2010 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Ford motor company has announced that they are ceasing production on the Crown Victoria - the most widely used police car model in the United States of the last thirty years.

So, it's time to recalibrate your brain to recognize a new headlight configuration in your rear-view - that of the 2011 Ford Police Interceptor. It's a Taurus.
posted by dirtdirt (110 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is going to make John Casey cry.
posted by cgc373 at 11:51 AM on March 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


Finally I don't have to do the instinctive "Oh shit" reaction whenever I see a Crown Victoria, police or not.

Now it seems I need to reprogram my Oh Shit for a Taurus. There goes my stress level.
posted by deacon_blues at 11:53 AM on March 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


Good riddance. It handles like a barge. I'm reliably informed it's called a Crown Victoria because initial blueprints for it were actually drawn up during the reign of Queen Victoria.

One of the enduring mysteries of those reality cop shows is how often the perp stuffs it going round the corner rather than the policeman following behind in this overpowered bathtub on wheels.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:54 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always found the Crown Victoria to be one of the most ugly, yet utilitarian cars on the road. With a different skin, the car could be wonderful. But so ugly. So very ugly. Glad to see them off the road.
posted by strixus at 11:55 AM on March 23, 2010


As long as it has a cop motor, cop tires, cop suspension, and cop shocks it will probably do.
posted by birdherder at 11:55 AM on March 23, 2010 [15 favorites]


.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


So now it will only be driven by cabbies and old people.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2010


Ford seems to have decided to cede the "grampa's car" market to Buick.
posted by deanc at 11:58 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


OCP owns the cops.
posted by JBennett at 11:58 AM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I had a Grand Marquis (a Mercury badged Crown Vic) in high school and I beat the shit out of that car, but it never quit running. The article is right about swapping out body panels easily, I had probably 3/4 of them replaced. It was a car that I hated and loved at the same time.
posted by Science! at 11:59 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every time I get into my parent's Subaru Forester I always wonder why the Toronto cops don't use Foresters or the Legacy as their standard car.

Powerful, practical, symmetrical AWD.
posted by generichuman at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2010


Most of the municipalities around Boston (at least my northwest corner of it) have been using Ford Interceptors for some time, except for a few who went with the Dodge Charger squad.
posted by briank at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2010


I traded mine for a microphone.
posted by chillmost at 12:02 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't know how I feel about police cars being called "Interceptors."
posted by brundlefly at 12:03 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


more car news:

Chrysler says (again) they'll have an all electric car out in 2 years. (they did say this in 2008 as well, so we'll see.)
posted by edgeways at 12:04 PM on March 23, 2010


OH NOES! WHAT WILL THE TAXI COMPANIES DO?!?!?!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:05 PM on March 23, 2010


My first car was a 1991 Ford Taurus, and I was pleased that it looked just like Murphy's Interceptor in Robocop.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hopefully this means the US will now have effective Police vehicles for chasing people with. With the progressive increase in foreign car sales, the conclusion of all those police chase videos looked set to take an embarrassing turn in favour of the criminals when a decent proportion of powerful used European/Japanese models make it to favour with the drug runners and thieves.

It is utterly comical watching the Crown Vic's negotiate anything approaching a corner. They're pretty amusing on the straights, even. It's only been the matching hideous dynamics of the second hand Caprice or similar that they are chasing that has prevented criminal driving away into the sunset on anything other than a straight road. That silver haired patronising git (I don't know his name) that overstates the skill of the Police drivers and their vehicles in their chases would be spluttering while saying "The brave law enforcement heroes watched forlornly as each and every turn put the villains 4 car lengths further away".

UK police had to adopt very quick and capable cars (Subaru WRX, for example) to keep with the bad boys and a lot of the UK based chases end with victory mainly due to Helicopter intervention or effective funnelling allowing stingers to be used. I'd love to see some statistics for escapes from police for Europe versus the States over the last ten years.

How pathetically outclassed the average police car in the US (and Canada) is compared to so many freely available models has been of some amusement to me (and my UK peers) for some time. It amazes me that people don't get hold of, say, a 15 year old 5 series BMW for their criminal activity - fast, roomy and will run rings around any US cop car, even in a straight line.
posted by Brockles at 12:07 PM on March 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


The Crown Vic has not been sold to the public for several years, only available as a fleet model.

Many police departments seem to be moving to the Dodge Charger Police model.
posted by geeyore at 12:10 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


A cow-orker has a factory natural gas Crown Vic. It has California HOV stickers because it's an environmentally friendly vehicle, like a Prius.

Also, the Taurus has grown slowly but steadily over time and is not the Taurus of my youth which seems like it was 33% smaller.
posted by GuyZero at 12:10 PM on March 23, 2010


I was really amused when my tiny little back-water Pennsylvania college-town cops got Dodge Chargers for their police cars. Because clearly you need a Hemi to chase down drunken rugby players.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:12 PM on March 23, 2010


effective funnelling allowing stingers to be used

You guys don't let your cops carry guns but you launch missiles at your perps?! I keed.

My grandmother had a Crown Vic before she stopped driving, and I was able to take it around the block a few times. I always felt like I could drive it through a brick wall and keep going.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:13 PM on March 23, 2010


How pathetically outclassed the average police car in the US (and Canada) is ... of some amusement to me (and my UK peers) for some time.

That Euro Subaru WRX might have a tough time eluding this:

FC Police Enjoy New Unmarked Mustang

....or this....

Dodge Charger Police
posted by geeyore at 12:17 PM on March 23, 2010


I've kinda kept an eye out for a cheapo P71 for a while now, mostly just to give scare equity to the people who drive like jerks while I'm commuting on my motorcycle. The Vic has held onto the same psychic territory as mimic species, and gotten respect well beyond it's actual abilities. I'm sure they're a capable car, but the only time they get a second glance from me on the road is when they're in my rearview mirror.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:17 PM on March 23, 2010


I hear the back seats weren't very comfortable... (Not that I have any direct knowledge of the matter.)
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:17 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've driven an interceptor Crown Vic.

It was fucking awesome.

She will be missed.
posted by BeerFilter at 12:18 PM on March 23, 2010


You guys don't let your cops carry guns but you launch missiles at your perps?!

That would be awesome.

I also had a 1991 Crown Vic when I first got to Canada. Enormously amusing car to own (except in snow) but spectacularly bad in any handling aspect. I had a 1979 Ford Granada (UK car) that had a smaller engine (2.8cc vs 5.0) yet had more power, was faster, more comfortable, had independent rear suspension (and hence actually handled) and a far nicer interior. I couldn't believe how small the inside of the Vic was for such a huge car. God knows what they did with all the room.
posted by Brockles at 12:19 PM on March 23, 2010


The main advantage of the Crown Vic is that its interior is roomy and it's easy to get in and out of quickly in an emergency situation. Police vehicles have more interior gadgets these days and the driver's area is getting more and more cramped and harder to maneuver around in. Smaller vehicles (my husband's department is gradually replacing their Crown Vics with Chevy Impalas and everyone hates them) can be a safety hazard for the officer.
posted by amyms at 12:21 PM on March 23, 2010


2011 is also when the Carbon Motors E7 is due to hit the market, a purpose-built police cruiser. They just signed a deal to use BMW diesel engines yesterday.

What's interesting about Carbon Motors is they're essentially an automotive startup.
posted by dw at 12:23 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I own a Mercury Grand Marquis - same as a Crown Vic, different badge.

She came to me used, having been a fleet vehicle then kept in somebody's garage for years.

She has a name: Gertrude, or Gertie to her friends.

She looks like an old man car and I'll be damned if I don't drive her like I'm an old man. As we say in my family when trying to swing her into a tight position, she's a big girl. Three-point turns aren't supposed to have five points.

All the other motorists slow down when we're on the road. I'll never be sure, but I think that I've escaped notice during a few unintentionally bad moves.

She has a five body trunk, six if you take out the spare.

I feel extra badass when I have on my cop glasses and brown leather jacket. This car has made me consider feathering my hair.

They don't get very good gas mileage and are generally too huge to be believed. Still, Gertie's the shit.
posted by burnfirewalls at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


That silver haired patronising git (I don't know his name) that overstates the skill of the Police drivers and their vehicles in their chases would be spluttering while saying "The brave law enforcement heroes watched forlornly as each and every turn put the villains 4 car lengths further away"

You're thinking of Sheriff John Bunnell. "The crook tries to get away, but he's SO DRUNK he spontaneously COMBUSTS...now this would-be BANK ROBBER is DEAD IN HIS TRACKS...and ALSO LITERALLY DEAD. HE DIED. Now he knows that CRIME DOESN'T PAY."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:29 PM on March 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Heh. Sheriff John Bunnell's voice IS annoying, but he is a master of using alliterative descriptions for perps: the BUMBLING BANDIT, the CRANKY CRACKHEAD, the FORLORN FUGITIVE, etc.
posted by amyms at 12:36 PM on March 23, 2010


I'm torn, the criminal part of my soul loved the fact that, because of the stupidly large size, the Crown Vick is difficult to U-turn on a standard road, forcing a Y-turn which takes longer, and thus allows me more time to flee.

On the other; good riddance. It was ugly as sin, not looking anywhere near as intimidating as the car it replaced (that was a cop car...) and by all accounts, it's performance left so much to be desired in a car designed to chase other cars.

I look forward to police Chargers. Cop cars should be scary, so you know to run from them.
posted by quin at 12:37 PM on March 23, 2010


I drove a 1988 Crown Vic V8 for several years. It handled almost exactly like the runabout I used to take out on the Chesapeake in junior high -- steered like a drunken cow and took off like a stuck pig. I could make an 8 hour drive in 5 hours with 7 punks squeezed into that monster and still have enough elbow room to rock the goat when Descendents came on the rattly jury-rigged tape deck.

I loved that car.
posted by xthlc at 12:38 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


The only people that drive cop cars around here are cops and thugs who bought them at auction. I try to avoid both.
posted by electroboy at 12:49 PM on March 23, 2010


"The main advantage of the Crown Vic is that its interior is roomy"....

"I couldn't believe how small the inside of the Vic was for such a huge car. God knows what they did with all the room"


I suffer enduring bewilderment at the lack of room in the back of a Crown Vic, and how hard it is to get in and out of with any dignity. What does all that bodywork do? Why is the trunk unfailingly a filthy cesspit? Why do they always stink of hot oil and leaky exhaust? Why does it feel like the undercarriage is straining to part company with the car at any moment?

The only endearing quality it had was that it was a quintessentially American experience, but that was until the Moscow Police started using it.

Horrible car.
posted by marvin at 12:51 PM on March 23, 2010


A Crown Vic saved my life.

I was in an accident in college. When my dad went to the junkyard to get the plates off the car, the guy there asked, "the driver died, didn't he?"

"No, he's in the hospital, but it looks like he'll be okay."

"That's a miracle. That's by far the worst car on the lot, and the only one that's remotely close to it ... three people died in it."


.
posted by Alt F4 at 12:53 PM on March 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


"How pathetically outclassed the average police car in the US (and Canada) is compared to so many freely available models has been of some amusement to me (and my UK peers) for some time. It amazes me that people don't get hold of, say, a 15 year old 5 series BMW for their criminal activity - fast, roomy and will run rings around any US cop car, even in a straight line."


This doesn't matter a whole lot, as your Subaru or BMW or Japanese car still ain't fast enough to outrun two way radio.
posted by stenseng at 12:53 PM on March 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Burnfirewalls...that's hilarious! When I first met my husband in 2000 he was driving an antique cream (don't dare say yellow!) 1978 Grand Marquis also named Gertie. We still miss that car - she was in pristine condition as she her previous owners were seniors. She was an armchair on wheels and a great highway car...lousy on gas but a real looker after all those years :-)
posted by Calzephyr at 12:57 PM on March 23, 2010


Most of the cops around here use Chevy Impala SSs; is it just a Central Illinois thing?
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:57 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The local police around here have been running Chevy Impalas for a while. They don't do too many high-speed pursuits though, since you can't really do high-speed anything on Pittsburgh streets.
posted by octothorpe at 12:59 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The police package turns the stock barge into a much more capable barge. It's moreImpala SS than grandma's sunday church car.

I had the opportunity to drive the police variant a number of times. The handling was very impressive for such a beast and it was fast - 130+MPH fast.


.
posted by anti social order at 12:59 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Round here most of the cops ride in a Dodge Charger.
posted by ob at 1:05 PM on March 23, 2010


"Every time I get into my parent's Subaru Forester I always wonder why the Toronto cops don't use Foresters or the Legacy as their standard car.

Powerful, practical, symmetrical AWD."

posted by generichuman at 2:00 PM
-----
Heh... My girlfriend just got a new Forester after her Taurus died.

I've noticed at least one Dodge Charger as a cop car in town here (Madison, WI) lately.

I've hated the "shit shit shit" feeling, and trying to gauge whether that car about 5 cars down in the other lane is a cop or an old person.

I'm glad it won't be around longer. I miss the days when cop cars had to be, you know... clearly labeled.

Also? It seems to happen a LOT around here... I'll pass a person who's pulled over and there's like 2 cop cars. Why? Are there that many escalations that one cop car won't do? Are these people who had an APB out on them, so whoever got them first had backup arrive shortely thereafter? I don't get why I see it so often, it's a bit disturbing and makes me trust cops even less.
posted by symbioid at 1:06 PM on March 23, 2010


I remember the first time I noticed cop cars with the flashing lights embedded in the grill. Those are just plain evil.
posted by kmz at 1:09 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


My cousin used to have a Dodge Diplomat back when the police and state patrol drove more than a few of them. On the freeway it was a great pleasure to drive not because of any driving characteristics but because other drivers gave way nicely, especially at night.
posted by vapidave at 1:10 PM on March 23, 2010


Weep not for Crown Victoria. She's in a better place, along with Death Probe and Crimebuster Deluxe.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:14 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


overpowered bathtub on wheels.

At way under 300 hp, a Crown Vic is severely underpowered, particularly considering its curb weight.

UK police had to adopt very quick and capable cars (Subaru WRX, for example) to keep with the bad boys and a lot of the UK based chases end with victory mainly due to Helicopter intervention or effective funnelling allowing stingers to be used. I'd love to see some statistics for escapes from police for Europe versus the States over the last ten years.

I guess that would explain all the Opel Astra police cars, then?
posted by The World Famous at 1:18 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know how I feel about police cars being called 'Interceptors.'

It's not always scary.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:20 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Last of the ladder chassis cars? I've heard that despite all their performance flaws they tend to be much more durable than monocoque chassis cars for applications like taxis and police cars where they are driven all day every day. Perhaps easier to patch up and get back into service after minor accidents? I may be wrong about this but I've heard anecdotes that make it seem like previous experiments by taxi companies to switch to monocoque chassis cars didn't fair well.
posted by well_balanced at 1:23 PM on March 23, 2010


Last cop that pulled me over was driving a Dodge Durango, the sneaky fuck.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:25 PM on March 23, 2010


Cops have tactics to use for high-speed chases that don't require them to keep pace with two-seater sports cars. It's all those other pursuits up against people driving, oh, any number of fine American automobiles that weigh as much as a house where the brawn of the Crown Vic's, LTD's, Impalas et al came into play. Not to mention the roomy back seat where many a miscreant protested their innocence by kicking out the windows.

I'd pay money to see one of your UK-styled Subarus try and run a redneck-driven Ford F-350 off the road and then corral the bastard in the back seat. US of A, a country where Paddy wagons are used as patrol cars.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:29 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Last cop that pulled me over was driving a Skoda with wood wheels.
posted by mazola at 1:29 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here the rijkspolitie (no, that has nothing to do with reich) used to drive Porsche 911. Which made being a policeman something to fantasise about for little boys. The rijkspolitie were the rock stars of the police.
That changed quite a while ago so now they drive Volvo V50s, V70s and S60. Good cars but I'm not sure it fires the imagination of little boys in the same way.
posted by joost de vries at 1:29 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first car was a Grand Marquis (same thing but Mercury brand). I loved that car, and it was particularly handy since I was the only one of my friends in high school to have a car, and so we could cram everyone in. Sad to think they're gone, was always my favorite American sedan. Drove like a boat, yes, but that was part of the appeal. More like yachting than driving.

Also, I managed to scare people occasionally since it was white, and thus looked like a police car (at least in Georgia at the time cop cars were white). That was fun.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:30 PM on March 23, 2010


Yes -- in FL I've seen a smattering of various Dodge models in stealth mode. Basically, Ford or Dodge and limo tint = warning.
posted by cavalier at 1:39 PM on March 23, 2010


Wouldn't pure speed not be the best factor of a police car? In a chase scenario, the cops often have the advantage of numbers, combined with radio coordination. Seems to me like the Crown Vic wasn't chosen for its good looks or amazing handling, but more for its ability to take punishment and stop a car in motion.

Caveat: not a car person, basing this mostly from playing Video Crime Simulator 4.0 on the 360.
posted by maus at 1:40 PM on March 23, 2010


The Police Dodge Charger is pretty bad-ass. It reminds me of Demolition Man.
posted by smackfu at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2010


When I was in second grade & my parents got back from a trip in Valencia, they told me that in Spain, our Crown Vic LTD would be considered a limousine there... I thought that was the COOLEST.
posted by yeti at 1:43 PM on March 23, 2010


In Italy they have Lamborghini police cars, or at least they used to
posted by Lanark at 1:48 PM on March 23, 2010


The main advantage of the Crown Vic is that its interior is roomy and it's easy to get in and out of quickly in an emergency situation.

Supposedly the new police-spec Taurus has doors that open 10 degrees wider, to facilitate this.

A Crown Vic saved my life.

I know one of the reasons they need to retire the Crown Vic is due to the overwhelming difficulty in improving crash safety on the existing (circa 1979) Panther platform. Having said that, the Crown Vic is apparently the only police-spec car sold in the US that passes some epic 75mph rear-ending test -- and the new Taurus has also passed that test. [cite needed, but I can't find it at the moment]
posted by davejay at 1:50 PM on March 23, 2010


I don't know anything about cars, but I know what I like. And I like the O.P.P. cruisers. The colour scheme is elegant yet authoritative and the Crown Vic is (to my eye) pleasingly old-school.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:53 PM on March 23, 2010


I've watched enough of 'World's Wildest Police Chases' to know that you'd need a vehicle with some heft to be able to execute a successful pit manoeuvre.
A 911 or a Subaru just wouldn't do.
posted by Flashman at 1:54 PM on March 23, 2010


Citation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PIT_manoeuvre
posted by Flashman at 1:56 PM on March 23, 2010


A lot of US jurisdictions won't get into a high speed chase at all. It's not worth it for a small warrant if the guy you are chasing kills three people in a collision. They put the plate on the radio, or call out the helicopter.

I suspect most police cars are chosen for functional reasons like keeping down total fleet maintenance costs. This may involve selecting a car that can go over curbs without a problem, and ram other cars off the road.

Also, the west coast of the US for obvious reasons has a totally different layout of streets than the East Coast, or any European city that wasn't razed in WWII.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:03 PM on March 23, 2010


A 911 or a Subaru just wouldn't do.
Yes, US police cars are superior.

If you read the description of the pit manoeuvre you'll see that it's something that's hardly warranted because of the attendant risk to other people. In those cases a helicopter will be employed here.
Our police will just sit quietly and cry in their Volvo V70s because of your US centric swagger. What have you done?!
posted by joost de vries at 2:09 PM on March 23, 2010


I'm in Madison as well, and I think we have about 10 Chargers. And they look pretty damn sweet, I have to say. This article gives more details than this one, specifically about the molded plastic seats in the back (nice cleanup!) and the extra leg room in the front. Never, ever would have guessed that the Charger was bigger than those boats.
posted by Madamina at 2:14 PM on March 23, 2010


davejay: The (agreeably crazy) 75-Mph rear-end crash test requirement is backed up by the specs for the very cool looking Carbon Motors purpose-built cop car dw linked above.
posted by SpookyFish at 2:18 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember when I worked in a car wash, there were some nice bloodstains in the backs of some of the cop cars. Those plastic seats are a great idea. If it weren't for the noise issue from hard surfaces in a car, I'd totally want a car I could just hose out.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:21 PM on March 23, 2010


Somewhat surprised, I had thought the Crown Vics had been officially retired a couple years ago. I'll be interested in seeing the Taurus Interceptor, tho'. 365 horsepower. Vroooom!

With regard to police cruisers being slow crown vic boats, out in Oklahoma, some police departments purchased Ford Mustangs and upgraded them to hang with those who have thought about flying down the interstates across the planes. I've also seen a Police Chevy camaro (old design) employed in the same role.
posted by Atreides at 2:25 PM on March 23, 2010


I guess that would explain all the Opel Astra police cars, then?

I should have specified that there is a different class for patrol (Panda) cars - the Astras and old Escorts were used for this. These are just police transportation. In addition to this are the Traffic cars - the high speed pursuit and motorway cops. These used anything from Vauxhall Senator 3.0, Rover Vitesse, Sierra RS500 (awesome piece of kit), Subaru WRX and all sorts. There is a difference in car and also high speed specialised training between traffic cops and normal cops that drive in the UK. We don't have the 'one car for all occasions' thing that US forces seem to have adopted. Cars are too expensive for them all to be fast pursuit ones, so they have smaller specialised divisions for that sort of thing.

I'd pay money to see one of your UK-styled Subarus try and run a redneck-driven Ford F-350 off the road and then corral the bastard in the back seat. US of A, a country where Paddy wagons are used as patrol cars.

They'd just blast past it at twice the speed and have plenty of time to set up a stinger strip for it to blow all the tyres out. Ramming them off the road isn't the only method to end a chase. That or we'd use Range Rovers more, if the F350 was more common on UK roads. Police Range Rovers were awesome. I've seen some excellent footage of one (fitted with bull bars) that used a PIT style manoeuvre to shove a Transit Van into a lamp post... er... I mean 'safely stop it by the side of the road'.
posted by Brockles at 2:29 PM on March 23, 2010


Oh well...we'll always have the donk.
posted by NoMich at 2:31 PM on March 23, 2010


Having said that, the Crown Vic is apparently the only police-spec car sold in the US that passes some epic 75mph rear-ending test -- and the new Taurus has also passed that test.

Interesting thing is that the failure mode in these tests is when the fuel tank punctures and ignites, not particularly crush damage.
posted by smackfu at 2:31 PM on March 23, 2010


cgc373: This is going to make John Casey cry.

THANK YOU! I was going to post this, when I saw it in my Reader, and then I thought, No way is Mefi going to have a bunch of avid 'Chuck' watchers.
posted by WCityMike at 2:33 PM on March 23, 2010


Joost, I did mean that tongue in cheek-ly. If you've ever seen WWPCs (and how could you not have, it's on just about everywhere!) you'd know that just about every featured car chase involves at least one PIT manoeuvre (did not know that was an acronym); this is something that always amuses me.
posted by Flashman at 2:33 PM on March 23, 2010


They'd just blast past it at twice the speed and have plenty of time to set up a stinger strip for it to blow all the tyres out.

At highway speed, do you have any idea how far ahead of a speeding car you would have to get in order to have "plenty of time" to set up a stinger strip? Blasting past the suspect to go several miles ahead in order to set up a spike strip would just allow the suspect to slow down and turn off at a side street and go somewhere else.

High speed police chases are just bad policy, no matter how they're executed. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not full of redneck outlaws flying down the road in F-350s with police cars chasing them. And if the U.S. had speeding ticket cameras every 10 meters on every road like the U.K. does (and thank goodness we don't), it would be even rarer.

The primary advantage of a Crown Vic as a police cruiser is that it has a big trunk, a wide back seat that will fit three or four baddies, a wide front seat that will fit two corpulent officers and all their gear, and an engine, drive train, and suspension that is dead simple to fix, reliable, and exactly like the ones that the Police motor pool has been maintaining and repairing for decades, so they don't have to learn anything new. And body-on-frame construction means that if they get into a little bump here and there - whether in a chase or just through normal dumb driving all day long everyday - the car can be fixed easily.

The point of a police cruiser is not to be bad-ass or to be super fast or to outrun the Duke Boys. It's a utilitarian vehicle; a tool. It's supposed to carry cops, their gear, and unruly people the cops arrest. And it's supposed to be incredibly reliable and easy to fix.
posted by The World Famous at 2:41 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here the rijkspolitie (no, that has nothing to do with reich) used to drive Porsche 911

Those white leather overcoats are the bomb.

"Oh, look, we're being pulled over by the Goodstapo"
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Damn. I thought they were going to replace them with Holden Commodores.
posted by Jimbob at 2:47 PM on March 23, 2010


And more. I guess they didn't get the contract.
posted by Jimbob at 2:48 PM on March 23, 2010


At highway speed, do you have any idea how far ahead of a speeding car you would have to get in order to have "plenty of time" to set up a stinger strip?

Are you familiar with 'joke'?

High speed police chases are just bad policy, no matter how they're executed.

True. They moved, back in the UK, toward following at a non-threatening distance and using the helicopter to tell when they were likely to ditch the car and making sure that they were just in a position to pursue on foot when that inevitable time occurred. There was a certain mututal understanding that developed that once the helicopter had you you were screwed and there wasn't much point running (still in the car) anyway. Once you had the spotlight (literally) on you, the criminal's best bet was to get out and split up on foot. The police (mostly) only chased in the manner you see on the US reality cop shows if the driver was so erratic it was more dangerous to let them keep driving than get involved.

The point of a police cruiser is not to be bad-ass or to be super fast or to outrun the Duke Boys. It's a utilitarian vehicle; a tool.

Totally. That's why it is as amusing as hell for the rest of us when you lot use something with the dynamics of a small bus in a 'high speed' chase. It's inappropriate to use that vehicle for anything other than the everyday transportation you describe. Yet that didn't limit it's use, despite it's lack of suitability.
posted by Brockles at 2:50 PM on March 23, 2010


"Every time I get into my parent's Subaru Forester I always wonder why the Toronto cops don't use Foresters or the Legacy as their standard car." "Powerful, practical, symmetrical AWD."

And mostly inadequate to haul two cops + bat belts and body armour plus the bulk of radios and computers in the front seats. The bucket seats with good lumbar support themselves are a pain in the ass (quite literally sometimes) when you've got a bunch of equipment hanging off your body. Plus inadequate trunk space (cops need a lot of kit on average)

stenseng: "This doesn't matter a whole lot, as your Subaru or BMW or Japanese car still ain't fast enough to outrun two way radio."

And most police cars average, oh, maybe 10 minutes a month engaged in high speed pursuits.

"In addition to this are the Traffic cars - the high speed pursuit and motorway cops. These used anything from Vauxhall Senator 3.0, Rover Vitesse, Sierra RS500 (awesome piece of kit), Subaru WRX and all sorts. There is a difference in car and also high speed specialised training between traffic cops and normal cops that drive in the UK. We don't have the 'one car for all occasions' thing that US forces seem to have adopted. Cars are too expensive for them all to be fast pursuit ones, so they have smaller specialised divisions for that sort of thing."

North American cops have pursuit divisions too usually equipped with high performance coupes.
posted by Mitheral at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2010


The World Famous: "dead simple to fix, reliable, and exactly like the ones that the Police motor pool has been maintaining and repairing for decades"

This, this right here. The 'Vic is exceptionally easy to work on, compared to a more compact car. In terms of being able to swap out pieces quickly, it's outclassed only by military vehicles and the USPO's LLV fleet. (Which, to be fair, is a military vehicle; it's built by Grumman.) They're sort of the prototypical American Car; big, inefficient, not very fun to drive, but easy to maintain and very difficult to destroy.

The main complaint I've heard about some of the newer models that have been replacing the CVs are that their air conditioners aren't as great. This is something I've noticed on many compact cars as well; the AC works fine at speed, but not when idling. The Vic had great air conditioning in every variant I've ever been in — on a fresh Freon charge, enough to make condensation run down the outside of the windows, even when parked in the sun on a hot day in Alabama. (Maybe more 'refrigeration' than 'air conditioning.') That might seem like a trivial feature, but it's a big deal to people who have to wear body armor all day.

If I were trying to sell a car for police use, the first thing I'd do is put a ridiculously overpowered air conditioner in there, or maybe build in one of the systems that military helicopters have, where you wear a coolant suit and plug it into the vehicle to circulate chilled water or propylene glycol through it.

I've noticed that a lot of departments are moving to SUVs from sedans, and I suspect that there's never going to be a single "police vehicle" like the Crown Vic; there's going to be a lot more diversity in vehicle choices across the country and in various environments.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:21 PM on March 23, 2010


Good night car theft, good night liberty.
posted by acro at 3:24 PM on March 23, 2010


I found this video vaguely inspiring.

Incredibly Dangerous Cop Behavior

Given that the police seem to think it wise to try and send a car into oncoming traffic and off an overpass onto passing traffic, I'd say the brits have it right when it comes to banning this particular trick to cut down on bystander fatalities. If the driver wasn't exceptionally skilled, the police could have gotten many people killed.
posted by uri at 3:24 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I'm God-Emperor of America, the cops will have Segways and M113s, and absolutely nothing in between. It'll be... festive.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:25 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


My first college campus job was with public safety. They had a pair of police-package Crown Vics, and a highlight for me was when one of them would go in for service and I'd get to drive it to the shop and back. Except for that one time the driver's lock broke, and I had to climb in through the passenger door and around the radio stack. There may be a lot of room in the front seat, but not once you put all that crap in there...
posted by pupdog at 3:36 PM on March 23, 2010


(Maybe more 'refrigeration' than 'air conditioning.')

I think I saw somewhere that some police officers now wear body armour with ventilation ports and they connect their gear directly to tubes that pipe the cold air directly against their bodies.

Intravenous nutrition is next I guess.
posted by GuyZero at 3:40 PM on March 23, 2010


My first car was a Ford Taurus. Actually, my first two cars, technically, as my dad and I had to drive down to Houston from Bartlesville, OK to pick up the pirst one, and it had a complete break-down on the way back. Then the friend we bought it from sent us another one. Tauruses are... uh... they're just not very good cars.

Living in Alexandria, VA, now, where the PD is switching over to the Charger. A couple of months ago I went out into my parking garage at night and one of those Chargers was blocking me, with two young-ish officers waiting beside it. After pulling a super-funny cop-prank where they feinted like they were going to arrest me, one of them jumped in and pulled forward so that I could get my car out, and I asked the other one what they thought about their new "office."

He told me that, basically, they all hated the Chargers. Look cool, but underpowered and can't do the job as well as the Crown Vics did.

Now my car... fuck. My car would be an awesome cop car. On loan from my folks when I moved to Virginia and suddenly needed a car for the first time in nine years, it's an Acura SL - crazy amounts of power, a tight turning radius, and solid side-panels. It's also got built-in GPS, which doesn't hurt. I recognize that it's a way-too-expensive-for-police-purposes Japanese car, but if I ever went GTA-style vigilante, I'd have the right vehicle for the job.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:09 PM on March 23, 2010


> The point of a police cruiser is not to be bad-ass or to be super fast or to outrun the Duke Boys.

This reminded me of the scene in The Blues Brothers where they're being chased down the highway by the cops but they're also driving a cop car with an identical top speed, so the chase goes on all night.

Just wanted to bring that up.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:10 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The last of the V8 Interceptors... a piece of history!"
Sorry, wrong model,

but y'know, when some people call the old Crown Vic "ugly", well, that is just an aesthetic interpretation.
posted by ovvl at 4:14 PM on March 23, 2010


He told me that, basically, they all hated the Chargers. Look cool, but underpowered and can't do the job as well as the Crown Vics did.

The V6 chargers are more powerful than the V8 Crown Vics and get way better gas mileage. And the V8 Chargers have more than 100 more horsepower. In fact, being underpowered is about the only problem that Chargers don't have.

A Crown Vic feels a lot faster than it is, because the throttle is touchy, the brakes are permanently set on retiree mode, and the body practically rolls off the frame everytime you accelerate, steer, or brake.
posted by The World Famous at 4:32 PM on March 23, 2010


""... get a 15 year old 5 series BMW for their criminal activity - fast, roomy and will run rings around any US cop car"

Hey, mine is 17 years old, but I'm still not planning to run rings around any cop car. Old BMWs really are great value for money though.
posted by mdoar at 4:35 PM on March 23, 2010


I had the opportunity to drive the police variant a number of times. The handling was very impressive for such a beast and it was fast - 130+MPH fast.

posted by anti social order at 3:59 PM on March 23 [+] [!]


Bah, 130 isn't fast. My old Alfa Romeo 156 had a (comparitively) pitiful 145 BHP and could get to 135 MPH with revs to spare.

Uh, apparently.


In addition to this are the Traffic cars - the high speed pursuit and motorway cops. These used anything from Vauxhall Senator 3.0, Rover Vitesse, Sierra RS500 (awesome piece of kit), Subaru WRX and all sorts.

posted by Brockles at 5:29 PM on March 23 [+] [!]


You missed probably the best police car ever deployed by the various forces (with the exception of the Range Rover, maybe) - the Volvo 850 T5 Estate (for the locals, that's a Wagon). A nut-blisteringly fast tank from those crazy swedes ("how do we make our brick go faster, Björn?" "Put an even bigger Turbo on it, Jörgen!") with a massive boot (useful for the cones and various bits of kit when the dickhead they were chasing wraps himself and his car around a bridge support).
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 4:49 PM on March 23, 2010


I don't have anything interesting to contribute, I just wanted to share some semi-relevant lyrics from one of my favorite Drive-By Truckers songs:
My brother got picked up in Parker's
Got him a ride in a new Crown Vic
They said that he was moving on a federal level
But they couldn't really make it stick
posted by total warfare frown at 5:04 PM on March 23, 2010


My first car was a Ford Taurus. Actually, my first two cars, technically, as my dad and I had to drive down to Houston from Bartlesville, OK to pick up the pirst one, and it had a complete break-down on the way back. Then the friend we bought it from sent us another one. Tauruses are... uh... they're just not very good cars.

One of my friends had a Taurus as his first car. I don't think he had many complaints. That said, the new Taurus is supposed to have gotten pretty good reviews.
posted by Atreides at 5:18 PM on March 23, 2010


I've owned two police Crown Vickies over the years, awesome cars, never had a major issue with them. Built solid as hell and can MOVE, especially with a few minor and inexpensive modifications.... and they handled very well for such a large car.....

I'll be looking for another one at a police auction soon. I paid $1800 for my '93 and sold it for $3200.

Ugly? Yeah, but so is every other auto built since the mid-80's.....
posted by peewinkle at 5:54 PM on March 23, 2010


Obviously, police agencies should consult Top Gear when replacing their Crown Vics.
posted by armage at 6:17 PM on March 23, 2010


I remember driving down 495-S near Lawrence, MA fifteen or twenty years ago - picture four lanes going north and four lanes going south with a grassy median between them about thirty feet wide. Suddenly, a white Crown Vic that was heading north swerved into the median, turned around and jumped into the southbound fast lane. The Crown Vic pulled right up onto the bumper of some guy in a sports car probably doing 90 in the fast lane and started flashing its headlights. Of course the sports car panicked and slowed way down and I passed both cars as they dropped below the speed of traffic. I looked over at the Crown Vic and there were three punk kids in the front seat laughing their asses off. Still makes me chuckle...
posted by bendy at 6:28 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thank God. I never like the Crown Vics.
posted by breezecomfort at 7:19 PM on March 23, 2010


Was always the Caprice Classic, where I grew up. Easy taillights to recognize -- six red boxes, three per side.
posted by Mid at 7:58 PM on March 23, 2010


Was always the Caprice Classic, where I grew up. Easy taillights to recognize -- six red boxes, three per side.

I had one of those for my first car. Not a police model, but it looked enough like an ex cop car that people respected my car all the same. She was light blue, which was the same color as Houston police cars for a long time, which couldn't have hurt.

That car maneuvered like a three-ton tub of lard and got 15 mpg on a good day. I loved it when I was 17 but I wasn't sorry to see the back of it.
posted by immlass at 8:12 PM on March 23, 2010


Yeah, we've just got a lot of Chevy Impalas, Dodge Chargers, and those damned unmarked Mustangs 'round where I live. Now every time I see a pretty black snub-nosed sports car I instinctively slow down; it's completely ruined the fun of spotting the occasional modern muscle car.
posted by limeonaire at 8:15 PM on March 23, 2010


backseatpilot wrote: "My grandmother had a Crown Vic before she stopped driving, and I was able to take it around the block a few times. I always felt like I could drive it through a brick wall and keep going."

The Crown Vic does one thing and it does that one thing well. It cruises. It's an incredibly comfortable car to drive long distances in. And quite honestly, if you're not interested in spirited driving because you have passengers who wouldn't appreciate it, it does just as well on the twisty Vermont back roads as it does on the Interstate.

It's not a fun car to drive, by any means, but it's a (I dare not say pleasant)..reasonable car to drive.

And when you're in the Boston area, everybody gets the fuck out of your way because they think you're a cop.

I would never own one, but they don't deserve the vitriol they're receiving in this thread.

The new car? I think it'll be pretty good. The new Five Hundred/Taurus is a pretty good car. I know a guy that owns a taxi company that uses them. In the last few years they've put nearly 400,000 miles on them, yet they still manage to be reasonably reliable. With the upgrades to make it the Police Interceptor, I think it'll make a fine cop car.

The most expensive cop car I've seen in person? An Acura NSX that the Rogers, Arkansas police department seized from a drug dealer. Completely pointless aside from PR.

symbioid wrote: "Also? It seems to happen a LOT around here... I'll pass a person who's pulled over and there's like 2 cop cars."

In a town I used to live in, they had a policy of all nighttime traffic stops being conducted by at least two officers, which in that town meant two cruisers.

joost de vries wrote: "In those cases a helicopter will be employed here."

Our wide-open spaces and limited municipal/state budgets make helicopters an iffy proposition in a lot of areas.
posted by wierdo at 8:48 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course it's a torus.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:02 PM on March 23, 2010


This is what an Interceptor really looks like.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:54 PM on March 23, 2010


Citation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PIT_manoeuvre


It's really more of a gesture.
posted by davejay at 9:55 PM on March 23, 2010


My father owned a Fury III for many years. When it was finally gasping it's last with over 180,000 on the odometer, he sold it to the brother of a girlfriend of mine.

About a month later that kid came by and showed us a rebuilt beauty that would put a Crown Vic to shame.

I've never seen my father so amazed in his life. BTW it was a hardtop V-8.

Crown Vic.

Ptui!
posted by Splunge at 11:09 PM on March 23, 2010


I wonder if people talking about the Crown Vic's handling have ever driven the police model- those big fords in general, hell yeah they're sloppy. But the interceptors? Are kinda tight, if you get one that hasn't been driven to death. Accelerate pretty well too- if my cab passengers seemed like they wanted it, I'd punch it going down freeway on-ramps, and sometimes get chirps from the back tires, going into 3rd, when the overdrive kicked in.

I mean, they're not fast, and they're obviously not sports-cars, but they handle way better than you'd figure 2 tons of American behemoth would. And honestly, they can be (big, dumb) fun to drive, if you don't mind getting 12 MPG. I always figured that was part of the deal- it's not just the sheer mass of it, or the volleyball-sized alternator, but the fact that you can mash down on the gas and spin the tires pretty much at will. Cops watch cop shows too, right?
posted by hap_hazard at 12:38 AM on March 24, 2010


hap_hazard wrote: "but the fact that you can mash down on the gas and spin the tires pretty much at will"

As best I can tell, that's the only reasoning behind purchasing a Charger for police use. Having enjoyed the front passenger seat of an OHP Charger for a few minutes while the nice trooper wrote me a warning, I could see that they are far too crammed full of stuff to be that small.

For a truly smaller patrol vehicle to gain wide acceptance in the US, departments will first have to consider scaling down the amount of gear and supplies they load them down with.

You got your computers, and the radar, and the shotgun, and the radio, and the switches for the lights and sirens, and that's just in the front cabin. Take a look in the trunk in my part of the country and you'll find everything but the kitchen sink. Guns, ammo, fluids for the car, vests, jackets, and God only knows what else.

Police around here put the boy scouts to shame when it comes to "Be Prepared". I dare say that with just the normal sidearm(s) plus the supplies in the cars, most small police departments around here could successfully secede from the Union.

Hard to haul around that much stuff in anything smaller than cargo plane.
posted by wierdo at 12:55 AM on March 24, 2010


Wow, either that dog is some kind of supervillain or the Crown Vic is an exceptionally crappy car!
posted by Omnomnom at 3:52 AM on March 28, 2010


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