Good morning! Our mid-week Showdown is between two former cop cars, both made by Ford, but from two disctinctly different technological eras. But before we get to those, yesterday’s sensible stickshifts were a hit, it seems. Let’s see which one took top honors.
Well, I’ll be. Somehow I expected the Honda to walk away with this one. I guess the high mileage gave some of you pause. For me, I think I’d take the ZX2 as well, but I’d show up with two grand cash and not a penny more. A $500 discount for having to pop-start it to get it home seems fair.
Now, for today, I’ve chosen two former police cars. I know such vehicles can carry all sorts of connotations about their owners, and not all of them are exactly wholesome, but let’s leave all that aside and just look at them as used cars. Used cars that have led hard lives, sure; cop cars spend a lot of time idling, and then suddenly accelerating at full throttle, and the combination of the two is not easy on a vehicle’s engine, transmission, or cooling system. But if they’ve been serviced properly, they should have some civilian life left in them. Let’s check them out.
Engine/drivetrain: 4.6 liter overhead cam V8, four-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Gilroy, CA [Editor’s Note: Hey! The Garlic Capitol of the world! – JT]
Odometer reading: 120,000 miles
Runs/drives? Great, the ad says
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, this car’s headlight pattern was known and feared throughout the land. It didn’t matter if you were a car person or not; you could spot a late-model Crown Vic’s lights in your mirror, and you involuntarily clenched and slowed down. Then, inevitably, someone’s Aunt Matilda and Uncle Jasper went by you on their way to the Sizzler for the early-bird special.
This CVPI (as these have come to be known in internet shorthand) is a later model, so it benefits from the 500 or so years of development and refinement that Ford did to these cars. It has the later chassis with rack-and-pinion steering, upgraded suspension, a horsepower bump, and a fix to the 4.6 liter modular engine’s cooling system woes. This car should be just about armageddon-proof.
It does appear to be pretty clean, and it has an actual back seat instead of the molded-plastic bad guy seats. Like a lot of cop cars, it did get to retain its A-pillar-mounted spot lights; I guess they leave these on because without them there would be a gaping hole in the door frames. And it’s not like an auxiliary light is exactly cop-specific.
(As an aside, some friends of mine and I used to put the spotlight on my friend’s ex-cop car to an interesting use: Free beer. When I was in college up in Superior, Wisconsin, everyone liked to have bonfires on the beach, and, being Wisconsin, drink copious quantities of alcohol while there. Well, this included the high school kids, who once or twice got there before us and took the prime bonfire spot. We drove along the road, shining the spotlight down onto the beach, watched them scatter, and then thanked them for not only starting the fire for us, but also the cooler of beer they left behind. Not that I, or anyone here at the Autopian, condone such actions today, of course.)
This car isn’t without its flaws. The paint job is cheap-looking, and since it was painted it has had an altercation with something on its left rear flank. It’s not a big deal; I think a Crown Vic Police Interceptor in pristine shape would look wrong somehow.
Engine/drivetrain: 3.7 liter dual overhead cam V6, six-speed automatic, AWD
Location: Hayward, CA
Odometer reading: 120,000 miles
Runs/drives? Yep, but we don’t get much more info than that
After the Crown Vic’s reign, Ford designed two new Police Interceptors: One based on the Explorer, and one on the Taurus. I confess I almost forgot about the Taurus Police Interceptor (or Ford Police Interceptor Sedan, technically, I guess). They’re not common in my neck of the woods; Explorers are everywhere, but the local constabulary seems to prefer the Dodge Charger for its sedan needs.
This car is powered by a special 3.7 liter V6 not available on civilian Tauruses. It’s not quite as powerful, or nearly as fast, as the Taurus SHO, but I’m sure the cops would prefer you didn’t know that. It also comes equipped with all-wheel-drive, an advantage in slippery situations over the old Vic, even with a limited-slip rear end. It has a manually-shiftable six-speed automatic, and like the Charger police cars, the automatic’s shifter is up on the column, where it belongs.
This Taurus’s black-and-white color scheme allows me a rare chance to impart some nerdy knowledge from my day job in the fleet-vehicle-graphics industry. Most black and white cop cars aren’t painted black and white any more like they used to be; they’re painted black or white, depending on which is the dominant color, and the other color is a wrap, often with door shields and other graphics printed on the wrap for a one-piece installation. This is cheaper, both for initial purchase, and for the inevitable repairs. It also makes it easier to “de-copify” (to borrow a term from KITT222 on Opposite Lock) the car once it’s put out to pasture. So there; now that’s a thing you know.
This one is a few steps further away from civilian life, besides the white doors and roof. It has no back seat at all, only some intense-looking bracing that may or may not be present in the normal Taurus. We don’t get much to go on when it comes to its condition either; the seller only says it runs great, passed a smog test, and has working air conditioning. All important points, but Craigslist doesn’t charge by the word; they could expound a little.
I know cop cars aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, for a variety of reasons, but as someone who owns a former government fleet vehicle, I can tell you that if you find the right one, they can make great used cars. So here we have two options: One is a proven dinosaur, and the other is a modern ride with all the niceties, and complexities, that entails. Which one would you choose?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)