You know what Autopian readers are good at? Aside from, you know, being charming and successful and knowing every secret of the erotic arts? Finding cool shit. I know this because I see it happen all the time, including the time that is today, when a reader named Sebastian sent us some remarkable marker renderings of what appear to be concept police cars from the 1970s. He found these at an estate sale around Detroit back in the 1990s, but has never really been clear about what they are. Maybe one of you has an idea? If any group of people might, it’s the ones right here, right now.
These appear to be the work of a trained automotive designer; this sort of marker rendering is a very specific sort of learned skill, and whomever executed these clearly knows that skill very well. All of the drawings seem to show police or emergency vehicles, and three out of the four are two door wagons, possibly even shooting brake designs. All are known makes and models, but the bodywork tends to be unique aft of the B-pillar on all of them.
Plus, they all feature a very sleek sort of light bar on the roof that integrates well into the overall design, certainly more so than conventional police light bars of this era would. If I had to pin down a year that I’d guess these were made, I’d say 1978, based on the look of the cars used, and details like the amount of black rubber bumper impact strips and so on.
Let’s take a look at these, starting with my favorite, what looks like an AMC Pacer emergency vehicle:
I think the light bar fits the best on the Pacer, appearing to sort of organically grow out of the Pacer’s rollbar-like B-pillar. The rear of the car looks similar to the wagon variant of the Pacer, but not exactly; it’s a bit more squared-off and lacks the vent window of the Pacer wagon. Plus, it seems to use the Pacer hatchback’s wraparound taillights as opposed to the vertical units used on the Pacer wagon.
The two-tone paintjob works well on this, too. Hm. Was this a proposal for an AMC cop car?
Let’s see what else we have:
This one is really interesting! It looks to be a Ford LTD from the doors forward, but there were never two-door, short wheelbase LTD wagons like this. Which, upon seeing this, I realize is a tragedy. This is very cool, and the stripe graphics that wrap up the B-pillar into the light bar is inspired.
Was there unfulfilled demand for two-door cop car wagons?
There’s another Ford in here, too, this time a Pinto:
This one is especially confusing because it’s almost a stock Pinto, but, once again, from the front door trailing edge and back we have different bodywork. The rake of the rear is more vertical, there’s a little vent window in the rear side glass and, again, it’s a bit more rectilinear. Simpler police graphics on this one, still pretty handsome looking, though.
Okay, one last one, this time from GM:
This is the only four-door one, and it seems to be based on an X-Body Chevy Nova, again with bodywork that differs from reality from the B-pillar back, where it becomes an interesting four-door hatchback, kind of like a predecessor to the Chevy Citation, sort of. This one has more traditional Police coloring and markings, in a way, and because it has back doors, would be the most practical for a cop car that actually needed to, you know, throw people in the back, as cops are wont to do.
So, what are these, do we think? Sebastian told me they’re all high-quality reproductions on photographic paper, which suggests that copies were made, which means that it’s likely not just some talented design student’s homework. It likely wasn’t an OEM, though, since there are three OEMs represented here.
Sebastian wondered if these were, perhaps, part of the Hurst Highway System Rescue One project, which is best known today as being one of the earliest applications of the “jaws of life” which, frankly, is probably worth its own story.
Hurst was using an AMC Gremlin for this, which maybe is related to that AMC Pacer concept, but the graphics and hardware are just too far removed from the HRS-1 look for me to think this is actually related.
Could these be proposals for a company that outfitted emergency and police vehicles? Maybe some supplier of hardware and equipment for such conversions? And why such dramatic changes to bodywork?
I’m a little baffled, which is why we’re here. Any ideas or thoughts or leads are welcome! Let’s discuss, and revel in the mysteries!