Another one of those things I can scratch of my automotive "Bucket List" is owning a retired police car. I never regretted buying and driving mine, selling it on the other hand....
A huge part of what influenced my decision to even want one comes from the cult classic film, The Blues Brothers. Although I never saw it in the theaters (when it was originally released, I would have been way too young to fully understand the adult content of the movie, but the action would have had me glued to my seat and eyes fixed on the screen). I can confirm this, after having watched it countless times on edited television broadcasts, rented videotape and my own Anniversary DVD copy.
It wasn't so much the actors, the story or stuff like that which interested me, it was the car and everything it could do. "It's got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters so it'll run good on regular gas."
Just to help cement the future desire, my step dad would even pick up a well used, dark green 1974 Dodge Monaco, later in my teen years. Too bad the car was already living on borrowed time when he got it, the rear quarter panels and trunk floor were rapidly developing serious rust hole issues and the 360 cid V8 was losing power the more it was started and driven.
Although I wanted the car and had hopes he would have held it for me, realistically, it had to go when it was all said and done. I even spent the next few years looking for one of my own through classified ads and asking friends. Don't worry, that bug is out of my system now.
In Spring 2009, the family and I moved to the sunny Okanagan, down from the still frozen north. I had a 1997 Lincoln Town Car at the time and was quick to discover the hand-me-down from the mother in law was a little too big to park in a lot of spot in the big city, especially at my new job at a local hospital. Time for a change, despite only owning it for a few months, if that.
Moving to a larger populated area has one significant car buying benefit, more choices from the used market. No sooner did we get somewhat settled and have the internet hooked up, I started my search for a replacement for the Lincoln.
Mine wouldn't come from some Mount Prospect city police auction, instead, it was from an online classified ad.
Although there were many former police and taxi Ford Crown Victoria's to choose from, it didn't make sense to me to look at them too seriously. All I would be doing is swapping out one car for another of equal size and nearly the same performance. However, it was the above pictures captured from the ad that would eventually sell me a 2001 Chevrolet Impala. It also sparked my curiosity on the car.
Through the power of the internet, I started my research. The 2000 Chevrolet Impala was the replacement for the Lumina, a similarly built, front wheel drive sedan that sold well in the 90's. However, I was looking more closely at the 9C1 and 9C3 police packages offered on Impalas of those years.
The 3.8 liter (231 cu in) V6 engine put out decent power, 200 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 225 ft-lb of torque at 4,000 rpm. Of course, this was when it was brand new, but I doubt that 8 years later, the car would have lost that much power. I continued to read about the extra cooling for the engine and transmission, the heavy duty suspension and a short list of other interesting things. I was sold.
The wife and I met with the seller, given an orientation of the car (including a trick-flick-of-the-wrist to start it, because of the worn tumblers in the in dash ignition) and even got a hundred dollars knocked off the asking price! I found the manufacturer's Service Parts Identification sticker to confirm that this was indeed, a former police car.
For the next 4 years, I drove to job sites, picking up my son from school, grocery shopping and navigating the increasingly busy traffic of the southern interior of British Columbia. Along the way, the Impala performed much better than I expected, especially for a car that had 199-something-something-something kilometers on the odometer.
Other than gas and oil changes, the largest shell-out for repairs was the radiator fans, coming in between $800 to $1200, parts and installation (the old ones still worked, but they were very, very loud). Also, living in a bigger city also comes with another price, like a deer running into the driver's fender of the car (most of the dents popped back out, it was a small deer) and a wind driven shopping cart (that I watched helplessly happen from a distance) colliding in the same spot where the deer and car met.
However, the biggest test to the car was literally, just up the highway....