What to Look for in Used Police Cars!

When you think of police cars, the Ford Crown Victoria comes to mind.  For those of you older than that 30-year span of the Ford Crown Vic, you might remember the Chevy Caprice 9C1, the legendary AMC Javelin Alabama State Patrol cars, the Dodge Monaco, and countless others.  Most used police cars these days consist of the Ford Crown Victoria, the occasional Ford Expedition or Explorer, maybe a Dodge Charger, or the Chevrolet Impala.  Here’s what to look for in these powerful bare-bones cars.

For the dollar-per-dollar factor, it’s hard to beat a used police car.  If you don’t drive that much, or if you carpool with a few buddies, a used police car is well worth the money.  However, you shouldn’t EVER go to a police auction and bid on the first police car that goes on the block.  This is a bad, bad, bad idea!  You have to do a lot of homework to find a good one among the thrashed and abused ones.

Most city auctions don’t allow private buyers that aren’t dealers or salvage pickers.  This way, they don’t have to deal with the major hassle of the fact that “as is” means “you bought the car.  It’s your problem that it won’t start now.”

So, how does one figure out what a good used police car is when the description says something like, “should start with a boost, minor body damage, minor interior damage on seats, exposed wires on interior and holes on the exterior.”

Start with realistic expectations.  Don’t expect a brand-new car.  The chance of that happening are slim to none.  Some of these cars may have been sitting on a back lot for weeks, months, even years after they were after on the road.  Some could have a bad engine or transmission, and you, the unlucky buyer, will be saddled with a car that has terrible rod knock or a hole in the headers.  It’s practically guaranteed that you will have to replace the battery.  Bring a jump box to get the car running, if you go to check the car out in person, which I strongly advise you do.

There’s a pecking order when it comes to Police Interceptors.  Cars that are used in the line of duty often have crummy cloth seats and vinyl rear seats that often have rips or holes in them.  You WILL see wires and holes where police equipment was – don’t be alarmed!  Most used Police Interceptors will have this.

In terms of paint, these cars are exceptionally well-kept.  This allows for scratches to be fixed easily, and for decals and logos to show better.  Black and white cars will often sell for less money than a single-color car, like a black, silver, or white car.  Single colors are often easier to retail, so my advice is get a black and white car and take it to a paint shop and paint it a single color.  A step above both of those is the Police Interceptor that has an all-cloth interior and no hanging wires or gaping holes like the active duty cars.  These cars tend to be abused far less, as they are usually used by government employees or police officials who don’t engage in high-speed chases (like lieutenants or captains).  These cars will go for more money, thanks to their lower mechanical wear and retail-ready interiors.  Another thing that adds retail value is police equipment.  Push bumpers, radios, spotlights, and the like will add a few hundred or so to the value of the car.

Always focus on no more than two vehicles, as it will allow you to put a lot more effort into looking at those cars.  Always, always, always inspect the car(s) with a professional mechanic or knowledgeable person before bidding.  Try to find out as much about how well the vehicle in question was maintained as you can.  Take a picture of the VIN so you can do a CarFax search when you get home.  Online descriptions are laughable, but sometimes you’ll luck out and get a real gem.

Not everything you’ll buy from a police auction is going to run like a top the moment you buy it.  The Ford Crown Victoria in particular has become well-known among car dealers for being the “almost car” because a full-sized car that people “kinda sorta” want with rear-wheel-drive, fuel economy that is worse than dismal, and more cheap plastic bits than your local LEGO store isn’t something that people exactly flock to in hordes.

Throw in exposed sometimes-live wires from the police-only parts that were removed, heavily worn seats, and you can sometimes buy a car for about 10% of it’s original retail price after 7 years.

If you want a cop car so that a cop will wave you by when you’re speeding to get to work, or that you can do burnouts, drifts, and cruise all day long in comfort while scaring the general public half to death when you zoom up in their rear-view mirror, take your time getting one.  Nobody’s going to laugh at you when you get a gem and they have to fork over a couple of thousand for a new engine because they bid on the first car they saw.  You’ll be the one laughing.  But, PLEASE, don’t lock yourself in the backseat.  You’ll get to listen to the entire 9-1-1 dispatch center, then the fire dispatch center, and then the tow truck driver and the fire crew laugh at you.  The worst will be if you lock your friends in the backseat while you go into the gas station to use the bathroom.

If you own or have owned a previous police car, tell us what to look for in the comment section.  We’d love to hear what you have to say about these cars.  They are surprisingly fun to drive, despite a transmission best suited for intergalactic travel and an engine that’s better on the bottom of the ocean.  If you want really good reliability and power, suck it up and buy a 5.0-liter V8 crate motor from Ford Racing.  Oh, and get a new transmission while you’re at it.  Also, tell us your funny stories involving police cars.  I’m sure that all of us have plenty.

Out and About in Sonoma County and Oregon!

It’s been a while since I published an Out and About in Sonoma County.  However, that’s because I got some great pictures from Oregon AND Sonoma County!  I hope you enjoy them!  I will provide commentary on ALL of the cars – basically fun facts on them!  I also got some pictures from Mother’s Day Weekend up in Redding, CA.  Those are included as well.

This is my 300th post, so next week, I am doing a giveaway of a Roadkill hat!  Every reader or subscriber MUST leave a comment saying that they wish to be entered in the giveaway.  Remember, leave a comment to get a chance to win!

Oregon:  

The Ashland, Oregon ACE hardware store has this simply stunning 1950-52? Chevrolet 3100.  It's absolutely stunning.
The Ashland, Oregon ACE hardware store has this simply stunning 1950-52? Chevrolet 3100. It’s absolutely stunning.  The thing popping up right in front of the windshield is for the air conditioner.  It’s like the air grabber hoods on the hi-performance 1960’s Mopars – it pulls air in when the switch is flipped on.
I'm simply in love with the Harley-Davidson themed paint!  It really helps accentuate the beautiful lines on these old trucks.
I’m simply in love with the Harley-Davidson themed paint! It really helps accentuate the beautiful lines on these old trucks.
Are you a fan of a classic Vespa?  This stunning 1968 Vespa was for sale for a meager $6,000!  I was working on going 50/50 on it with my sister.  It didn't work.  It  has a 1971 engine for a bit more poewr and reliability.  The sidecar gives it a practical side...
Are you a fan of a classic Vespa? This stunning 1968 Vespa was for sale for a meager $6,000! I was working on going 50/50 on it with my sister. It didn’t work. It has a 1971 engine for a bit more poewr and reliability. The sidecar gives it a practical side…

20140606_123559

This is probably the best Jeep badge that the world has ever seen.  It may be a direct BMW rip-off, but whatever!
This is probably the best Jeep badge that the world has ever seen. It may be a direct BMW rip-off, but whatever!
This simply amazing Jeep Jeepster Commando was probably the nicest Jeep that I have ever seen - I don't care if it's 2WD or not!
This simply amazing Jeep Jeepster Commando was probably the nicest Jeep that I have ever seen – I don’t care if it’s 2WD or not!
How's this for cool?  I've never really seen a '32 Ford dirt track racer before, so this was a cool first for me!  I wasn't able to get closer to it, otherwise I would have done a separate blog post on it!  It was a very cool '32 Ford, though!
How’s this for cool? I’ve never really seen a ’32 Ford dirt track racer before, so this was a cool first for me! I wasn’t able to get closer to it, otherwise I would have done a separate blog post on it! It was a very cool ’32 Ford, though!

Sonoma County:  

 

How'd you like this to be in your rearview mirror?  Sorry if I just gave you nightmares...This 1971 Dodge Charger R/T is equipped with the 426 HEMI.  It doesn't get much better than that!
How’d you like this to be in your rearview mirror? Sorry if I just gave you nightmares…This 1971 Dodge Charger R/T is equipped with the 426 HEMI. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Man, this is just one of THE best engines in the world!  Let me tell you a funny story about this car and another car.  Somebody in a 1949 Chevy lowrider tried to do a burnout.  All he did was send a bunch of smoke out of his tailpipes.  The owner of this fine triple-black '71 Charger proceeded to do a burnout without really having to try too terribly hard right through an empty intersection!
Man, this is just one of THE best engines in the world! Let me tell you a funny story about this car and another car. Somebody in a 1949 Chevy lowrider tried to do a burnout. All he did was send a bunch of smoke out of his tailpipes. The owner of this fine triple-black ’71 Charger proceeded to do a burnout without really having to try too terribly hard right through an empty intersection!
If this doesn't make you drool, then I don't know what will!  This stunning 1970 Plymouth Superbird was SOOOOO cool!  It was in the Limelight Green color, along with the Super Commando 440 cubic-inch V8.  More to come on this iconic car.
If this doesn’t make you drool, then I don’t know what will! This stunning 1970 Plymouth Superbird was SOOOOO cool! It was in the Limelight Green color, along with the Super Commando 440 cubic-inch V8. More to come on this iconic car.
Yes, the Superbird really does make the iconic "meep-meep" from Looney Tunes - as does the Plymouth Roadrunner that the Superbird is based off of!
Yes, the Superbird really does make the iconic “meep-meep” from Looney Tunes – as does the Plymouth Roadrunner that the Superbird is based off of!

Redding, CA:  

How's this for nice?  This is probably one of THE nicest Corvettes that i have ever seen!  It was all-original, so it has the punchy 283 cubic-inch V8 and a four-speed manual.  Plus, it's got absolutely amazing looks.  The only thing that isn't original is the wheels, but they went perfectly with the car.  This would be an excellent car for touring the country with.  One of these days I will do that in a classic car - I promise!
How’s this for nice? This is probably one of THE nicest Corvettes that i have ever seen! It was all-original, so it has the punchy 283 cubic-inch V8 and a four-speed manual. Plus, it’s got absolutely amazing looks. The only thing that isn’t original is the wheels, but they went perfectly with the car. This would be an excellent car for touring the country with. One of these days I will do that in a classic car – I promise!

Tell Nissan What to Do With That 1996 Maxima from That Great Craigslist Ad!

For those of you who missed that awesome Craigslist video ad that was filmed and edited by Luke Aker of Ikonik Films, for his rather heavily used 1996 Nissan Maxima, you can watch it at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fr6FklMc6B0

After that, continue to read my equally amazing post!  Nissan USA re-purchased the car from Luke Aker for $1,400, and they want to know your opinions on what to do with the car.  Yep, that’s right!  Nissan is letting all of the people who read Motor Authority to tell Nissan USA what to do with the car.  Do you want to put the high-performance, high-tech GT-R engine, transmission, and AWD into the car?  Do you want to restore the car to Concours-levels of restoration and have Nissan USA tour the car?  Should it be donated to charity as-is?  Should they light it on fire and hurl it across an empty field?  Put on your thinking cap, and think of the most awesome thing Nissan USA could do to the car?

Submit your suggestions for Nissan in the comments section of the Motor Authority article.  Nissan will pick its favorite handful of suggestions, which they will have Motor Authority put up on their website for a vote.  The favorite vote will decide what to do with the car.

I know that I usually don’t talk about things from another car enthusiast magazine, but this just sounded like too much awesome to resist!

My idea for the Maxima?  Restore it to brand-new condition and then put GT-R running gear in it.  But, they should make it RWD for pure burnout factor!

Tell me your idea, as well as posting your idea on the Motor Authority article.

You can post your ideas on the Maxima at:  http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1089244_nissan-bought-the-maxima-from-that-brilliant-craigslist-ad-now-tell-them-what-to-do-with-it?ref=chrome-app

A Great Feature, on What Will Surely Be a Great Car!

While Ford hasn’t announced the special feature that will be on their upcoming 2015 Mustang, sources at Ford, along with speculation among us auto enthusiasts is bringing us to believe that the 2015 Ford Mustang’s special feature will be burnout control.  Yep, burnout control.  Ford, we can do perfectly good burnouts on our own, without a special computer for it!  Signed, auto enthusiasts around the world.

I’m sure that the burnout control feature, which has been confirmed by sources at Ford, will have the option of being fully disabled, just like traction control.  Ford won’t give any clues as to how the burnout control feature will work, but here are some ideas of how it may work:

  • A line lock on the front brakes (think NASCAR or F1 style), while simultaneously disabling traction control
  • Taking the rev limiter off to get the engine speed up high enough for the perfect clutch dump, and then turning the rear tires into history!
  • Holding the engine at a certain RPM for a matter of seconds before having the driver dump the clutch

Think of it as launch control for burnouts!  Speaking of launch control, it will be on the 2015 Mustang as well!  That way, you can do the perfect burnout and then do the perfect 1/4 mile.  Who wouldn’t like that?

In addition to burnout control, you can expect to see a long list of high tech, exciting new features on the 2015 Mustang, including:

  • Independent rear suspension
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Front independent suspension
  • Upgraded valves, cam, and cylinder heads
  • New intake manifold
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
  • Standard 6-speed manual transmission (score for the purists!)
  • Paddle shifters for the 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Driver-adjustable stability
  • Driver-adjustable steering
  • Driver-adjustable throttle and transmission calibration
  • Launch control
  • SYNC with MyFord Touch
  • Shaker Pro Audio system (previously optional on Mustang GT with Tech Package)
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Cross-traffic alert
  • Better ergonomics
  • Nicer leather
  • More supportive seats
  • Better styling inside and out!

All of that put together in a stylish, tidy package will do wonders with new buyers and purists of the Ford Mustang.  Oh, did I mention that the 2015 Mustang’s launch coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang?  All 2015 Ford Mustangs will have a Ford Mustang badge, as well as “Mustang, since 1965.”  Life just doesn’t get much better than that!  Have a Merry Christmas!