The major squad cars of the 1980s were the St. Regis/Gran Fury and the Dodge Diplomat / Plymouth Gran Fury. We have separate pages devoted to each of them.
Jim Benjaminson: By 1982 Plymouth had the Reliant patrolling the streets of America in full police car trim. Reviving a term used in the past, it was called the Reliant Scout Car. Powered initially by a standard 2.2 liter 135 cid engine with 84 hp, or an optional 2.6 liter 156 cid 92 hp Mitsubishi Silent Shaft four, the Scout Car joined the midsized Gran Fury Pursuit and the Voyager as Plymouth's offerings to law enforcement.
The Reliant could hardly chase down a 1970 Road Runner, but it was more than equal to most of the straight-six cars of the era, as well as most of the four-cylinder imports. Regardless, few criminals could outrace Motorola.
Ed Hennessy wrote: Chrysler did make an AHB (police package) Aries and Reliant in the mid-1980s; the NYPD used hundreds of them. These were 2.5 TBI cars. Their highway patrol division got Gran Furies with the 318 4 barrel police motor. New Haven, CT also used them. I believe both cities bought a majority of six cylinder cars for patrol, and V8s for pursuit duties, regardless of brand.
Dale Burkhardt wrote: There never was a factory police package for the Dodge Dynasty, but several agencies did use them. I remember that the suburban Chicago, Illinois, village of Crestwood had one in the 1980s. (Mark Swingle wrote: "The only 3.8L Dynasty police mules I ever heard of were naturally aspirated. Even without the turbo, they provided enough power as a 3.8 Dynasty to be competitive. The reason the program was shelved was the Dynasty was at the end of its product cycle and the Intrepid was due out in a year or so.")
GM and Ford, 1990-94 [by Curtis Redgap]: The older Chevrolet Caprice dominated the Michigan State Police Tests for several years, at one point, topping every category. The Caprice was a solid seller with 200,000 units every year. When they restyled the car in 1991, it was met with derision. Suddenly, pundits labeled it "whale," and worse. Sales fell dramatically. Sales went into decline, by half. Adding the SS in 1994 did not help. Chevrolet resurrected the 1969 Dodge Polara for the police, by making the 260 hp LT-1 Corvette engine an option; for three years, it simply out did everything, and was extremely popular, but GM could not keep the car going on fleet sales alone. Meanwhile, Ford, using its 1979 "Panther" platform still, responded with its rounded Ford Crown Victoria in 1992, using a new V-8 with overhead cams making 215 horsepower. It was not a barn burner in any way; the old chassis was numb, and the "Interceptor" version couldn't make 110 mph (GM was up to 130 mph before the LT-1 engine, and with the Corvette powerplant, was able to put the Mustang SSP into its grave with a 140 mph top speed at the Michigan tests). Utilizing a rather primitive experimental kind of EECV-III chip from that era, Ford managed, by 1994, to work their "Interceptor" up to 130 miles an hour. But, for three model years, the 1994-96 Chevrolet Caprice still "Polara'd" the Fords, and police kept them as long as they could.
Spirits with the 2.5 turbocharged engine appear to have been used in Mexico. The Dodge Spirit pictured below was used by the city of Winfield, Illinois, which ran this and the early front-wheel-drive Chrysler LeBaron, as well as an early 2000s Chrysler Concorde, according to Tom Bukovits. They tested different types of vehicles as squads for the automakers, according to Tom, including the Pontiac Grand Prix.
We have little information from this period; would you send
Mitch Hartley wrote in 2002: The Cheltenham, Pennsylvania
police department still have three Dodge Shadows (production ended with the 1994 model year) that are used as unmarked/ command
personnel cars. These cars are equipped with a red tear drop light, radio,
and siren. They love the Shadows as they are great in snow, have great repair
records and they would be happy to put more into their fleet.
Canada began to use Intrepids as early as 1995 for squad cars.
Starting with the launch of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler tried to reposition the Cherokee by creating a right-hand drive model for export, a postal vehicle, and a police unit. It was the only official Chrysler police car from 1996 to 2001. (See Jeep Cherokee Police Cars with MSP Test Results)
The ubiquitous Chevrolet Caprice was cancelled at the end of the 1996 model year, and the slower, long-braking, less curve-hugging Crown Victoria became the only traditional police car. By the next year, Mark T. Crowther reported that many Canadian agencies were switching to the Intrepid, despite the lack of a formal police package, because of their superior handling, room, and price (compared to the Crown Victoria); he also reported that the Mounties were testing Intrepids. Ohio tested 1997 Dodge Intrepids for use as patrol cars as well. But officially, until 2001, there were no Dodge or Plymouth police cars.
The first decade of the 21st century had no fewer than three authentic Dodge police packages — for the Intrepid, Magnum, and Charger.
Current police cars | History, through 1979 | Jeep Cherokee Police Cars with 1996-2001 MSP Test Results
Current Police Cars
More Mopar Car and Truck News
FCA Saltillo plant: 3 million Pentastar engines • Durango SRT • What's the deal with "quiet" rotors (gray...