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For 1971, Dodge had police packages for its mid-size (B-body) Coronet and its large (C-body) Polara; there were no packages on the "compact" Dart, which was around the size of today’s Crown Victoria and Dodge Charger squads. For non-pursuit work, there were also police versions of the popular Tradesman B-vans, in two wheelbases (lengths). Engines in the cars ranged from the slant six (available only in Coronet and not intended for pursuit) to the 440 (available only in the Polara). By far, the largest choice was for the Polara, with no fewer than six engine choices - compared with one choice for the 2006 Crown Victoria and Impala, and two for the 2006 Charger.
Dodge wrote, "Both Polara and Coronet provide the engines, transmissions and rear axle ratios to make it difficult or impossible for another car to outrun a Dodge police car. ...
Polara and Coronet have available a wide selection of engines ... to provide the kind of top-end speed required.... [yet] The 318-cubic-inch V-8 model is an amazingly economical engine for its power. It is fully capable of competing with many six-cylinder engines in miles per gallon, while completely outclassing them in performance." The 300 horsepower 383 and the 440s had a dual snorkel air cleaner; the 370 horsepower 440 also had a special cam and higher compression.
The standard upholstery in police sedans was heavy-duty cloth (gray in Polara and tan in Coronet) and vinyl. For greater resistance to wear and ease of maintenance, heavy-duty all-vinyl trim was available as an option (this was standard in Coronet Emergency and Patrol Wagon). Available at no extra cost in Polara were regular-duty cloth and vinyl trims in blue and tan, while the civilian interior was optional. For both vehicles, the standard seats were chair-high for a natural posture and comfort, while almost two inches of air-foam cushioning was placed over heavyduty seat springs (at least, up front).
Options included air conditioning (with 60 amp alternator standard, or optional 65 amp alternator); 60 or 65 amp alternators on their own (65 amp not available with power steering, or with air conditioning on slant six or 318); a Sure-Grip 3.23:1 differential; high capacity seven-blade fan (standard on V8s anyway), optionally with a slip fan drive (383 or 440 only); maximum cooling capacity; police tires; and hand-operated fast-idle throttle control for quicker getaways from a stop. Keys could be made the same for all locks on the car; or the same for different cars in the same fleet (the power tailgate window on Coronet wagons was always different). A variety of mouldings could be ordered, as well as tinted glass. Other options included power steering, radio suppression package, an oil pressure gauge (except if the clock was ordered), five or six inch diameter spotlights on either or both sides, roof light wiring, and larger tires and wheels (but always 14 inches on Coronet, 15 inches on Polara).
The Royal Sportsman, Custom Sportsman, and Sportsman came with windows all around and with driver and front passenger's seat plus a rear bench seat as standard for 5-passenger seating. Optional seats increased the passenger capacity to 8, 12, or 15 passengers. The 8-passenger version could be on either the 109-inch or the 127-inch wheelbase; the 12-passenger was available on the 127-inch only. The 15-passenger was on the Maxiwagons only - which were 18 inches longer. If the standard van was selected, there were many window combinations available, including windows all around. A passenger's front seat was an extra-cost option. All seats were covered in vinyl. Deluxe driver and passenger bucket seats were optional at extra cost in Van models.
The 127-inch-wheelbase Sportsman, Custom Sportsman, Royal Sportsman, or Van were suited for multiple use as personnel carrier, emergency vehicle, or cargo van. With just under 10 feet of length in the 127-inch wheelbase and with almost 11 feet in the Maxi versions from the back of the driver's seat to the inside of the rear doors, there was more than enough room for two stretchers to be placed in the back. In all Sportsman and Van models, double cargo doors were standard on the right side and rear.
The heavy-duty 3-speed automatic transmission was standard on all Polara and Coronet models, optional at extra cost on Sportsman, Custom Sportsman, Royal Sportsman and the Van. The A230 heavy-duty, fully synchronized 3speed manual transmission, with the shift lever mounted on the steering column, was standard on all Royal Sportsman, Custom Sportsman, Sportsman, and Van V-8 models but not available in Coronet or Polara. The A250, synchronized in second and third gears, was standard in Van and Sportsman 6-cylinder models.
Unibody combined the body and frame into one single, rigid unit. Tests proved that Unibody can resist twisting and bending forces far better than most cars built the separate body and frame way. Every Dodge Polara and Coronet Unibody was passed through seven huge tanks. Each body was cleaned, bonderized, and coated-inside and out -with corrosion-resistant primer. The final finish was chipresistant acrylic enamel. The suspension was Torsion-Aire, labeled the best of all suspensions by many of the experts who test and evaluate cars. The elements of Torsion-Aire produced a smooth, comfortable, and controlled ride over all road surfaces. Tough, tempered steel bars provided spring action by twisting and untwisting. Because they take up so little space, they made possible a lower engine mounting and thus a low center of gravity for greater stability. They could be adjusted to raise or lower the front end.
Heavy-duty shocks, on all police models, leveled the car quickly after severe bumps, and provided a wide range of control by absorbing even small jolts. Polara models had 10/16" diameter shocks in front, 13/8" in the rear. Coronet had 1" shock absorbers front and rear.
Diagonal struts were positioned to brace the heavy-duty front suspension against impacts. Thick rubber biscuits were placed at the front attachment points to absorb road shocks.
Angled upper control arms exerted a lifting force when the weight shifted forward during braking, minimizing brake dive; while rear leaf springs had a long flexible rear section to provide soft spring action for a comfortable ride, and a short, stiff front section to assure good stability. On V-8 sedans an extra-stiff design was used for reduced sway and improved handling. The springs were spaced wide apart for bracing against body lean, which is important to good stability.
Heavy-duty brakes were fade-resistant, built
to handle high-speed stops. With automatic adjusters, the brake linings were bonded for longer wear. Coronet and Polara provided 220.1 square inches of effective lining area. When power brakes were ordered on Polara, they were disc brakes in front and drum brakes in the rear. Front disc brakes were optional at extra cost on Coronet models. Sure-Grip limited-slip differentials were available.
Extra-wide wheels with retaining beads held the tire securely on the rim in case of a flatthus making certain that the driver could bring the car to straight, sure, safe stops. 14" x 5 V2" JJ wheels were used on Coronet, 15" x 6" JJ on Polara.
To provide superior protection against wet-weather shorting, both the cable and the spark plug insulator were enclosed by a spark-plug cover. A spring-pressure grip prevented the spark-plug cable terminal from opening up when the cable was pulled off the spark plug.
1971 was a year of very little change for Chrysler's full sized cars, including the Polara, and even the obligatory sheetmetal alterations looked little different than last year's. However, the Chrysler intermediates, including Coronet, were all new; they were wider and the wheelbase was one inch longer, and had "fuselage" styling that resembled the full size cars. The Belvedere was renamed to Satellite. At Plymouth, buyers could order the A38 police package on any trim level, for the first time.
Net horsepower ratings, a more realistic measure of useable engine power than the previous "gross power" rating method, was used side by side with gross horsepower, to ease the shock of auto buyers. The 383 and 440 switched to different heads to better meet emission standards. The new 360, with a 2v carb and single exhaust, became optional on the Fury and Polara squads; the 360 was to be a very successful police car motor. Curtis Redgap noted: We also had some 1971 Plymouth Fury I patrol units with 360 V-8s. They ran very well and were not far off the 440 time. These were equipped with a four barrel carb and dual exhausts; we had 12 of them like that. Plymouth again beat Dodge by offering the police package in the "A38" group. It could be had on ANY model car, not just the base cars.
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