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Dodge, Plymouth, and Jeep squad and fleet cars and trucks

The Chrysler Enforcer police cars

The Chrysler Enforcer was launched in 1961 as a separate model based upon the Newport body. The Enforcer had what Highway Patrol Departments considered the “magic” wheelbase of 122 inches, and was also available as a station wagon body.

Chrysler NewportThe Enforcer had all the usual Chrysler Police Pak items: suspension, brakes, transmissions (Torqueflite and a surprise 3 speed stick on the floor if you wanted it), and all the other heavy duty abuse goodies that cops need.

The Enforcer was created because Dodge had, in 1960, tried to back away from the 122” wheelbase, putting its police option on the newly introduced 118”-wheelbase Dart. To sweeten the deal for the Dart, the division offered every single engine it had in its line up, up to and including the wild dual-four-barreled Ram Induction option!

Dodge’s decision came, in turn, because Plymouth was still roundly thumping the Dodge boys when it came to selling fleet cars. For every police package that Dodge sold, Plymouth sold four; yet, Plymouth did not have a car in the 122 inch wheelbase class. Again, Dodge wanted to compete directly against its own corporate division, instead of worrying about Pontiac, Oldsmobile, or Mercury.

Because a howl might be raised by giving no notice to cops of these actions, Dodge did make the 122” wheelbase available as a “special purchase," with a minimum order requirement before they would build any. The California Highway Patrol easily met that minimum, and chose the corporate 383 ci V-8.

The floor-mounted shifter for 1960-64 Chryslers deserves some explanation, since floor shifters were then associated with smaller cars and heavy-duty trucks.

The problem was the design of the 1960-62 Chrysler "Astra-Dome" instrument cluster, possibly the most beautiful cluster of all time, especially at night, with its glowing turquoise numbers and orange needles - extremely advanced for its era. The cluster protrudes at the bottom, covering the steering column and leaving no room for a column shifter. Even the turn signal was moved to the dashboard — a location unpopular with buyers. (It was also there on 1957-60 Imperials.)

On the 1960 and '61 Valiant and Dodge Lancer (and 1962 RHD compact models as well), the floor shifter helped create an aura of sportiness. On a Newport, this setup seemed strange and Spartan.

In 1963, Chrysler got a major restyle of the 1960-62 shell, including a new instrument cluster with turn signals back on the steering column. The 3 speed probably remained on the floor because there were too few to justify a steering column just for that application. With automatic cars using buttons (or a console shifter in the 300-K), all 1963 and 1964 Chryslers used the same steering column.

There were some differences just for California, even from the normal police package. CHP specified that the cam had to be hotter, so instead of the usual 0.390 inch lift and 252 degree duration, the CHP had a 0.430 lift cam that held the valves open for 268 degrees. That is a big difference. As well, the CHiP had the normal Holley 1971A four barrel carb replaced with a Carter AFB 2968S four barrel. Never let it be said that cops are not street racers at heart, or that they don’t know what will make an engine perform. With these changes the big CHiP Dodge, with full equipment, and a large cop on board, ran out to a top speed of 130 miles an hour — big stuff in 1960!

These small moves marked the first steps for Chrysler Corporation towards introduction of the Chrysler Enforcer.

Dodge still had its 122" wheelbase Polara. However, no police package was officially available for that model. At least that was the opening shot, upon the early fall season introduction.

The CHP had tremendous influence. The sale records are not complete, but the CHP got around two 600 unit purchases, or 1,200 1961 Dodge Polara Police Pursuit units. Another reliable source claims that the purchase was up to 1,800 cars, with the CHP making a third purchase of an additional 600 units.  As far as is known, these are the only Polara models that were built with the Police Package. There is one of them that has been preserved and fully restored. If anyone were to find one of these cars, they would have one of the rarest vehicles ever built in this country.

As for the 1961 Enforcer, again, records appear to be incomplete with no actual production figures. Missouri, Indiana, and some other agencies did purchase the Chrysler Enforcer, but how many, no one seems to know. Rex Sagle wrote that the Illinois Toll Road Commission started purchasing Chrysler Enforcers for their marked cars; most were 383s but there were some 413s, along with two black unmarked 1961 Dodges with the 361 cross-ram engines (with two four-barrel carburetors). The Toll Road Commission stuck with Mopars through 1965.

The 1961 Michigan State Police tests gave the nod to the Dodge Dart Seneca and the Plymouth Savoy. The cars were exactly alike except for the way they wore the sheet metal. Both had the 383 ci, single four barrel carb, and dual exhaust engine, along with Torqueflite and all the available Chrysler Police Package accessories. The MSP vehicles were two door sedans. These cars were capable of 130 mile an hour speeds, even with the unmodified Police Package 383 V-8.

The Enforcer was Chrysler’s first use of the Dodge built 383 ci V-8, replacing the Chrysler built RB 383 V-8 that was a two-year-only engine in '59 and '60. (The Dodge 383 was a bored version of the corporate “B” V-8. The Chrysler-built 383 came out of the same corporate 361, however, it was bored to 4.03 inches and stroked to 3.75 inches; the difference was because, at the time, the Trenton plant had one line for B engines and one for “raised B” engines, with a long switchover time, so Chrysler used an RB 383.)

Engineering-wise, they were both superb engines. Eventually the Dodge 383 engine won the day, because engines with big bores and shorter strokes usually achieve higher torque. So when the Chrysler Enforcer model was introduced, it had a Dodge engine.

We all know far too well about the wacko 1962 styling year, and the loss of the long wheelbase cars in the Dodge and Plymouth lines. The only car available with the Police Pak with the 122” wheelbase from Chrysler was, again, the 1962 Chrysler Enforcer. CHP chose it, with a claimed purchase of 1,221 units. That marked the high point of the Enforcer’s popularity. Dodge would soon have the 880 model, essentially was the Newport with a Dodge front clip.

The 1962 ChP Enforcer was just about the same as the 1961 Dodge Polara. All the equipment was the same including the 383 cubic inch V-8. With the same engine modifications as was done in 1961, the 1962 CHiP Enforcer had a top speed of 130 miles an hour.

The Illinois State Police went with the 1962 Dodge 330 with the 305 hp 361 engines, according to Rex Sagle; they were fast and light, and were clocked at over 140 mph, though he said, “The Chryslers were a little faster, and I could never figure out why.”

In 1963, Chrysler Corporation officially listed a Chrysler Enforcer Police Package. However, no production figures exist, and no sales charts were ever found where any were sold. It is rumored that the Missouri Highway Patrol bought some. No record exists to confirm this.

The Dodge 880’s 122” wheelbase drew all the major Police Package orders in 1963 for Dodge. The “RB” engine that remained was the 413 ci V-8, and it joined the Police Force in 1963.

Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler Police Cars 1956-1978 and 1979-1984

The ChiP, as usual, insisted on some engine modifications, which resulted in the Police 413 package. Chrysler liked the results so much that this “Police Only” engine was applied across the board, though it could not be had unless specified for a police agency. It was rated at 360 horsepower.

A large-circulation car magazine tested a 1963 Dodge slated for use by the California Highway Patrol, putting them through their paces at a certified race track. The car weighed about 4,200 pounds and the tests were done with the car in absolute stock condition, just like the CHP would be using it on everyday patrol - full mufflers, air cleaner on, a big guy behind the steering wheel, and a trunk full of journalists’ junk. Average speed through the quarter was 86.1 miles an hour with a flat 15 second trap time; top speed was an honest 130 miles an hour.

1964 also saw the Chrysler Enforcer listed in the Newport series. There are pictures from the Missouri Highway Patrol to confirm that they did buy and use Enforcers in 1964. How many, and what equipment the models had, seems to be unobtainable. It had full chrome trim, and full chrome wheel covers. MHP always seems to have great looking patrol vehicles. They also do not limit themselves to one color either. Their units come in the full color spectrum. There was only one engine option, and that was the full police only 413 ci V-8. The standard transmission was a manual 3 speed, with a floor mounted shifter.  As has been shown, this would have given the MHP 130 mile an hour capabilities. However, 1964 was the Enforcer's last gasp, and it was dropped at the end of the model season.

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