by (retired) Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Curtis Redgap
The Chrysler Enforcer was launched in 1961; it was a new model based on the popular Chrysler Newport. The Enforcer’s claim to fame was the highway patrol departments’ ideal wheelbase of 122 inches.
The Enforcer, sold in sedan and wagon form, had all the usual Chrysler Police Pak items: suspension, brakes, transmissions (Torqueflite and a three-speed stick on the floor if you wanted it), and the other heavy duty / high abuse goodies that cops need.
in 1960, Dodge had moved its police option to the newly introduced 118"-wheelbase Dart, trying to steal sales from Plymouth, which outsold it 4:1 in squads. Dodge loaded it up with every single engine it had, up to and including the wild dual-four-barreled Ram Induction option. The 122-inch wheelbase Dodge was only sold as a “special purchase,” with a minimum order.
The 1960-62 Chrysler "Astra-Dome" may be the most beautiful instrument cluster of all time, especially at night, with its glowing turquoise numbers and orange needles - quite advanced for its era.
However, it covered the steering column, leaving no room for a column shifter; even the turn signal stalk was moved to the dashboard.
In 1963, Chrysler moved to a new instrument cluster with turn signals back on the steering column. The three-speed probably stayed on the floor because production was too small for new parts; the automatics had button shifters (with a console shifter in the 300K), so they all had the same steering column.
The California Highway Patrol easily met that minimum, and chose the 383 V-8. California police cars were different; the CHP wanted a hotter cam, 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. The normal Holley 1971A four barrel carb replaced with a Carter AFB 2968S. 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 moves marked the first steps for Chrysler Corporation towards the Chrysler Enforcer.
For 1961, Dodge no longer had a police package on its big Polara — even with a special order. However, the CHP had tremendous influence; and they managed to buy 1961 Dodge Polara Police Pursuit cars, the only Polaras built that way. (Only one is known to have been preserved and fully restored.)
To fill the gap for everyone else, Chrysler created the Enforcer. In its first year, the state agencies in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana were among the buyers.
The 1961 Michigan State Police tests gave the nod to the Dodge Dart Seneca and the Plymouth Savoy, twin sunder the skins. Both had the 383, a four barrel carb, and dual exhaust, along with the Torqueflite automatic. The MSP vehicles were two door sedans, capable of 130 mile an hour speeds.
The Enforcer was Chrysler’s first use of the Dodge 383 ci V-8; it replaced the two-year-wonder Chrysler RB 383 V-8, made for 1959-60. The reason for having two different 383s was that the Trenton plant took a long time to switch from B to RB engines on the line, and had one over-used B-engine line and one under-used RB line. The Dodge engine was bored out (B) and the Chrysler had its stroked increased, instead, to use the RB line.
They were both fine engines, but when the factory fixed their capacity issues, the Chrysler 383 was dropped — so the Chrysler Enforcer used the “Dodge” engine.
The wacko 1962 styling year brought the loss of long wheelbase Dodge and Plymouth cars, leaving one Mopar with the 122-inch wheelbase: the 1962 Chrysler Enforcer. CHP chose it, with a claimed purchase of 1,221 units. That was likely the high point of the Enforcer’s popularity. Dodge would soon have the 880, a replacement for its old larger car.
The 1962 CHP Enforcer was just about the same as the 1961 Dodge Polara, with the same engine modifications as in 1961, and 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, there was officially a Chrysler Enforcer Police Package, but 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, but there are no confirming records.
Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler Police Cars 1956-1978 and 1979-1984
The Dodge 880 drew all the major Police Package orders in 1963 for Dodge. The 413 ci V-8 joined the Police Force in 1963. The ChiP insisted on some engine modifications, which resulted in the Police 413 package. Chrysler liked the results so much that this 360-hp engine was set up for any police agency to buy.
A large-circulation car magazine tested a 1963 Dodge slated for use by the California Highway Patrol, putting them through their paces at a race track. The car weighed about 4,200 pounds and the tests were done with the car in 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.
There are pictures from the Missouri Highway Patrol to confirm that they did buy and use the 1964 Chrysler Enforcer. It had full chrome trim, and full chrome wheel covers, with cars coming in the full color spectrum. The sole engine was the full police-only 413, hooked up to a standard manual floor-shifted 3 speed; there was an optional automatic. 1964 was the Enforcer’s last gasp, and it was dropped at the end of the model season.
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