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Investing in police cars

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Hello, everyone. We're glad you could make it back for another installment of Police Car Collecting. If you recall my article on the SQUADS PAGE about facts and decisions, one of the things I stated was that if you are looking for an investment grade purchase in this hobby, you might want to look elsewhere. While this is still true and I stand by my statement, what is also obvious is that there seems to be a few exceptions to this rule. This should come as no great surprise if you have been following the classic car market in general.

Does this mean that the value of every police car we have has skyrocketed along with '70s Mopar muscle cars? I really doubt it and there is little evidence to support that it is as well, but what is interesting is to see that there has been a couple of patrol cars that sold for significant amounts of money when brought to auction.

Several years ago, there was a restored 1968 Belvedere LAPD cruiser, a la Adam 12, that commanded well into the $20k range at one of the Barrett-Jackson auctions. This caught the attention of many of us. Never did we think that a police car would command this kind of price, even at the big auctions. The car was a beautiful example and was done well. Again, just an isolated situation, though it made one take notice.

Now, in December just past, another California based patrol car came up at auction again. This time it was a 1988 Diplomat CHP cruiser. The car was complete and was an earlier restoration. Unlike the '68 LAPD car which was pristine, this car was rated as a #3 condition car. For those that are not familiar with the numerical condition rating that collectors and auctions use, a #3 car is one that is usually drivable and mostly complete, but is very far from perfect. This car had enough defects that many of us might restore it from the condition it currently is in.

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From the description of the reviewer I read, the car looked like it was still in service with the CHP and had been all along, not retired and not a show car at all. Still, on the block it went. What happened is nothing less than astounding. The car sold for $41,250!

Can you believe this? Late 1980s cars are hardly considered collectors items and M Bodies are not exactly rare… yet, but this particular car shirked those beliefs. Is this a sign that our cars have evened out with other classic and collector cars? Well, only time and more of them showing up at the auction houses will tell, but don't get too excited yet. Again, there is little evidence showing anything other than this is but another isolated mega sale. For now, I will still stand by my earlier statement about not looking to police cars for investment grade purchases. Having exceptions, even one like the Diplomat, means little to the overall market. So, don't start seeing $$$ for your copcar…just yet. Still, it makes me wonder what I could get for my PSP Diplomat at Barrett-Jackson or Steele-Russo. Hmmmm……..Nah. I think I'll keep it a while longer.

Other columns

Introduction | The basics of police car collecting | Who are collectors? Why do we collect?

Emergency lighting | Sirens | Where to find retired police cars | Emergency vehicle shows | Investing in police cars

Restorations: Rules and regs for restorers | bodywork | Do-it-yourself mechanical work

Shows: Chicagoland Emergency Vehicles Show | Aquidneck Island Police Car Parade (2008 | 2009)

Also see the EVOOA home page

Police and fleet cars, trucks, and vans

Fleet/Squad Cars
Current Police Cars

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