Saturday, March 08, 2014

“Police Car”

c. 2014 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

In the Ice Family, cars from many nations have passed through our garages. My father owned vehicles made by SAAB, Simca, Renault, Volkswagen and Peugeot while I was experiencing the journey from childhood to the adult world. Even a Corvair Greenbriar van.
Yet one type of vehicle was prevalent above all others – the Ford sedan.
These iconic vehicles were constructed with rear-wheel drive and huge V-8 motors. In traditional four-door models or station-wagon variants.
We had both 1969 and 1971 LTD Country Squire models. Large wagons with the faux-wood sides and acres of interior space. Plus a 1972 Galaxie sedan. None of these vehicles were fuel-efficient. Yet they offered the sort of roadgoing luxury not seen by younger generations.
Later, I my first wife and I shared a 1987 Crown Victoria. Then, a 90’s Mercury Grand Marquis and a 2001 model bought new, thanks to sixty months financing with no interest.
I became very used to the body-on-frame style of this classic motorcar.
Police departments across America had learned to rely on the Crown Vic as a durable platform for their patrol duties. The vehicle was dependable and strong.
Plus, it handled like a “real” car.
But then in recent years, Ford decided to stop producing it, in favor of the front-drive Taurus.
Reaction from the law enforcement community was predictable. They immediately turned to GM and Chrysler for more traditional alternatives. The Blue Oval lost customers in droves.
Dodge’s Charger Pursuit immediately became a favorite of police departments everywhere. And the Chevrolet Caprice PPV offered another choice, thanks to the popularity of rear-drive vehicles in GM’s Australian “Holden” division.
Ford was left with the Explorer and their ubiquitous, generic front-drive sedan as police options.
Pondering this situation, I recalled driving 4x4 Ford trucks in the winter, while enjoying the comfort of my Crown Victoria in the summer.
It was a lifestyle that I missed. The ’87 model had been a particularly satisfying motorcar. Elegant and squarish, with classic style. A strong performer, thanks to its SEFI 302 V-8. And comfortable on long trips. Sort of like a Lincoln for those with budget issues.
Then, an ad from Classic Chevrolet in Mentor revived these bygone memories, with gusto. Suddenly, it seemed possible to “go home” once again:

FOR SALE: 2003 Ford CVPI (Crown Victoria Police Interceptor) $5495
Mileage: 101,771
4.6 liter V-8, 16V, Sequential Fuel Injection
4-door, RWD
Exterior: Vibrant White Clearcoat
Interior: Dark Charcoal
15 mpg city/22 highway
Side-Impact Door Beams
Wheelbase 114.7
Curb Weight 3,917 lbs.
“Fun to drive! Very Affordable!”

The retired police vehicle had a lot of “mojo.”
I remembered looking at an older CVPI, in the 1980’s. It had been equipped with the 351 V-8. A stout powerplant guaranteed to give many miles of service. I wanted the vehicle, but declined the purchase after considering my own financial state. Another police cruiser did not become available for many years.
Until I saw the white Crown Victoria in Lake County.
It provided gleaming, undeniable evidence that once-upon-a-time, Ford Motor Company could build a classic American car. Front-engine, rear-drive. As Henry himself had decreed it to exist.
I was moved to remember all of those horseless carriages from my past.
And something more – a song by British iconoclast Larry Wallis:

Police Car (1977)

“I’m armed and dangerous
I prowl the streets at night
I’m out when I get the scent
Turnin’ on my flashing light
I sit in the shadow
Waiting for your sight
If you see a grimp in your rearview mirror
It’s a hungry black and white
‘Cause I’m a police car...
Key kid
You need to score and there ain’t no help in sight
Why not hit the liquor store
The one who stays awake all night
Ain’t no one around to see
Just the night shift cleaning the streets
It was a breeze
Hold it, freeze!
The garbage truck is the heat
‘Cause I’m a police car...
Got a shortwave memory
Facts just can’t be beat
I keep two friends along for company
And a shotgun under my seat
I got speed, I got power
I got a V-8 heart
Don’t try to run
Forget the gun
I’ll cut you down before you start
‘Cause I’m a police car...
Okay sucker, let’s you and me go for a ride!”

A quick review of the listing showed that Classic Chevy had reduced their price by a thousand dollars, to $4495. A bargain waiting to be enjoyed.
I pondered the vehicle carefully. Would it be sensible to keep my 1998 Ranger 4x4 pickup truck for winter use, while purchasing such a vehicle for duty in friendlier weather?
The answer seemed obvious, based on family history. Another car in the driveway was always a good idea!

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