Ford reveals the specifics of its police cars
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Other than the flashing lights and paint scheme, most police vehicles generally look similar to their civilian siblings. But they’re considerably different under the skin, and built from the ground up for the hard life of a law enforcement vehicle.
“These are not retrofitted vehicles,” says David Shuttleworth, commercial sales manager of Ford Canada. “They’re built in Chicago at the same plant as the regular Taurus and Explorer, but they have unique features fitted to them before they come off the end of the line, and then they go to another facility for their final upfits.”
Their engines and transmissions are tuned for optimum acceleration, but they also need to use as little fuel as possible and run cool when they idle, which they often do for long periods of time. Their anti-lock brakes and traction control are also uniquely tuned, and they have heavy-duty brakes, wheels, tires, suspension components, and alternators.
In the front, the seats are upholstered in heavy-duty cloth, and have sculpted backs so officers can sit comfortably while wearing their utility belts. In addition to a white dome light, there’s also a red one for surveillance work. While civilian vehicles have console-mounted gear shifters, Ford’s Police Interceptor sedans and SUVs don’t have a centre console, and their shift levers are on the steering column. The gap between the front seats is the same as in the discontinued Ford Crown Victoria, so police forces that used the old model can simply move their equipment into the new vehicles.
“The dash is unique to these vehicles,” Shuttleworth says. “There’s a universal mounting tray, reinforced with steel, on top of the dash so you can mount something like a camera.”
The rear seats are covered in vinyl, and the door panels are flat, without pockets or cupholders. There are rear door handles, lock buttons, and window switches, but these can be disabled so “police customers” can’t get out.
Beyond the standard equipment, police forces can choose from some 125 different options and packages. These include ballistic door panels, equipment mounting plates, and “mapable” steering wheel buttons, which can be programmed for such tasks as turning on the lights or siren. Cars can also be outfitted with a trunk tray to hold equipment, or a lockable vault to hold drugs or weapons when they’re transported from a crime scene.
“These vehicles can only be purchased by law enforcement, and not by civilians,” Shuttleworth says. “Structurally and dynamically, they’re way different from anything you’d buy retail, because they have a different job to perform.”