Are police cars souped up?
Are Police Cars Typically Tuned? (Facts & Answers)
Law enforcement and vehicles have a special history, one that dates back to the early 20s and 30s when the first “police cruisers” were introduced . Cars offered the police needed mobility for patrolling large swathes of territory.
That, and catching runners who preferred to take the police on high-speed pursuits rather than turn themselves in.
Police cars have received more attention over the years, thanks in part to Hollywood. Movies like the 1980 hit Blues Brothers were particularly responsible for popularizing the notion of police cars using upgraded components.
Is it true that police cars are tuned to perform better than their civilian counterparts?
Police cars are more heavy-duty than civilian cars and need those upgraded systems to perform optimally for long periods. Engine, suspension, cooling, and electrical systems are some components that are modified to suit police needs.
Presently, law enforcement agencies depend heavily on vehicles in their daily operations.
Police officers travel in cars to get to crime scenes faster; neighborhood police patrol by moving around in their cars. This helps them catch lawbreakers and provides a visible deterrence.
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Are Police Cars Tuned In The US?
The American police force has a history of fitting its vehicles with some of the latest modifications available.
Well, some folks love using new tactics to evade law enforcement.
Early Criminal and Police Cars
One popular tactic was to use “ modded ” ( modified ) vehicles to outrace police cars during pursuits. Naturally, the police had to modify their cars to perform better than civilian vehicles.
However, early cars used by American police officers were slow.
So slow that felons like Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (Bonnie and Clyde) frequently outpaced police cars in Ford Model B, which had a more powerful V-8 engine.
Keep an eye on our article which explains about Are Police Cars Always Marked?
Evolution of Modded Vehicles
The 50s arrived with the “Horsepower Race,” and car makers started producing powerful engines that pushed cars to unbelievable speeds. More criminals gained access to faster cars, forcing law enforcement agencies to make efforts to improve the performance of police cars.
The result was the production and release of a special “police package” car by Ford in 1950. Similar offerings from GM, Chrysler, and Dodge followed.
The new police cars were fitted with bigger and more powerful engines that could comfortably keep up with the fastest vehicles on the road.
However, it was not just about vehicle speed alone.
These patrol cars had certain components modified to increase the overall performance of the car (this represented the first attempt by American police authorities to tune their cars). The cars had stiffer suspensions for better handling, boosted batteries (police lights and radios had to run 24/7), and upgraded cooling systems to prevent overheating.
It is now a given for law enforcement agencies to tune their vehicles for optimum performance. In fact, the number of “police package” cars have increased, with more upgrades being created for the police cars.
Are Police Cars Tuned In The UK?
Unlike their neighbors across the Atlantic, the British have never been enthusiastic about tuning up their cars for improved performance. Some police cars released in the 70s and 80s had altered suspensions for better handling, and they also featured upgraded alternators to allow the car batteries to run for extended hours.
However, they weren’t as upgraded as their United States counterparts at the time.
Scotland Yard did little to improve engine performance or increase the power output of its vehicles.
Reports suggest some police cars manufactured by Vauxhall were modified for faster speeds ( these cars were used predominantly for high-speed pursuits).
Nowadays, most of the cars used for police duty in the UK are still standard civilian cars with minor modifications (unlike the US where you have special “Police Package” cars).
The British Police, however, has added some fast cars for patrolling motorways or chasing criminals.
Some of these cars include:
- Subaru Imprez a ,
- BMW 535i,
- Mitsubishi Evo,
- Jaguar XF,
- and Volvo T5.
How Fast Can Police Cars Typically Go?
Law enforcement agencies in America use two main types of vehicles in their operations:
Police Pursuit Vehicles (PPV)
PPVs are the most popular police vehicles in the US. They used to handle a variety of tasks ranging from responding to reports of problematic activity to chasing getaway offenders.
Often called “cruisers or “ interceptors,” they are optimized for high-speed car chases.
Below are some PPVs and their speeds:
1. Ford Taurus Police Interceptor:
It is a 4-door sedan created to replace the discontinued Crown Victoria line of police vehicles. This police interceptor has twin-turbocharged V-6 engines that produce 350 hp.
It has a top speed of 150 mph and goes from zero to 50 mph under six seconds.
2. Dodge Charger Pursuit:
The Dodge Charger is another 4-door sedan with a special police package for law enforcement agencies in the US. It is one of the fastest police cars, thanks to a powerful 5.7 Liter Hemi V-8 engine.
The Charger produces around 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque for a top speed of 149 mph.
3. Chevrolet Impala Police Vehicle:
The Chevy Impala Police is a full-sized car produced for police officers across the US. It comes with a 3.6 Liter V-6 engine that delivers 302 hp for a top speed of 150 mph.
4. Special Service Vehicles (SSVs):
These include Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and vans used for special purposes. Law enforcement operatives use them for off-road patrols, transport prisoners, and other situations where 4WD capability is necessary.
Police rarely use them for pursuit.
Here are some popular SSVs:
- Chevrolet Tahoe Police Package:
The Chevy Tahoe is an RWD vehicle that is pursuit-rated (has enough speed for a car chase) and suitable for off-road conditions too. It comes with a 5.3 Liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine, which delivers 355 hp for a top speed of 132 mph. It has an impressive zero to 60 mph acceleration of 7.97 seconds.
- Ford F-150 Police Package:
This is a recent Special Service Vehicle from Ford. The vehicle has an impressive ground clearance that makes it perfect for street and off-road patrolling. It has a twin-turbocharged 3.5 Liter V-6 engine and produces 470 lbs-ft of torque and 370 hp for a top speed of 100 mph.
Other Special Service Package (SSP) vehicles are used for highway/freeway car pursuits.
An example of such SSP cars is the Ford Mustang Police Package and Chevrolet Camaro Police Cars. These cars are rarely used for pursuits anymore, though.
You will find them at police events.
What Is The Fastest Police Car Ever Made?
The Bugatti Veyron is currently the fastest police car in the world, with a top speed of 253 mph. This automotive beast has a turbocharged 16-cylinder engine that allows it to produce 1200 horsepower.
The Veyron can go from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.
The Dubai Police Department, famed for its fleet of high-performance cars, bought the Bugatti Veyron Police Car in 2017. Other supercars in the Emirati fleet include a Lamborghini Aventador, a rare Aston Martin One, and a Ferrari FF.
A Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 owned by the Italian Police Department previously held the record for the fastest police car with a top speed of 203 mph.
What Other Modifications Are Made To Police Cars To Make Them Better?
Like we mentioned before, “Blues Brothers” was a popular movie at the time that expressed how cop cars were upgraded and gave civilians a new perspective on police cars.
There is a scene where Elwood Blues describes a police car to Jake Blues, his brother. He (Elwood) says of the car, “it is a cop car, it has cop motors…cop shocks, cop suspension, cop tires, cop shocks”.
Modern police cars have a certain “cop” difference to them, although they cannot flip backward or leap over open drawbridges like the “ Bluesmobile ” used by the Blues Brothers. They are tuned to handle the rigors of law enforcement operations.
These cars have to run for extended periods (24/7 on occasions), increasing the risk of overheating.
In addition, lights, radios, and other electrical equipment are in constant use, which exerts excess pressure on the battery. To handle these complexities, police vehicles undergo extensive modifications. The engines are optimized to produce more power for prolonged periods. Also, cooling and heating systems are modified to prevent engine parts from overheating.
Here is a list of the modifications American police cars undergo:
1. Upgraded cooling systems:
Police cars come with better cooling systems than the average civilian car.
Larger radiators and transmission coolers ensure temperature levels in the engines do not rise to dangerous levels.
2. Tuned-up engines:
Police cars have powerful engines that allow them to keep up with most civilian cars. However, the engines often have to balance power and fuel economy. Therefore, most police cars come with standard high-performance V-6 engines that are fuel-efficient.
The turbocharged V-8 engines are found on special pursuit vehicles used on high-speed highway pursuits.
3. Modified suspension and brakes:
Police cars sport modified suspensions and brakes to improve handling and allow law enforcement to make swift turns and sharp stops.
4. Boosted alternator and battery:
Most police vehicles have electrical equipment that needs a constant power supply. Lights, sirens, and radios are power-thirsty, and police cars may be on duty for the entire day.
To provide constant power, police cars feature upgraded alternators and batteries.
Improved batteries can run electrical equipment for a long period without draining completely. Better alternators crank out over 200 amps of power needed for lights, radios, and sirens to run non-stop (Alternators convert power from the engine to power a car’s electrical equipment).
Who Makes These Police Cars?
American police cars are manufactured by the “Big Three” (Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge [General Motors]).
Dodge makes Special Police Packages of the following vehicles:
Chevrolet makes Special Police Packages of the following vehicles:
Ford manufactures Police Package versions of these models:
- Explorer (Utility interceptor)
- Taurus (Sedan Interceptor)
Police cars have come a long way from the early cruisers.
Now, law enforcement vehicles feature cutting-edge technology and performance features that rival even the best civilian cars.
So, if you think you can break the law and pull a Bonnie and Clyde-like escape, think again.
10 Best Police Cars
Law enforcement departments all across the globe use a variety of vehicles for various purposes. However, out of the fleet, the patrolling vehicles in particular that police use have always been of great interest to wheel enthusiasts. These cars serve much more than just the primary purpose of getting the job done — including an expression of prosperity, commitment, and sometimes to deliver essential road safety messages.
There is hardly any auto brand that has not made it into the police department in some capacity. There are sensible cars that are confined to duty, and then there are supercars that do more of raising awareness than daily tasks. Of late, police departments globally have been adding both beauties and beasts to their fleet that have got us envying the cops. Exploring the world of cop cars, here are 10 models that range from sensible, duty-driven vehicles to inexplicably fast metal monsters.
1 Bugatti Veyron: United Arab Emirates
The Dubai police boast the most lavish fleet in the world adorned with the likes of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and McLaren. However, the most talked about of all is the Bugatti Veyron. With a top speed of an insane 253 mph (407 km/h), Bugatti Veyron is one of the world’s fastest cars used by any police department. The mid-engine speed machine is powered by a humongous 7993 cc 8.0-liter quad-turbocharged WR16 engine.
Owing to its super setup, the car can produce an insane 987 horsepower and 922 pound-feet of torque. Expectedly, the figures translate wonderfully on the track allowing acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in merely 2.6 seconds. Well, that certainly gives the UAE police a world of an edge over troublemakers.
2 Brabus Rocket: Germany
German Police’s Brabus Rocket
No amazement there! Germany has no dearth of luxuriously fast options to paint in police colors. The German forces are world renowned for driving BMW M5, the Audi RS6, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and many more in the same trajectory. And one of those roaring machines in the garages of German Polizei is the Brabus Rocket. The Rocket is a speed head that boasts a top speed of 227 mph (365.7 km/h.)
The car comes with a humongous 6,233 cc 6.3-liter M275 Brabus SV12 S Biturbo V-12 engine that promises mega performance like nothing else. Just in case you didn’t know, the Brabus Rocket is the modified version of the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class (W219) that remained in production from 2004 till mid-2010. Brabus added more displacement and run capabilities to the vehicles. As a result, the Brabus Rocket can go from nil to 100 km/h in just 3.7 as opposed to the Mercedes top version which took over 4 seconds.
3 Nissan GT-R: Japan
Nissan GT-R in public service in Japan
Japan’s situation is no less glorious than that of Germany’s when it comes to the selection of law-enforcement vehicles. The police corps in Japan must take pride in the dozens of reliable vehicle varieties they keep adding to its fleet — that come from the house of Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. In 2018, the Nissan GT-R aka the Godzilla was added to Japan police’s fleet to aid them in their daily operations. An icon, the GT-R brought a significant change in the way a sports car is engineered. As per Nissan’s NISMO Twitter, the introduction of GT-R in the force is “Bad news for bad guys!” We can’t argue on that one really!
4 HSV GTS: Australia
HSV GTS of NSW Police
NotNew South Wales Police Department’s introduction of HSV GTS was intended to spread the message of road safety. The effort succeeded, we can guess, as the GTS’ top specs attracted people’s attention within no time of its hiring for cop duties. The top-end model, HSV GTSR W1 dubbed the «fire-breathing powerplant» produces 474 kW at a screaming 6500 rpm thanks to its mega 6162 cc 6.2-liter ‘LS9’ Supercharged V-8 engine. The GTS is also the fastest car in the HSV lineup. The car can achieve a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h) at an acceleration that takes it from nil to 100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds.
5 Lamborghini Huracan: Italy
Police Department’s Lamborghini Huracan in Italy
Beautifying an already pretty luxurious fleet that includes Alfa Romeos and Lotuses, a couple of Lamborghini Huracans were donated to Italian police in a bid to spread road safety awareness. The Huracan comes in 2-door coupe and convertible variants, and of course, we can see why it is not the prime duty vehicle. But, given Huracan’s power capabilities, the car surely would do the job of intimidating bad guys on the run. The Huracan features a 5.2-liter odd-firing V-10 engine that allows a top speed of 323 km/h. Prior to Huracan, Lamborghini Gallardo was selected to serve the public of Italy. Well, that’s enough for us to conclude that Italian cops must be digging their shifts.
6 Dodge Charger: United States
A shot of a Dodge Charger Police Car
The Dodge Charger has got to be one of the fastest American police cars of all time. Serving up as a trusty patrol car for decades, engines are available in different capacities with the top 2022 model boasting a massive Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI High-Output SRT V-8 engine generating up to 797 horsepower.
What’s more, The law-abiding Charger can pull off 0-100 mph within just 6.4 seconds. Besides the power, the Charger’s road-friendly design and spacious interiors make it a smooth ride for cops to take on any mission. All put together, the Charger is among the most deserving contenders to be given the title of the perfect cop car.
7 Ford Focus: United Kingdom
Police Department’s Ford Focus
Hands down, the Ford Focus is the UK police’s favorite drive for a number of reasons. The hatchback is generously powerful, reliable, and specially designed to go on long runs. In addition, it’s more fuel-efficient than most other cars on the roster. In other words, the Focus checks every box that dutiful cops might have on their vehicle selection checklist.
The third-generation Focus which remained in production till 2019 features a wide range of inline-four gas and diesel engines. However, the ones the cops use are a little more powerful and can produce up to 276 horsepower — meaning both efficiency and practicality for the police processes.
8 Ford Crown & Ford Taurus: United States
A front 3/4 shot of a 2008 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Arguably, the most police-friendly cars ever produced, Ford Crown and Ford Taurus were once at the forefront of police fleets across different states within the U.S. The Blue Oval modified several of its models for use in emergency operations called Ford Police Interceptors. The focus was to ease maneuverability, promise performance, reliability, and sturdiness. The cars have acquired a sort of iconic status as they proved to be highly suitable for cruising, chasing, and championing.
The strong relationship between Ford and the police department stretches decades back, and it’s going strong even today. Amid rising competition among American automakers to win offers from forces, Ford remains the most used car brand in the law enforcement departments of the U.S. And, as the police kick off the switch to EVs, the maker has already begun selling EVs to the department. The Ford Mustang Mach-E, a battery-electric compact crossover SUV, is being used by New York City Police Department. We are excited to see what new EVs Ford will send to the department.
9 Spyker C8 Spyder: Netherlands
The front three quarters of a Spyker C8
The Spyker C8 Spyder’s distinct design that spells sports might not appear the most suitable choice for police departments. However, the figures it carries on its resume tell why the C8 Spyker is the splendor of law enforcement teams in the Netherlands. The first generation C8 Spyder features the Audi 4.2-liter V-8 engine that’s capable of generating up to 398 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque.
The initial high-end models feature turbocharged engines, while the later models got supercharged engines. As a result, the power in the latest models is genuinely massive. Just to bring home the point, the current C8 Spyder model can accelerate from nil to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds which is at par with the top supercars in the industry. The C8 Spyder boasts a top speed of 201 mph (324 km/h.)
10 Lexus LC 500: Japan
Lexus is the preferred luxury option as a cop car for forces in Japan. One of the top models they have is the Lexus LC 500 which you can spot decorated in police colors running through the streets of big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. By its appearance, it looks as though the future of keeping law has come around a bit earlier than expected.
Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota, has long been renowned for producing the ideal blend of equal parts style and performance. Keeping tradition, the Lexus LC 500 is installed with a 5.0-liter 2UR-GSE V-8 engine capable of producing 471 horsepower. The Lexus has also been seen in other countries serving in the enforcement department. For instance, the Lexus IS-F is being used by police departments in the United Kingdom as well.