Holden's Commodore — actually the long-wheelbase Statesman model, if we're being pedantic — is headed back to the United States as a cop car.
Over the weekend, the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) was unveiled at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Denver, Colorado. Basically, it's a left-hand drive, long-wheelbase Holden Statesman modified for police work.
PPV specific elements include 18-inch steel wheels, heavy duty brakes and suspension, police calibrated stability control, a high output alternator and an instrument cluster with adjustable speed tracking. That's in addition to the high-intensity flashing LED lights, spotlights, bullbars, mirrors and livery packages.
An undercover street appearance package will also be available. Although we suspect that a few wisened crooks will notice that the Caprice tailing them is anything but standard — the Commodore (nee Pontiac G8) and Statesman are not available for purchase by the public.
In developing its Yankee cop cruiser, Holden mined its experience in providing police vehicles for Australian states. For instance, the mounting points for the police dash computers don't interfere with airbag deployment; there are plenty of storage locations for various pieces of police gear; a full width divider is available to separate the front and rear passengers, and, subsequently, the optional side airbags only inflate for the front occupants.
The Commodore, sorry Caprice, police cruiser can also house a touchscreen computer, developed by the local arm of NEC and Australia's National Safety Agency.
The NEC/NSA system features a 12.1-inch anti-glare touchscreen that integrates heating and ventilation controls (pictured above), with mapping/GPS and a police computer. The latter is powered by a Core 2 Duo processor, is cooled passively without fans, and has 4GB of RAM and a solid-state hard disk. According to NEC Australia's Tom Sykes, the system is available now.
The Aussie Chevy will be available with either a direct injection V6 — most likely the 3.6-litre version — or the 6-litre V8 with automatic cylinder cut-off. Both will be compatible with E85 fuel, which is a mix of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent gasoline.
The foam in the Caprice's seats has been designed to "pocket" the police officers' equipment belts and allow their backs full contact with the seat.
The 510-litre boot features a flat floor and can house an additional battery whose sole task is to power all the police equipment on board.
The Caprice comes standard with a full-size spare wheel under the boot floor.
Police departments can specify an optional pull-out tray to house more police gear, such as laptops and communication devices.
Thanks to Holden's decision to go with the long-wheelbase Statesman, should you get hauled in by the long arm of the law, your legs and head should have plenty of space to luxuriate in. Your arms, meanwhile, will be cuffed securely, but rather less comfortably, behind you.
Large, rear-wheel drive and the last remnant of a bygone era, the car of choice amongst police departments across America is currently Ford's Crown Victoria. The body received its last major overhaul in 1992, but much of its underpinnings date back to 1979.
Ford's Crown Victoria will cease production some time in 2010 and there's no new rear-wheel drive model to replace it, hence GM's belated move back into the police vehicle market with a more modern and, presumably, more expensive alternative.
Dodge's rear-wheel drive Charger sedan will most likely be Holden's most significant competition in the coming years.
GM estimates that around 70,000 police vehicles are bought annually by departments across the 50 states. This is significantly more than all the Commodore variants sold in Australia in a calendar year.