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Police cars then and now (photos)

From the first radio patrol cars, police have been pushing automotive technology. Here is a short history, in photos, of the police car.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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2011 Ford Police Interceptor

Ford, which has dominated the police fleet market with its Crown Victoria, announced the replacement for that model. The new Police Interceptor is based on the Ford Taurus, and will be available next year.
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1961 Ford Police Interceptor advertisement

Ford has been using the Police Interceptor model name for decades, as this 1961 advertisement attests. The text of the ad describes a variety of equipment suitable for a patrol car.

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Early '50s Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Sedan

The earliest police cars differed little from the production cars on which they were based, although the police two-way radio had been available from Motorola since 1940.

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Late '50s Plymouth Savoy

By the 1950s, police cars were getting more specialized equipment as automakers grew more competitive in trying to garner law enforcement fleet sales.

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Early '60s Ford Galaxie

The common body style for the standard police cruiser was, and remains to this day, a four-door sedan.

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Early '80s Plymouth Gran Fury

By the 1970s, lighting equipment and sirens evolved into an integrated light bar, a modular unit which could easily be fitted to a number of different car models.

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Late '80s Chevrolet Caprice

Chevy's Caprice model proved a very popular sedan for police car use due to its workhorse nature. For the same reason, it became a popular car for taxi companies.

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'90s Chevrolet Caprice

The Caprice enjoyed a long run as a police vehicle, but GM discontinued the model in 1996 due to slow sales.

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'00s Ford Crown Victoria

With the Chevy Caprice out of the way, the Ford Police Interceptor, based on the Crown Victoria, had no competition, and came to dominate the law enforcement fleet vehicle market.

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2009 Dodge Charger Police package

Recently, the police vehicle market has been heating up. Dodge introduced this Charger-based police car in 2009.
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2011 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle

GM makes a return to the police car market with a new Caprice Patrol car in 2011. Reviving its rear-wheel-drive architecture, the car will be available with either a V-6 or V-8 engine.
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The future of the police car?

Police cars have been marked by powerful engines, allowing for the pursuit of suspects, but as communities become more urbanized and oil grows scarce, officers may find themselves patrolling public spaces in electric vehicles.

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