82 R-Rated

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

AMC’s new sec­tion for ma­ture, open-minded read­ers only. Con­tains strong thought-pro­vok­ing con­tent and de­bunks myths. No nu­dity. Ad­dresses the age-old ques­tion: How much power does it put out? Theme song: John Len­non’s ‘Power to the People’.

The per­for­mance abil­ity of a po­lice car – es­pe­cially those used on the high­way – is largely de­ter­mined by the per­for­mance of the cars they’re likely to be chas­ing.

This ex­plains why the ACT Po­lice, ini­tially sat­is­fied with FX and FJ Hold­ens in the im­me­di­ate post-war pe­riod, had re­placed them with Stude­baker Larks – fit­ted with the V8 ‘truck’ mo­tor – in the early 1960s.

Chrysler Valiants were also used in this pe­riod. But even these weren’t fast enough in 1964 when it was re­ported that they were be­ing out-run by the likes of Jaguar E-Types and Mercedes-Benz sports cars. Which ex­plains why, in­cred­i­bly, the ACT Po­lice used a Daim­ler SP 250 for pur­suit pur­poses!

These thor­ough­bred English sports cars were fit­ted with a 2.5-litre Rover V8 and four­wheel discs, and clad in a two-seater fi­bre­glass body. They were al­legedly ca­pa­ble of 120mph (193km/h). Around 30 were in use by the Bri­tish Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice.

The one used in Can­berra, mainly on the Monaro High­way leading to Cooma, was do­nated by Her­cules Mo­tors (who en­tered the car in which the Geoghegan broth­ers won the 1962 Bathurst 6-Hour Clas­sic), pos­si­bly for pro­mo­tional pur­poses. It was given a lot of pub­lic­ity in the press but by mid-1965 it was still to be used, be­cause only one of­fi­cer had done suit­able high-speed train­ing.

The Daim­ler was driven by plain-clothes of­fi­cers and bore no po­lice ID on the body. The siren was hid­den un­der the bon­net. Still, as some­one pointed out in a let­ter to the edi­tor, ev­ery­one in Can­berra knew that the Daim­ler was a po­lice car. There were no oth­ers in the cap­i­tal.

At the same time, the ACT po­lice force com­mis­sioned what was called a ‘Lo­tus Cortina’, al­though it’s more likely to have been a GT, per­haps one of the spe­cial GT 500 mod­els de­signed by Harry Firth for Bathurst. Per­haps...

There was also a fleet of Mini Coop­ers in use from 1963 on­wards. These were quick but un­pop­u­lar, mainly be­cause the aver­age cop­per was too tall to fit in­side.

At this stage the ACT must have had the most ex­otic fleet of po­lice cars in Aus­tralia.

This tra­di­tion con­tin­ued when they adopted the new range of V8 Fal­cons, start­ing with the XR V8 Po­lice Pur­suit spe­cial. XW, XA, XB and XC mod­els fol­lowed, all four-doors with GT mods. XD Fal­cons were used from 1979 to 1983.

Test­ing was done on a Holden To­rana SL/R 5000 and a V8 Kingswood but the V8 Fal­con was al­ways pre­ferred.

When Ford fi­nally axed its V8 pro­duc­tion, the V8 Com­modore was used for the 1985 to 1994 pe­riod.

More re­cently, the Fal­con XR6 Turbo and V8 SS Com­modore have been used in the cap­i­tal, both equipped with man­ual gear­boxes – the only po­lice ser­vice in Aus­tralia still us­ing this trans­mis­sion type to­day.

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