PO­LICE, CAM­ERA, AC­TION!

Former cop­per Ernie Jupp is now the owner of Bri­tain’s finest pri­vate col­lec­tion of iconic po­lice cars

Classic Sports Car - - Contents - WORDS AN­DREW ROBERTS PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JAMES MANN

Meet former law-en­forcer Ernie Jupp, now pro­tec­tor of a fleet of ex-cop cars

Any clas­sic po­lice car has a par­tic­u­lar fas­ci­na­tion, not just for the liv­ery, the be­spoke fit­tings or any tech­ni­cal mod­i­fi­ca­tions, but also for the way they cre­ate an image of law en­force­ment dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar era. Ernie Jupp served as an of­fi­cer with the Metropoli­tan Po­lice from 1970 un­til 1994, and his in­cred­i­ble col­lec­tion re­flects both his time in ser­vice and the de­vel­op­ment of the pa­trol car in the UK.

The old­est mem­ber of the Jupp fleet is the 1947 MG TC that he ac­quired in 2010. “I dis­cov­ered that it was a War­wick­shire Con­stab­u­lary car from An­drea Green’s book MGS On Pa­trol,” says Jupp. A great many chief con­sta­bles favoured the T-type, in­clud­ing those of East Rid­ing, Wolver­hamp­ton, Es­sex, Cum­ber­land, Sus­sex and Der­byshire, but, says Jupp: “The forces that were most as­so­ci­ated with the Oc­tagon badge were Kent and Lan­cashire.” The TC’S bell – or ‘gong’ as they were known in the force – had to be sourced, but the ‘loud­hailer’ is a cun­ningly dis­guised fry­ing pan!

The TC was Abing­don’s first post-war car and, although it was 4in wider than its TB pre­de­ces­sor, it would have of­fered pretty cramped ac­com­mo­da­tion for a driver and an ob­server. “With the hood up, it is not the eas­i­est car to get into,” notes Jupp, “but low­er­ing the roof makes all the dif­fer­ence.” Given the av­er­age speed of traf­fic in the late 1940s, a ma­noeu­vrable sports car that was ca­pa­ble of nearly 80mph would have been an as­set to any force. As a Kent chief su­per­in­ten­dent wrote: ‘The small­ness of the ve­hi­cle was ap­pre­ci­ated when tail­ing a lorry, be­cause the MG was lost to the lorry driver’s view.’

Lux­u­ries on the TC are few and far be­tween – “there is def­i­nitely no heater!” – but no T-type driver would have ex­pected a long list of stan­dard fit­tings. “It’s great fun to drive, though,” says Jupp, an MG en­thu­si­ast of many years stand­ing, “but the steer­ing is no­to­ri­ously poor on pre-td MGS.” To­day, the TC still looks primed to flag down a cad in a Sun­beam-tal­bot 90 some­where out­side Nuneaton for ‘ex­ces­sive speed’.

When Jupp joined the Lon­don Metropoli­tan Po­lice, the Jaguar S-type was still very much in ev­i­dence. “Sadly, I never drove one at the time,” he says, but he can now thanks to ‘Char­lie One’, a 1968 Area Car in black liv­ery (Traf­fic sec­tion Jaguars were painted white). Hav­ing served at West Cen­tral and, at times, Bow Street po­lice sta­tions un­til 1971, its ca­reer en­com­passed guard­ing the Black Maria that con­veyed the Kray twins to prison in 1969.

The Met tri­alled three S-types in 1966, which re­sulted in the force order­ing a large fleet – Jupp reck­ons 266 cars – be­tween 1967 and the end of pro­duc­tion in ’68. In­side, there is a dis­tinct lack of arm­rests, wal­nut ve­neer or – sur­pris­ingly – a tachome­ter, although the Jaguar re­tains its cig­a­rette lighter. “Peo­ple some­times re­mark on the ‘spe­cial smell’ of old po­lice cars,” smiles Jupp, “but it’s mostly nico­tine!” The Borg-warner Type 35 gear­box is also to po­lice spec­i­fi­ca­tion, with just Drive, Neu­tral and Re­v­erse: “This was be­cause, on the early Met Jaguars, the driv­ers would tend to overuse the low ra­tios.” There was also a mod­i­fied rear axle, but no power as­sis­tance for the steer­ing: “It’s fine when you’re on the move, but in town it can feel heavy. I once spoke to some former Jaguar work­ers, and they told me that Met-spec cars needed a spe­cial pro­duc­tion line at Browns Lane.”

‘Given the av­er­age speed of traf­fic in the ’40s, a ma­noeu­vrable 80mph sports car would have been an as­set to any force’

Jupp dis­cov­ered Char­lie One about 10 years ago, when it was not in peak con­di­tion: “The body looked tired and the gear­box was leak­ing oil, but at least the roof bea­con still worked.” He then be­gan the long process of ac­quir­ing the cor­rect Pye wire­less set, the Winkworth bell – “the gong was mainly used for pulling over mo­torists” – and the klaxon horns. As for the ‘Mickey Mouse’ spot­lamps on the roof: “They were added after the Jaguar left po­lice ser­vice by a film prop com­pany.” Mean­while, Jupp’s son Ni­cholas painted the front of the Jaguar and re­paired the body­work. The re­sult is a po­lice car that you can eas­ily imag­ine turn­ing up in Carn­aby Street, to cries of: “Wow, man – the Es­tab­lish­ment. What a drag.”

The Rover P6 was the first large Area Car that Jupp drove in the course of his po­lice ser­vice; it was more usual to find him­self pilot­ing a suc­ces­sion of Panda Cars: “The Mor­ris Mi­nor was first, and that was re­placed by the Austin 1100, which was suc­ceeded by the Al­le­gro. I re­mem­ber those more than any­thing else – and, yes, they did have square steer­ing wheels when the first batch ar­rived at Shooter’s Hill.” Jupp’s P6B is one of the last Met 3500s, en­ter­ing po­lice ser­vice in 1976 and be­ing sta­tioned at Rom­ford as Car K7 for about three years.

“When I bought the Rover in 2010 it looked good, but it was in need of at­ten­tion to the floor and sills,” says Jupp. “Met Rovers were painted in var­i­ous shades of blue, and the spe­cial equip­ment in­cluded spot­lamps, two-tone horns, the ra­dio set and the gong.” As with the Jaguar, this car has an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion – this time the Borg-warner Type 65 – but no power steer­ing. “We were used to it at that time,” says Jupp, “and as soon as you are on the move there are no prob­lems. One of the P6’s real strengths is its fan­tas­tic road­hold­ing, though the Traf­fic divi­sion used to com­plain about the lack of boot space, and there was lim­ited room to carry sus­pects in the back.”

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice also used a large num­ber of the P6B’S in-house ri­val, the Tri­umph 2500 Mk2. “I drove that more than the Rovers in the 1970s,” says Jupp. “The Tri­umph felt more spa­cious, but I thought that the 3500 had the edge be­cause it was so won­der­ful to drive.” For any civil­ian old enough to re­call the late 1970s, the rush of nos­tal­gia upon see­ing the Rover is vir­tu­ally over­whelm­ing – pic­tur­ing grey-faced ‘hoods’ with bad hair­cuts and worse dress sense, and the 3500 on a shout, dash­ing past Routemas­ter buses and Sherpa de­liv­ery vans.

British Ley­land pro­duced a po­lice-spec­i­fi­ca­tion SD1 in 1976, and in that same year the Met be­gan to use the car that rep­re­sented ‘To­mor­row To­day’. “The first ones were V8-en­gined Area Cars fin­ished in blue,” says Jupp, but by the end of the decade it was com­mon for Lon­don Rovers to be painted in white with the ‘jam sand­wich’ stripe. The 2600 was used for area work and the 3500, with two blue lamps, served in the Traf­fic di­vi­sions. Jupp’s SD1 dates from 1984, and he be­lieves that it was in ser­vice in the Chad­well Heath re­gion: “When I bought the Rover in

2012 it was a lit­tle tired, but since then the paint has been re­fur­bished and I man­aged to ac­quire an off-the-shelf V8 en­gine that had been part of a can­celled or­der.” The equip­ment list in­cludes a video cam­era, the old-style cal­i­brated speedome­ter, a Us-style ‘wailer’ and an ex­tremely heavy ‘Po­lice Ac­ci­dent’ sign in the boot. The Rover lacks any­thing in the way of lux­u­ries that your av­er­age ex­ec­u­tive mo­torist would have come to ex­pect by the mid-1980s: “The win­dows and door locks are man­ual, as is the steer­ing, but that was par for the course.”

The SD1 was in ser­vice un­til around 1988, and on 8 May 1987 this car achieved last­ing fame as one of the Liver Run Rovers. A pa­tient at Cromwell Hos­pi­tal in Kens­ing­ton named Al­iza Hil­lel was re­ject­ing her liver trans­plant, and an­other or­gan was found in Hull. The liver would not sur­vive for long out­side a hu­man body, but fog de­layed the plane con­vey­ing it to Stansted Air­port, and from there it would have to be trans­ported by road. The Lon­don Air Am­bu­lance would not be es­tab­lished un­til 1989, all Met he­li­copters were grounded be­cause of one hav­ing suf­fered an en­gine fail­ure, and there was no time to char­ter a pri­vate air­craft.

An Es­sex Con­stab­u­lary Ford Granada took the pack­age to Junc­tion 7 of the M11, meet­ing the Rovers at 11:54am. The crews had to cover the 27 miles to Kens­ing­ton be­fore 12:30pm – cross­ing cen­tral Lon­don dur­ing a Fri­day. SD1

A738 UJD car­ried the liver it­self, with A536 UJD serv­ing as the back-up/cam­era car. The SD1S ar­rived at the hos­pi­tal at 12:25pm and, be­cause the of­fi­cers were more used to work­ing in outer Lon­don, the nav­i­ga­tors used A-Z map books for part of their jour­ney.

The Jupp Rover was de­com­mis­sioned more than 30 years ago, but that was not en­tirely the end of its ser­vice. In 2010, it was be­ing driven by Sergeant Neil Roberts in a com­mu­nity event at RAF Northolt, when a call came over the ra­dio about a bur­glary in the vicin­ity. The near­est units were at­tend­ing other in­ci­dents, so Roberts and the 3500 as­sisted in ap­pre­hend­ing the sus­pects – it’s not known if they thought that they were hal­lu­ci­nat­ing, or ap­pear­ing in an episode of Ashes to Ashes, upon sight­ing the Rover with blue lights flash­ing.

The most re­cent ad­di­tion to the Jupp fleet, a 1960 Wolse­ley 6/99, ar­rived in March 2018. “When Ciaran Ka­vanagh was restor­ing it in the late 1990s, he had to fit a bodyshell from an­other car be­cause the orig­i­nal was so rot­ten,” says Jupp, who is still trac­ing the his­tory of the car, which sports the roof-mounted loud­hailer that was used on the Traf­fic cars. The cabin is trimmed to the ba­sic stan­dards of an en­try-level Austin A99 West­min­ster, with a metal fas­cia re­plac­ing tim­ber, and there is gen­eral lack of the 6/99’s gentle­men’s club at­mos­phere.

Jupp was sur­prised by the Wolse­ley’s road man­ners on its ra­dial-ply tyres: “I had ex­pected it to be much worse. I don’t like to throw her

“I had ex­pected it to be much worse – I don’t like to throw it around, but the steer­ing is lighter than the Jaguar and the Rovers”

around, of course, but the steer­ing feels lighter than the Jaguar and the two Rovers.”

Nat­u­rally, Jupp has no favourites among his col­lec­tion, but we have no need to be im­par­tial. A Wolse­ley 6/99 po­lice car is one of the most im­por­tant cars in the his­tory of the au­to­mo­bile in the UK, and is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to post-war British pop­u­lar cul­ture. With such a ve­hi­cle, who could re­sist the temp­ta­tion to is­sue or­ders through the tan­noy as in Qu­ater­mass and the Pit, or to sound the gong, re­viv­ing mem­o­ries of The Fast Lady. And that C-se­ries en­gine note was as es­sen­tial to an Edgar Wal­lace thriller as the theme tune. We had to leave the Wolse­ley un­til last be­cause, after ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the 6/99, the rest were al­ways go­ing to be an an­ti­cli­max…

Thanks to The War­ren Metropoli­tan Po­lice Sports Club (www.mpthe­war­ren.com); Po­lice Car UK (www.po­lice­carunit­ed­king­dom.com)

From top: although wider than the TB, the TC would have been a squeeze for a pair of burly cops; 1250cc XPAG ‘four’ gives 55bhp, enough for 0-60mph in 22.7 secs and 78mph; orig­i­nal ‘gong’ bell; nim­ble chas­sis helped in pur­suits

From top: Jag looks as if it has just roared off the set of Rob­bery; in­te­rior re­tains all its po­lice ac­ces­sories; 220bhp, 3.8-litre twin-cam ‘six’ gave the hefty S-type a 116mph top speed

Above, clock­wise: P6’s ven­er­a­ble Buick-de­rived 3.5-litre V8 gave se­ri­ous pace, with 0-60mph in 10.8 secs; ra­tio­nal dash­board de­sign; blue Area Car is now back in rude health

Right: Ernie Jupp en­joys the aus­tere in­te­rior and smooth thrust of the SD1. Be­low, left-right: clas­sic ‘jam sand­wich’ Rover; re­place­ment 3528cc V8

From top: 6/99 has been im­mor­talised in cel­lu­loid; aus­tere in­te­rior; 120bhp 3-litre straight-six pro­pels this 3415lb saloon to 1mph short of the ton; roof-mounted loud­hailer

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