Where Can You Buy a Police Car?

If you're looking to buy a new, modern police package car from the manufacturer, the answer is, "You simply can't." New police cars are not for sale to civilians. However, if you'd like to find a vintage or retired patrol car, there are numerous clubs around the world that cater to police car enthusiasts. Old police cars can be found fully restored with all the proper equipment, or in somewhat lesser condition. A restoration job is certainly possible, since a lot of equipment, such as spotlights, sirens and radios, is available for sale to the public. Just remember, finding period-correct parts for older police cars can be a challenge.

The History of Police Cars

­Police forces began using motorized vehicles sporadically as far back as the final years of the 19th century, but at the time, these were little more than wagons that carried police from place to place. Police forces used motorcycles on a regular basis long before they used cars, as cars were more expensive. Increased reliance on police cars was driven primarily by increased use of cars by criminals.

In the 1920s and '30s, police departments used police cars to save money. With a car and a radio, one officer could cover a much larger territory. During this period, cars were purchased retail and then modified by the police department. Modifications were limited -- rudimentary markings and a variety of lights were the only things that set most early police cars apart from regular cars. It wasn't until after World War II that U.S. auto companies began offering "police packages." They simply took the special options most often ordered by police departments and combined them into a special option package. Ford Motor Company debuted its police package in 1950; Chevrolet in 1955 and Dodge in 1956 [source: Sanow].

Over the decades, police cars have gradually evolved. More pieces of specialized equipment were added. Light bars were streamlined. Old cars went out of style, while new designs became popular. Here are just some of the key police cars through history:

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