The unmarked police cars Australian cops are driving right now - BMW M3, Isuzu D-Max, Kia Sorento and Toyota Land Cruiser Prado included
There was a time when the sight of a white Holden Commodore SS or Ford Falcon...
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
Highway patrol officers could soon look like a modern version of Mad Max — roaming our roads in Ford Mustangs.
With Ford and Holden ending production of their high performance Falcons and Commodores over the next three years, police forces across Australia are grappling with what to use next to catch high-speed criminals.
The Ford Mustang is the only V8 so far confirmed for Ford or Holden showrooms once the homegrown sedans switch to four-cylinder power similar to a Toyota Camry by the end of 2017.
The new Mustang due in Australia in 2015 may seem a fanciful choice, but with an estimated price of $50,000 it’s expected to cost about the same as the current highway patrol cars.
A statement from Ford Australia said: “We cannot discuss private dealings with our fleet customers but we do plan to remain a leader with law enforcement.”
Police have used V8 coupes before: in the 1970s and early ’80s NSW Police used Valiant Chargers and Ford Falcon coupes.
Dubbed “Australia’s Mustang” at the time because Ford refused to import the iconic muscle car, the Falcon coupe used by police was the same type used in the original Mad Max movie.
Queensland police had a fleet of 10 Holden Monaros in 2005 and now have five high performance HSV Clubsport sedans (after taking delivery of four in 2011).
Earlier this month there were reports South Australia police were considering BMWs, but a representative for BMW Australia said “no discussions have taken place”.
Even with a Luxury Car Tax exemption BMW sedans would cost more than twice the price of Commodores and Falcons.
Victoria police had a HSV GTO coupe in 2003 but, as with most states and territories, it is today heavily reliant on Falcon and Commodore pursuit cars.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said, once the Falcon and Commodore are no longer available “we will canvass all available options in the market for the sustainable supply of vehicles that meet our specific operational needs”.
A former police fleet manager told News Corp Australia: “The absence of the Falcon and Commodore is going to pose a problem for the highway patrol.”
He said all emergency services have had “massive support” from Ford and Holden to develop vehicles for Australia’s unique requirements, “but that support won’t be there because they won’t want to tailor global cars for such a small market.”
A senior NSW highway patrol officer with 20 years’ experience said: “The latest high-performance Falcons and Commodores are probably the best cars we’ve ever had.”
He said they act as “a strong deterrent” to high-speed crooks “because they know they’re not going to get away and, anecdotally at least, we don’t have as many pursuits as a result.”
The fleet expert said more is demanded of highway patrol cars than any other vehicle in the police force.
“The cars carry up to 200kg of emergency equipment and have to be able to accelerate and brake over and over again, shift after shift, without giving up,” said the former police fleet manager, who asked not to be named.
“The highway patrol are often the front line for officer safety as the first cars to crime scenes and life-threatening crashes,” he said.
The government fleet expert said the highway patrol would probably end up in a variety of cars, including some four-cylinder “hot hatches”.
“You might end up with something like a Volkswagen Golf GTI in the city but still have the Mustang or some other high performance car in the greater metro and regional areas, to maintain the deterrent effect,” he said.
Germany’s highway patrol mostly drive Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs.
UK traffic police drive a wide range of vehicles, including BMWs, Volvos and Skodas, but in some cities they drive scooters and tiny Smart cars.
Until recently, a number of regions in the UK used rally-bred Subaru WRXs and Mitsubishi Evo sedans.
In the US, Holden has been using a police pack version of the Australian-made Caprice limousine to try to take business away from the iconic Ford Crown Victoria and Dodge Charger.
But the Caprice will be axed once the Holden factory closes in late 2017.
Police in Italy this week took delivery of the new Lamborghini Huracan supercar, their third Lamborghini since 2004.
But police in Dubai are the luckiest in the world, with a multi-million-dollar fleet that includes several Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Aston Martins and Porsches.
Meanwhile the fastest police cars in Australia today are the supercharged HSV GTS and Ford Falcon GT in the custody of NSW Police.
However, funded by the Motor Accidents Authority, they are mostly used in static displays for road safety campaigns at public events, rather than regular highway patrol work.