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Australia's most powerful police car

Australia's most powerful police car -- the Ford Falcon GT-F -- has been tuned by racing legend Dick Johnson and now has 800 horsepower.

It has more power than any of the V8 Supercars at this year's Bathurst 1000.

It can detect stolen cars in milliseconds, and spot speeding drivers from up to a kilometre away.

It's not a bird, it's not a plane. It's Australia's most powerful -- and most technically advanced -- police car.

The NSW highway patrol have taken delivery of one of the last ever Ford Falcon GT sedans -- which, in a one-off special, has a supercharged V8 tuned by racing legend Dick Johnson to a staggering 800 horsepower, or 600 kilowatts in modern terms.

RELATED: Australian police could get Ford Mustangs

MORE: Police take delivery of a supercharged Falcon GT 

Not only does this police car's power eclipse the V8 Supercars on the grid at next weekend's Bathurst 1000 (which each have about 600 horsepower or 450 kilowatts) it has almost twice as much grunt as a standard Ford Falcon GT.

The high-powered and high-tech police car was funded by the NSW Centre for Road Safety and joins two other special models -- a HSV GTS and an earlier Ford Falcon GT -- to target hoon drivers.

The police super-computer in a super-car is due to be unveiled today at the launch of the long weekend double demerits road safety campaign and will make its first official public appearance in the spectator areas of the Bathurst 1000 car race.

Since double demerit points were applied to speeding and seatbelt fines in 1997, figures show there has been a 20 per cent reduction in fatal crashes over the relevant holiday periods.

While the new police car is equipped with the latest technology to catch high-speed crooks and banned drivers, it will spend most of its time parked at shows and community events.

"It's about talking to car enthusiasts on their level and having them understand the technology we have available," said John Hartley, NSW Police assistant commissioner and commander of traffic and highway patrol.

"The vast majority of motoring enthusiasts are safe drivers who do the right thing...but once more people realise how much technology we have to detect dangerous drivers, hopefully they'll be less inclined to break the law."

Since NSW Police fitted number-plate reading technology to its fleet of 400 highway patrol cars in November 2009, the cameras have detected 141,000 unregistered cars, 20,000 unlicenced drivers, and 5600 wanted criminals. The roof-mounted cameras also helped police detect 47,000 other driving offences.

Figures show unregistered cars and unlicenced drivers are involved in 25 per cent of all road deaths, even though they only account for about 1 per cent of all cars and drivers on the road.

Police regularly use high-profile cars to attract attention rather than write tickets.

Police in North Sydney's Harbourside Area Command have just been loaned their third Porsche in as many years.

Queensland police have previously had a fleet of 10 hotted-up Holden Monaros and currently have a fleet of five HSV Clubsport V8 sedans; known as the "Fatal Five" they're used to target trouble spots.

Victoria police have previously had a HSV GTO V8 coupe and once had a turbocharged Falcon ute to line up against hoons at off-street drag races.

Meanwhile, the highway patrol in all states and territories are unsure what will replace their trusty V8 Holden Commodore and turbo Ford Falcon pursuit sedans once Australian car manufacturing ends in 2017.

The Falcon and Commodore are due to be replaced by imported front-wheel-drive four-cylinder and V6 fleet cars similar to the Toyota Camry and Mitsubishi Magna.

High-powered BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes used by German police are deemed too expensive in Australia -- costing at least twice as much as a Falcon or Commodore.

It means the highway patrol could end up like real life Mad Max-style cops in Ford Mustangs, which is expected to cost the same as a Ford Falcon V8.

Police in Victoria, NSW and Queensland regularly used V8 coupes -- such as Valiant Chargers and Falcon coupes -- in the late 1970s.

The only V8 car confirmed for Holden and Ford showrooms so far is the new Mustang. Holden does not yet have a V8 model of any description confirmed beyond 2017.

Fast facts:

Ford Falcon GT-F: most powerful police car ever

  • Supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine
  • Power: 600 kilowatts in modern measurements or 800 horsepower in old-school numbers (up from 351kW or 470hp)
  • In modern terms, the Falcon GT-F's power has increased from the standard output of 351kW to 600kW, hence the ‘600' plaque next to Dick Johnson's name under the bonnet.
  • Racing grade Brembo brakes front and rear
  • Dunlop high-performance tyres (wider at the rear than at the front to improve grip)

Technology: how fast are you going now?

  • On-board tablet computer to check licence status, outstanding warrants, photo ID the driver (mobile fingerprint technology being rolled out)
  • Front and rear cameras record non-stop footage to a fireproof and tamperproof safe in the boot
  • These two cameras can beam live images to the police operations room to monitor critical incidents (other cars will eventually be upgraded)
  • Three automatic number plate recognition cameras can detect unregistered cars -- and cars likely to be driven by wanted or banned drivers -- day or night
  • Drug testing equipment joins the latest breath test units with GPS so police can track where the high alcohol readings are, and target those areas
  • Digital encrypted radio; earlier police radio systems could be heard by scanners bought cheaply at electronics stores, today's radio network is more secure
  • Long range radar can detect speeding vehicles up to 1 kilometre away on the open road
  • Handheld laser units can pinpoint individual cars in traffic, zooming in on an area the size of a number plate. The latest laser unit also records vision for evidence in court to prove the police stopped the right car
  • New LED blue and red emergency lights are brighter than before and have complete 360 degree coverage to be easier to spot in intersections; more powerful ‘takedown' lights beam directly into the back windows of cars stopped by police