During a raid Friday morning on a top-floor apartment of a public housing project in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, a special weapons and tactics team captured Muktar Said Ibrahim, who a fellow suspect told police was the leader of the four would-be bombers.

If you saw this SWAT team on TV, they were piling out of a BMW X5 on their way into action.

First, the British Police cars seem to be bought by the force that’s using them, which generally splits down into regions, of which there must be as many as the US has states.

Each force then seems to be split into two groups, the specialist traffic patrols and the more local town cars. The high mileage traffic cars (Volvo wagons, BMW 5 series, Opel Omega, etc.) spend a lot of hours on freeways, but what you’re seeing in the TV pictures are whatever the ‘Met’ decided to buy to use around London.

I have incidentally seen at least one Lexus amongst the high mileage cars, but I guess the individual forces believe they get more value from things like the Volvo wagons with Turbo charger – they’re fast enough to catch most cars on the road, but can carry emergency gear etc. Incidentally, the standard of training for these pursuit drivers is EXTREMELY high, as it is in other European countries such as the Netherlands I believe.

State highway patrols aside, most American police departments seem to be making their way downhill from the Mexican-built LTD’s to the crappy [and cheap] Chevy Malibu. Do they care about performance and durability? Or can’t they hire and train anyone capable of driving a hot car?

  1. Scott Q says:

    Crown Vics, not LTD’s. Ford and Chevy make the only police cars left in the American Market, and the demise of the Crown Vic has been rumored for years and years.

    Most of the automakers seem to be pushing Special Service vehicles to the truck line, the Explorer/Expedition from Ford, the Durango from Dodge, and Yukon/Suburban from Chevy. Having tried to figure out how to mount a laptop and associated equipment in a Durango, give me a Crown Vic any day. The Malibu’s are horrible on interior room.

    I’m hoping to get my hands on one of the new ’06 Dodge Magnum Police vehicles sometime in the next few weeks – they look very promising on paper. A Charger version is rumored too, but I think they’ll have the size problems of the Mailbu.

  2. Anthony says:

    As long as they get the job done right?

    I don’t think I have ever heard of a high speed chase where the cops couldn’t keep up…

  3. Lou says:

    Regarding: “Do they care about performance and durability? Or can’t they hire and train anyone capable of driving a hot car? ”

    Is there a reason why you (or anyone) is claiming this? Are the USA’s police cars and police driving worse than Europe’s? Where are the stats behind this anti-american screed? Where are the stories about how we are losing the war on _____ (drugs/terror/etc.), because of our bad police persutes…. c’mon…..

    And what happened to the Buy American patriotism that is occassionally expressed on this blog?

  4. gquaglia says:

    The Crown Vic is a POS. The Impala is too small and the Dodge Magnum is unproven. Imports would be better, but they cost too much.

  5. Ed Campbell says:

    Although it has 85% of the US police car market, there are a number of class action suits filed by police departments against Ford for the Crown Vic.


    The Malibu is a piece of crap compared to the Crown Vic, much less the European cars described in the posting. The question is the safety of police officers — not profits for car manufacturers.

  6. Tim O'Guin says:

    I don’t think I have ever heard of a high speed chase where the cops couldn’t keep up…

    Well, if the cops couldn’t keep up then it wouldn’t be much of a chase, would it?

  7. anon coward says:

    Those crown Vics get turned over ever couple of years IIRC. They are driven hard and are retired quickly.

    Given the abuse, it may make more sense to save a few bucks and go with the american cars, I don’t see how much longer a volvo or lexus would run in the given environment.

    Also, the weight of the vehicle is important, so they can force other cars off the highway. Although I don’t know the weight of the european models.

    I know the CHP demo’d a volvo many years ago, and I thought I saw it on the highway a few years back. But they didn’t end up buying any, I think it was a scare tactic.

  8. Dave says:


    Phew, there.

    A lot of departments are going to have to switch to something new, since they joined in the class action suit against Ford. It will be interesting to see what they go to, especially in the midwest. Impalas do not fare well when there’s a decent amount of snow on the ground.

  9. Rob Cowie says:

    Most British motorway police use higly modified volvos – they can outrun almost any production car in existence and plenty of customs sports cars as well.

    My brothers a cop and he doesn’t know how his force chooses the cars they have. Obviously, they are tested for performance (all forms of performance, speed, braking, fuel economy, off road capabilities etc.) BUT they have at least 15 different models in service.

    Oh BTW, why is buying products produced in your own Country patriotism?

  10. don says:

    I spent my teenage years joyfully leaving persuit mustangs and everything else they had in the dust. Cops aren’t really trained to drive. An ex-CHP I know related how the standards had to be dropped back in the late 60′-early 70’s when female cops couldn’t pass the driving tests. Look in the parking lot of your local cop shop. The boys in blue generally aren’t car enthusiasts. Furthermore, I you grow up motoring around the city you don’t learn the finer points of four wheel drift and other aspects of high speed handling that become natural to the hot rodders from the hill country.



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