Back in college, I was the house and risk manager for my fraternity. As you can imagine, this was a stressful job, as I was forced to monitor not only the many idiotic whims of my brothers, but the potential impact those ideas had on our house.

My least-fond memory of those hazy years involved a brother who drove a retired police cruiser. He desperately wanted to be a cop and took to driving his blacked-out, push-bar-equipped Ford Crown Victoria like Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon. While his typical days were spent terrorizing other motorists by suddenly appearing in their rearview mirrors, one day he decided to lead the campus police on a high-speed chase (as one does).

He got ahead of them, hid his car and ran into the fraternity house, breathlessly telling me he'd been there the whole time. The police arrived, having ran his plates and asking for him by his last name... which happened to be the same as my first name. Shockingly, neither he nor I were arrested that day (keep in mind, these were just campus police), but I've since become a firm believer that unless you want to start a second life as a taxi driver, you should not buy a used police car.

If you choose to ignore me, though, Yahoo! Autos has put together a smartly comprehensive buying guide, written by a dealer, that details the ins and outs of the police car buying process. It ranges from what sort of equipment you should bring to a city auction, to what kind of cars will go for the least money. It's a rather interesting read and provides a glimpse into a market of automotive sales that nearly every enthusiast has thought about at least once.

Head over and take a look.


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  • 25 Comments
      BipDBo
      • 3 Months Ago

      I bought a police car in college.  It wasn't one of the cars we were considering.  At the auction, I just threw up my hand because the bids were really low.  My wife tells the story that I bid on accident, as if I was scratching my head or something. No, I was being impulsive, but I knew what I was doing.
      It was a Ford Taurus in good aesthetic condition and I think I paid $1500 for it.  At this auction, the Crown Vics were going for much more than this article claims, around $2000-$3000.  Gas was a lot cheaper back then.  At this auction, before bidding started, you could look at the car, but were not permitted to try to start it.  Just before the bidding of each car, they would give it a crank. About half would start.  This Taurus started, but I found out that the water pump was dead so I replaced it before driving off of the lot.  For three years, it was one of the most reliable cars I had ever owned.  I think I replaced an alternator.  It would have kept going, but I got rear ended real bad by a Krispy Cream deliver van.  The insurance totaled it out and gave me $2400.  So it gave me 3 years of college life abuse and $900 profit.  Best car I've ever owned.

        fingerprintguy
        • 3 Months Ago
        @BipDBo

        I find it mildly ironic that your retired police car was totaled by a doughnut delivery van.

        PDKid
        • 3 Months Ago
        @BipDBo


        Dude.....your comment was way better than the "article".

      MechE
      • 3 Months Ago *Edited*
      You might be able to get one for $700 but then you gotta factor in the cost of $3000 worth of rims that must be installed too.  Plus tint....gotta have tint. 

      Its going to be very interesting to see what the Dodge Chargers of today are going to look like when PDs are all done with them.  Its hard to imagine them looking all worn out with faded/chipping paint, misaligned body panels and saggy suspension like the crown vics. 
        Jim R
        • 3 Months Ago
        @MechE

        Some early Charger Pursuits are already showing up on surplus sites.  The good news is when they show up, they tend to be in way better shape than these old Vics.  The bad news is they're also a lot more expensive.  If you're lucky you can find an early Charger Pursuit for around 6 grand.  Or only a couple grand less than a same-year civilian model.

          jtav2002
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Jim R

          Yea I was just going to say our local department has already retired a couple of Chargers.

      dukeisduke
      • 3 Months Ago

      One thing to do before you buy (if you can) is to check to make sure all the lights work - sometimes, when the police equipment is removed, some of the lights end up disconnected.

      Collin
      • 3 Months Ago

      Besides being beat to hell for their entire lives, from my anecdotal observations, they are police magnets.  Around the Detroit area, the only people who buy them are people of the shady verity, thus I see them pulled over all the time. I think the general midset is that they can fly under the radar because cops will mistaken them for one of them, but anyone born more then 3 days from yesterday can see otherwise.

      Car Guy
      • 3 Months Ago

      I had a 1997 Crown Vic that I drove in the mid 2000's as a commuter car.  It wasn't a former cop car but nevertheless I could understand why these are desirable.  A large sedan is a comfortable ride down the highway and managed 26MPG.

      dukeisduke
      • 3 Months Ago
      Lately, I see plenty of ex-cop cars ending up as DONKs, with the spotlights (and sometimes the push bars) still in place.
        bofdem
        • 3 Months Ago
        @dukeisduke

        same idea as my post below.  This was as useless of an article as "how do I get my kid into a gifted program?"


      ThinkAboutIt
      • 3 Months Ago

      Actually, if you can restrain yourself from driving like an idiot, an good ex-police car is an excellent buy.

      They're built better, with more durable and better performance than civilian versions, and are generally better-maintained. If you shop carefully instead of just picking up the first car you see with "cop engine, cop tires, cop brakes ..." you can get a comfortable, quick, sturdy and reliable car that will serve you well for a long time.

      There are reasons why cab companies buy ex-police cars instead of the civilian versions from used car lemon lots. And they're the exact same reasons why many private citizens seriously consider owning them.

        ScottT
        • 3 Months Ago
        @ThinkAboutIt

        The reason that cab companies buy ex-cop cars is because they are large, roomy, and extremely inexpensive.   And probably even more importantly, cab companies have access to a large supply of these vehicles and they are a known quantity.   They certainly do not buy them because they are reliable.   


        Cops do not own these cars, so there is little incentive to take care of them.   They take a lot more abuse than a typical non-cop car would just in the line duty (high speed, rough roads, excessive idling).     

          clquake
          • 3 Months Ago
          @ScottT

          Mechanics service the cars, cops simply use them.

      Krazeecain
      • 3 Months Ago
      2005 Crown Vic P71 was my first car. It was a retired RCMP car (I live in Canada) which is theoretically the kind you want up here, since it's mostly on the highway. I put glasspacks on it (not that loud) and drove it for 4 months until 4th and 3rd gear decided to start slipping. I didn't have $1500, nor the time and patience to rebuild the transmission, so I ended up getting rid of it. I kinda regret not just saving up to fix it... it probably would've lasted forever with a rebuilt transmission.
      So my tip for buying a used police car: Get one with a rebuilt transmission!
      Avinash Machado
      • 3 Months Ago

      I love those Impalas from the 90's.

      Edsel
      • 3 Months Ago

      Patrol cars are terrible used cars. They often have hard plastic back seats which have been vomitized and bloodied. Front seats have been fart receptors. I'd rather take the bus, walk, or bicycle than own a used patrol car.

      Stallion
      • 3 Months Ago

      A couple of years ago I entered a used car lot in Saudi Arabia and found a couple of Crown Vics that appeared normal. However, when I opened the glove compartment of one of them, I found an American police department report!! I don't remember which State or department but I remember reading something that included sexual harassment file!!  Got out, checked the paint and found traces that prove it was an American spec cop car, in Saudi Arabia . But to leave reports in the car ?! WTF

      AcidTonic
      • 3 Months Ago

      Cool story bro.... had nothing to do with the article though.

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