History and histories

A scary sight in your rear-view mirror…

The long history of supercars with sirens

Photo credit: Polizia di Stato, Porsche Newsroom, Girardo, Pinterest, Ford

Moscow. A Porsche Panamera Turbo S is parked in front of the Bulgari boutique. Three human mountains armed with AK47s and balaclavas pulled down over their faces get out of the car and make their way towards the safe full of jewels. When they make their escape, the police arrive with a standard VAZ 21-06. Goodbye bandits and goodbye jewellery. But this is not always the case: among the most famous patrol cars are undoubtedly those in force in Dubai that include million-dollar hypercars from the Bugatti Veyron to the McLaren MP4, but also Europe takes its line up seriously: A Caparo T1 and an Ariel Atom have appeared in England, in Italy the Lamborghini Huracan, which replaced the Gallardo. Another Gallardo joined the LAPD “CHiPs” in Los Angeles while in Germany, the Polizei Autobahn are armed with a Mercedes-Benz AMG GT. We’re at Formula 1 Grand Prix levels here.

But this is nothing new: law enforcement has been using supercars for years. If you made a museum featuring just these cars it would be a really big one. We’d like to talk about a few which, luckily, have never chased us.

A perfect combination that dates back to the late 1950s between the great German autobahns and the police Porsches, first with the 356 and then with the 911 series

In Germany, the first “Polizei Porsche” dates back to the late 1950s when around forty 356B Cabriolets joined the force. Who drove them? Police officers over the age of 25, married, and preferably with children. As if they wanted to reduce the risk of these officers getting crazy ideas. The relationship between the German police force and the Stuttgart manufacturer continued with the Porsche 911 and continues to this day with the 992. With just one modification: around a decade ago, the livery changed from green writing on a white car to green writing on a silver car. Why? Because they’re easier to sell once they’re no longer in service. The police know their marketing…

The Porsche 911 has beguiled numerous European law enforcement agencies over the years. The most famous one is the Dutch Rijkspolitie highway patrol unit, but the Belgian gendarmerie and the Austrian police corps have also used this model.

Waiting for Max Verstappen: Dutch police Porsches with numbers just like in Formula 1

Among the most famous supercars used by the Italian police is the Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2. Numerous urban legends enshroud this car, from a “descent” down the Spanish Steps in Rome to catch a criminal, to countless other pursuits, each one, legend would have it, ending up with someone behind bars. Used until 1968, it was sold to a private individual upon decommission who pampered it until a few months ago when it was sold by Girardo & Co to a collector. But Italian police cars are traditionally Alfa Romeos. The most famous was the 2600 Sprint equipped with a 6-cylinder 2.6 litre engine with twin-choke horizontal carburettors producing 145hp. These were the FIAT 500 and 600 years, for the cops, victory was assured.

The beautiful and aggressive Porsche 964 used by the Dutch police does not go unnoticed

Great Britain already used sports cars to preserve the law in the pre-war period: the first ones put into service were the MG TA in the 1930s. Later, the MGA Roadster found its way into the garages of the “bobbies” and, when it was time to replace them, the Triumph TR4. And not only that: in the 1950s and 1960s, British law enforcement also equipped themselves with Jaguars, several Mini Cooper S cars and Sunbeam Alpines. Since the 1970s, there has been a long collaboration with Ford that still lasts to this day, including what many remember as the craziest pursuit car of them all: the RS200, practically a Group B rally car!

An expensive experiment: in 1962 the Italian police put a Ferrari 250 GT 2+2 on the road. It was too expensive to continue

In the United States, individual states can decide for themselves which law enforcement cars they wish to purchase. That’s why some sheriffs used the Porsche 928 or Mazda RX8. But in most cases, the preference was of course for American-sourced vehicles: Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro are among the favourites, but there have also been cases of black and white Chevrolet Corvettes patrolling the streets.

Alfa Romeos are the traditional cars of the Italian police. This 2600 Sprint from 1970 already had a 145hp engine to put to use

What about France? This country has never been famous for the speed of its police cars when they were behind the wheel of their Renault 4 panda cars! Then, they suddenly joined the fast lane towards the end of the 1960s when the gendarmerie were equipped with Alpine A110s which were subsequently replaced with the A310s that had no heirs. Today, with the arrival of the new A110 and the marque’s entry into Formula 1, more than one French police officer must be dreaming about a return to past glories.

Spiders only for the MGs used by the British police in 1962. But how could they not lose their hat?!

With all that being said, France wears the title of the most bizarre and curious story of them all. In the 1980s, French Special Forces were equipped with five Citroen CX Breaks equipped with a 2.5-litre 138hp petrol engine. But under the “soft” lines of the estate car, a demon awaited: two nitrous oxide cylinders able to increase power by 40% for 5 minutes. They were basically equipped with NOS!

With one of those in his rear-view mirror, even Dominic Toretto – the main character from Fast and Furious – would start getting worried…

You’re not going to outrun this: if you’re chased down by a Ford RS200 Group B, you might as well surrender immediately
The small and very light Alpines of the French Gendarmerie were used to vigilantly patrol French motorways for many years
Mustangs, Corvettes and Camaros are preferred by the American police forces. They have one thing in common: the majestic light installation which, when they turn on, means you’re busted