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Ford ‘intercepts’ Aussie detective car thunder

Pimp my ride: Ford’s undercover police concept looks like the transport of choice for pimps and drug dealers, but they’ll be in the back wearing handcuffs.

Ford’s SEMA cop car concept looks set to rival GM’s Aussie-built detective package

4 Nov 2010

KEEN not to lose its crown as the number-one supplier of law-enforcement vehicles in North America, Ford has used this week’s SEMA automotive aftermarket trade show in Las Vegas to demonstrate a potential undercover version of the Taurus-based Police Interceptor vehicle that directly rivals the Australian-built, Holden Statesman-based Chevrolet Caprice PPV, for which orders are now being taken.

More civilian-looking than the Chevrolet Caprice PPV detective package, the “Stealth” Police Interceptor’s Pimp My Ride looks are in keeping with the aftermarket tuning and modification theme of the SEMA show.

27 center imageThe brainchild of Ford designer Melvin Betancourt, who took inspiration from the original stealth aircraft, the ST-71 Blackbird, this stealthy Ford features disguised LED flashing lights and the interior has been adapted to cleverly conceal police equipment such as weapons, radio and computer equipment.

“We repackaged the console – it looks like a production console with the waterfall of the instrument panel – but when you start opening doors and panels, that’s when you see everything,” said Mr Betancourt.

Ford has gone for a subtle yet mysterious, sinister appearance with the car, not unlike the vehicles favoured by drug dealers and gangsters – or at least Hollywood’s depiction of them.

“Right away, they’ll see this vehicle that looks different, that looks sinister – but they won’t know exactly why. Then, as they get closer, they’ll start to see all of these touches that work together to create the overall image,” Mr Betancourt said.

The suspension has been lowered 25mm over huge, menacing 22-inch alloy wheels with black spokes and chrome rims.

Around the back are smoked tail-lights and a discrete but purposeful-looking boot spoiler incorporating smoked LEDs that even up close resemble a high-level brake light but are in fact alternating red and blue police lights.

Without the attention-grabbing lowered suspension and oversized wheels, this car certainly has the potential to make an inconspicuous undercover police vehicle, especially as the interior gives nothing away when parked or even carrying civilian passengers.

The production Ford Police Interceptor is offered with the option of naturally aspirated or EcoBoost twin-turbo, direct-injection 3.5-litre V6 engines, producing 206kW and 268kW respectively.

The lower-powered unit is E85 ethanol fuel compatible and “25 per cent more efficient” than the 4.6-litre V8 unit fitted to Ford’s ageing Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which despite dating back to 1992 accounted for about 75 per cent of law-enforcement vehicle sales in the US last year.

GM’s Chevy PPV will be initially powered by a 6.0-litre V8, with the option of a 3.6-litre V6 becoming available from 2012.

In September, the Michigan State Police Precision Driving Unit tested a range of new patrol cars including the Caprice PPV, Ford Taurus, Ford Explorer and the Dodge Charger Pursuit.

Last month, Holden opened its order books for the PPV, of which it plans to sell “thousands, not hundreds” across North America.

Senior GM executives have also suggested a potentially even more profitable civilian vehicle export program could follow.

Meanwhile, Indiana-based start-up company Carbon Motors has also committed to producing a BMW diesel-powered police patrol car for North America from 2012.

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