Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

A Highway Patrol 5.0

  • Retired Missouri Highway Patrol car
  • One of 25 cars ordered by MSHP in 1993
  • Seven were Vibrant White with Red interior
  • Ordered new from Shawnee Mission Ford in Shawnee, KS
  • Once retired, it was sold to the last trooper assigned to the car and used for MSHP special events
  • Copy of original window sticker and purchase order and invoice
  • Photos of the car with the assigned trooper
  • MSHP motor equipment division letter verifying its authenticity
  • Letter from superintendent of MSHP allowing Dun-Lap to sell door and fender decals for this car
  • Article of Patrol News from April 1996
  • Service records and receipts
  • Also including MSHP uniform, two sets of correct decals, two officers’ ticket books and one warning book, first aid kit and correct fire extinguisher

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1993 Ford Mustang SSP
Years Produced:1982-93
Number Produced:Approximately 15,000
Original List Price:$11,567
SCM Valuation:$10k–$20k
Tune Up Cost:$150
Distributor Caps:$7
Chassis Number Location:Tag on top of dash, sticker in door jamb
Engine Number Location:Top rear of block
Alternatives:1991–2002 Chevrolet Camaro B4C, 1986–96 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1, 2006–10 Dodge Charger Police Package
Investment Grade:D

This car, Lot F159, sold for $13,910, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s 2013 Original Spring Classic.

This sale has the wheels in my head spinning so fast I can barely think through all the smoke. Am I reading the sales literature correctly? All I had to do was write a check for $13,910 and someone would have handed over the keys to a fully equipped state patrol Mustang? And two uniforms? And two officers’ ticket books? Really? This has to be one of the best bad ideas I’ve ever stumbled across.

Evil temptation

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love bad ideas. I really do. The majority of my favorite memories were born out of bad ideas, and many of my best friendships were forged surviving bad ideas. However, there’s only so much temptation a man’s soul can withstand.

I like to think that if someday the balance of the world relied on my ability to don Superman’s cape and make the choice to use my powers for good over evil, I would make the right choice and good would prevail. Unfortunately, it’s also quite likely that I would get a bit sidetracked flexing my guts of steel at hot-wing challenges, capitalizing on free flights to Bora Bora, and putting my X-ray vision to the test (only for purposes of national security, of course).

And so it would go if this car lived in my garage. I think I could mostly resist the temptation of evil, but having a radar gun, a spotlight, and a megaphone in a blue-light-equipped 5-speed 5.0 makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

Rough-duty sprinter

The car at hand is one of the 15,000 or so Special Service Package (SSP)-equipped Ford Mustangs built between 1982 and 1993. They were distributed to municipalities across the country as lightweight, fleet-of-foot alternatives to the beefy full-sized sedans employed by most police departments at the time.

Law enforcement agencies from California to New York fielded the Fox-bodied units, and many of them still survive today as race and/or display cars. Although the cars were equipped with a number of standard features and options that were unavailable to the general public, the vast majority of the upgrades were focused on reliability and longevity, not increased performance. The highlights of Ford’s add-ons consisted of oil and transmission fluid coolers, aircraft-style hose clamps, heavy-duty alternators and reinforced floor pans that helped stiffen the car’s unibody structure.

As a potential buyer, it’s always worth noting that most government-owned vehicles, law enforcement vehicles in particular, are often driven hard and put away wet. Their odometers also fail to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth because police cars are often left idling for hours throughout a day, and many fractions of miles are clicked off at full song while in hot pursuit.

On the upside, very few privately owned vehicles receive the type of care and meticulous maintenance that service vehicles are afforded. Most sales of this type include pages and pages of reference material providing detailed accounts of routine maintenance and accident history. Keeping our shield-wearing men and women in well-serviced and operational equipment is a state and national priority that few departments are willing to skimp on.

Fully equipped

Our feature ’Stang is a perfect example of the well-documented vehicle history one can expect to accompany the purchase of a government-owned vehicle, but this car is a bit unusual for a number of reasons. First off, almost all retired police cars are stripped of any functional equipment that could possibly inspire the new owner to dole out a little civic justice of his own. This car, however, is still equipped with all of the communications and speed-tracking gadgets that were deployed in the field. Although initially sold to the last officer who owned the car, someone, somewhere along the decision tree, had to know that people like me exist in the world.

What’s that, you say? Operating retired public-service vehicles under the guise of legitimacy is illegal and not the intended purpose of a machine like this? Well, you are correct, of course, but long, tire-shredding, maniacal-laughter-inducing burnouts are illegal as well. So are wheelies. So are doughnuts (the rubbery ones). Shall I go on?

In addition to the on-board goodies, the great state of Missouri was kind enough to throw in not one, but two state-issued uniforms with the purchase of this temptress. Do you know who likes company just as much as Misery does? That’s right, Trouble. Throw in those ticket books, and my checkbook is out before you can yell, “Stick ’em up!”

To misdirect or conserve?

To make the most sense out of a sale like this, let’s imagine for a moment that terrorizing teenagers and the turn-signal-challenged is not an interest of potential buyers. What then? This particular car is too nice (and expensive) to convert into a Friday night special or track-day marauder. It can’t — or rather, shouldn’t — be driven on the street, and is really only good for parades and events commemorating our best and bravest. In that regard, this sale seems like an awfully expensive homage.

On the other hand, a quick search on the Web will put you in touch with local and national hobbyists who spend their free time collecting and restoring police- and military-issue vehicles solely for the sake of conservancy. For that crowd, a car like this is an absolute gem. It really doesn’t get much more authentic and well documented than this example, and, as restorers of anything on wheels are well aware, having all the desirable and hard-to-find goodies all accounted for in a seductive package is often worth the premium paid. I’m sure our buyer would agree.

I think it’s safe to assume that this show pony has seen its last rodeo, but I sure hope that a background check was a mandatory piece of this transaction. For some of us, the responsibility that comes with wearing the cape is just too great a burden to bear.

Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)

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