Project Car Hell, 60s Police Car Edition: Ford or Dodge?S

The Mazda 1500 wagon combined parts-obtainment impossibility with nobody's-ever-seen-one obscurity to beat the right-hand-drive '75 Nissan Fairlady in Friday's Choose Your Eternity poll. We weren't sure how well a non-rotary Mazda would fare in such a matchup, but the win was by a decisive 60/40 split. Today we're heading to Detroit, which always presents certain challenges for this series; how do you find a Detroit Big Three machine that's hell enough? So much standardization of components and so many junked examples surviving- the coolness part is there, but where's the hopelessness? However, let's say you want to restore a 40-year-old police car, complete with the correct engine, vintage cop gear, decals, the works... ahhh, now we're talking!


You see some nice mid-60s big Fords, and you can find totally trashed parts cars, but when's the last time you saw a '65 Ford Police Interceptor that actually started life as a police car? You know what happens to police cars once they get auctioned off after 200,000 curb-bashing miles on the job: total civilian hoonage! Your only choice is to buy a rare survivor, such as this '65 Ford Custom 300 (go here if the ad disappears), and painstakingly re-police-ize it. We're going to give it to you straight: this car has seen better days. The R word isn't mentioned, but this car is in Iowa, where an iron atom never has to go far to find an obliging oxygen atom. The good news: (what you hope is the) correct 390 engine and 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive, and the whole package can be yours for only $1,500. That leaves plenty of money left in your budget for tube-equipped 2-way radios and a Sam Browne belt!

Ford sold a lot of police cars in the 60s, but what do the cops drive in Vanishing Point? That's right, Chrysler products! Thing is, those police-spec Dodges and Plymouths that didn't end up becoming cabs after their police service mostly had their 361s and 383s torn out by hoons looking to hop up their Satellites and Darts. You'll just have to deal with that, but the problem of putting together the right engine gets much easier when you buy a Rusty Cop Mopar Package Deal, such as this amazing 3-for-1 deal. The crown jewel in this group is a '64 Dodge 330 two-door sedan; you also get a Polara and a 440. Sure, police mostly used 4-door cars, but highway patrolmen and administrators sometimes got the coupes. And by "crown jewel" we mean "most rusty of the bunch" here; you must admire the honesty of a car seller who states: "TYPICAL RUST ON ALL THREE BUT THE FLOORPAN ON THE 330 POST IS THE WORST, THEY ARE GONE!!!!" You get one engine- a bad 318- and enough bits and pieces to maybe cobble together a 3-on-the-tree/clutch pedal setup for the 330. Once you've dealt with the rust and the drivetrain- including the correct 330-horse 383- and the interior and, well, everything, you can put the gumball machine on the roof and render it non-street-legal!

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