The Automobile Club of Southern California restored one of the few original 1961 Dodge Polara Highway Patrol cars, and one thing is for sure: as Jay Leno demonstrates, those cops took their rides very seriously.
Chrysler had to adjust their Police Package designed for the Dodge Dart to a car with a 4 inch longer wheelbase. Of course when the government orders 1,200 cars, manufacturers will make it happen, but the CHP’s specification list is still very impressive for the car that had to be able to do 100mph for an hour at 100 degrees.
Cop brakes, cop leaf springs, cop frames, and an alternator strong enough to power a truck? Check! A white steering wheel from a 1957 Plymouth to combat the heat? Done. A 383 engine with a performance camshaft a custom carburetor for 332 horses as well as good enough fuel economy? No problem. Bigger radiator and an extra transmission filter? You got it! A certified speedo? Well, if the judges demand it, it’s happening!
Interestingly enough, in 1961, Highway Patrol cars had super heavy General Electric receiver units in their trunks, but no light bars, no gun rack, no partition in the cabin or even push bumpers. Officers had to make due without air conditioning, power steering and power brakes as well, but they didn’t have to watch out for your head if they didn’t want to.
It seems that the second season of Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC will be bigger and louder, but I’m sorry to say that you’ll see a Hemi Under Glass bite the dust in it as well.