Originally published in the Third Quarter 1981 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 145).
The happiest Police Department in the country is Dearborn, Michigan. They ride around in their 25 Lincolns, 1981 Town Cars or Mark VIs.
Sticker prices on these Lincolns are $15,000 to $18,000, but they are being leased for $1 each per year. In addition, the Ford Motor Company handles all services on the restraint system and repairs any breakdowns, promptly.
Some of these Lincolns are used for surveillance, but most are marked and rigged with such familiar police car equipment as flashers, sirens, prisoner restraints and emergency gear.
Louis B. Ross, Executive Vice-President, Product Development Group for Ford’s North American Automotive Operations, noted that “Ford believes this program will provide real-world experience of our lastest inflatable-restraint design which could contribute to the development of future passive restraint systems.”
The air-bags being tested are fully operational and have been under development for four years. Ford representatives began working with the Dearborn Police Department a year prior to develop this experimental program.
It is estimated that each of the Lincoln squad cars will roll up between 50,000 and 75,000 miles in the coming year. Drivers make entries in log books provided by the company to assist Ford engineers in obtaining needed data during the regularly scheduled inspections.
Already there is valuable test data. Police Chief John T. Connolly reports that the Lincolns average 10.5 miles per gallon, compared to 8 miles per gallon with the previous Ford LTDs. “We feel that this is pretty good economy when you figure how tough traffic patrol is on any car. There’s a lot of round-the-clock driving in heavy traffic, a lot of idling time and a lot of quick starts.”
The Dearborn Police are the only ones in the country enjoying such luxury. But, this isn’t the first. Details are not known, but they have a picture of a 1932 Lincoln being used by their predecessors.