Vintage NYPD squad cars reconvene in the Javits basement.
Hurricane Sandy displaced the cool New York City Police Museum from its downtown home, and funds are still being raised to restore the space, but visitors to the 2016 New York auto show can enjoy some of the automotive jewels of their collection, including a peculiar ’61 Plymouth Savoy done up in the red-and-white livery from the TV show “Car 54 Where Are You?”
1961 Plymouth Savoy
Hey, that looks more like a fire-chief car! The TV series featuring bumbling coppers Toody and Muldoon, officers based out of the fictitious 53rd precinct, was indeed shot at a studio in the Bronx with lots of footage obtained on the streets of New York. Their car was given this unusual color scheme to make sure residents didn’t mistake it for a real black, green, and white NYPD squad car, and it didn’t look that peculiar when viewed in black-and-white.
1930 Mack Emergency Response Truck
It looks a lot like a fire truck, but the NYPD employed this open personnel carrier in its Emergency Services Division primarily for riot control to get a lot of officers to a potential hot spot in a hurry. The ESD evolved into a highly trained and experienced rescue unit by the 1960s.
The museum claims this was the first radio-dispatched four-door car used by the NYPD, issuing in the era of “you can outrun a police car, but not a police radio.” Fords have been a popular choice for the police since at least the days when the brand’s V-8 engines were endorsed by the infamous criminal Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde.
1959 Ford Custom 300
Ford styling made a big leap toward longer, lower, wider, and squarer in 1959, as this one demonstrates. It was used in the NYPD’s Tactical Patrol Force.
1966 Chevrolet Biscayne
Before placing what can be fairly large orders for new vehicles, most major police departments like the NYPD put prospective police vehicles through extensive vehicle testing regimens either at their own facilities or sometimes at manufacturer proving grounds. Chevy and its by-then ubiquitous and iconic small-block V-8 obviously got a slice of the business for 1966.
1974 Plymouth Satellite
Gas crunch! To cut costs during the OPEC troubles, the NYPD downsized from the full-size Fury to the intermediate Satellite Custom. These more svelte (but still huge by today’s standards) sedans featured the same Chrysler small-block 318 V-8 that the big Furys used, but weighed about 700 pounds (317 kg) less. This improved performance, handling, and economy (from a reported 10.4-mpg (22.6 L/100km) average to 11.8 (19.9 L/100km)). The force incorporated 402 of them—with air conditioning—into its 1,372-vehicle fleet.
1978 Plymouth Fury
In 1974 the NYPD removed the precinct numbers and command designation from its squad cars (as seen on the ’74 in the background). By 1978 the department realized the importance of reassuring the citizens that their own local force was patrolling their streets, and the precinct numbers went back on.
1989 Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet did a lot of police business with its 9C1 Police Package of uprated powertrain and suspension bits, including a 350-cu in. V-8 here. This particular example was built in tribute to fallen officer Edward R. Byrne, who was slain in the line of duty while providing witness protection in the case of a notorious drug lord.
1988 Dodge Diplomat
Dodge‘s 318 V-8-powered M-body was a mainstay of police and highway patrol duty throughout its long life. Perps enjoyed a bit less rear seat legroom than in the full-size Caprices they most often competed with, but they were slightly nimbler—especially in tight traffic.
The NYC Police Museum’s collection also includes vehicles done up in Housing (like the Diplomat in the background) and Transit Police livery. These separate divisions were eventually merged into the NYPD. Another highlight of the collection is its collection of vintage uniforms dating back through the decades, many of which are displayed on manikins like this one.
2005 Chrysler Sebring Parade Car
This Chrysler Sebring convertible was done up in the department’s vintage black, green, and white livery for use during special occasions like parades. It also honors the memory of Detective Dennis E. Guerra
Smart and Explorer
Capping off the museum’s display were a couple of modern-day mounts, including this micro Smart ForTwo and Ford Explorer. New York is replacing the Cushman-style scooters typically used by meter patrols. One was also used to patrol Central Park, but the Smarts are prohibited from attempting any sort of pursuit missions. For bigger jobs, SUVs like the Explorer and Chevrolet Tahoe are coming into service as the now extinct Ford Crown Victoria sedans gradually get put out to pasture.