What Makes Cop Cars Different From Yours?

The sight of a police car, particularly in your rear-view, means different things to different people. For a lot of car nuts, however, it’s hard not to admire the speed and precision engineering that are contained in these vehicles. Like many, you may be wondering just what it is that makes police cruisers different from the cars you and me drive. Here’s a closer look at them…


The Engine

First and foremost, the big difference that separates cop cars from privately owned ones is their massive capacity for speed. After all, you’re not going to catch any criminals by obeying an insurer’s black box! A lot of police interceptors tend to use V8s, as opposed to the V6s and V4s that most modern cars have. The majority of these also have turbochargers. As I’m sure you know, this kind of technology isn’t restricted for police use, and there are many private models which could match or beat their performance engine-wise. Still, keeping to these standards gives police cars a considerable edge in terms of speed over the large majority of cars. Even discounting the helicopters, there are various other things which can increase the horsepower of the engine…

Electrical Output

Another major difference between cop cars and private vehicles is the increased electrical output. This is pretty much a necessity for running all those police sirens, lights, radios and all the other equipment law enforcement needs on the road. Your average private car is fitted with a 100-amp alternator. Cop cars, on the other hand, have alternators which can get up to or above 225 amps. Yes, there are ways to modify your car’s alternator, giving it enough output to power all kinds of things. However, those focussed electromagnetic pulse generators you’ve been comparing against each other may not be totally legal!

Suspension, Brakes, and Other Hardware

One of the non-mechanical things that separates cop cars from civilian vehicles is the sheer amount of gear they have to carry with them. At any one time, they might be carrying a whole arsenal of weapons, riot gear, road flares, stingers, and maybe even a sniffer dog. With all that extra bulk, it can be hard to maneuver a speeding vehicle in the ways that the police often need to. Fortunately, this has been accounted for. Modern police cars are fitted with larger, tougher brakes, more resilient springs, and heavy-duty stabilizers and shocks which will keep the car on track and allow it to brake smoothly, in spite of the extra weight. Some, but not all cop cars, are also fitted with heavy-duty drive shafts, frame mounts, u-joints, wheels and a specially designed exhaust system. This makes the whole vehicle significantly more sturdy than your run-of-the-mill civilian’s car.

Hopefully this post has given you an interesting look into what makes cop cars so different from every other car on the road.  This certainly isn’t the end of it though. As time goes on, and new advances in mechanical engineering become widespread, government services are sure to get their hands on them first!

Photo credit : Wikimedia

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