1977–1978 Dodge Monaco Pursuit
In the heart of the so-called malaise era, Dodge was still packing a (relatively) potent big-block monster under the hood of its midsize police cruisers. When police forces opted for the top E86 option on the Monaco Pursuit, they got the heroic 230-hp 440-cid V-8 topped with a four-barrel carb that generated 330 lb-ft of torque. Car and Driver tested the car in 1977 and clocked it to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. That made this cop car one of the quickest American cars of the day—the top L82 350 V-8 in the Corvette made just 210 hp in 1977, so the Monaco was a serious performance car.
What sealed the Dodge's reputation was a starring role as the police chase vehicle of choice in The Dukes of Hazzard. Any cop car that can keep up with the General Lee is pretty stout.
1994–1996 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1
The rear-drive sedans GM produced from 1991 to 1996, like the Chevy Impala SS, Buick Roadmaster, and Cadillac Fleetwood, are some of the most sought-after American cars of the early '90s. Why? These cars were the last big rear-drive full-frame cars GM made, and more important, under the hood of each one was a de-tuned version of the Corvette's LT1 V-8 with 260 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque (a Corvette of this generation made only 40 hp more).
The police version of these cars was the legendary Caprice 9C1. It would smoke through the quarter-mile in around 15 seconds, and proved so desirable and durable that it was rumored police agencies spent their budgets restoring these cars rather than buying new Ford Police Interceptors.
2012-2013 Chevrolet Caprice PPV
The Pontiac G8—an Aussie-made GM rear-drive sedan that was imported here from 2008 to 2009—was a solid sport sedan. A 256-hp 3.6-liter V-6 or a 361-hp V-8 came in the regular versions, while a 415-hp 6.2-liter V-8 from the Corvette was part of the high-performance GXP model. For 2012, GM brought back a stretched version of the G8 for police duty.
The Caprice's top engine is a 355-hp V-8 paired to a 6-speed automatic. The performance of this Chevy should appeal to those officers who fondly remember the Caprice of the '90s; even V-6 versions are rated for a top speed of 150 mph. If an officer needs to pick one modern cop car to chase a villain up a canyon road, the Caprice would probably be the best choice.
2010 Ford Raptor Border Patrol Service Package
The U.S. Border Patrol doesn't ordinarily order a fleet of high-performance vehicles. The terrain they cover is dirt, rock, and cactus, not billiard table–smooth pavement. But that rough ground demands heavy-duty truck equipment, and the agency has been known to modify regular production pickup trucks and SUVs for extreme off-road use.
When Ford's SVT Raptor came along, the Border Patrol had a perfect rig for running hard along our desert-lined southernmost border. The U.S. government ordered a few Raptors, but because of the rigors of the job, these trucks had to be equipped with cloth seats instead of leather. We can't imagine any better vehicle for patrolling miles of rough and rugged dirt two tracks.
1975 Chevrolet Nova 9C1
The '75 police package Nova was a collaborative effort between Chevy Camaro and Nova engineers. The team dropped in a 165-hp 350-cid V-8 topped with a four-barrel carburetor and mated to a 3-speed automatic. That's hardly sounds "high-performance" by today's standards, but the Nova was a compact sedan, so it was relatively quick. Chevy took the brakes from the larger Impala sedan to haul the Nova down from high speeds without drama. Keeping the cop Nova level in the corners were parts that came directly from the Z/28 Camaro. Here was a real GM sports sedan for the 1970s.
2013 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor
As the old Crown Victoria Police Interceptors are phased out, Ford will have two new models to fill the void—an Interceptor based on the Ford Taurus and another based on the Explorer. The Taurus Interceptors borrow the hot 365-hp 3.5-liter Ecoboost V-6 from the SHO model, so it was no surprise that these cars topped the competition in acceleration in a recent Michigan State Police test, hitting 60 mph in just 5.75 seconds—a couple tenths quicker than the Caprice PPV. The Ford maintained its lead all the way up to 100 mph, though the Caprice did slip past the Taurus' 150-mph top speed by 4 mph.
The bottom line? Between the Charger Police Package, Caprice PPV, and this Taurus Interceptor, America now has the quickest lineup of police sedans it's ever seen. Lead-footed drivers beware.
[Related: 12 Surprising Cars Under $30K]