2003 Crown Victoria Interceptor police car
Click image to enlarge

by Greg Wilson

Since the demise of the big, rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Caprice, the equally big Ford Crown Victoria has become North America’s police car of choice. Chevrolet has been attempting to re-establish its turf with a police-modified version of the front-drive Impala and even the Tahoe, but the full-size, rear-drive Crown Victoria is still the car most people expect to see in their rearview mirrors after zipping through a radar trap.

The 2003 Crown Victoria was given some important upgrades this year, and a new specially-modified 2003 Crown Victoria “Interceptor” concept vehicle was just unveiled at the New York International Auto Show. It incorporates features specifically designed for police use, such as bumpers with steel push bars, halogen search lights, night-vision technology, and a 300 horsepower 4.6 litre V8 engine designed for super-quick acceleration from a standing start.

“The Interceptor concept is a true professional law enforcement tool for the future,” said Chris Theodore, vice president, Ford North America Product Development at the vehicle’s introduction. “It’s designed to look intimidating and perform its duties with unparalleled skill and unwavering bravery.”

Here’s what makes the Interceptor concept so intimidating..

Push/pursuit bumper

2003 Crown Victoria Interceptor police car
Click image to enlarge

Its most prominent feature is a unique push/pursuit beam that extends beyond the normal bumper of a police car. The high-strength stainless steel and cast aluminum push bar is used for assisting stranded vehicles, but it can also be used as an offensive tool during a car chase. With a properly executed push in the corner of the fleeing vehicle, the push beam will force the suspect’s vehicle into a spin. This technique is used to disable fleeing vehicles, thus avoiding a high-speed chase and possible injury to innocent bystanders.

The separate push beam has another benefit: it reduces the need for costly body repairs. Like the push/pursuit beam on the front end, the rear bumper also has a structural polymer extension.

2003 Crown Victoria Interceptor police car

2003 Crown Victoria Interceptor police car
Click image to enlarge

Extra lighting

For night work, the Interceptor concept features high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps flanked by halogen strobe lights, and a light bar on top with flashing halogen and strobe lights which features sun, snow and fog modes for use in extreme weather conditions. As well, the rear deck and taillamps will strobe when the vehicle is parked and the light bar is activated.

The Interceptor also features front-facing halogen searchlights which swivel up, down and from side-to-side and are operated remotely from within the cabin.

Night vision technology

To catch crooks at night, the Interceptor includes NightEye night-vision technology, a low-light camera technology developed by Ford Research Laboratories and SenTech Inc. Attached to the light bar atop the vehicle, NightEye CCD cameras require a very low amount of light to operate, enabling officers to improve their vision at night and in all areas around the stopped vehicle. The cameras can be set up to record and automatically displays the view on to a standard police laptop.

Accident data recorder

If the Interceptor concept is involved in a collision while on duty, an Accident Data Recorder ‘Blue Box’ records crash data including speed, throttle, and steering angle. The Blue Box is crash-hardened to ensure the data can be retrieved for investigation and used to study ways to increase safety in future vehicles.

“Such data can help individual agencies and law enforcement in general to understand better what’s involved during the vehicle’s service.” said Ford’s Theodore.

Better communications system

In order to respond more quickly to a call for backup, new communications technology enables officers to communicate with each other without using a central dispatching infrastructure, within a range of 500 to 3000 meters. As well, the system includes new voice-recognition software that allows the officer to speak to his vehicle without taking his hands off the steering wheel. The system listens, understands and acts on the situation by wirelessly sharing emergency information, interceptor location, speed, and heading. Using this same technology, officers can chat back and forth with voice-activated features.

If other police cars are not available, an I2I smart system by Nexiq Corporation uses a cellular option and contacts the dispatch centre with a call for assistance. Dispatchers can check a Web site to see where the vehicle is, its speed, and based on vehicle data, it can report the type of vehicle and emergency status.

Under the hood

To ensure a more rapid pursuit, the Interceptor concept features a 4.6 litre V8 engine that produces 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque which gives it exceptional launch characteristics. “The modular 4.6 is basically the same engine we use in today’s Crown Victoria, Mustang GT and Police Interceptor,” said Theodore. “But the modularity of these engines allowed us to add performance enhancements to match the personality of this extreme law enforcement machine.” The V8 in the Interceptor concept allows it to go from a standstill behind a billboard to the bumper of a speeder in a matter of seconds.

Seats built for police officers

Spending a whole shift in a police car can get pretty uncomfortable, so the Interceptor concept includes specially-designed front bucket seats with a narrow “seat-bite” to accommodate officers’ bulky belts and holsters. The seats are reinforced with hard plastic backs to prevent prisoners from kicking through the seat or piercing the seat with a weapon from the rear. A taller headrest provides greater support behind the head with a double lock inhibiting the wrong person from removing it and using it as a weapon.

Built in Canada

2003 Crown Victoria Interceptor police car
Click image to enlarge

Though still a concept, the Interceptor is based on the 2003 Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor police car which is made exclusively at Ford of Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly plant located near London, Ontario. The St. Thomas Assembly Plant built nearly 60,000 police cars last year, along with 140,000 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis sedans.

If you had your heart set on a new Interceptor, you’ll have to join the police force. Interceptors are sold only to recognized police agencies in North America.

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