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6 of the best TV cop cars


The cop show genre goes back to the pre-TV days of radio (where you had to imagine what black and white your favorite cop was driving).  Here are some of our favorite full-size, rear-wheel-drive American cop cars from 60 years of the best cop shows:

1., 6 of the best TV cop cars, ClassicCars.com Journal“Adam 12” (1972 AMC Matador): Although it was shot in the 1970s, in many ways, “Adam 12” was a throwback to 1950s cop shows in which gangs, heroin dealers and street snitches didn’t exist and officers Reed and Malloy played by Kent McCord and Martin Milner rarely drew their guns, let alone actually capped anyone. In seasons five through seven, they drove an AMC Matador. In actuality, the LAPD was always a strong supporter of underdog American Motors; they owned more than 500 Matador black and whites at one time.
2., 6 of the best TV cop cars, ClassicCars.com Journal“TJ Hooker” (1979 Dodge St. Regis): The post-“‘Star Trek’ the TV series” and pre-“‘Star Trek’ the Motion Picture” years saw William Shatner in a relatively forgettable cop show that starred perhaps the least believable cop of all time, Heather Locklear. For much of the show’s run, Shatner drove an equally forgettable Malaise-Era Mopar full-size sedan, the Dodge St.  Regis. It’s fascinating to see them on the show because few people can remember the last time they saw one on the road — they’re nearly extinct | CBS photo
3., 6 of the best TV cop cars, ClassicCars.com Journal“Hill Street Blues” (1976 Dodge Monaco): The opening title sequence of “Hill Street Blues” with a memorable Mike Post theme song and a gritty look featured several fishtailing Dodge Monacos hightailing it out of the precinct. The Monaco in police surplus trim also served as The Bluesmobile in the film “The Blues Brothers.”
4., 6 of the best TV cop cars, ClassicCars.com Journal“Southland” (1999 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor): No list of great cop cars would be complete without the classic Ford Crown Vic. The last full-size rear-wheel-drive Ford was produced from 1992-2011. It was the most widely used police car and taxi in the U.S. and Canada, and although they’re starting to give way to the Dodge Charger, they still show up in the rearview mirrors of speeders everywhere | photo courtesy Kevin Chant
5., 6 of the best TV cop cars, ClassicCars.com Journal“The Andy Griffith Show” (1963 Ford Galaxie): The Mayberry Police Department was fond of Fords. We’re partial to the ’63 300 Galaxie with the classic gumball-machine light on the roof. Over the years, fans of the show have built hundreds of loving replicas of Sheriff Andy’s cruiser.
6., 6 of the best TV cop cars, ClassicCars.com Journal“Highway Patrol” (1956 Buick Special): Perhaps the granddaddy of all TV cop shows, rough-hewn Broderick Crawford drove a huge assortment of Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Dodges through the 1955-59 run of the show. We particularly like the ’56 Buick Special | Photo courtesy Brian Snelson

Rob Sass
Rob Sasshttp://www.hagerty.com/
Rob has been involved in the classic car hobby since restoring a Triumph TR4 in his parents' garage at the age of 16. He has written for Car and Driver, AutoWeek, The New York Times and FoxNews.com. Rob is the author of the book Ran When Parked: Advice and Adventures from the Affordable Underbelly of Car Collecting. He currently owns a Porsche 911SC, a Jensen Interceptor and a Triumph TR250.


  1. While Rob is partial to Andy Griffith’s 1963 Ford Galaxy, the car pictured is a 1962. Nice memories, though. What about those Plymouths Toody and Muldoon drove in Car 54?

  2. Of all the cars listed Brodrick Crawfords cars were the best. I can’t recall him ever driving a unmarked car like the ’56 Buick shown but the other Buicks, Oldslmobiles, Dodges, and Mercurys were fun to watch

  3. “21-50 to Headquarters” When you heard that, you knew the bad guys were in trouble. Capt. Dan Mathews and the Highway Patrol were coming after you!

  4. There’s a holdup in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights.
    There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed-up to Jackson Heights.
    There’s a scout troop short a child, Kruschev’s due at Idlewild…

  5. As note your picture is 1962 ford you talk about 1963 and you should be able to find a two-door Buick black and white and talk about Highway patrol cars in 1956 The Hemi was used and the start of a very nice Bendix brake system Course California where the first highway patrol cars other states followed after they ordered ours
    Love the history of patrol cars

  6. Wow! I thought the assortment of police cruisers presented (and destroyed) in the movie “Vanishing Point”, including the 1965 Dodge Polara, would be on this list?

  7. What about those black and white bathtub Nashes that were in the original “Superman” and other TV shows from the early fifties? It was always a gas to see those behemoths rolling on their sidewalls in a sharp turn.

  8. Charlie is right about the Buick that Dan Mathews drove. It was a 1955 similar to a special production run done by Buick for the CHP. As to an undercover car, I seem to recall seeing a 1957 Ford Custom 300 four door sedan sometimes used in the series.

    BTW, Charlie, are you the famous 1:43rd scale model collector from across the pond?

  9. The best cop ride was the 1957 black Chrysler 300 driven by the late, great Dennis Farina as Sgt. Mike Torello at the beginning of “Crime Story” to the pounding lyrics of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”.

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