Horsepower and the Police

Things that can’t go on, don’t. We all know that, but we don’t have to like it. In my lifetime, America has had two types of car guys, normal guys that like to go fast, and cops that like to go fast – sometimes chasing the first group. When I was young, it was reasonably good natured on both sides, as long as it didn’t get too crazy.

But I come from an age when engine sizes were measured in cubic inches, and the ones you really wanted started with a 4 followed by two more numbers. 401, 409, 425, 440, and above all 426 followed by Hemi, the elephant itself, If you liked to be both comfortable and fast, you could add 472 and 500. The ones starting with 3 were ok, and you could get to the second gas station, but they weren’t the same. Note that there isn’t anything new about it, either, Packard had a 473 cubic inch V-12 in the late 30s. Yes, I still want one of those, and you can buy one for less than $200K, a bargain!

The guys with the bubble gum machines on top were not very different. America’s a big place, so are were American cars, there was a lot of ground to cover, and it needed to be done real quick.

What brought this on? Ford has announced the end of the Taurus, their last reasonable sized, rear wheel drive car, in other words: suitable for police use. That leaves the Dodge Charger, and its days are probably numbered as well. Why? Well, there is a story in that.

Back in the early seventies, civilians were driving cars with names like Camaro, Firebird, Charger, Challenger, Cutlass, Mustang, and some others. Most were pretty crude, with maybe an AM radio, but a proper gauge package, four-speed transmission, limited slip differential, and serious horsepower. The only thing they couldn’t pass was a gas station, but who really cared when we were paying 50¢ or so a gallon for gas.

But then we resupplied Israel during and after the Yom Kippur war, and the Arabs got irritated and started raising the price of crude oil, and the insurance companies decided they’d had enough of teenagers with powerful cars, and insurance became unaffordable. At that point, Uncle stepped in and mandated fuel mileage standards, and the party was over. For us and for Detroit too.

Essentially that triple whammy killed the American car industry, poor quality control didn’t help, but there wasn’t anything new about that. The knock on effects had much to do with the death of American steel as well. And so the rust belt became the rust belt. I lived there, I watched it happen. The rust belt was caused by the US government, never forget it.

So, what did we do? We soldiered on for a few years with pretenders, like Malibus with 305 2 bbl engines, but Detroit still had some marketing savvy, and soon the workaday American pickup got comfortable, and got most of the toys we had in the sixties, including the big engines, eventually things like Cummins Turbo Diesels (a transplant from an industrial engine) with anything up to somewhere around 750 horsepower. At that point most of us car guys became truck guys.

That set off the sourpusses at the EPA so they’ve been trying to rein that in as well, but they’re having trouble managing that, Americans aren’t as docile as we used to be, and the country hasn’t gotten any smaller, and our motto is still, “Real quick” just as d Tocqueville noticed way back when. And in truth when the Kabuki theater of TSA got going, driving became even more attractive.

The Police are doing the exact same thing we did, more and more they are driving SUVs and Pickups, because if anything they’re carrying more stuff around with them, and it ain’t gonna fit in a smart car, and a Prius ain’t gonna catch many bank robbers.

Unintended consequences, damned near killed America, but we’re still here, bitchin’, moanin’, and getting on with it. And that is how we got both Donald Trump, and Scot Pruitt.

More on this at The American Spectator.

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

16 Responses to Horsepower and the Police

  1. the unit says:

    Dang, 4’s? Closest I ever came to a 4 Hemi or whatever it called was late ’50’s when Don Garlits came to town. Heck, even 3’s? Chevy 265 and 283 was our cup of tea. And I don’t really remember what Don’s dragster had in it…or ON it I should say. 🙂
    And the police, if you could beat them home, into your driveway, they left you be. 🙂
    https://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/chevrolet-small-block-v-8-the-little-engine-that-still-can/
    🙂

    Like

    • the unit says:

      Oh, and notice the link title relative to your blog first sentence. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • NEO says:

        That was planned, the link is what started the train of thought. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    That’s some car Officer Van Dyke is standing by with his knees handcuffed together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed it is, a supercharged Cord, built in Auburn, IN, unless I misremember. Cost about $10K when a Chevy was about $700. But maybe could keep up to Dillinger, bet there a Thompson in there somewhere as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Yep, not even a bump stock. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Nope, probably the original, 1000 rpm and 100 round drum Mag. Just like the bad guys! 🙂

          There’s some good stories, up in the region about those days, when they’d run in and out of Chicago.

          Like

      • the unit says:

        I don’t misunderestimate your misrememberance. But you likely right. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Company was bought and bought a few times. But Indiana always liked vehicles built in Indiana. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Yep, I understand that. There’s famous boats like Bertram and Pacemaker, but we always preferred Biloxi Luggers. 🙂

          Like

        • NEO says:

          Makes sense to me! Not that I know anything about boats! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Yep, Dad had one in the 70’s, a 42 footer named ‘Madame Toussaint’. Looked exactly like the one above, above and below deck. GM 471. 40 years old then. Reports that she was still floating after Katrina. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Sounds good to me! 🙂

          Like

        • the unit says:

          Which reminds me, I need to do a search over there to see her whereabouts, if still operational. I have her original ‘ships bell’ we took off. The confounded thing was always clanking around from the waves rocking.
          I’d like to give it back before I get the old man’s … 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Probably a good idea, if she’s still going. otherwise a good remembrance. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Boudica2015.

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