1940s Cop Cars

Written by susanne koenig
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1940s Cop Cars
Cop cars of the 1940s were large and elegant but limited in numbers. (Close up detail of a classic car at a car show image by Rob Hill from Fotolia.com)

White topped, wide-bodied and durable with the latest high-tech devices -- the cop cars of the 1940s stand out from all others. Equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology, these cars were often referred to as "radio cars." Since domestic production of automobiles was suspended in 1942, the variety of 1940s cop cars are rather limited when compared to other decades. They often included the Nash, Plymouth, Ford and Hudson automotive brands. Treasured by collectors and law enforcement alike, 1940s-era cop cars often can be seen at police museums and classic car exhibitions.

Pre-War Cop Cars

The beginning of the 1940s found the standard issue black-and-white cop car in sight from coast to coast. These cars generally had white tops and large white-walled tires with high fenders and lots of chrome. They were designed with heavy duty shocks and suspension for the demands of law enforcement. Ford and Dodge produced the largest number of cars provided to law enforcement before the shut down of the domestic car industry in 1942. Since these cars had to last longer than most cop cars, they are extremely rare and are prized by collectors everywhere.

WWII Cop Cars

Due to blackout concerns during WWII, roof lights on police cars were becoming a thing of the past. In New York City, the colours of the cars changed back to the original green and black because it made them harder to spot from above. Domestic production of police vehicles was superseded by production of military police cars and rugged Army Jeeps for use overseas.

Post-War Cars

When domestic car production resumed in 1946, the roads were already flooded with heavy traffic from returning G.I.s and their families. New cars were ordered for many police forces across the country and became, by and large, black and white again. The Ford Coupe police car was introduced and became enormously popular among law enforcement into 1949 and 1950. Odd colours did appear occasionally, and included the light yellow Nash Ambassador. These cars were increasingly equipped with top lights as air raids drills and blackouts became fading memories.

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