Last week I climbed aboard a plane and headed south to Orlando, FL. My mission was to pick up a car that will serve as my vehicle for an extensive road trip later this year. I had polled my readers for their opinions on what characteristics a road trip car should have and added some weight to their votes with my own prejudices. I was also influenced by a chance visit to a rather unique used car business in Apopka, FL., called CM Autowerkz.
For nearly a decade this company has rounded up some of the best used police cars available in the Florida area and turned them into some very special vehicles. I talked to the owner Manny, and he gave me a tour of their facilities and a peek as a couple of their cars in the process of being completed. I was duly impressed with the quality and workmanship as well as the distinct style that the completed cars exude.
I talked to Manny about what I felt I would like as a completed car that I could use for my extensive road trip. He searched around the various agencies that he acquires his cars from and found a 2008 sheriffs car with just 60,000 miles on it. Since he has long standing relationships with his sources he knew that this car was not only a low mileage vehicle, it was meticulously maintained and officers weren’t allowed to have food or drink in it.
I jumped at the deal and then we talked about how it would be outfitted. They repaint these cars completely and professionally. When they arrive they have stickers all over the bodies and a quick paint job just won’t do. CM Autowerkz has been using the same paint shop for almost a decade and he is a perfectionist. We agreed upon a titanium grey color as well as leather seat upholstery and a matching suede headliner and pillar trim.
I went to Crutchfield and picked out a head unit and speakers and had them shipped to CM Autowerkz. I made certain that the head unit would provide a blue tooth connection that would allow for hands free phone communications and a cable connection to an iPod for plenty of music. An official police-style center console and laptop mount was included. For a sinister look I opted for a push-bar and a couple of dummy digital radio antennas for the rear deck. Knowing that my trip would include blogging and photography I wanted to make certain that I would be able to pull off the side of the road and not be struck by traffic so I had corner strobes installed. They provide a good deal more visibility than the standard 4-way flashers.
As you can see the result is a car that certainly wont be overlooked as I cruise America.
So with it completed and taking delivery I spent a day or two in the area before I drove the 800 miles back home.
So what’s it like to drive a police car? First off you MUST realize that a used cop car does not make you a cop any more than a Superman suit makes you immune to firearms or allows you to fly. You are driving a Crown Victoria. Sure it has look that is much more than your grandparents Ford – no argument there.
People do notice it and, for the most part, you find that it results in polite driving behavior. Most of the time. As I cruised in the left lane traffic would often move over and allow me to continue forward. No, I wasn’t using this as an opportunity to become a scofflaw. I might push the speed limit a bit, but I’m not crazy. I’m not looking for a ride in a real police car.