Meanwhile, America's finest drive modified Ford Explorers.
Go to Germany and more than likely the most popular police cars you’ll spot are Volkswagen Passat wagons and the like. Nothing special, right? Of course not. However, spend a bit more time in the bier and wurst-loving country and it’s possible you could see some pretty amazing police cars, many of which we’ve gathered here for your viewing pleasure. Most American police departments purchase Ford Interceptor SUVs, modified Dodge Chargers and Chevrolet Caprices. They’re cool and all but not nearly as cool as, say, a Corvette Stingray with rollers bolted to its roof.
Obviously, all of the German cop cars you’re about to see are unique are not the standard, but they exist (or used to), nonetheless, and many are still on active duty today. So beware, German tourists. If you rent a car be sure to abide by all traffic laws. Otherwise, well, tickets are no fun in any country.
Let’s start with German police car from yesteryear. Although the BMW Isetta may not look like much, it certainly has character. With its single “refrigerator” front door, the Isetta would definitely not be our first choice by police duty. However, Germany post-World War II needed to be completely rebuilt and police departments didn’t have a lot of money at the time. Therefore, a vehicle that was simple, reliable and economical was needed and the domestic-built Isetta hit all of those requirements. The Isetta was actually used for police duty in the early 1960s by various departmental regions, such as in Lower Saxony. Modifications were minimal, like dark green paint, radio, and a single blue flashing light. Nothing special, right? Well, a restored Isetta cop car was sold at a 2013 auction for over $86,000.
On November 23, 1960, a Porsche 356B Cabrio entered service in the Dusseldorf police department. It was not meant to be the start of a fleet of 356s, but rather had a more specific purpose: to patrol the Autobahn. If Autobahn drivers had no speed limits but still did something illegal, then the police would need a vehicle capable of keeping up with them. The BMW Isetta would be the absolute worst choice, hence the 356B’s call to service. This one patrolled the Autobahn for six years before being retired – with nearly 100,000 miles on its odometer. This 356B Cabrio was modified with a larger gas tank, a single flashing light, loudspeaker, an additional brake light, and even water repellent upholstery. Today, this Porsche still exists and is part of a private collection in Belgium. Fun fact: the Dusseldorf police department was the 356th division.
Now for something a bit more conventional. Back in 1990, Mercedes-Benz built five modified S-Class sedans specifically for the use of transporting large sums of money. The cars were originally registered with the Federal Police, but the Bundesbank used them the most (for obvious reasons). Although this may appear to be nothing more than a tweaked W126 powered by a 4.2-liter V8, it also carried onboard machine guns, fire extinguishing system, and many other safety features. As you can imagine, one of these Mercs didn’t come cheap, costing taxpayers at the time 650,000 Deutsche Marks, or roughly 1.2 million euros when the German mark to euros was set back in 1999. A couple of years ago, however, one of the surviving S-Class sedans was sold on eBay for just 10,000 euros.
The E36 BMW M3 is still held in high regard 26 years after it originally debuted. It’s really no surprise at least one German police department bought one for intended service. With a total of 321 hp, this E36 M3 was a real nightmare for those who (wrongly) assumed they could outrun cop cars. The E36 M3 was capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds and had a top speed of 155 mph. However, it was entirely possible performance was affected to some degree because of that massive addition to the roof. The lights and loudspeaker system is not exactly a good example of aerodynamics.
Sooner or later an all-electric vehicle would appear as a police car. And here it is: this Volkswagen e-Golf. Hey, probably better than C02 polluting diesel, right? This particular e-Golf was presented to the police back in September 2014. Not only is it zero emissions, but it’s also nearly silent. Speeders will never hear it coming. Then again, chances are this e-Golf didn’t have the performance capabilities to chase down lots of cars. Because it has an outdated all-electric powertrain at this time, it only managed a maximum driving range of 118 miles before requiring a recharge. Imagine you’re a German police officer out on patrol and you’re about to give someone a ticket for whatever reason but you can’t because, embarrassingly, your car has run out of juice.
Okay, now we’re talking! Of course a Porsche 911 would show up here sooner or later, and this one just so happens to have been tuned by TechArt. This 911 Carrera S now has a total output of 370 hp and a 0-62 mph time of 4.5 seconds. Top speed? A respectable 186 mph. But wait, aren’t these specs only so-so? They are today, but back in 2005 when this tuned 911 entered service they were pretty badass. Interestingly, the German Ministry of Transportation was the one behind this tuned 911. Teaming up with the Association of German Tuners, it was part of a program to encourage drivers to use only quality components for tuning. Welcome to Germany.
It was called the Brabus Rocket for a very good reason: 730 hp. This Brabus-tuned Mercedes-Benz CLS is not only your typical police cruiser but also not a normal road car. And, once again, it was built specifically to promote tuning safety. There’s an irony to that. The Brabus Rocket CLS V12 S is powered by a bi-turbo V12 and can reach a supposed top speed of 225 mph. It was built from the get-go for Autobahn duty. Go figure. To this day, this CLS Brabus Rocket remains one of the fastest sedans on public German roads. Picture, for a moment, this thing chasing down banking robbers on the Autobahn. Anyone willing to wager a bet as to who’s fastest? Didn’t think so.
An Audi R8 modified for police service? Are the German police recruiting these days? We’d be so down for this one. Back in 2011, German tuning firm ABT was commissioned to modify a 5.2-liter V10-powered R8, and the result was this, the R8 GTR. With a new output of 620 hp, police officers could reach 62 mph in only 3.2 seconds and 124 mph in 9.9 seconds. Top speed? How does 202 mph sound to you? So why was ABT paid to build this supercar police car? Once again, it was part of the joint program between the Transportation Ministry and Association of German Tuners. Promoting responsible tuning has never been so much fun.
To be clear, like many of the other selections on this list, this Mini Cooper JCW is a show car only. Nothing has changed under its hood, as the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 231 hp remains stock. However, this hot hatch did receive all of the necessary police equipment, including roof-mounted flashing lights and even lights slotted into the hood. A police-approved radio system was also installed. A unique police livery was also applied, complete with paint smudges. The idea was to make this look like the work of street artists because Mini is a youth-oriented brand. No joke. But imagine street artists practicing their art on real police cars. That’s called jail time.
Did we save the best for last? If you’re a Chevrolet Corvette fan then yes. This C7 Corvette Stingray was shipped to Germany specifically for – you guessed it – that government-tuners association program. Its 6.2-liter V8 with 466 hp was left stock, but the coupe’s body received unique police livery, a body kit, flashing lights, loudspeaker, and a telephone with a protected line. But you know when you’re in Germany when the government officials placing the order for the Corvette opted for the seven-speed manual transmission instead of the optional eight-speed slushbox. Did we mention Germany is awesome? If not, we just did.