Weekly Craigslist Hidden Treasure: 1989 Ford Mustang SSP Cop Car

Car Culture / Comments

This Ford chased Porsches for a living.

American cop cars haven't always been Ford Interceptors and Dodge Chargers. Back in 1982 police departments could purchase the Ford Mustang SSP, or Special Service Package. This was a specially designed Foxbody Mustang trim package for law enforcement agencies that came powered by 5.0-liter V8 engines. Ford's marketing tagline even read: "This Ford chases Porsches for a living..." How did Ford come to the decision to build such a car?

The California Highway Patrol put in a request. The same year the Mustang SSP was introduced, the CHiP asked Ford for a new police car that was lightweight with a durable and powerful engine.

Back then, typical police cars included the Ford Fairmont and LTD, both of which were bulky and heavy. Ford quickly realized the Mustang 5.0 could handle the task, and the necessary modifications were made. What were some of those changes? A full-size spare tire was added, along with silicone radiator hoses and aircraft-style clamps, relocated rear deck release, single key locking doors and trunk, and certified speedometer calibration up to 160 mph. There was no need to set limiters, obviously.

Police departments could also request various options, such as power windows and roll cages. Most of the Mustang SSPs had four-speed automatic transmissions to make things easier for the police officer, like speaking on the radio. They also featured stiffer frames and beefier suspensions.

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The Mustang SSP turned out to be fairly popular because it wasn't just local police departments who bought them. They could also be found in the fleets of the FBI, DEA, Border Patrol, Customs Service, and even the US Air Force where they served as chase cars for the U2 spy plane. Today, a vast majority of the Mustang SSPs have been retired, which makes sense considering Foxbody Mustangs haven't been made since 1993.

All told, 15,000 examples were built, and many of the retired units are now in the hands of private collectors. Heck, some even use them for drag racing. And yes, you can still find some for sale, such as this one located in Los Angeles.

We found it on Craigslist with a price tag of $12,500. Sounds a bit high at first, but consider the following: this one is accident-free, and the interior and exterior are all original. Even the original clutch is still working just fine. Wait? A clutch? Indeed, as this is one of those rare five-speed manual-equipped SSPs. Its 5.0-liter V8 has also been supercharged, though an output figure is not listed.

The seller adds the car has always been stored in a garage and has a total of 97,000 miles on its odometer. Its 160 mph speedometer is also in working order. Oh, and it doesn't even have power door locks and windows. Best part about that: two things that are far less likely to break. Looking at the photos inside and out, you can tell this old Mustang has been cared for; the current owner was never interested in track days or drag racing. It's just a fun muscle car with an interesting history.

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