The allure of owning an ex-Police car

By: Cliff Chambers

police cars police cars

Why do people want to own old Police cars?

As someone who has spent a lot of wheel time scanning the road ahead and the mirror behind for predators of the Highway Patrol variety, I cannot imagine or understand the appeal of owning a former police vehicle.

It seems I am in the minority though, because every time over several years that a Commodore with drilled steel wheels or 1970s Charger in full battle dress appeared on an auction site, queues of people waving serious money would form.

Unique Cars has contributed as well, featuring former police vehicles in at least four editions recent editions. Back in 2017 we kicked off with an ex-NSW Police XY Falcon 500 – literally a GT-HO Phase III in drab blue paint – then did it again in 2020.

| Read next: 1971 Ford Falcon XY 500 - GT-HO Phase III sleeper cop car


Commodores weren’t ignored either, with a fully kitted VS Commodore Executive then a VL Turbo in what must have become known throughout 1980s Victoria as Gotcha Yellow.

By late 2021, coppers in proper police cars were prowling the streets in search of Covid-19 transgressors and the money being paid via online auctions had become prolific. Grays Online launched the trend with $125,600 on a tidy but not astonishing VL Turbo, followed by Falcon hardtops and Chargers as well.

| Read next: 1995/96 Commodore VS Executive ex-Police car


Interest also emerged when some of the nation’s last-ever Holden and Falcon police vehicles were rolled through empty salerooms at several auction houses.

Online though, the action was fierce and prices generally exceeded sold new car values. The best result our brief search could uncover was a car claimed to be the last-ever XR6 Turbo Falcon to wear NSW Highway Patrol sign boards that was sold by Pickles in August 2021 at a hammer price of $94,500. When the buyer premium was added its total cost sat just a few dollars shy of $100,000.

Dealers and auction houses which stock former police vehicles offer various explanations for their growing appeal. Some involve tales of Highway Patrol victims facing their fears and there were also former officers wanting a tangible reminder of the lives they once led.

| Read next: 1997/98 Falcon ELII XR8 ex-Police car


Down to the details

Looking at comments made by the owners of cars featured in these pages, preserving the past did play a role, as did the cars themselves.

According to Josh Marczenko, whose pristine VL Turbo BT-1 was featured in issue 451, the Nissan-sourced turbo engine is a major attraction, but so is how good a VL looks in Absinth Yellow paint.

| Read next: VL Commodore Police Interceptor review


Sourcing the accessories is part of the lure

No such praise for the bland XY that haunted the cover of issue 446. It was kitted out exactly as it might have been in 1971 and intended to blend with its surroundings. This prompted our own Mark Higgins to liken the ex-NSW XY as a huntsman spider – one minute nowhere to be seen, the next right there and "frightening the crap out of you".

Anyone who was a newly minted P-plater in the era of the low slung XY cop car will relate to that imagery.

Demand and the money available for such cars have both slumped since mid-2022 and now is a good time to have a go if the car is decent.

| Read next: Iconic Police cars from TV + movies


In February 2023 at Grays Online, a VL Turbo in yellow with 176,000km on the clock and needing some mechanical work sold at $58,500 plus premium.

Some weeks later, a similar car at Lloyds auctions tapped out at $55,000 and was a no sale.


From Unique Cars #478, May 2023


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