Once a year in downtown Manhattan, a special kind of car show lines the block of Old Slip on the East Side. Special because there are no hot rods with painted flames, no low riders or donks, rat rods or gassers; nothing is chopped, modded or blown, and no rockabilly or classic rock bands play to foment nostalgia – it’s all vintage police cars. This year’s NYC Police Museum Classic RMP Show featured around 31 police cars, or 34 if you count the TV cars KITT, the Batmobile, and a Hazzard County Sheriff car. Plus one outlaw car, the infamous orange General Lee Charger, complete with a horn playing “Dixie.” While Knight Rider was a tv series in the 80’s, adults and kids alike flocked to the Pontiac Trans Am’s cycling front light and recorded quips from the original show.
Half of the cars were classic police cars from various US states. At the beginning of the line up was an unrestored beige ‘66 Dodge Polara from Monroe County, Pennsylvania, that was continuously used by the police department until 1991 – retired only then because it had to be insured as an antique. Two Florida Highway Patrol ‘89 Mustangs were there, one with the passenger door open to the public to display the communications gadgetry in the front seat. A ‘55 Ford Fairlane from Jefferson County consistently drew small crowds, and later on, actually blew the still-working siren. Of course, amongst the Ford Fairlanes, Chevy Caprices, and Dodge Diplomats were some names that are now memories, such as the Plymouth Fury and Pontiac Catalina. A NYPD 1976 Pontiac LeMans, driven to NY from Atlanta, Georgia, won the Longest Distance Traveled award. Best in Show was won by Glenn Marhsall’s ‘74 California Highway Patrol (CHP) Dodge Monaco.
The NYPD cars were parked together on the second half of the block. All of the cars were privately owned, many by current and retired officers, save for a 1972 Fury, a transit car, housing car and a ’96 Chevy still owned by the NYPD. At first glance, it looked like any block with a police precinct, as the familiar blue and white paint scheme is easily identifiable to anyone who has spent time in NYC. With a closer look, you saw the shapes of the cars changing and regressing in date until you got to the ‘72 Fury, representing the last year that NY Police cars were painted black and green with a white roof. Bookending the show were two magnificent black and green Fords, one a ‘59 and the last a ‘58. There was one last relic if you went around the corner – a dusty old Ford paddy wagon, no year given.
If you missed it this year, the NYC Police Museum will hold their annual car show the same time next year, the second weekend in June, and is free to attend.