1969 Dodge Polara CHP Cruiser
As with big rig builders, police car modelers are rarely blessed with new subjects, and the few released were either simplified designs and retools or marketed towards youth, sometimes including questionable and costly extras.
Only one kit sticks out and then it's an old tool whose current existential status is unknown, namely the old Jo-Han Plymouth Fury, which was on the market for decades.
I firmly believe that police car modelers will lay the green on the counter for a detailed cruiser because they almost always had to rely on aftermarket companies to make a convincing model.
The 1969 Dodge Polara is widely known as one of the all-time favorite cruisers amongst officers who were active during the 60s-70s. It is also listed as the fastest cruiser of the time, even surpassing the 94-96 Caprice LT1s. The 1969 Polara equipped with a 440 4bbl was officially clocked at 147mph in tests.
It was basically a 4 door muscle car, which sat on top of the food chain eating GTOs, Chargers, Challengers, 'Cudas, Chevelles, Camaros and Mustangs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just the kit we need for keeping the tablecloths of America's contest tables free from tire burns! In fact, anyone who collects and/or builds muscle car kits must have at least one, just to keep his collection intact.
Finding a pristine example will not be a problem in this case, because Hemmings "Muscle Car Machines" Magazine recently did a restoration feature on one. Likewise for someone to measure and photograph it, because it's in Tom Montgomery's (Former Amt/Ertl kit designer) back yard!
Body: Four-door body of course with fine and sharp engraving (Don't you love the window surrounds on a late 60s Jo-Han annual?) and without heavy molded-in features. For example, a dome light which can lead to a sink mark in the roof, which the modeler has to fill and sand. Small ridges and holes where to drill in the roof for roof mounted emergency lights will do.
Because this car has seen service in many agencies, it would be handy to either offer the side moldings as separate metal transfer pieces (like Galaxie LTD's 1948 Chevrolets). This may not be feasible and could be a possible giveback when running into budget issues, but since it's a thin molding to begin with, it probably can be sanded off with relative ease when molded-in.
The body closings will only consist of the hood dressed up with a separate lip* and hinges, in case the builder wants to show off the engine.
The following items round up the body assembly: firewall, inner fenders (as with Amt '68 RR), radiator brace, side mirror(s)*, door handles*, front bumper* with separate grille* (to ease the detail painting) with clear headlamp lenses, rear bumper*, tail lamp-surrounds* with a perimeter flange to reinforce them and provide a gluing surface to mount them into the body and provide a stop for the rear bumper, and clear tail lamp-lenses of course (* indicates chrome part).
Interior: The plain-Jane base level trim all around interior, would be a sort of snap-fit platform style, minimizing the risk of getting glue in unwanted places.
Consisting of a floorboard with a two piece dash, steering wheel and column with molded-in selectors, separate pedals, two piece bench seat, separate rear seat with package tray (flashed over holes for mounting the two CHP flashers), separate door panels to allow for easy detailing. Police radio set-up for the transmission hump. It can be similar to the Jo-Han Plymouth set up, as that was very accurate. However, having separate pieces for the radio, siren control and switches would be great so that different set-ups can be configured by the builder. Two detailed microphones are needed; there was only one in the Jo-Han kit which was incorrect for the set-up.
Chassis and drivetrain: Breakdown similar to AMT’s 1957 Chrysler 300 or their 1960 Galaxie kit, 440 4bbl (what else!) with Torqueflite 727 Auto Trans. This police engine was rated at 375 HP. Kit should include two air cleaners, one stock and one low restriction. The low restriction is the police unit, and is similar in design to the one in the Lindberg 1964 Dodge 330 kit. It's actually referred to in the Dodge literature as an "unsilenced" air cleaner. Separate chassis, heavy duty rear end, dual exhaust, and front and rear sway bars round out the chassis. Wheels: two sets...one needs to be correct steel wheels with dog dish hub caps of correct vintage. I'd include a base series full hubcap as an option for those doing a standard sedan. Tires need to be a beefy vintage blackwall, Goodyear Polyglas or similar. The ones AMT has been using for years are actually pretty good.
Accessories: Here's where it gets tricky. The Jo-Han Plymouth was actually a great kit for the roof lights alone. They were extremely accurate and looked the part. This kit should be done with that in mind, optional roof light set-up* for multiple agencies. Spotlights* for both sides are a must. Two styles of beacon lights, one like the Jo-Han, which is a Federal model 176H and one a flat top 4 beam (Federal 184, Dietz 211 or similar). The roof bar with twin beacons would be nice too. That's a Federal model 11, with optional chromed siren speaker in the center. I'd use the rounded speaker (like the speaker on the Adam-12 car) instead of the flat wide style in the Jo-Han kit. Since electronic sirens were just becoming popular, it would still need an old mechanical siren for under the hood as another option. To round it out, about six flashers of different sizes, 2 small, 2 medium, 2 larger, all single faced. These could be used for rear deck flashers, front grille flashers, optional light bar flashers, etc.
Now the most important necessity for all of these lights: MOLD ALL OF THEM IN CLEAR PLASTIC. Not red, not blue, not a mix... CLEAR. This allows the builder to tint them accordingly to the agency that's being represented.
The push bar would be a preformed pre-painted metal assembly, to keep it in scale and robust
Agency decals: I'm sure licensing and permissions are in order here. But it shouldn't be too bad, considering Hawk/Lindberg is issuing about 6 different state agencies in their reissue of the 1996 Crown Victoria. A CHP version is a must, this would negate the need for roof lights, too, as they ran most of these with no roof lights and dual spotlights, the driver's side being red. The CHP would also have two flashers, one red and one amber, on the back package shelf, both on the left side, facing rear. However, the 1969 Polaras were used all over the country, and offering different versions or including different agencies in the one kit (like the Jo-Han Plymouth) would be great.
The tooling could be used for modified reissues of any C-body MoPar from 1969-77 as the chassis were virtually unchanged except for the yearly addition of annual emissions upgrades (or downgrades, if you will). The ultimate choice would be the 74 Monaco for its wide use in movies (Blues Brothers) and its very wide use in police and taxi work.
- Box-Art: I really like the way Sean Svendsen handled the Model King box designs of the ’70 Wildcat and Camaro Funny Cars. He really knows how to present a built model, so I would put him in charge of that (hopefully his fees are reasonable). for the box top however, I also like the art work of Jairus Watson and know he would do a good job of a CHP unit burning sideways (showing off the "Wolfs Head" graphics on the door) through a corner on Mulholland drive, in hot pursuit of some bad boys.
The size of the box would be like the "Accurate Miniatures" Corvette kits, to show off the artwork and the neatly displayed contents when removing the box top.
- Packaging of the parts: chrome, clear parts, tires, packed separately in poly bags, same for the white plastic parts, decals by Cartograph covered with a protective paper and bagged too.
- Instruction sheet: I like the approach AMT/ERTL took in the mid 1990s, which was very detailed and every part was clearly identified.
- Consumer support: On our company website I would post a whole range of photos taken when the engineers of product development were measuring up the cruiser, together with anecdotes, facts and fiction of the subject and the agency it served with.
Also a photo composing as per instruction sheet sequence would be available on line together with tips on how to build a perfect model.
For photo's and the original article of the restoration of this unique vehicle click on the link below.
Note: The book "Dodge, Plymouth & Chrysler POLICE CARS, 1956-1978" by Edwin Sanow and John Bellah, Motorbooks International was used for reference.
Tom Sheehy & Luc Janssens