If you’re a driver in the UK, it’s a bit pick and mix now to decide if the cops are on your tail. Used to be easy. Escort in full warpaint, Zephyr 4/6, in the olden days a black MG Magnette with a bell on the roof.
Now it’s a bit trickier. Actually much trickier. Coppers drive all manner of cars. Volvo turbo V50 SUVs. Beemer 3 or 4 or 5 series, even the occasional 1 series. The odd case, a raunchy Vauxhall Insignia and they can be very raunchy. They’re very quick, handle well, unlike the dog of the Vectra that was its predecessor. Subaru WRX, and you’ll have a few problems outrunning one of those suckers in, say, an Aygo or a Twingo poolcar. A few Mitsubishi Evo 8s.They crop up, and you won’t shake off one of those before you disappear through a hedge. Any Audi R Series. They’re quick and fast. All of these problematic pursuit vehicles are in mufti.
In the absence of warpaint, you’re in the dark till those concealed behind-the grille blue lights spring into action. It’s pretty much all over when those spark up.
In the US, things were, maybe are, a bit easier. If you got a Chevrolet Caprice Classic, or a Ford Crown Victoria, in your mirrors, it was the Old Bill. Only cop forces bought either of those two models. One of those behind you, wait for the flashing bluelights and the siren. You couldn’t outrun one, since they had loads of grunt. The Interceptor, the preferred model variant of the Crown Vic, was quite ferocious. No roadholding, but in a straightline TPAC* you as the perp were finished. Just give up. Or die. Either was an option.
It used to be easy to identify a cop car. Now it isn’t. And that feels a bit counterintuitive. Traffic copcars are meant to act as deterrents, get you to be a good boy or girl, behave yourself. Well not if you can’t see them.
In Oz and New Zealand, though, the copcars all look as if they just rolled off a race trailer at the Bathurst 500. Some great paintjobs and decalwork. They look fabulous. You can’t miss one of them, because they shout, ‘Do not fuck with me!’ Get a tug off one of them, you had it coming for not paying attention.
*Tactical Pursuit and Containment.