Licensed To Chase Porsches: Jay Leno Drives the Legendary Fox Body Mustang Patrol Car


If a book of car legends existed, there would be a spot for the legendary Fox body Mustang patrol car. Born out of a need for speed, the 1982 Ford Mustang police car had one mission – chasing delinquents in top-tier cars from dusk till dawn. Jay Leno got a first-hand account from a retired California Highway Patrol Officer about this revolutionary police car. Don’t get me wrong, the 1982 Ford Mustang police car is by no standards fast, not in times where a Porsche 911 GT3 exists, at least. But there’s California and Hollywood, and all the crazy things that went down in the late ’80s – those must have been good times, I reckon. In the ’80s, America was going through motions, Hollywood was thriving, the crack epidemic was at its highest, the tech industry and Silicon Valley was booming, and fast cars sales were at an all-time high. The California Police Department couldn’t keep up with the 944 Turbo or the Countach 5000 QV Hollywood stars and business moguls were driving if they only had Crown Victorias at their disposal. Their solution? The 1982 Ford Mustang. It came with a 4-speed manual transmission, with a two-barrel V8, nothing compared to fast cars at the time, but it gave Police Patrol offers like Rich Sappakowski an edge on the highway. Sappakowski joined the Police department in 1985, three years after the 1982 Ford Mustang came out. He was also lucky enough to be part of the pilot program on the legendary Fox-body Mustang Patrol car. The initiative gained a lot of publicity primarily because of the idea of a Mustang Police car. The department also pushed the “This Ford that Chases Porsches For a Living” campaign that was also pretty cool. Sappakowski admitted there was a bit of a tussle getting your hands on the Mustang cop car. He also confesses to burying the speedometer a few times at 160 mph on duty. “It’s very rewarding. Some of your worst days are your most rewarding. But I did it for 30-years, and I tell people that if they had half the crew that I had, they would have a really good career,” he disclosed, talking about his career as a Patrol Officer. Leno thinks it feels a little fast for its day, but not as fast.