An Automotive History of the MSP

MSP Cars 1929-1950



1929 Ford Sedan

 1929 Ford Fordor


The Ford Model A was selected as the very first car of the Minnesota Highway Patrol. The Model A was manufactured in St. Paul. The cadets of the first Highway Patrol academy attended hands on training at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant so they could perform their own vehicle repairs and maintenance. 


Row of 29s


 A row of 1929 Ford Fordor sedans stand at the ready for the class of 1930. Photo courtesy  of the W. G. Marquardt family.



1930 Ford Newmann cropped


This 1934 photograph shows Patrolman Robert C. Newmann with a 1930 Ford Model A Coupe. Photo courtesy of J. Hansen. 


1930 Model A Davis

1930 Ford Coupe


A replica of the early Highway Patrol cars, this Model A is the MSPTA’s reproduction pictured in downtown Hastings. The car is available for shows and displays upon request. Call your local Minnesota State Patrol headquarters or email a request if you would like the 1930 Ford or 1930 Harley-Davidson displayed at your event.


Troop 1931 Ford(2)      1931 Ford


Unfortunately, I am unable to identify the patrolman in this photograph. However, that is a 1931 Ford Model A patrol car he is resting on. Photo courtesy of the W. G. Marquardt family.



1933 Chevrolet Coupe with Officer Ronald Ochs


Ford was building V8 engines now, but Chevrolet continued to build a reliable inline 6. The valve in head 1933 Chevrolet Master Six displaced 194 cubic inches and was rated at 65 horsepower. They used a 3-speed manual transmission and a 4.4:1 rear axle fitted with 5.25 x 17 tires. They were said to have a top speed of around 70 mph.



1935 Ford Rosy

1935 Ford Coupe


 Adolph Rosetter was appointed to the Highway Patrol in 1934. Here, Rosie is pictured with a 1935 Ford Coupe. In this photo, you can clearly see the star light that was illuminated while patrolling at night. The red lamps mounted on the fenders would be mounted at the upper corners of the windshield in later years. About this time, the Highway Patrol began equipping the units with a fender mounted STOP lamp, which is visible behind the right headlamp.


1936 Ford

1936 Ford Coupe


 Alex J. Keilen is pictured with this 1936 Ford 5-window coupe. The 1936 Ford was equipped with a 221 cubic inch flathead V-8 that produced 85 horsepower at 3800 rpm and 153 lb-ft torque at 2200 rpm. The engine mated to a 3-speed manual transmission and a 4.33:1 rear axle. Ford still used mechanical brakes on all of their cars in 1936, insisting the system’s simplicity made it more reliable than the competitors’ hydraulic brakes. The 1936 body was a carryover from the 1935 model. But, new for 1936, were the stamped steel "artillery" wheels.


39 Ford Sheehan Web

1938 (or 1939) Ford Tudor


Patrolman Mylon Sheehan, Badge 116, is pictured above with a 1938 or 1939 Ford. Sometimes in the car world it's difficult to tell one year from the next. Either way, this one fills in another blank in the MHP history. The photo was taken in Willmar, MN, in 1940. Patrolman Sheehan served 1940-1941. The photo was provided courtesy of Patrick Sheehan.




1940 & 42 Fords

1940 & 1942 Ford Tudor


1940 Ford Nose

1940 Ford Tudor


 The 1940 Ford was equipped with the “star light” and a massive driving light. The Highway Patrol continued to equip their cars with the fender mounted STOP light through 1968. Patrolmen would drive alongside the violator’s car and activate the light to signal the violator to stop. Sealed beam headlamps were new for 1940.



1942 Ford Rosy

1942 Ford Tudor


1946 Ford- Robt Riley

1946 Ford Tudor


Bob Riley pictured with a 1946 Ford. The post-war Highway Patrol cars displayed a new style emblem. The new design was larger and featured an image of the state of Minnesota with the words MINNESOTA HIGHWAY PATROL.  Notice the frost shields on all the windows.



1948 Ford Curto

 1948 Ford Tudor pictured with Officer James Curto



1949 Ford(1)

Stan Johnson stands with this 1949 Ford Tudor


The first body design change since before the war, the 1949 Ford was pretty sleek looking compared to its predecessors. Ford continued to use the Flathead V8 displacing 239 cubic inches. The cars of the Highway Patrol may have benefitted from the use of Mercury’s 255 cubic inch Flathead. The door shield was modified again this year with the addition of the vehicle’s unit number. This configuration would remain in use through 1959.



1950 Ford Martz Fair

Paul Martz, Future Chief, pictured with his 1949 Ford Tudor


The first true “Police Package” car was introduced by Ford in 1950. In prior years, police agencies special ordered many heavy duty components when purchasing their cars. In 1950, checking a single box on the order form got you all of the severe service pieces police agencies requested most; a bigger engine, bigger brakes, better cooling, heavy duty clutch, heavy duty suspension parts, and even heavy duty upholstery.