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An Automotive History of the MSP

MSP Cars 1971-1980

 

1972 Plymouth Christey

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1972 Plymouth Fury I Pursuit Sedan

Beginning in 1972, cars were equipped with air conditioning. It would be the final year for the white roof. Also, rather than painting the doors white, the Highway Patrol shield was printed on a sheet of white vinyl, which was applied to the doors to give the look of a painted door without the cost. This method remained in effect through 1991. The 440'S compression dropped again to 8.2:1.

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 1972 Plymouth Kremer cropped

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The photos directly above and below demonstrate some of the methods employed by the Minnesota State Patrol to control traffic at freeway incidents. Several Metro area squads were equipped with Varicoms or changeable message signs such as the one pictured above. The 1972 Plymouth pictured below has an unusual light bar. Notice the scissor lift mechanism that hoists the light bar several feet into the air. There are several 1973 Plymouth Fury I sedans in this photo, as well.

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1972 & 1973 Plymouth cropped

 (Photo from the R.C.Logan Collection)

 

.1973 Plymouth Fury I  Mulder & Keepers 2

1973 Plymouth Fury I Pursuit Sedan and Cessna 180

 

For 1973, the Plymouth Fury I Pursuit sedans of the Minnesota State Patrol were ordered with solid maroon paint; no white top. In the photo above, Cliff Mulder and Pilot Don Keepers pose with the 1973 Plymouth Class B sedan and one of the State Patrol's aircraft at the Pipestone, Minnesota, airport.

 

 

1974 Plymouth Lane edited

1974 Plymouth Fury I Pursuit Sedan

 

1974 Plymouth edited

 1974 Plymouth Fury I Pursuit Sedan

 

The Minnesota Highway Patrol gained greater enforcement authority and a name change in 1974. The agency became the Minnesota State Patrol and Patrol Officers officially came to be called State Troopers. The unit pictured here displays the new graphics design of the State Patrol.

 

1974 saw Plymouth sell more police package vehicles than any other car maker. The 440 V-8 with 4-bbl carburetor produced 275 horsepower and was mated to an automatic transmission. This was the final year for the Fury I, II, III monikers from Plymouth.

 

1974 AMC Ambassador crop(1)

 1974 AMC Ambassador Class D

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In 1974, the Minnesota State Patrol was attempting to conserve fuel where they could. District Commanders were furnished with 1974 AMC Ambassadors as pictured here. When compared to the 440-equipped Plymouths of the day, the non-pursuit Ambassador ran a “fuel-efficient” 360 cubic inch V-8 with a 2-barrel carburetor and 3-speed automatic transmission.

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A number of photos on these pages were provided courtesy of the family of Adolph “Rosie” Rosetter who served on the Minnesota Highway Patrol from 1934 until his untimely death in 1969. Rosie was admired and respected by the citizens he served. In July 1974, a stretch of Chippewa County Highway 15 beginning in Montevideo was dedicated in his honor. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey spoke at the dedication and ribbon cutting of Adolph Rosetter Memorial Drive. The Rosetter family was driven to the event by Captain Norris Sletten in his F-9 Copper Poly Ambassador.

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1975 Plymouth Carlson

1975 Plymouth Gran Fury Pursuit Sedan pictured with Trooper Bruce Carlson

 

Renamed Gran Fury, the 1975 Plymouth was easily distinguished from its 1974 counterpart by the bold chrome bar in the grille and the chrome moulding on its sides. The proven 440 V-8 continued in use, although horsepower dropped again to 250. 

 

1975 Squad Moe

1975 Plymouth Gran Fury Pursuit Sedan

 

In the middle and late 1970s, the national 55 mph speed limit was saving fuel and saving lives. In an effort to discourage would-be scofflaws from violating the speed limit, Governor Rudy Perpich wanted the State Patrol to make their presence known and mandated all State Patrol cars be fully marked. As a result, all previously unmarked cars were either retrofitted with lights and graphics, tucked away for future use, or traded in.

 

1976 Plymouth Class C 

 1976 Plymouth Gran Fury - Class C

  

The Gran Fury was treated to little more than a facelift for 1976. The grille was a little bit larger than the previous year’s and quad headlamps gave way to a two lamp system. The cars were equipped this year with power windows, a very welcome accessory. The State Patrol also field tested the slightly smaller, 400 V-8 powered Fury in their fleet this year.

 

1977 Plymouth Front edited

 

Above and Below: 1977 Plymouth Gran Fury Sedan

Photos courtesy of www.copcar.com

 

1977 Plymouth Rear

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Virtually unchanged since 1974, the 440 V-8 equipped Plymouth Gran Fury remained the choice of the Minnesota State Patrol in 1977.  The Gran Fury name would take a two-year hiatus after the 1977 model year.

 

1978 Plymouth Moe

1978 Plymouth Fury Sedan

 

With the full-size Gran Fury no longer in production, the somewhat smaller Fury became the car of choice for patrol duty. This was the last production year for the venerable 440.

 

The special graphics on the rear doors of the unit pictured below commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Minnesota State Patrol.

 

78 Web

 

This is a 1978 Plymouth Fury with a history. Driven by a Minnesota State Trooper and purchased by that same trooper at auction after its retirement, it was restored to State Patrol specs. After several years of proud ownership, the unit was sold to a party in Louisiana. The Plymouth has changed hands a number of times since then. Most recently, it was purchased from an owner in North Carolina and shipped to its new owner in New Zealand! It is quite possibly the only Minnesota State Patrol car in the Southern Hemisphere!

 

49000 Left

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1979 Dodge St. Regis - MSP 50th Anniversary Car

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 Dodge (7)

 

1979 marked the State Patrol’s 50th Anniversary. This Dodge St. Regis is an original State Patrol unit equipped just as it was in 1979. Chrysler Corporation downsized their full-sized cars for 1979, offering the nearly identical Chrysler Newport and Dodge St. Regis. There was no full-size Plymouth available this year. The reliable 440 powerhouse was no longer available and the highest performance engine offered was the 360 CID 4-bbl V-8. Coupled to a 3-speed automatic and a 2.9:1 rear axle, they were pretty good performing units for the day. They were bordering on luxurious with cushy seats trimmed in gold brocade fabric.

 

This car is regularly displayed at various events and shows throughout Minnesota. If you would like the car displayed at an event in your town, contact your local Minnesota State Patrol office or click the CONTACT button on this page.

 

49000 Left Rear

1979 Dodge St. Regis - MSP 50th Anniversary Car

 

 

1979 Ford TBird

1979 Ford Thunderbird "Super Spook"

 

The State Patrol purchased about 20 used cars in 1981. These “Super Spooks” were primarily 2-door sport coupes or other vehicles not generally associated with police work. There were Chrysler Cordobas, Ford Thunderbirds, Mercury Cougars, Dodge Diplomats and even a Chevrolet Camaro or two. Some of these units were good honest used cars and others were of questionable origin. Some were used cars and some were just plain used up. They served their purpose apprehending speeders who might otherwise have recognized a squad car. The purchase of used cars for patrol use has not been repeated.
The early 1980s were not great for the world of police vehicles. Federally mandated emissions requirements resulted in the use of smaller displacement engines choked by a myriad of vacuum and computer operated emissions systems that drastically reduced horsepower and performance. On one of his daily radio broadcasts, famed newsman Paul Harvey quoted a California Highway Patrol officer as saying the 1980 Plymouth equipped with a 318 V-8 “Couldn’t catch a fat man on a bicycle.”  Several Minnesota Troopers agreed. Happy troopers drove the 360 V-8 equipped units.
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1980 Plymouth RCLogan(1)

1980 Plymouth Gran Fury

(Photo from the R.C. Logan Collection)

 

The Plymouth Gran Fury reappeared in 1980 and was selected for the Minnesota State Patrol fleet. Just a few dollars lower priced than the Dodge St. Regis, the two cars were nearly identical. For 1980, MSP purchased half the cars with a 318 CID V-8 with California Emissions Package and half with the more powerful 360 CID V-8, all for a bid price of $7,047 each. . The single large tailpipe on the unit pictured above, is an indicator this unit is equipped with the pathetically underpowered 318. The 360-equipped units benefitted from dual exhaust.

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1980 Plymouth Sticker Thumb

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Click image above to see the full size 1980 Plymouth window sticker.

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1980 Plymouth C 120 web

1980 Plymouth Gran Fury Class C

 

1980 AMC Concord Unit 40019(1)

1980 AMC Concord - That's right! An AMC Concord... Class D

 

In response to rising fuel costs, the Minnesota State Patrol purchased a variety of specialty vehicles in 1980. Central Office staff were issued Chevrolet Citations and several District Captains drove the AMC Concord. The Concord was equipped with a 258 CID inline six and a 3-speed automatic with lock-up torque converter. They were not intended for patrol use, but anyone who put one to the test can tell you they’d outperform the California-emissions equipped Plymouth Gran Fury of the same year. The example pictured here surprised many violators when it roamed the highways in southwestern Minnesota.
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