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1992 Ford Mustang SSP - Retired From Duty
Mike Patterson’s authentically restored ’92 SSP Mustang preserves Michigan State Police history
So only about five years out of service, Bruce Howard dove into the restoration and the result was fantastically authentic, right down to period citation books and other items. Its roster of equipment includes the shark fin sign, Unity spotlights, Sound Off headlamp flashers, Ham Sar flashback flasher, Whelen Mini-Max red grille lights, Whelen Responder oscillating red light, Peterson red deck lights, Federal Signal PA500F siren control box, Whelen Project-A-Flex siren speaker, Motorola Syntor X Systems 90-S VHF high-band and UHF low-band radios, Kustom KR-10 SPF radar/TSS VASCAR, and a door-mounted shotgun rack. Troopers carried a small shovel in the trunk.
Like other MSP Mustangs, this one is fitted with a 5.0-liter engine backed by an AOD, a trans that sapped some of "oomph" from the Mustang's performance feel. All '92 MSP Mustangs were believed to have black interiors, as this one shows.
The 160-mph "certified calibration" speedometer is an SSP-specific feature. This example was built with many of the items commonly assumed as standard-issue but were actually optional—full-size spare tire, single-key operation, and relocated trunk release button. By the way, the 160-mph speedo became part of the SSP package in 1990; earlier models used a 140-mph unit (while non-SSP Mustangs had an 85-mph speedo).
More than a decade after its restoration, this retired cruiser's appearance looks fresh and meticulous, owing to its owners' dedication to preserving its historical importance. Besides, it works pretty much only as a show car because covering the lights and insignias for even a brief jaunt onto the highway is a time-consuming process, which we witnessed first-hand when we asked Patterson to drive a short distance for our photo shoot.
"It's a lot of fun to own one of these cars, even if you can't drive it everyday," says Patterson. "It generates all kinds of questions and it's great to know I'm helping maintain a piece of history."
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MSP's Pony Car
At the Michigan State Police's training academy just outside of Lansing, a small fleet of historical state police cruisers greets visitors. It includes a '92 Mustang, a '91 Camaro B4C, a '95 Caprice 9C1, a '75 Plymouth, and even a '37 Ford that shows an early version of the "shark fin" hood sign.
And while all of them represent significant eras in the agency's patrol history, it's the Mustang and Camaro that get the most attention. The Mustang shows less than 60,000 miles on the odometer and has been cosmetically maintained, although it is admittedly a few details shy of the stunning condition on the privately held example in our main story.
We gave the car a quick inspection under the hood, spotting the dog tag-style buck tags clipped to the core support behind the driver-side headlamp that outlined the DSO number and SSP identification. "DSO" stands for Domestic Special Order and all true SSPs have one, which is a code for the regional sales office through which the cars were channeled. The car also sported the original VIN tags on the front fascia, front fenders, doors, and trunk lid, suggesting it led an accident-free life running down speeders and bad guys on Michigan's freeways and byways.
Although retired from active duty, the Mustang continues to serve as a four-wheeled ambassador for the agency, making appearances at car shows, county fairs, and other events.