Dale Amy
January 1, 2006

Many of you know that, from 1982 through 1993, Ford manufactured a 5.0 notchback mainly for police or other "official" use, known as the Special Service Package. Some of you no doubt will have gained said knowledge firsthand-the hard way. This unique aspect of Mustang history began when the California Highway Patrol ordered more than 400 '82 GL notchbacks-with what Ford then called the Severe Service Package-equipped with the utterly stock 157hp two-barrel 302. For its era, the little sedan's power and 126-mph top speed were impressive, but what really sold the CHP, and ultimately a whole whack of other agencies during the following 11 years, was the SSP 5.0's stone reliability under strenuous police duty, which was apparently in stark contrast to the Camaros previously tried by the Highway Patrol. Best of all-and contrary to considerable urban legend-the SSP Mustang's basic drivetrain, suspension, and brakes remained virtually indistinguishable from civilian models throughout its pursuit career. In other words, from a performance perspective, law enforcement got exactly what we got.

Word of the Fox Mustang's high-speed prowess and durability eventually leaked across the 49th parallel to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who were tasked with the unenviable chore of patrolling vast stretches of long, straight, and-well-tempting highways through Canada's sparsely populated prairie provinces. The Mounties, like their fraternal American counterparts, turned to the Fox 5.0 simply to deter those pesky speeders who might otherwise have had thoughts of simply outrunning their pursuers' more typical stodgy fullsize cruisers (it takes a Mustang to catch a Mustang?). Given Western Canada's decidedly untropical climate, the RCMP was wise enough to limit use of its few pursuit LXs to the brief summer months, and to only their more experienced senior officers. This meant they lasted much longer than a typical cruiser, and weren't simply rusted hulks at the end of their careers.

Our subject '93 SSP LX-one of only four acquired that year by the Mounties-was not retired from service until July 2003. Even after serving the final two years of this decade of duty at a racetrack in the RCMP's advanced driver training program, the Vibrant White coupe still showed only 74,000 miles on its certified-calibration clock when Paul Champagne flew to Manitoba to successfully bid for it. Paul, who had already owned five civilian LXs, had been monitoring the federal government disposal auction for seven months, just waiting for the opportunity to obtain one of these rare Mountie mounts. Says Paul: "The RCMP paid $15,381 when new, and got $7,133 10 years later." That's Canadian funds, eh? He promptly tested the retired interceptor's reliability by driving it straight home, some 2,000 kilometers, to Georgetown, Ontario, in one straight 24-hour stint with buddy Chris Butters.