Eric English
July 29, 2010

Ever feel like the time spent behind the wheel of your Mustang is all too brief? We know it's a sensation for those who wheel a high-quality classic, but it can even be the case for those of us with daily drivers. Imagine, then, the enjoyment that could be had if your place of business provided a Mustang as a company car-and your job was to drive it all day. And not just any old Mustang, by the way, but a bona fide muscle model replete with a five-speed stick.

Marlin Workman doesn't have to imagine these circumstances; he lived it on the highways of Washington State in the very car you see here.

You've guessed by now that Marlin is a Washington State Patrol trooper. Better put, Marlin is a retired trooper, having gracefully bowed out of service in 2008 after a 38-year career. Marlin certainly racked up the mileage in WSP Mustangs, estimating that he traveled over 250,000 miles in a combination of three-an '84, an '87, and the '90. All were what are officially known as Special Service Package Mustangs-specifically built by Ford for the rigors of police and government work

Through 1992, Marlin used this particular car for traffic enforcement in the wide open landscapes of Eastern Washington. In such an environ, there were plenty of situations that called on the full grunt of the 225hp 5.0-liter, and not surprisingly, Marlin reports that the Mustangs were the fastest, best handling, and most dependable cars of the eight cars he was issued during his career. In 1992, Marlin took a position in the auto theft division, which meant the end of his working tenure with the '90 Mustang. Despite the good feelings he had when handing the car off to fellow trooper Dave Yergen, Marlin had little reason to suspect he would ever settle behind the wheel of his favorite patrol car again.

When the Mustang's tour with the WSP ended in 1995, it served as a D.A.R.E. (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) car with the nearby Adams County Sheriff's Office. A friend in the office alerted Marlin when the car was decommissioned and sent to auction in 1998, and Marlin made sure he was there for a chance to buy it-albeit with a strict dollar limit. Marlin chuckles when relating how he was outbid by a gentleman who was buying the '90 for his 15-year-old son. It seems junior was trying to pull one over on his old man, for when the winning bidder was informed by Marlin that the car had a V-8 and stick shift, he handed the winning bid ticket to Marlin, allowing him to purchase the car for $2,100.

Thanks to trooper Yergen and the Adams County officers, Marlin found his old work friend to still be in excellent health-though stripped of much of the original WSP specific components. As such, Marlin and his wife drove the Mustang daily for several years before making the decision to retire it to show duty-and return it to law enforcement specs.

Getting the '90 whipped into shape was really a freshening of sorts, rather than a typical restoration. While never wrecked, the original Oxford White paint was showing its age, so Marlin turned to Byron Green for a basecoat/clearcoat respray. Magnetic signage was approved by the WSP for display purposes, and Marlin also acquired the proper lightbar, rollbar, and radios that had been stripped out before auction. Marlin explained that he sees a number of restored patrol cars that end up with equipment that isn't accurate for their era, probably because the current owner doesn't know any better. Since he was there, Marlin knew the correct equipment and hunted eBay for proper items such as the Motorola radio and Uniden CB. Marlin also acquired a set of the correct 225/VR60-15 Goodyear Gatorback tires, now long out of production.

Clearly, duty for this '90 is much different now than it was two decades ago, retirement being a much easier lifestyle to say the least. The odometer rolls to the tune of 2,500 miles a year-without the lightbar and official markings of course, but those miles are purely for pleasure and the occasional show. At the latter, the WSP background always draws the curious, and when it's learned that the owner is the original officer assigned to the car, questions come in a hurry. In this sense, Marlin is a keeper of an important part of Mustang history, and gives the kind of first-hand accounts that are usually lost to time. And yes, Marlin will tell you that working out of a SSP Mustang made his career in law enforcement all the more memorable!

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