Miles Cook
November 1, 2004
Photos By: Donald Farr

Mustangs have typically been cars for owners to enjoy as enthusiasts, but in the '80s and early '90s, Fox-body 5.0s were involved in important business. They were a key component for law-enforcement agencies around the country.

From 1982 to 1993, Fox 5.0s were used as police, or "official," cars for dozens of institutions nationwide, from state highway patrols to local city police forces to the U.S. Air Force, and even the FBI. About 35 states, including California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida, used Mustangs for various types of work.

What makes a Fox-body 5.0 a cop car? In general, Mustang police cars are different from regular 5.0s, mainly because of Ford's development of what's now known as a Special Service Package. These cars are also known as Special Service Vehicles (SSV), but today are more commonly referred to as the SSP.

In short, SSP 5.0s aren't average 5.0s, but some things about them are average. That is, many components in an SSP Fox-body are exactly the same as in all other 5.0s. We'll explain what makes an SSP Fox unusual, as well as try to dispel any ideas about SSP cars coming with fantasy parts such as engine upgrades, significant suspension advancements, four-wheel disc brakes, or anything else you may have heard.

Other first-rate resources on SSP Foxes include The Official Ford Mustang 5.0 Technical Reference & Performance Handbook by Al Kirschenbaum (available through Bentley Publishers, www.bentleypublishers.com), www.evoaa.org (click on Mustang Special Service Registry), and Mike Riley's www.sspmustang.org. Webmaster Riley put together an informative site that has a multitude of additional info on SSP 5.0s. It has an FAQ section, a gallery of cars, other feature articles, technical info, and even a cars-for-sale section. If you have questions about the cars or the site, write to Mike at webmaster@sspmustang.org.

'82-'93 Special Service Package Particulars Standard EquipmentWith the supposed exception of one hatchback, all of the approximately 15,000 SSP 5.0s produced from 1982 to 1993 were the coupe/notchback body style with a trunk. This was an advantage for the Mustang compared to the '82-'02 hatchback Camaro since many agencies required their cars to have lockable enclosed trunks separate from the passenger area.

Standard components in SSP 5.0s varied only slightly in the 12 years these cars were made, but most came with the following equipment:* Glovebox trunk-release button relocated. Location varied. We knew of one '90 California Highway Patrol 5.0 where the button was located near the gauge-cluster bezel to the right of the driver. Others were located on the driver side.

* Oil-to-water sandwich-style engine oil cooler.

* External automatic-transmission-fluid cooler (on cars with AODs).

* Aircraft-style hose clamps.

* Heater-hose restrictor sleeve.

* Single-key locking system (doors, trunk lid, glovebox, and ignition switch all worked with one square key, eliminating the small round key or larger oval-shaped key also used).

* Specially reinforced front-seat backrests.

* Reinforced floorpans under front seats.

* Deleted underhood sound-absorber pad.

* Certified calibration speedometer ('82-'88 cars had the 140-mph unit, while '89-'93s had the 160-mph version).

* Black sidewall performance tires (see wheel and tire section for details).

* Fullsize spare tire and wheel.

OptionsIn addition to the SSP option, several others were available. Sometimes referred to as Dealer Special Order options, they included:* Silicone-rubber (blue) radiator hoses.

* Paint-stripe delete.

* VASCAR two-piece speedometer cable (second cable allowed VASCAR system to function, which determined speed difference between two moving cars and calculated another car's speed).

* Spare-tire-cover board.

* Radio noise-suppression package, consisting of special shielding on electric fuel pump, heater-blower motor, and windshield-wiper motor.