"Are you a Cop?" - The Mopar Everyone Loved to Abuse

Photo Credit: IMCDB.org

We loved to beat on the Dodge Diplomat and the Plymouth Gran Fury. Its true, they were glutton for punishment throughout their lifetime. Oh sure, one reason they were 'beat' was due to their prominent role as a fleet vehicle for government use. Fleet cars often get mistreated, and must be built tough enough to endure the daily pounding they're given. The M-body machines did that, and then some. 

Police departments and highway safety folks from coast-to-coast were spotted in a Diplomat or Gran Fury between 1977 and 1989. Some departments held onto their RWD Mopars because they were such brutes. Others kept them for budget reasons. Up until the late 1990's, Cahokia, Illinois still patrolled with Reagan-era Diplomat...faded paint, rust and all. They took a licking and kept on ticking (maybe that's a lifter or a pushrod making that noise). That was one reason Americans systematically abused the M-body, but it doesn't end there.

An off-duty Diplomat still looks like its packing heat.        Photo Credit: Officer.com

With decent power from a stout 318 or 360 cubic inch V8, and commonly backed by an equally strong A727 TorqueFlite or A904 three-speed automatic, the light uni-body cars encouraged spirited driving. That's not to say officers of the law never broke the law in their department cars, (Think Superbad cops.), but they may have once in a while. Who could blame them?

Mopar 318 cubic inch V8, commonly seen under the hood of an M-body car.    Photo Credit: karstentwele.com

The Diplomats and Gran Furies weren't rocket ships, but for a smog-era pursuit car that could do north of 120mph on the open road, they held their own. Remember, during this time police were chasing Corvettes with under 200 horsepower and the national speed limit was the big 'double nickel'. All you needed was a cheap 4 door with a big motor and good brakes. 

Art imitates life? Sure it does.

Another reason that the Chrysler M-body cars were slapped around may have been because they appeared on the big screen whenever a cop car needed to be blown up. No doubt stunt drivers enjoyed plucking a still seaworthy Gran Fury out of a government surplus auction after it faithfully served the public for a hundred-thousand miles...and then immediately kicking it in the gut until it died.

Case in point...

Photo Credit: IMCDB.org

Photo Credit: IMCDB.org

Photo Credit: IMCDB.org

Photo Credit: IMCDB.org

One of the best sites drive this point home is the Internet Movie Car Database. Its a must for gearheads who also love film. They have a listing of most of the cars or trucks featured prominently in TV or movies since the beginning of cinema. They just so happen to list over 600 Dodge Diplomats that have graced the big screen over the years. 22 pages full of Mopar carnage. That should give you plenty of time to check out more flaming pictures of M-bodies.

 I'll leave you all with this.

*WARNING: There is some harsh language in the clip, but its nothing you likely haven't heard before. 

Don't worry if you've never seen Short Time, roughly 50 people did. Its a shame because it features icons Dabney Coleman, Teri Garr, and Matt Frewer (aka: Max Hedroom). It has one of the best car chase scenes ever filmed, and it also features an '84 Plymouth Gran Fury that spends most of the scene at wide open throttle, weaving in and out of lanes and smashing into plate glass and steel. If you can get past the grainy VHS transfer in the clip, its a joy to watch. The little Plymouth puts up quite a fight before dying in the line of duty. Its the best way to 'finish off' an M-body in my opinion. True to the genre, both the good guy's and bad guy's vehicles are completely wrecked by the end of the scene. The funny part is, you don't really feel bad about seeing the M-body get destroyed. In some sadistic way, we were destined to love to hate these cars. I guess that's why so few exist today.

Thanks, Dabney.



  1. Sometimes I get the feeling that the Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis Panthers are the de facto "stunt cars," and few action movies go by without at least a couple of them getting mauled by Transformers, smashed through by superheros, or otherwise blown up spectacularly when something has go to explode!

    Must have been tanks, those Diplomats!

  2. the diplomats were nothing more or less than what it said on the tin, diplomatic or under dog compared to a similar sized ok i mean bumper to bumper longish car 204" long of today and well in excess of 300 bhp which any everyday automobile of that size less or more in todays technology is easily capable of pumping out but i know this is not about comparisons as the predecessors the caprice and cv were noticeably bigger but in a few words and i have had a few beers but this is just experience of living with my dippy here it goes i like the wheel arches not silly looking like fomoco of the same era or angular looking daft 77 -91 caprice i always found the m body pleasing on the eye especially since the 1980 lebaron came out and that dash is definitely a classic but most so because of that a904 transmissions 1st gear which is to me an almost equal as to listening to the little birds starting to sing at the crack of dawn

  3. So the a904 makes some noise, eh? I dig it!


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