In Canada, motorists are worse off than our European counterparts in at least one area. Where in Canada we are kept in check by no-nonsense black Chevrolet Suburbans and intimidating Dodge Chargers with brush guards, our European friends are met with less brute force and a bit more grace and speed. We’re not talking about the few Lamborghinis the Italians received for high speed pursuits or the Porsche 911s used in the 80’s in Western Europe, we’re talking about the typical police car of choice around the world which for decades has been a BMW.
But instead of just posting pictures of BMW police cars through the years we’ll tell the interesting tale of how BMW became the go-to car for law enforcement agencies the world over. Turns out there’s some great entertainment value in this particular section of law enforcement history.
A gutsy move of pure anti-nationalism.
Back in the day it was common practice for governments to only purchase domestic built cars for obvious reasons – patriotism, standing behind your own product, economic stimulus, etcetera. Unfortunately for England, that meant Jaguars, Austins, Rovers, and other beautiful and exciting, but utterly unreliable and wooden cars. There were reports of officers spending more on-duty time alongside mechanics than chasing bandits. In 1965 a truly fed up police department in Hampshire did the unthinkable and purchased a Volvo 121 Amazon estate, doused it in white paint, slapped some two-tone horns on its roof, and enrolled it into service. People in parliament were angry, but not nearly as mad as when in 1972 the Thames Valley Police bought a BMW E3 3.0Si, the absolute caviar of cars in its time, but German, very very German. And that didn’t sit well with the vast majority of British people who remembered the wars all too well. You simply didn’t buy things that were German, especially if you were in government. But the Thames Valley Police must of had an undercover Kommissar at the reigns because not only did they buy German, they also ran advertising campaigns that read ‘It Takes One To Catch One’ and depicted their E3 3.0Si in pursuit of a BMW 2002 Tii. A gutsy move that probably ticked off a Brit or two.
The evolution of BMW in law enforcement.
If BMW’s were so good that even the British bought them then it didn’t take long before the entire world wanted them. And they got them. Slowly the BMW E3 and later the E12 5 Series filtered their way into law enforcement agencies across the world as they replaced inferior domestic products. When BMW launched the E28 528i it was the final nail in the coffin for any domestic automaker trying to lobby for government use. The 5 Series was just too fast, too practical, and too reliable. The early 90’s brought along the unbeatable E34 multi-valved 525i. It was sure-footed, fast, predictable, roomy, and unthinkably reliable. The next 20 years then saw a natural progression of 3 Series, 5 Series, and even X Series BMWs go in and out of duty as the models would change.
Mistakes made along the way.
In life and in business failure isn’t always determined by the mistakes you make but by how you react and recover from them. While surely plenty of mistakes were made along the way, we’ll only touch on two today. The most costly mishap we’ve come across happened three years ago in Belgium where the ‘Politie’ took delivery of five white X5s. It turned out that the company put in charge of customizing and armouring the SAVs had cut right through the support beams in the door to install the bulletproof kevlar. That’s like knocking down your house’s central support pillar. It’s suicidal and impossible to fix once things go wrong – like your house imploding or a BMW X5 crumpling in an accident. The second mistake we know of was the 1989 E34 530i. A lovely car, but its heavy and lazy natured engine was ill-suited for aggressive police use. BMW quickly realized and corrected its mistake with the introduction of the aforementioned multi-valve 525i, a car still coined ‘the best traffic patrol car of all time.’ Mistake made, problem fixed, lesson learned.
BMW Authority Vehicles 2012.
Fast forward to March 29th, 2012 and BMW now flaunts an extensive range of vehicles and bikes for emergency, police, and security use on a flashy new website called ‘BMW Authority Vehicles.’ From quick response BMW X3s to undercover anti-terrorist V12 7 Series, BMW caters to anyone from emergency doctors to cautious high ranking officials. What continues to solidify BMW’s reputation as the ideal authority vehicle is its army of engineers who never stop innovating new designs and technology that maximize performance, fuel consumption, driving dynamics, and stretch the boundaries of the Bayern car’s capabilities. Yet another reason why BMW is the Ultimate Driving Machine.
Lastly we want to show you Dubai’s old and new fleet of heavily fortified BMW patrol cars as well as a picture of the Germans having some fun with a British icon.