The CAR Top 10: worst TV cop cars

Published: 15 July 2016

► The CAR Top 10 worst TV cop cars
► Police Volvos, Triumphs and Jags…
► You’ll be happy if these tried to pull you over

How rubbish must TV bad guys be if they can’t evade capture by cops driving this bunch of shambolic crocks?

Do you agree with our choice? Sound off in the comments below – and tell us if we’ve missed any police car howlers…

1) Bergerac: Triumph 2000 Roadster

Triumph 2000 Roadster

It was lucky for Jersey cop John Nettles that he lived on an island just nine miles long, because he really would have to triumph over adversity to catch baddies in this 75mph nail. Unsurprisingly Nettles hated the car; the Rover 75 he drove in Midsomnambulant Murders suited him better.

2) A Touch of Frost: Volvo 240

Volvo 240

David Jason’s bristle-lipped, tweed trilby-topped DI is about as uncool as cops come and he had the car to match. Frost’s choice of wheels started off badly and got worse following an altercation with a skip that necessitated swapping his mangled Sierra GL for a Volvo 240 – finished in the same insipid flat blue.

3) Inspector Morse: Jaguar Mk2

Jaguar Mk2

No wonder John Thaw’s Oxford-based plod was a miserable git. Instead of the sexy chrome wires and grunty 3.8 beloved of ‘60s baddies, his Mk2 was saddled with steel rims and a tiddly 2.4 straight-six that couldn’t crack three figures – and guzzled four-star like Morse necked ale while trying.

4) Starsky and Hutch: Ford Gran Torino

Ford Gran Torino

What car could be better suited to undercover work than a bright red muscle car with a giant Nike tick on the side? Actually ‘muscle’ is too generous for this smog-era whale. To get some go from the strangled 5.7 V8 the TV crew fitted such a low axle ratio it could barely top 50mph.

5) Miami Vice: De Tomaso Testarossa

De Tomaso Testarossa

You probably know about Sonny Crockett’s cross-dressing Corvette-based Daytona. Having initially turned down requests for a car, Ferrari saw red and coughed a pair of Testarossas. But that wasn’t the end of the vice on Vice: the Testarossa used in the action scenes was actually a rebodied De Tomaso Pantera.

6) Cagney and Lacey: Dodge Diplomat

Dodge Diplomat

Bullitt got a blue-collar hero Mustang on American Racing rims and aristocratic Inspector Lynley swanned around in a Jensen Interceptor and a Bristol. But poor old Cagney and Lacey made do with a car so square it looked like it must have been drawn by Tyne Daly’s on-screen five-year-old.

7) Columbo: Peugeot 403

Peugeot 403

In 22 years we never once meet the wife Columbo claims to have. But given the state of his car we suspect he was actually one of those hoarding loners who lives with his mother’s corpse and has to pothole his way over 7ft high columns of old newspapers in his lounge to get to the kitchen.

8) Ironside: Ford police van

Ford Police Van

Having a wheelchair-bound character front a primetime TV show was a big deal in 1967, but Motability cars have certainly improved since Raymond Burr was forced to ride around in the back of a windowless pre-war van like some freak too gruesome to be seen. Stealthy, but glacially slow.

9) Cannon: Lincoln Continental

Lincoln Continental

Only one thing protruded further than actor William Conrad’s paunch: the bonnet of this detective turned PI’s Lincoln Continental. Body control sloppier than a bucket of wallpaper paste was never going to make it much ‘cop’ in a chase, but Frank Cannon did have an early car phone in his arsenal: proper Bond stuff for 1972.

10) CSI Miami: Hummer H2

Hummer H2

Lieutenant Cane recoiled in horror as his hand brushed again its hard skin. In all his years picking over the remains of decomposed bodies he’d never come across anything so repulsive as the dashboard in his new Hummer H2. Appropriately, given the show’s premise, GM gave the Hummer brand the bullet seven seasons in.

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By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker