Posts Tagged Ford Crown Victoria

Other People’s Cars: Oldsmobile Delta 88

Oldsmobile Delta 88This may not look like a very impressive car, but bear with me. You probably have a better chance of seeing a Porsche on today’s roads than seeing one of these babies.

This is a car from a brand that no longer exists and, fittingly, it represents a type of car that is on the verge of extinction.

Ask a kindergartener to draw a car and they’ll probably come up with something like this: a four-door sedan with no curved lines other than the wheels.

At one time, this Platonic automobile really was the most common sight on American roads. If it wasn’t an Olds Delta 88, it was a Chevy Caprice, or a Ford LTD, or a Dodge Monaco.

Today, however, the automotive landscape is much more diverse. Cars try to be all things for all people, which is why we have crossovers that look like tough 4x4s, but are actually based on front-wheel drive sedans, and “four-door coupes” that try to combine style and practicality.

In contrast, the big American sedan has become a niche item. There are still a few around (Dodge Charger, Chevy Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus) but they are the automotive equivalent of vinyl.

That’s not exactly a bad thing. Today’s cars are safer, faster, and better for the environment than this gas-guzzling Olds, although maybe not as old-school-cool.

Either way, this 88 is a noteworthy sighting. It’s both a historical reminder of a time when cars were expected to have the square footage of a small apartment, and a rare car in its own right.

Oldsmobile may have made legions of these things back in the ‘70s. but you’d be hard pressed to find one on the road today. That’s why I’m glad I did.


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Other People’s Cars: Vauxhall Astra

In America, when people think “police car” they usually have a Platonic image of a Ford Crown Victoria in their mind. In England, people feel the same way about the Vauxhall Astra.

The Astra is a compact, competing with the Honda Cvic and Toyota Corolla. It’s actually built by Opel and rebadged as a Vauxhall for the British market (both companies are divisions of General Motors). It was actually sold here a few years ago as a Saturn.

Like most European cars, police-spec Astras are usually equipped with diesel engines for economy. Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson quipped that using diesel hatchbacks doesn’t make the British police look very cool, asking “how would the Blues Brothers have looked in that?”

The Astra may not look very intimidating, but it does look pretty good. Econobox or not, it’s one of the best looking police cars around, a rare styling hit for GM in a mainstream segment. I still wish they had found a way to sell Astras under a different brand in the U.S.

While the Crown Vic is a more badass car, a V-8 powered land yacht probably isn’t suitable for police work on the tight streets of London. They are much narrower than the ones in American cities; a bigger car might have trouble weaving between black cabs and wheezing Ford Transit vans in a pursuit.

In many respects, England isn’t that different from the United States; in London, they print McDonald’s coupons on the back of bus tickets. But the automotive landscapes in the two countries are still worlds apart. You’ll never see an American cop driving an Astra, or a Bobby driving a Crown Vic.

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