Within the annals of Fox Body Mustang history, the SSP police models—that is for Particular Service Bundle—definitely stood out as notable when new however now, some three many years later, they’re positively legendary. They’ve taken on legendary standing, with whispers of how they’d been modified from the manufacturing unit with efficiency engines and gearboxes with particular calibrations, however this was typically not the case. And whereas the rumor mill additionally mentioned every have been hand-built by a skunkworks staff in Ford’s plant, that is additionally unfaithful. In actuality, these have been constructed alongside all different Fox Physique Mustangs on the very same meeting line, with the overwhelming majority having the identical elements because the street-spec, common vehicles regular of us plucked from showroom flooring.
It is true that the majority SSPs did obtain silicone hoses and an engine oil cooler, however there have been no true efficiency enhancements as all of us as soon as believed. (As an apart, up to date Mustang homeowners may keep in mind leafing by the printed Ford Motorsport catalog and ordering the aforementioned silicone hose equipment, in addition to the 140+mph certified-calibrated cop speedometer.) There is a first rate deal with on probably the most states that ordered probably the most SSP Mustangs—California and Florida—due to boards and lovers making best-guess extrapolations, however nobody is strictly certain what number of have been made in complete, nor what number of of these have been distributed to the place, as Ford by no means stored precise documentation. So the true manufacturing is really anybody’s guess.
However let’s discuss in regards to the particular automobile you see right here. This can be a 1991 SSP Mustang LX assigned to the Florida Freeway Patrol in late 1991. It was given roof quantity 1125 and served actively; with out GPS monitoring and the like, it is unclear if it served in a number of locales or just some, however the automobile was decommissioned and offered in late 1996 at a state-run public sale amongst tons of of different government-owned vehicles. It was bought by an unbiased dealership for lower than $5,000 with solely 78,000 miles on the clock. Often, the fleet managers usually take away or paint over unit numbers and police graphics, however will need to have taken the break day—this automobile is undamaged proper right down to the reflective “STATE TROOPER” decals on the entrance fenders. An incredible and all authentic buy, the primary proprietor proceeded to drive it for a number of years, including about 30,000 miles earlier than relegating it to occasional car-show whereas storing it for almost 20 years. It was put again on the highway with a light-weight mechanical restoration and is now within the palms of this writer.
As you method, you are greeted by the acquainted profile of the Fox Physique’s tall greenhouse and thin A-pillars. With out a manufacturing unit rear defroster, this notchback coupe’s angular roofline is emphasised much more by the expanse of clear, unblemished glass overlooking a tan parcel shelf. As soon as inside, it is like all airbag-equipped 1991 LX Coupe, with nice visibility however the place the unsupportive LX units and tight quarters make getting comfy a little bit of a chore for anybody who’s loved a good meal or 5 of their day. Just one secret is used for each door and ignition duties, which is exclusive, however every little thing else stays acquainted—excepting the CB radio, siren controls, and police-specific sprint switches, after all.
The inventory 5.Zero cranks over shortly and makes all the appropriate noises, right down to the buzzy air pump and slight rumble from the manufacturing unit stainless-steel tailpipes. It is a pleasure to drive this inventory 5.Zero and to row the comparatively smooth-shifting manufacturing unit T5 transmission manufacturing unit by all 5 gears. The Fox Physique’s well-known lack of torsional stiffness is current and accounted for, however being because the LX notchback was the lightest of all Fox Physique trims, acceleration is crisp sufficient, particularly contemplating the automobile’s age.
Nonetheless, this automobile was fitted with manufacturing unit 3.08 gears and 215/65-15 tires; the combo appears to have muted efficiency a bit, because the rubber is a smidge taller total versus the extra frequent 225/60-15s. The 215/65s are believed to be an FHP-spec tire, chosen maybe to supply a little bit additional cushion for curb leaping in addition to further clearance over dry Florida grass whereas parked. Physique management and steering are sporty for the period, however obscure towards fashionable customary. Nonetheless, who cares? This SSP is a time warp to the raddest period, and it is easy to think about the awe a state trooper skilled after they first banged by the gears of one of many quickest vehicles of 1991.
As you may anticipate, lights and sirens fluctuate amongst SSPs as a result of post-factory fitment of every division’s most popular tools. Most vehicles obtained a mixture of new and used items; JetSonic’s JS1 chain-driven lightbars—as seen right here—have been standard, and have been activated by way of a easy JSS single-action change. (Some departments, such because the Michigan State Police, spec’d no roof lights.) The siren was mounted on the roof as nicely, and strobe lights have been additionally typically added to the rear decklid. This automobile has the right JS1 lightbar and MPH Okay-Band radar system, however its different lighting and equipment (or lack thereof) are in all probability incorrect versus what it ran in-period, however I can stay with that.
Proudly owning this SSP will not be like proudly owning another Fox Mustang—it is extra like proudly owning a cop automobile that occurs to be a Fox Mustang. Most folk are clueless as to why such a small automobile would say “STATE TROOPER” on it, a lot much less why a median Joe in a sweatshirt and denims is driving what seems to be a full-on lively law-enforcement automobile. Since buying the automobile, I’ve made customized magnetic covers for the decals, however the highlight and light-weight bar are nonetheless an odd sight even when coated, and so they trigger everybody sluggish to the pace restrict—or beneath. I at all times see full and full stops at intersections, and switch alerts are used in every single place. I get it, however I am simply attempting to get to a automobile present!
When Fox manufacturing ended, so did FHP’s orders of America’s most iconic pony automobile. There have been no subsequent orders when the SN95 chassis debuted and Ford concentrated closely on its Panther-platform police enterprise, supplying almost each law-enforcement company within the land with Crown Victoria sedans. Whereas the SSP Mustangs have gotten a distant reminiscence, there are a lot of lovers conserving the fervour alive for this attention-grabbing a part of the Fox Physique story.
SSP Mustang Knowledgeable Jim Dingall
A lot dialogue has occurred over time as to what made these vehicles particular, however not a lot has been set in stone, so we requested a subject-matter skilled, Jim Dingell of Efficiency Components, Inc., additionally recognized in Fox Physique and SSP circles as PPI.
Jim Dingell has positioned PPI because the go-to store for SSP Mustang substitute components. It began with a visit in 1984 to see a good friend in Dearborn, Michigan, the place he visited the plant. “I went to the manufacturing unit, which again then, you can stroll proper in and comply with every automobile as they went from every work station to the following. Whereas there, I noticed many 1985 prototypes operating round and within the again nook, I noticed a 1985 SSP Florida Freeway Patrol Mustang sitting there, painted within the black and tan paint scheme. It had the precise metal black wheels, a guide transmission, and a tan inside. At that very second, I fell in love with the automobile and over time had made mates at Ford. Quickly sufficient, I used to be visiting often to see every new mannequin yr, and I watched the SSPs particularly.”
Excited by the annual development in efficiency and styling throughout the Fox’s four-headlamp era, he continued to comply with the mannequin into the aero period. “Many of those [SSP] vehicles weren’t particular editions as we all know them, such because the ASC McLarens or Saleens of the day. As a substitute, these have been merely an option-code variant with minor modifications to boost cooling and electrical masses that police vehicles on the time wanted. The FHP vehicles have been normally painted all tan after which masked off across the trunk and roof, and the black paint was then utilized. A easy vinyl tape stripe was then utilized over the road the place the colours met alongside the rear quarter panels. Fairly a easy resolution however keep in mind, this was simply an assembly-line variant [not something requiring utmost care].”
As the one early specialist in SSP components, Dingell has seen his enterprise transition to servicing the restoration of those vehicles. Irrespective of the mannequin, curiosity the restoring Fox-Physique Mustangs is on the rise. As he elaborates, “In 1993, I had the chance to purchase all the remaining SSP components from Ford just like the oil coolers, wheels, decals, and so on. That is how we served that area of interest, and we continued on to the SVOs, Cobras, Cobra R, and Shelby fashions. At the moment, SSP element provide is sort of scarce, with NOS components commanding most of cash; true collectors see the worth in a correct restoration.” Once we requested him about the way forward for the SSP Mustangs, “It is laborious to say the place these vehicles will land so far as being roughly helpful than an identical LX coupe, however values for all Foxes proceed to rise. I imagine solely 25 to 35 % of the SSPs particularly are nonetheless roadworthy, as most have been became race vehicles [because of the lightweight notchback LX base] or simply fell aside from neglect.”