Many of you know that, from 1982 through 1993, Ford manufactured a 5.0 notchback mainly for police or other "official" use, known as the Special Service Package. Some of you no doubt will have gained said knowledge firsthand-the hard way. This unique aspect of Mustang history began when the California Highway Patrol ordered more than 400 '82 GL notchbacks-with what Ford then called the Severe Service Package-equipped with the utterly stock 157hp two-barrel 302. For its era, the little sedan's power and 126-mph top speed were impressive, but what really sold the CHP, and ultimately a whole whack of other agencies during the following 11 years, was the SSP 5.0's stone reliability under strenuous police duty, which was apparently in stark contrast to the Camaros previously tried by the Highway Patrol. Best of all-and contrary to considerable urban legend-the SSP Mustang's basic drivetrain, suspension, and brakes remained virtually indistinguishable from civilian models throughout its pursuit career. In other words, from a performance perspective, law enforcement got exactly what we got.
Word of the Fox Mustang's high-speed prowess and durability eventually leaked across the 49th parallel to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who were tasked with the unenviable chore of patrolling vast stretches of long, straight, and-well-tempting highways through Canada's sparsely populated prairie provinces. The Mounties, like their fraternal American counterparts, turned to the Fox 5.0 simply to deter those pesky speeders who might otherwise have had thoughts of simply outrunning their pursuers' more typical stodgy fullsize cruisers (it takes a Mustang to catch a Mustang?). Given Western Canada's decidedly untropical climate, the RCMP was wise enough to limit use of its few pursuit LXs to the brief summer months, and to only their more experienced senior officers. This meant they lasted much longer than a typical cruiser, and weren't simply rusted hulks at the end of their careers.
Our subject '93 SSP LX-one of only four acquired that year by the Mounties-was not retired from service until July 2003. Even after serving the final two years of this decade of duty at a racetrack in the RCMP's advanced driver training program, the Vibrant White coupe still showed only 74,000 miles on its certified-calibration clock when Paul Champagne flew to Manitoba to successfully bid for it. Paul, who had already owned five civilian LXs, had been monitoring the federal government disposal auction for seven months, just waiting for the opportunity to obtain one of these rare Mountie mounts. Says Paul: "The RCMP paid $15,381 when new, and got $7,133 10 years later." That's Canadian funds, eh? He promptly tested the retired interceptor's reliability by driving it straight home, some 2,000 kilometers, to Georgetown, Ontario, in one straight 24-hour stint with buddy Chris Butters.
Safely home, Paul made the decision to keep the LX in visually stock SSP form. The RCMP lettering and insignias he had made to duplicate the originals are easily removed magnetic appliqus, and the authentic light bar bolts on or off in seconds. Though the original paint was "OK," he had the body panels perfected and resprayed. Donut crumbs and Tim Horton's coffee stains aside, the interior was just about perfect and remains essentially untouched, other than the filling of some police equipment holes in the dash. What surprised us most inside was the like-new condition of the original driver-seat material; though the low-back buckets are virtual clones of those in a regular LX, the upholstery is SSP-specific and, clearly, wear and stain resistant. The SSP buckets also benefited from additional metal reinforcement in the track and seatback areas, to provide much needed support during those long highway patrols.
Paul also had the original 10-hole wheels freshened. By 1993, the SSP sedans were the only new 5.0s still wearing these 15x7 10-holers-civilian LXs were by then shod with 16-inch five-spoke wheels. And, yes, the natural (clearcoated) aluminum finish is correct for the period, as Ford stopped painting the cop rims black after 1989.
Photographing the LX festooned in all its removable full Mountie regalia in and around Paul's hometown of Georgetown certainly attracted plenty of attention, including some from the local police-all of it nonconfrontational, thankfully. An off-duty officer even pulled up to admire the coupe at the moment we were ready to pull the trigger on the tire-frying drama of our 30-second burnout. A tip of our 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords hat, constable, for being cool about it; hope you enjoyed the smoke show.
On top, a Trick Flow intake and Twisted Wedge heads went on, fitted with TrickFlow 1.6:1 r
So it seems everyone likes Paul Champagne's ex-RCMP interceptor. And why not? It has such arresting qualities.
Though the '93 SSP Mustang's engine, transmission, rearend, and brakes were identical to any other LX, standard police package hardware included the following.
Single-key locking system
Trunklid release button relocated to left of steering column
Engine oil cooler
External tranny fluid cooler on automatics
Aircraft-style hose clamps
Reinforced bucket seats
Deleted underhood sound pad
160-mph certified-calibration speedometer
215/65R15 Goodyear Eagle GT+4 all-season rubber
Fullsize spare on alloy 10-hole rim
Incidentally, the popular, blue-silicone coolant hoses were optional, not standard, on the SSP.