I’M A BIG fan of Aussie cars and their manufacturing industry (tragically coming to an end later this year), so it was with both pride and sadness that, with Beano, I prepared last issue’s article about the restored NSW Police highway patrol cars. The VS V8 Commodore and EL XR8 Falcon represented the best of our durable, affordable, Aussie performance cars… and of course being police cars, the two examples from last issue would have seen the upper ranges of their tachos and speedos often.
Sure, cars are just lumps of metal, rubber and plastic, but I reckon if any car could have a pet-like spirit it would be a highway patrol car in the hands of its ‘master’.
But there was some frustration mixed with the pride because at the request of NSW Police Force management I had to delete part of my article as it could have been seen as ‘commercial endorsement’.
There was a domino effect; I had to delete another chunk of my article because I couldn’t present an unbalanced article. Brand favouritism and all that… Those are the facts of the situation. But please don’t misunderstand this as a vent against the NSW Police. It’s not. It’s a middle-finger to the political correctness that has generally permeated our society to such a degree, that even our hardworking and honest cops can’t provide an insight into their lives and work without fearing back-lash from some grumpy old fart – or the modern equivalent, a whining Gen Y-er on Facebook – decrying what a police-person said in a magazine about a model of car that hasn’t been sold in 20 years or more.
Anyhow, here’s the two great bits of real-world police car action I so desperately wanted to be in last issue’s article. A big thanks to these two blokes – let’s nick-name them Sam and Fred – who shared their yarns with me.
This is one officer’s recollection of a particular police car: even 20 years after he drove it, it remained memorable.
“It was very quick,” recalls Sam. “We had about four other cars in my section and this was so much faster than the rest of them. I’m not sure why… You know how people talk about Monday cars and Friday cars? I think this was a Monday car! It was like chalk and cheese.”
Sam recalls that this car had a replacement motor fitted early in its life. “That happened sometime before I got there,” he says. “I only every drove it with the new motor.”
There’s no doubt many highway patrol officers are performance enthusiasts but for police there’s more to liking a fast car than grinning. For this type of work, a faster car is a safer car.
“With the Highway Patrol, you are assigned a particular car,” says Sam. “And everyone wanted this one!”
This is the story of a Highway Patrol officer’s high-speed run from Sydney to Canberra – more than 200km – carrying a cardiac surgeon and his precious cargo.
“I got a call for [the Highway Patrol car] to meet a doctor with a parcel,” Fred recalls. “So I waited in the agreed spot. He pulled in behind me… He was in his own car and he was carrying an Esky.
“He put the Esky on the back seat, got in the car and said ‘go’. He identified himself as a cardiac surgeon and said there was a heart in the Esky on the back seat… “I asked him why he didn’t fly – but apparently there were no aircraft available.
It was particularly urgent as there was a bloke on an operating table in Canberra with his chest open and the heart they already had, for some reason, was the wrong one… It wasn’t suitable.
“So he says: ‘How fast can you get me to Canberra…?’
And we took off and he started screaming… We were in and out of traffic. Lights and siren, the lot… I said to him: ‘Trust me – just sit there.’
“Of course, the further down south I got, I’d have to swap radio channels. I was asking for road blocks and assistance from – for instance – Goulburn Highway Patrol. I asked them to help by organising assistance from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) police. Of course, I would have been out of jurisdiction in the ACT and there are other things to consider, too, such as my wearing a firearm. So the right thing to do is ask for an escort.
“When I got to the ACT border no one was there – we were travelling so fast they didn’t get there in time. It made no difference; I just kept going, right down the main drag, around Parliament House and off to the hospital, where the doctor jumped out and off he went.
“My adrenalin was pumping, I can tell you! But delivering the doc and the heart… it was a good day at work that day.”
Normally, now I ask: ‘what do you reckon – has political correctness gone mad?’ But I already know the answer to that! This time, just give a thought to all the hardworking cops, ambos and nurses out there.