Police cars : Austin

Austin 1100/1300 Panda cars were a common sight in the 1970s, as were Metro Area cars in the 1980s. Less common in Police hands were the 1800 ‘Land crab’ and short-lived 3-litre.

Austin A95 Westminster

An A95 Westminster in service with the Cornwall Police Force, photographed at Bodmin in 1956.

Austin A40 Farina

A Birmingham Police Austin A40 Farina Panda car, photographed at Erdington in 1966.

Austin 1100/1300

A Staffordshire ADO16 Panda car pictured at a snowy Cannock Chase in the winter of 1968.

Austin 1800

Another Staffordshire car, this time an Austin 1800 ‘Landcrab’, also photographed in 1968.

Austin A110 Westminster

A Warwickshire A99 Westminster Traffic Patrol car, pictured at Leamington Spa.

Austin 3-litre

A West Riding Austin 3-litre Patrol car.

Austin Allegro

An Allegro Panda car, photographed at the 2002 Enfield Auto Pageant. (Picture kindly supplied by Alexander Boucke)

Austin Metro

A Dutch police Metro.

Austin Maestro/Montego

The Montego was used in 1.6 form by several police forces until around 1990, and in Jersey until the mid-1990s. The Maestro 1.3 was also used as a Panda car during the 1980s and early 1990s, featuring the better, Montego-style front seats from 1989. (Picture and information kindly supplied by Neil Turner)

A few forces, notably London’s Metropolitan, also used MG Maestros and Montegos.

Keith Adams


  1. That poor Austin 3 litre, having to punch that air brake of a “POLICE” sign through the air.

    What were they thinking?

    • Aerodynamics wasn’t really invented back then (at least not in the automotive field, especially not for bespoke extras) .. And to be fair the 3 litre has all the aero of a small bungalow anyway. It probably would have made about 10-12mph difference at full speed – and I suspect the cars were tuned (Downton?) which made a substantial difference, so all in all it would have probably broken even. Acceleration wouldn’t have been much affected although I’d not want to try and tool that car through back roads at 70+mph, that would have been scary.
      Anyone else notice the pert behind of the series snipe/imperial? Having driven one – those would have been frankly terrifying as pursuit cars.. Power steering that wasn’t so much steering as it was wishful thinking, although the westlake tune helped performance.
      Now here’s a thought – the Citroenesque 1800 with the small 289 v8 they put in the sunbeam tiger – or the one from the Stag or SP250. That would have made an excellent police car.. And with hydragas/hydralastic it could manage a straight line too..
      My driving instructor was a police advanced driving instructor – and the things he could get a Metro GTA to do were frankly amazing, it’s a shame that there’s no such thing as Spaarti cloning cylinders – because judging by driving abilities today, a couple of hundred thousand clones of him would improve road safety no end.

        • I’d love to, or another Humber Sceptre (H120) or *drool* the B5 Tatra T2 603..
          But I’m not working, health is a mess & currently stuck with a Hyundai that produces more global warmings than all three doing Brands Hatch flat out. That and it’s allergic to idling & cold starts. I think the cat might be falling apart, it was overfuelling and now it makes the most interesting noises.
          I hate modern cars. I want something I have a remote chance of fixing, and garages that don’t trash your stuff and then deny all knowledge..

  2. Cumbria Constabulary used the Austin Metro as a panda car for a time in the eighties as the Minis they used previously were too small and impractical. Mostly, though, they went for Fords for traffic cars and vans and officers had a choice of a Metro or a Fiesta for a panda car. In the early nineties diesel Maestros, which offered far more space and excellent economy, became Cumbria’s panda car of choice.

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