The Air Marshall

Words: Dave Smith

Photos: Matt Richardson

You’ve heard of undercover cops? These guys are lower than that…

When it comes to grime- fighting, these guys know how to clean up the town. Their Crown Vic shines like the Crown Jewels, but when the going gets tough, they can drop it like it’s hot. They need to, in their relentless pursuit of The Cam-Air-O on the mean streets of … Leicestershire?

Right, that’s enough of the late- evening Seventies cop show blarney, and we aren’t talking Starsky and Hutch here, we’re talking Clarke and Masterman. That’s Tom and Dale respectively, and you’re far less likely to find them sporting flares and chunky-knit cardigans than a machine polisher and a Meguiar’s polo shirt.

“Meguiar’s is 15 years old in the UK, but we’d never had a demonstrator,” said senior marketing guy, Tom. “The powers that be allocated us some funding, so we began talking through our options. Lots of other companies do Volkswagens, but we didn’t want to get hemmed into the VW scene because we attend more than 50 shows every year, right across the spectrum. Meguiar’s is an American company so we reached the idea of doing an American car, but then what would best represent the company, in black? We’d gone through the more obvious suggestions of Mustangs and Chevrolets, but then Dale and I were looking on our laptops and we simultaneously said we’d had an idea… we turned the screens around, and we’d both found the same car! A Crown Victoria on air.”

“We looked at various cars in the UK, mostly tired patrol cars that had led a hard life that we would have to repaint. Show season was coming up, and we picked up an old trail from a guy who had one, who’d mentioned that his friend happened to have one too. We were on the road at the time, not far away, so we asked if there was any chance we could come and have a look right now! The guy had a big garage, in which was a blue patrol car, but then noticed this black Interceptor over in the corner. It was a little more than we wanted to spend, but it was in incredible condition and had all the right P71 bits, like the uprated propshaft, reinforced sump and Ford Motorsport hoses. The paint was tired and looked like it had been washed with a broom once a week, but the body was straight and the interior looked as though it had hardly been sat in. It didn’t need any bodywork apart from a small dent in the bonnet that we had popped back out, and the bumper needed painting after we fitted the nudge bar. Other than that, it’s the original paint, and three or four days of machine polishing brought it up lovely.”

“We reached the idea of doing an American car, but then what would best represent the company, in black?”

“Simon at Nefarious Pinstriping laid down the yellow, the Meguiar’s branding with the Protect And Shine logo and Sheriff’s badge, and hand painted. The vinyl 1901 squad car number on the roof is the year Meguiar’s was founded, cut and applied by Syco Graphix, and the chrome trim around the windows was vinyl-wrapped in black. The nudge bar and pillar-mounted spotlight came as part of the sale – the guy took them off the blue patrol car – because we needed people to instantly know it was a police car. Then EMP fitted the custom straight-through exhaust, and that 4.6 V8 sounds thunderous!”

“The real work started when we took the car to Phil at The Install Company. We believe it’s the first Crown Victoria on air in Europe, and there aren’t many anywhere, plus we think it’s the lowest one ever done. We took Phil the picture we’d both found on the internet and said, ‘We want it lower than that.’ This required lots of notching of the reinforced police-spec chassis, and having the AirLift kit custom-fabricated. It’s totally unique, with a custom strut/bag combo, so we’re on very good terms with the guys at AirLift. It was lots to learn, but Phil really pulled it out of the bag. Part of the air instal includes the boot installation, the carbon fibre air tanks and full Kenwood audio set-up. The digital controller for the air suspension is hidden inside the casing of the CB radio. All the work Phil’s done, he’s absolutely nailed it. We always agreed that, when the budget came along, he’d be the one to do the work.”

“We bought the car in February, and did our first show at the end of May, just two and a half months later. Phil had the car just two and a half weeks – he’s a hard worker! Now it drops so low that the only thing stopping it is the sump; you could get a fag paper between the sump and the ground on full drop. We could probably go lower but we wanted to keep the police-spec steel wheels and hubcaps, we won’t be changing them.”

“It’s totally unique, with a custom strut/bag combo, so we’re on very good terms with the guys at AirLift ”

“The whole point of the exercise was to do something rare and unusual that would become a precious finished product, but something fun and different that said Meguiar’s without having it blared down the side. This is certainly fun, and very comfortable as we cruise up and down the country doing shows all over the place, from local to national. We’re both big car enthusiasts, so taking it to shows isn’t a chore; it isn’t even work!”

“We’ve done very few actual modifications, but each mod has a very high impact. We’ve created a monster”

“We’ve won three awards for it so far, which we’re mega-chuffed about. We won Judges Choice at Fuelled Society, a Top 20 at Show And Glow, and Best Paint at the Gravity show! That was amazing, as it’s still original Ford paint! This has been the toughest paintwork to keep on top of that we’ve ever had, it’s so soft that you only have to look at it and there’s a mark on it.”

“Over winter, after the NEC Classic Motor Show, we’re going to do a full-on hot rod interior with a bench seat conversion and everything covered in red leather or Alcantara, a total attention-seeking interior! We’re also looking for a sixties van, an Econoline or an A100. The beauty of the Crown Vic as it sits is that we’ve done very few actual modifications, but each mod has a very high impact. We’ve created a monster. It sounds like a monster, too; it’s bloody loud!”