Retired Patrol Car: 1988 Ford Mustang SSP

The Special Service Package or SSP is a lightweight police package based on the Fox-body Ford Mustang between 1982-93. It was produced to give law enforcement faster, more nimble cars to supplement their department fleets. This 1988 example was retired from service in ’91 and purchased through a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) auction. It hasn’t been used much in the past 15 years and needs some TLC. Located in Miami, Florida, the former chase vehicle is available here on eBay where the no reserve auction has tipped $14,101.

SSPs were often customized to suit the needs of the purchasing law enforcement agencies. Over the 12-year run, nearly 15,000 of these cars are said to have been built. Quite a few are likely to be around, with some of them still on the job. These vehicles were more rugged versions of the 5.0 Mustang, with extra goodies that would not have been offered on stock Mustangs. These may have included:

  • Engine oil cooler
  • Silicone radiator hoses
  • Heavy-duty alternators
  • Reinforced floor pans and a full-size spare
  • Roll cages

This 1988 SSP Mustang began as an LX model and was one of 270 bought by the FHP. After three years on the job, the car was auctioned off by the service. The seller bought the Ford and has kept it for 30 years, using it little over the last half of that period. It was treated to one repaint in the FHP black/yellow scheme and still looks good. All the sheet metal is as the car left the factory with. The interior is original, clean, and in decent condition.

The seller’s Mustang came with a 5-speed manual, and we don’t know if that applied to all 270 of the cars the FHP ordered as some of their brethren specified automatics. We’re told the SSP runs, drives, and stops but needs some mechanical attention after periods of inactivity. For example, the clutch cable is stretched and should be replaced (the seller is providing a new one with the deal). This cop car has 89,000 miles which sounds low considering these vehicles spent a lot of time on the interstate at highway speeds. That should be a plus in the survivability of the drivetrain.

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I’ve been to a few large Mustang events (e.g. Mustang Club of America shows) where a group of SSP owners attended, and then organized themselves for a group photo. The cars in various liveries, lights blazing, with owners standing beside them makes for a very cool display/photo.

    Like 18
  2. Roger Hackney

    How many horsepower is an SSP ?
    À standard Mustang 5.0 ?

    Like 4
    • MAC

      All SSP models came with the same HP as a standard 5.0 Mustang.

      Like 6
  3. 1946 Jalopy

    May only have 89,000 miles but engine never got shut off during a shift. Check underneath, they got some pretty bad abuse running through the median to chase people down going the other way.

    Like 11
  4. Steve Clinton

    I bet it still goes like a bat outta Hell!

    Like 9
  5. Abi

    The author sure doesn’t do his due diligence. According to the autocheck report posted on ebay, the odometer has rolled over not once but maybe 2 times.
    In 1996 the inspection report said 145,000 miles. The next year is said 76,000 but I’ll bet that meant 176,000 miles. The seller claims the car now has 89,000 which would be at least 189,000 assuming the car only drove 13,000 miles in the last 24 years. I think the new owner is going to get a car with a very tired engine and suspension. “Needing TLC” is an understatement.

    Like 15
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I always get a kick out of owners who make mileage claims and then actually contradict their claims with the AutoCheck Report that is included in their OWN ad!

      Whenever I see a 1980+ vehicle on EBay with low mileage claims and an included AutoCheck Report, I always click the report. It happens a lot – false claims.

      Like 11
    • Ralph

      I don’t fault Russ on this omission. The seller should be the one to disclose true mileage. But do appreciate your detective work. That is what allows the true facts to come out.
      These were beat to hell and back, and more than a few fires were started in Florida interstate medians from cops doing u turns in the grass for a chase. Also a few were flooded when over eager cops tried the same turns after a few days of rain, not uncommon to have a couple feet of water standing in the median, hidden by grass…had one come after me, he got stuck.
      Thank you lord. This needs to be examined with a very critical eye before purchase. The only folks harder on a car than teen age boys are the cops.

      Like 3
    • Rob Meyer

      I had a 89 Taurus SHO and put on 155,000 miles in 4-1/2 years. When I hit 100,000 miles the odometer flipped back to 0. While visiting my Mom on Long Island it would not start so I had it towed to the closest Ford dealer. They said it was a cam sensor. Several days later they called and said my car was ready at no charge because my odometer read 40,000 miles and covered by Fords warranty. I had 140,000 on it at the time. All my service had been done in Maine. I was surprised their computers did not catch that. BTW they said the bill would have been $1500.

      Like 8
      • Ralph

        Every once in a while we seem to “win” one. Congrats, I’m sure you have paid the dealers enough before that repair….

        Like 5
  6. Joe B.

    Me now ex father- in – law at first didn’t believe me that the Minnesota State Patrol had a few of these Mustangs in their fleet back in the day. He and i were driving on 35W when I became suspicious of a plain wrapper blue in color Mustang that he was rapidly overtaking. I could see dual exhaust but the dead giveaway was a pair of lights in the rear window. He slowed down but still passed the trooper going barely over the posted speed limit. I’m sure that trooper had many laughs driving that Mustang.

    Like 7
  7. Tom71mustangs Member

    I’ve owned two SSP Mustangs, one was a 1990 formerly marked NC SHP car. I owned it and daily drove it in 1996, when there were still marked and unmarked NCHP cars on the road. People definitely were aware of them by that point, and definitely got the H#LL out of your way (quickly merged into the right lane) whenever I drove down the highway in it. Great fun, fast (for the day, only 225 Hp or so!) and cheap fun. I still kick myself for selling it.

    Like 8
  8. piper62j

    Most law enforcement vehicles including highway patrol cars spend most of their time idling. The opportunities for patrolling are on a need to do requirement.. Granted, when on the highway, the cars may be on the side of the road idling for hours and suddenly require a quick high speed intercept.. Take it from one who knows from 11 yrs on the dept.

    Like 15
  9. John kuhne

    I’ve had the honor to have been pulled over and ticketed by such a fine pony

    Like 5
  10. Boathouse

    More than once

    Like 3
  11. JoeJ56

    Maybe just me but it seems unusual for a cop car to be a manual. That’d limit the number of officers who could drive it, especially these days. (And I say that as an old-school guy still driving a stick shift Sonic.)

    Like 5
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      I’ve read that even 30 +/- years ago, the lack of people who could drive a manual transmission was an issue with these Mustangs. Those of you with experience can comment, but I also expect it could get very busy at times for the officer in the driver’s seat, even without having to shift gears.

      I wonder how many twentysomethings today can drive a manual transmission.

      Like 2
      • Camaro guy

        That’s one of my favorite garage signs picture of a Hurst shifter with a 4 speed ball on it says millennial anti theft device pretty much answers that question 😁

        Like 1
      • Dwcisme

        Doing driver exam road tests, lately, I seldom saw 1 manual trans in 200 on our highway tests (people usually bring their own cars for that test). Of those, maybe 25% were doing it well. When I started in 2000, it was maybe 1 in 50. Of course, these days, it’s hard to find a manual trans car.

  12. Rob Meyer

    Dealer serviced every 3,000 to 4,000. Highway miles. Clutch went at 150,000 miles. Yes I did pay for that one. Great road car. Ran even with the 5.0 Mustangs.

    Like 3
  13. Shane D Bryant

    All of the marked FHP Mustangs were 5-speed manuals. Some of the unmarked cars were automatics. One issue with extended idling was it would cook the front brake rotors with no air flowing over them. I did 31 years with FHP and my first Mustang was an ’86 and the last one was a ’92. Troopers that were issued Mustangs (and later on the Z-28’s and Chargers) were required to get special training on the cars.

    Like 2
    • piper62j

      With all due respect.. How does sitting on the side of the road for extended periods of time with the engine idling, have any affect on the front brake rotors.?

      Like 1
      • Big Schwag

        I too wondered about this, how are brakes affected sitting still?

        Like 1
  14. Grizzly

    The first batch of NC State Highway Patrol Mustangs came with the manual shifter in the floor!! And you are quite correct that it could be very busy inside of one of those Mustangs when the Excitement level went to the maximum level of play!!!! lol

  15. CHRIS M DEHNE

    Florida buyers beware! I believe it is illegal to operate this car on Florida roads. The FHP colors are trademarked and can only be used for display such as car shows etc. Correct me if wrong.

    Like 1
  16. Bill McCoskey

    I was in the Military Police beginning in 1972. I was amazed at the number of new recruits who couldn’t drive stick shift, so the MP training included using Jeeps that had stick shift. When I landed at Fort Meade, the local MP unit there was using old worn out 1968/69 AMC Matadors, 6 cylinder & stick shift, no power steering or brakes, and of course no A/C. Vacuum wipers and not even windshield washers! OD Green paint and black heavy duty vinyl seats, no decorative patterns or seams in the seat surfaces. Oh, almost forgot to mention the black rubber floor mats, textured to look like loop pile carpeting, but that fooled no one!

    Those cars were certainly priced to win the Government low bid.

    Like 2

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