California Highway Patrol 1973 Dodge Polara

David KumhyrI always liked the 1973 Polara and drove them at the North Carolina Justice Academy when he was a rookie. In 2005 he found one in North Carolina that was an original California Highway Patrol (CHP) slicktop patrol car. A slicktop is a patrol car that does not have roof mounted lights making it more difficult to spot.

The Polara came with the original 285 horsepower 440 CID V8. It’s a little tired and smokes a little but runs just fine. The air cleaner cover is flipped over on purpose. It allows the carburetor to suck more air and creates a more dramatic and menacing sound when you floor the gas pedal.

The dash panel was a mess, so David ordered a new one. The fuse box had melted at some point in the past due to some wiring added without
proper fusing. David replaced it and created a replica CHP switch panel to control the lights and siren. The switch panel is in the place of the AM radio which was deleted from the CHP cars. It was actually common for law enforcement agencies to have the radios deleted and mount switches in their place.

The dash also has a 140 MPH speedometer, oil pressure gauge, and an A/C cutoff switch to shut off the compressor during pursuits.

The California Highway Patrol markings were applied to magnetic sheets so they can be removed from the vehicle when it’s not being shown. This allows David to drive the car around without upsetting the local police.


  • 440 4-bbl. HP V-8 engine
  • 8.2:1 compression ratio
  • 285 Net HP at 4,800 RPM
  • 380 ft-lbs at 3,200 RPM
  • A-727 Torqueflite 3-speed
  • 3.23:1 Sure Grip 8-3/4″ axle
  • Weight 4,354 Lbs.

This car is 1 of 1,765 Dodge Polara’s ordered by California Highway Patrol in 1973 at $3,211.00 each. It was delivered by Swift Dodge, in Sacramento California in March 1973.

Specifications from Road Test Magazine in September 1973:

  • 0-60 MPH in 11.2 seconds
  • 1/4-mile in 17.3 seconds at 83 MPH
  • Top speed 130 MPH


David has a 1973 vintage Kustom Signals MR-7 RADAR unit. However, the California Highway Patrol wasn’t authorized to use radar to enforce speed on roads in rural and unincorporated areas until 1988.


California Highway Patrol Milestones In Time

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I started my career as a police officer in 1989 with the Geneva on The Lake Police Department. I worked part time as a police officer and full time as a Security Sergeant doing armed mobile security patrols for a local security company. In 1990 I became a State Trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. During my career as a State Trooper I was certified as a Technical Crash Investigator, OPOTA Police Instructor, OPOTA Police Driving Instructor, LASER Instructor, and received awards for ACE (Auto Larceny) and Post Trooper of The Year. Code 3 Garage is a mix of my inner automotive gearhead, and public safety background. I hope you enjoy it!