The world's fastest police car is a lone Ferrari 3000 belonging to the Questura (public security) police of Rome. A 150-mph ace in the hole, it is considered too precious for ordinary use and is reserved for emergencies at night, when there is less traffic and less chance that it might be scratched or have a fender crumpled. Common daytime duty is assigned to the baby Fiat, which is handy but not hot. The open road in Italy is wide open, with practically no speed limits, and there the Alfa Romeos run rampant, chased, when necessary, by 120-mph police in Alfa Romeos. In such situations it pretty much depends on who runs out of gas first.
On the country lanes of England, where the Stirling Mosses grow, policemen have a happier lot than most, driving the 125-mph Jaguar 3.8 Mark 2 or a Daimler SP. But Colin Chapman, whose Lotus-Climax won the Grand Prix Championship in 1963, and whose sports car, the Lotus Elan S2, is unbeaten, has now created an Elan Police Special, with large-throat carburetors and special camshafts. It can reach 50 mph in seven seconds and a top of 117 mph in about 18 seconds. An open two-seater, only 3 feet 9� inches high, it nevertheless can accommodate two large bobbies and their radio. With superlative road-holding ability, it corners at speed and can make a U turn in 30 feet. It can even do 36 mph in reverse. James Bond would love it.
The first British company to cater to cops was Ford, with its special 100-mph Zephyr. Ford also has produced a 90-mph Cortina GT station wagon for Kenya's rough-riding police.
France is somewhat behind in the race. The flics ride to work on bicycles, then putter from one traffic jam to the next in tiny Renaults. In emergencies they dash off at 80 mph in the good old Peugeot 403, which is a fine, sound automobile but never would cause a fleeing crook to exclaim "Diable! We arc undone!"