SFPD Still Runs a 1995 Ford F-350 That’s Been Burned, Beaten, and Just Won’t Quit
It’s been beaten up and even set on fire, but that’s not enough for SFPD to retire it.
Nothing in our lifetimes is likely to dethrone the Ford Crown Victoria as America's most recognizable cop car. We've all seen them so many times that we're numb by now, so long as the cherries and berries aren't flashing in our rearview. Obscure choices for police vehicles are always welcome, then, and I'd argue that's never been more true than with this well-worn Ford F-350. In short, it's a longtime workhorse for the San Francisco Police Department that just won't give up.
My buddy Aaron Cole, The Drive's news editor, spotted a photo of it on Facebook just this week. He and I even went so far as reaching out to the SFPD and bystanders to learn more about it. We didn't hear back from the police, though the original poster Devlin Bonner was kind enough to share his photo and some info that he gleaned while talking with an officer.
"He laughed and told me the truck is used to do cleanup for garbage and such," reads Bonner's Facebook post. "The truck has been set on fire three or four times and has gotten a new box and paint for the box each time."
See what I mean? This is one tough bird.
What looks to have been the most recent arson-related incident took place in August of 2021. Local news outlet Fox KTVU 2 reported live from San Francisco's Tenderloin District with video of the truck in plumes of smoke, proudly wearing its "602" identifier on the front fenders. Surely enough, when Bonner spotted it in May 2022, it was looking pretty solid—not the slightest hint of char.
Running the plate shows it's a 1995 model, which checks out as this specific front bumper was introduced that year. The F-350 is also an XL trim, so about as barebones as you can get, which is perfect. Another photo of the truck that I found on Google shows a pretty skinny tailpipe, which leads me to believe it's powered by the 460-cubic-inch gas V8. (Update: Some readers are claiming it's a 351 gasser, which would also make sense). That'd make it a whole lot cheaper to operate than an equivalent 7.3-liter diesel model—Power Stroke or IDI—given how pricey that fuel is in California.
I asked about the mileage and Bonner told me, "Unfortunately, [the officer] wasn't sure. I think he thought the old cars and trucks were funny, but not really a car person, so remembering odometers wasn't going to happen."
These old body style Fords are so reliable that it's not likely to blow up any time soon; at least, not through any fault of its own. I've got one, albeit with the Power Stroke, and it just surpassed 284,000 miles. That's the important part for SFPD—it's been kept around all this time because "there is no budget for a new one, so if it doesn’t get fixed, they lose their only truck," Bonner added.
That'd be a shame. I hope it doesn't come to that, but should anyone in charge ever decide to off-load this gem, please give me a ring. I'll make room for it. Promise!
Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: email@example.com