V8 Ford Mustang Returns to Police Duty in North Carolina

State Highway Patrol is taking delivery of 25 Mustangs, each said to cost about the same as a standard Interceptor.

byJosé Rodríguez Jr|
Ford News photo
North Carolina State Highway Patrol


The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is making room for a stable full of horses and debuting a fleet of modified 2024 Ford Mustang GT models powered by the 5.0-liter V8. The menacing 5.0 badge worn by the Mustang GT that passed you on your morning commute will now be worn by the State Highway Patrol's cruisers—a nod to when the legendary Fox-body Mustang was in public service back in the '80s and '90s.

The North Carolina SHP announced that it's adding 25 new Mustang GTs to its fleet, and remarked that the move was part of the "history and traditions" of the department. The department added that the tradition goes back a few decades to the "80’s and early 90’s," but didn't mention that the V8 Mustangs in use back then were Special Service Package Mustangs, also known as "SSP" following a change from their original name, "Severe Service Mustangs." Yeah, that rebrand was warranted.

A Special Service Package Fox-body Mustang that had been used by the California Highway Patrol, recently restored to its former glory. Ford

The SSP Mustangs were first used in 1982 and the California Highway Patrol deployed 400 of the Fox-body 'Stangs, according to Ford. Soon thereafter, highway patrol agencies around the country—including the North Carolina SHP—bought their own models, and the rest is history. It's estimated that 15,000 SSP Mustangs were manufactured and put into service until they were discontinued by Ford about a decade later in 1993. The state is now picking up where it left off in the 1990s with this latest acquisition of V8 Mustangs.

This really amounts to a state agency filling out a requisition for supplies—like the SHP ordering pens and paper pads—except these are road-going supplies, which troopers depend on day-to-day. Still, it's amusing to see the North Carolina SHP turn the acquisition into a whole thing, with a photo shoot and all. A Bell 429 GlobalRanger chopper hovers above the V8-powered Mustang in a photo on X with all the seriousness of a Michael Bay film.

The SHP claims that the cost of the Mustangs is comparable to other cruisers in the fleet, such as the Ford Police Interceptor Utility, which is based on the Ford Explorer and boasts a hybrid drivetrain. These are the standard police vehicles you'll see in fleets around the country, and a 2023 model-year Police Interceptor had an MSRP of $47,165. So, according to the SHP, the cost of its new Mustangs should be in the high $40,000s, or low $50,000s. If they come in at something like $52,000 per, then a fleet of 25 of the V8 Police 'Stangs would cost somewhere around $1.3 million.

It's unclear exactly what the SHP's Mustangs cost the North Carolina taxpayer, but for $1.3 million, Ford could have at least thrown in a good set of wheels, like those that come on the 60th Anniversary Package, rather than the standard dark-colored rims that the SHP fastbacks have. But I suppose it's all about cost efficiency for government agencies, in the end. Hence, the V8 Mustangs and helicopters.

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