VIDEO: 1978 Chevrolet Nova 9C1 Visits Jay Leno’s Garage

Special cars made for police use are hardly a new concept. As cars have gotten badder and faster, so have features on patrol edition cars. Back in that late ‘70s/early ’80s, one of those cars might have been this Chevy Nova with the 9C1 package.

Lieutenant Bob Killeen from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Bill Sanders visit Jay to show off the department’s new 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility with the classic 1978 Chevrolet Nova 9C1. The differences are pretty significant between the old and new patrol cars.

More than anything, the new patrol cars are stuffed with technology — license plate readers and communication equipment have taken priority over relying on speed to chase people down. Basically, you can’t outrun the radio, and that radio is connected to a far more sophisticated network than ever before.

Rewind to the 1970s, and there was a lot of indecision about what a patrol car should be, and what it needs to perform well. This Nova 9C1 represents the beginning of when police departments and car manufactures were just starting to sort that out.

Retired L.A. County Sheriff Bill Sanders restored this Nova. The car had been in service for about three years for the LAPD, but Bill was not the one who drove it. Although he did not drive this kind of car, Bill solicited advice from his fellow policemen about the best patrol car, and the answer was the Nova, time and time again.

Bill bought this car from an acquaintance who got the car in ‘plain’ form from an auction — it didn’t have the lights, decals, paint job, cage, etc. It would have been hard to peg it as a police car before Bill got his hands on it. Making it as authentic as possible, Bill took this Nova back to its days of chasing bad guys — noting that it was quite the task to find all of these authentic parts.

The Nova patrol car is outfitted with big brakes, a cage, lights, search light, radios, and appearance features. It took about 5 years to complete the project, and it’s a great example of patrol car nostalgia.

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