It’s SEMA week 2010, which means a slew of customized and high-performance vehicles will be revealed and announced at the industry trade show in Las Vegas over the next few days. With just a bit of irony, one of the Ford vehicles to be debuted in the midst of this speed-centered audience is the ultimate stealth Police Interceptor – a customized concept of its all-new Police Interceptor sedan.
Using the strong lines and muscular stance of the Ford Police Interceptor sedan as a base, Ford designer Melvin Betancourt developed a customized undercover stealth version that’s both stylish and full of high-tech surprises.
“This car offered the perfect canvas for me as a designer,” Melvin said. “The Police Interceptor sedan is already a unique vehicle. I just started looking at ways to give it that mysterious but high-tech look.”
Melvin started the undercover version by lowering the body and giving the illusion of added width. The body was lowered an inch, and the special 22-inch wheels are inside a staggered rim section so the front is 3 inches and the rear is 3.5 inches.
“The rim section is stacked to give it the illusion of greater width,” he said. “The center of the wheel is glossy black, and the rim is chrome. So we have that racy, hot rod look, but at the same time we’re building a sinister, stealthy, ‘Don’t mess with me’ feeling.”
Melvin used imagery of the SR-71, the original stealth airplane, for inspiration as he customized the vehicle. Known as the Blackbird, this high-altitude, long-range reconnaissance aircraft was secretly designed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Its top speed was more than three times the speed of sound. Now retired, the Blackbird is considered by many aviation enthusiasts as the ultimate airplane.
Melvin kept in mind the Blackbird’s iconic imagery and status as he considered the elements of his own stealth project. “When you think stealth, you think, ‘there, but not there.’ This is all about strength, secrecy and concealment.”
The exterior of the Police Interceptor stealth vehicle is solid black. The grille is mesh, like the original sedan, but the metal is thicker, offering more depth. The lights on the car are designed to be inconspicuous, with the surrounding area painted black so they blend in until illuminated.
The back of the vehicle was given an aggressive spoiler adorned with bead lights painted black so they remain unnoticed until the car is started. The taillights are smoked, the windows tinted.
It’s a vehicle that exudes power – and it should. The production Police Interceptor sedan model offers two powertrain options, allowing police to choose the engine that best meets their needs.
A 3.5-liter V6 engine delivering at least 280 horsepower and E85 compatibility is 25 percent more efficient than the 4.6-liter single-overhead-cam V8 offered in the current Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. And an all-new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injection EcoBoost V6 engine will deliver at least 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque across a broad rpm range.
That strength complements the mystery inside the revamped interior of the stealth version.
“It’s all about concealing everything,” Melvin said. “The headliner is black, we wrapped the B-pillars in black, and then we started looking at, ‘Where can I hide this? How can I conceal this?’ We repackaged the console – it looks like a production console with the waterfall of the instrument panel. But when you start opening doors and panels, that’s when you see everything.”
Unless you’re supposed to be in the vehicle, you won’t know where and how to find the compartments, he said. For example, the radio is hidden inside the console, as is an onboard computer. Also, the glove box has a secret space designed for weapons.
The Police Interceptor sedan was introduced in March 2009, followed by a utility version in September. Both Interceptors will debut simultaneously when production of the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor ceases in late 2011.
The stealth concept vehicle will be on display throughout the SEMA show, which runs Nov. 2-5, 2010.