1986 Indian Rocks, FL Fire District - Chief's SSP Mustang

Not your typical SSP Mustang!

Text and photos by Mike Riley

Owner: Mike Riley

 

    Although most SSP Mustangs were earmarked for Police pursuit and undercover use, there are some exceptions. This 1986 SSP was used by the Indian Rocks Fire District (Now the Pinellas Suncoast Fire District), a state agency which covers a large area including Seminole, Indian Rocks Beach and other unincorporated areas throughout Pinellas County. The vehicle was built on Monday July 7th, 1986, and it started it's service on 9/08/86 after being ordered through Don Reid Ford in Orlando. The car is equipped with an interesting list of options, including the typical Special Service items such as 5.0 HO motor, 3.27 posi, certified speedometer, special police steel wheels and auto trans cooler. It was originally Oxford White (code 9L) with Canyon Red interior (code FD-Ironic eh?), 1 of 119 built with this combination and the district painted a wide red stripe on each side to match. It also includes power windows, power door locks, AC, AM/FM cassette, tilt wheel and cruise control - pretty well equipped for a small city vehicle!

   This car was originally ordered by the FD Chief in 1986, was used as his vehicle, and subsequently by another Chief when the original one left the department. It was eventually replaced as the Chief's car with a Crown Vic (obviously more practical but not as much fun!) in 1996. It was kept in service, but saw only occasional use as an extra service vehicle through the end of 2001 and auctioned off in March 2002. An Indian Rocks FD firefighter purchased the vehicle, being the sole bidder at the auction, this after prior attempts by the town to sell it with no luck! Unbeknownst to me, this car was for sale right in my own backyard of Clearwater after he bought it! A friend spotted the ad in the local Autotrader, passed it along to me, and I picked the car in June 2002, as you see it in the first group of photos.  At the time I bought it, the car was purchased by me with 111K miles, most of those put on between '86-'96 by the FD. It had kept most of the correct (and hard to find) SSP stuff intact, like certified speedometer and special steel wheels (including a special steel full size spare with Gatorback!). This car did not have silicone hoses, oil cooler, single key locking, or a HD alternator, as some of these were not an option during '86, or were just not ordered for this build.

    One other note of interest-the vehicle was ordered with a 24 DSO through the Jacksonville sales office...however, the bucktag for it actually states 26 office, Louisiana Special Service Pkg-who never ordered any 1986 cars...or did they? The tag is pictured below.

   --Mike

Click on an image for a larger view:

06.23.02 - As purchased condition:

The large red stripe was added after the vehicle was removed as the Chief's car and the car was repainted.

Right side of vehicle with the large 'rolled-on-with-latex-paint' stripe!

Original interior. The red was faded from years near the beach in the Florida sun. The SSP in back is a '92 and is one of 3 Red FHP cars used. The dual antenna mount holes and spotlight hole were covered with bondo prior to repainting. Oddly enough, the decklid was the only area of rust on the car and can be seen in the photo. It was replaced.

Update: 07.19.02

     The car is now in paint shop. I removed the seats and carpet before bringing in the car for paint. The car was stripped and the factory Ford White 9L paint was applied. The 2 holes were uncovered for the rear antennas, as well as the spotlight. This car was surprisingly rust free, the decklid was the only area that needed to be addressed. Another '86 white decklid was purchased from a local yard to replace it.

Update: 08.03.02

     I got the car back, and the paint came out great. It will go back to be wet sanded in a couple of weeks. I installed all electronics and wiring for the lightbar and siren, and laid new carpet. I also had to fix the drivers seatback, which had broken from years of use...a common problem on some of the earlier SSP cars.

Update: 08.08.02

    I applied all the decals and installed the lightbar-almost done! I had all the seats re-dyed, since they were badly faded from the Florida sun all those years, although they were in great shape with only one small tear; they look like new! Just have to reinstall them and trim pieces.

Update: 08.10.02

    All done for now! Mounted the lightbar and tested everything. This was one of the easier restorations I've done since the car was in pretty good shape to being with.

    The car looks pretty authentic, since it has the same in-service electronics which I was able to purchase. The lightbar uses quick connects and though I'll be driving the car daily, I'll remove the Jetsonic and uses it for shows.

--Mike 

Rear view with lightbar

Inside with lights

Lights, camera, action!

Interior

Outside the shop Side view

Update: 03.18.05

    Well, as the pics below show, the car has gone through a few iterations. First, the decals were replaced with permanently mounted gold/red reflective stripes and FIRE lettering. Then the original equipment bracket(!) was obtained from the department, although the original lightbar, an SVP Eclipse, is still not on the car since the Jetsonic works so well; eventually this will be replaced too. As of this date, this car has been driven to shows in Detroit MI, Nashville TN, Charlotte NC, Columbia SC and all over Florida, and always seems to get a warm reception from onlookers. It is amazing to me how smooth this car rides, it is just extremely comfortable and mechanically sound, regardless of the miles, now almost 123K.

 

 

Original equipment bracket and SVP siren, Motorola radio, toggle switches.

 

The original Lightbar, an SVP (Southern Vehicle Products) Impulse.

 

Permanently mounted graphics, great photo spot on Tampa Bay.

At shows around the U.S.

         

86_Fire_Chief_on_Lowes1sc_th.jpg (3306 bytes)

Mikes_SSP_on_Track_th.jpg (4413 bytes)

Starting in Charlotte...on the track at Lowe's Speedway running full out!

Then inside Lowe's Speedway with my unmarked '93 FHP.

Onto to Detroit for the Ford 100th-What a neat place to snap a photo!

Lookout Mtn. in Tennessee-Great View!

and back to it's old stomping grounds in the District at the 94th Street station in Seminole!

Back to Features: