There are cop cars and then there are working cars. Yes, there is a difference. A police cruiser is just that…the full deal, ready to hit the road and put in hours upon years of duty time before being unceremoniously sent to auction. The working car, on the other hand…the fire chief’s car, the meter reader’s vehicle, and of course taxi-package fleet sales cars…they were the last bastion of use over style, of durability over luxury. With the Ford Crown Victoria gone, this breed of vehicle is officially extinct, relegating Chevrolet Caprices, American Motors Matadors, and all sorts of vehicles to a small corner of history.
The 1970s Chrysler B-body sedans squarely fit this bill. Plymouth Satellites and Dodge Coronets weren’t catchy musclecars, 440 pursuit mystique be damned. They were average four-doors that were pressed into service and could take solid beatings with minimal upkeep, which made them perfect for workday duty. Normally, once they were done they were auctioned off, sent through a round of increasingly abusive owners and by the late 1980s were headed to the yard to be shredded into bits and pieces. It’s the cruel fate of the working car…decades of service punctuated by a kick down a flight of stairs. But not this Plymouth…it’s survived forty-five years more or less as-is, still ready for someone to hit the key and fire off the 255-horse 360 so that it can get to business as usual. The Satellite is a former California Department of Forestry car. It’s been retired since the early 1980s and has been left alone since, just maintained and driven. It’s beautiful, and much as I’d love to mess with it, I couldn’t. Could you?