At first glance, this Grabber Blue Mustang GT looks stock except for the white Boss-style striping and hoodscoop. But performance-minded drivers should take a second look before revving their engines beside this Mustang at the red light.
Behind the wheel is Deputy Sheriff Doug Twitchell of the Iron County Sheriff's Office in Cedar City, Utah. The Mustang is his squad car, unmarked but equipped with lights, sirens, radar, and video cameras.
I had to ask, "What do people say when you pull them over in what resembles a modified Mustang that they might race on the street?"
"It's mixed," Twitchell answered. "Some are pretty upset and don't think it's right. But you'd be surprised. I probably have 25 percent say, ‘Man, I've never seen a cop car like that. Can we take a picture of it?'"
We found Doug displaying his GT coupe at the Mustang Club of America's national show last year in St. George, Utah. Mechanically speaking, it's pretty much a stock '12 GT with the Coyote 5.0-liter engine.
"How fast will it go?" I wanted to know. I figured Twitchell must have been in some high-speed chases and tested the 412 horsepower a time or two.
He replied, "One day I was chasing a car and was coming down off a hill. And all of a sudden I didn't have any power. I thought, What the heck is going on? I looked down and I was doing 148. It shut me off at 148."
Twitchell had turned around to catch a speeder going 110 in the other direction. He eventually caught his moving target but apparently the Mustang's computer would not allow the car to go faster than 148 mph.
How did he wind up policing the streets in a hot Mustang GT with a 5.0 for a chase vehicle? Twitchell goes back to the 1980s when he and other Highway Patrol officers were using 5.0-liter Fox-body Mustangs. "I had two of those back then," Twitchell relates. "I retired from the Utah Highway Patrol and started with the sheriff's department in 2002. My son went to the SEMA Show in 2003 and brought me a poster of the new Mustangs."
Twitchell really liked the looks of the '04 Mustang. He showed the sheriff the poster and said, "Hey, how about this for my next patrol car?"
The sheriff laughed. But two months later, the sheriff got back to Twitchell and asked about price. To their surprise, the Mustang was $1,500 cheaper than a Crown Vic. "So, the sheriff said for me to get one," Twitchell says.
Twitchell's first sheriff's Mustang was an '04 Anniversary Edition. His '12 model, seen here, is his fourth Mustang patrol car since joining the department.
Twitchell went to the local Ford dealership and requested a new GT. The sheriff let him pick the color. Grabber Blue seemed appropriate as a term speeders might identify with. Twitchell also chose the six-speed manual over the automatic, making it easier to accelerate.
I wondered how Twitchell got the stripes and fiberglass hoodscoop approved. These extras appeared to be merely personal preference and not necessary. Twitchell asked the Ford dealership to add the side stripes and nonfunctional fiberglass hoodscoop, explaining to the sheriff that other officers added more expensive extras, such as XM Radio, to their patrol SUVs and trucks. The sheriff agreed a scoop and stripes was no big deal. In fact, Twitchell said he added a scoop to every other Mustang except for the '04, which came with one from the factory.
He also swapped the factory wheels for the wheels from his '08 Mustang GT and added "Mach 11" to the side of the scoop. "My badge number is 11," he explained. "So just to be kind of silly, I made it a Mach 11 instead of a Mach 1."
Other than "Exempt" license plates and the extra antenna on the rear quarter fender, the Mustang is unmarked.
Twitchell's duty is mainly traffic enforcement on the freeways, state highways, and county roads, so he has plenty of opportunities to chase speeders. I wondered if he showed any sympathy for Mustang drivers. Did he give them a break?
"I try to treat everybody the same, but yeah, I might have given a few of them a break here or there."