Steam powered what?

Did you know that the first police cars in Boston
were steam powered? The first police vehicle in the
city was a 1903 Stanley Steamer. These steamers
were faster than their gas powered counterparts,
but only held together for about 7,000 miles.

Why are we bringing up steam powered police cars?
Glad you asked. It ties into a story about how
California decided to fund a trial of steam powered
law enforcement vehicles to offset pollution.

What could go wrong with that idea? Would you
believe just about everything. Oh, did we mention
this happened in 1969? Anyway, the California
legislature funded a trial of steam powered police
cruisers and even found two companies who take on
the task of converting gas burning police cars to
the more environmentally friendly steam power.


The Dodge Polara was chosen as it was popular
model in law enforcement at the time along with an
Olds Delta 88. The Olds was sent to Thermodymanic
Systems for conversion and the Polara went to
William P. Lear’s company.

Neither vehicle was ever seen again. The group
assigned the Olds raised the white flag almost
before they started and the company working on the
Dodge soon followed. Of course when this happened
the plans for steam powered buses also went up
in smoke.

We can’t pretend to guess if the government even
thought this one out before passing it. A heat
source had to be available to make steam and
propane was being seriously looked at as a source.
But the government wanted no pollution and the
project was finally officially ended.

And that is yet another reason some people scream
in fear when they hear the words “I’m from the
government and I want to help”.
Comments are always welcome.


5 Responses to Steam powered what?

  1. nitrous55 says:

    I’ve seen some of the steamers that Jay Leno has on TV. I’d be cool to have one. Of course, I have always loved old steam tractors and trains.

  2. Jon Gregory says:

    Yeah. I think that the police ones better stick to gasoline tho. :p

  3. cruisin2 says:

    they are something to watch. The warm up process would be a little too slow for my liking though.

    Jon Gregory,
    we hope so.

  4. ikr the badguy gets away while you’re steaing up the car!!

  5. cruisin2 says:

    true. Thanks for the laugh.

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