The production of
the program involved showing all aspects of
correct police procedures, and “Webb wanted the
vehicle itself to be considered a character.” The
show specifically centered on police radio cars
and helped reinforce “the sound of radio as an
anti-crime technology.” The police vehicles used
in the show were purchased from
dealerships (with the exception of the AMC
Matador, purchased from the LAPD fleet) and outfitted by the prop
department to LAPD cruiser specs.
Shop ID #85012
-1972 & '73
AMC Matador - seasons five - seven
(real LAPD units purchased)
The LAPD had
purchased 534 Matadors for its patrol fleet. The
Matador was the only real police fleet vehicle
purchased by Universal from the LAPD, specifically
preferred the Matador because the performance was
similar to the '69 Belvedere but with air
The AMC Matador would only last until
1975 when they were replaced with the
Plymouth Fury. The
Fury was the first car to have power steering,
power windows and air. It would be the last car to use the
TRIO T-2 "can lights" before the change
to the blue and red light bar on all patrol
vehicles in late 1979.
Adam-12 Tow Car with camera and lights.
Malloy & Reed in the Belvedere being towed
through the streets of North Hollywood.
Back of the
units: (L-R) 1968 Belvedere • 1969 Belvedere • 1971
Satellite • 1972 Matador ['67 Belvedere not pictured
since it was only used for the pilot]
FROM THE PILOT: The Impossible Mission
Officer Pete Malloy's
description of the 1967 police unit in the
"This black and white patrol car has an
overhead valve V8 engine. It develops 325
horsepower at 4800 RPM's. It accelerates
from 0 to 60 in seven seconds; it has a top
speed of 120 miles an hour. It's equipped
with a multi channeled DFE radio and an
electronic siren capable of admitting three
variables, wale, yelp, and alert. It also
serves as an outside radio speaker and
public address system. The automobile has
two shotgun racks, one attached to the
bottom portion of the front seat, one in the
vehicle trunk. Attached to the middle of the
dash, illuminated by a single bulb is a hot
sheet desk. Fastened to which you will
always make sure is the latest one off the
teletype before you ever roll."
CLICK FOR MALLOY'S SPEECH
(PPV) These vehicles are rated by the
manufacturer for high speed pursuit and/or heavy duty
use and equipped with upgraded engines, heavy duty
suspension, breaks, cooling systems, electrical systems,
and other special items. Most of the upgrades to these
vehicles are to increase durability and performance. The
manufacturer may give a special name to the vehicle such
as "Police Interceptor" - "Enforcer" or "Pursuit."
The first police package became available in 1950, made
by Ford. Chevy made their first Police Package in 1955,
Dodge in 1956, and Plymouth in 1957.
With the exception of the AMC Matador,
the police cars used on Adam-12 were not equipped with
package' heavy-duty springs and
would sag in the back.
The real LAPD (PPV) units rode high in the back and the
engine had a distinct rumble. The realistic rumble sound
of the car is present on the
show but was an added effect in post-production.
LAPD purchased black cars
that were painted white with the
chrome strip dividing the color below the rear window.
The 1968 through 1971 studio cars were white cars painted
black with no chrome and a white strip below the rear window. The borrowed LAPD unit used
for the Pilot episode has an interior black trunk when open and
the amber lights flash in unison, however, Webb focuses
close-up shots on only one T-2 amber light flashing, giving the
impression of a wig-wag effect.
FRONT RED STEADY BURN:
THEN & NOW
FRONT RED STEADY BURN
Steady burn on CA emergency vehicles is based on old
study that showed red steady burn color is more visible
to drivers than flashy lights as there is no "off" time
like in flashing lights. It's an outdated study that was
done before fast strobes and modern LED technology. But
now steady burn is just a tradition that the public in
CA is used to on our emergency vehicles.
Only the sedan is permitted to engage in a
vehicle pursuit, pursuant to department policy. Like
most police agencies throughout southern California, Los
Angeles Police Department vehicles are ordered painted
in black clear coat. The Department has used
this black-and-white color scheme since approximately
1940 with minimal modifications.
PATROL UNITS: The Los
Angeles Police Department has ended its patrol-car
purchasing drought, adding 188 new 2013 model-year
patrol vehicles from Chrysler and the Ford Motor
Company. The LAPD ordered 100 Dodge Charger Pursuit
patrol cars, 50 Ford Police Interceptor Utility
vehicles, and 38 Ford P.I. sedans. Some of the vehicles
will get a vinyl wrap rather than two-tone paint.
Look at LAPD's current fleet of vehicles(SEE VIDEO BELOW).
A QUICK LOOK AT TODAY'S LAPD BLACK
(WATCH THE VIDEOS IN
THEIR ENTIRETY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE)
Most LAPD police vehicles
now bear three rear bumper stickers: one reading "There's
NO Excuse - For Domestic Violence" - "JoinLAPD.com"
and "Watch The Road - Operation Traffix". On the rear side
panel is a black and white sticker that reads "EMERGENCY
DIAL 9-1-1." The front doors still bear
the seal of the city of Los Angeles, the department
slogan "to protect and to serve" as well as the citywide
five-digit "shop number" and city department name
(POLICE). The last three numbers of the shop number
(used to identify all vehicles operated by the city) are
reprinted on the roof to help air units visually
identify cars. Since the days of Adam-12, LAPD has
added a number on the trunk that identifies
which division the unit belongs to (e.g., a '01' would
be "Central Division" or a '02' would be "Rampart
Since the '67 Belvedere was borrowed from the LAPD for
the Pilot episode, the Universal prop department was not
able to modify and angle the red lights down and inward
for tow scenes with in-car filming as seen in the
series, however, they did remove the windshield.
units are delivered in black, so real units had a black
interior trunk when open, pictured above. Also, the rear
amber lights on this '67 LAPD
unit flashed in unison, which was the standard on most
units in the '60s. In the '70s, actual LAPD patrol car rear amber lights
either flashed in unison OR in a funky, random pattern.
Inspired by Adam-12, the LAPD began using the wig-wag
pattern on the rear ambers in 1977 / '78.
First picture below is a studio police car with the "can
lights" noticeably angled down and inward with the
siren dulled for the tow-car shots. The second picture
shows the interior color of the trunk is white since the
studio purchased all white cars and painted them black
where needed. The third picture shows one of the
real LAPD units (black interior trunk) that Jack Webb ordered
directly from AMC.
exception of the real 1967 Plymouth Belvedere borrowed
from LAPD's North Hollywood Division for the Pilot only,
all of the Adam-12 studio police cars (including the
real LAPD AMC Matador) use the rear amber wig-wag light
pattern; modified by the Universal prop department. The
LAPD had not yet incorporated the standard "wig-wag"
pattern of the rear amber lights, still used to this
Patrol Cars - First two pictures are white commercial
vehicles (white interior trunk) painted black by the
prop department. The last
picture is the Adam-12 / LAPD AMC Matador purchased by
Jack Webb's Mark VII Productions and Universal
from AMC Motors and added to the LAPD fleet with the Police
Package included. No police radios were ever installed
in the tow-car, just a hand-microphone and a small
portable button to activate the red steady burn
front lights - the rear amber lights were
disconnected in the tow scenes. The police cars
used in exterior shots did have a police radio in
the car, but the siren was never connected since
it was never used for filming.
Adam-12, LAPD used the front red steady burn but the rear amber
"can lights" flashed in unison or randomly
flashed on real units in the '70s. In
the last picture above, Adam-12 (Season 4 - Episode: The Radical)
investigate an abandon (real LAPD Mercury Montego)
Notice how the rear
lights flash randomly and a flood light is mounted
next to the siren of the car. The Mercury was gladly loaned to
the producers by the LAPD and is seen as a back-up unit throughout the
Malloy chases after a 2-11 suspect solo into
Griffith Park where he loses control of the 1971
Plymouth Satellite - as the car is going through
several stages of losing control and crashing in
the hidden brush, we see the car magically
transform from a Satellite to a 1969 Plymouth
the unit is in pursuit, stock footage of the 1968
Plymouth Belvedere is shown.
kicker... the footage (filmed in a stage) of Malloy in the crashed
police car is actually a Mercury Montego.
magic car that changes from a Plymouth Satellite
to many different makes and models in a
matter of seconds in 'The Search.'
Here's a closer look of the crash scene, bet you
never noticed how many cars were involved before
it ends up as a Mercury... LOL!
'THE BEAST' The Return Of The '69 Belvedere
The Plymouth Belvedere is
not the original car used in the series, it was a
studio car dressed as an LAPD unit. If you look
close you will notice the tow-car scenes are done
in the Matador and just the exterior shots use the
EPISODE: 'The Beast.'
WATCH A FLASHBACK FAVORITE CLIP FROM "THE BEAST"
The Beast Season 5, Episode 17]
1970 the producers chose not to use LAPD's latest
vehicle, the Mercury Montego - and
continued using the '69 Belvedere until the change in 1971
to the new Plymouth Satellite. Good call, even though
the Mercury was the first unit with air conditioning, LAPD
dissatisfied with the Montego's inferior performance and
cops didn't like the car and Webb knew it. An actual
LAPD Montego does make several
appearances on Adam-12 as a back-up unit in a few
scenes, before it would disappear forever. The Plymouth Satellite was
used when Chrysler retired the Belvedere name in '71
which was the first year you see the roof numbers since Air
support was on the brink of becoming a vital and
extremely necessary tool for
law enforcement. L.A. and the country was
introduced to police helicopters patrolling the skies on
Adam-12. Air 10, roger.
Screen clip is of an actual LAPD Mercury from a newsreel
of the Feb.1971 Sylmar Earthquake.
The Plymouth Satellite didn't
fair much better with performance than the Montego and
was only used briefly by the LAPD and just one
season of Adam-12. The last car used on the show was an actual LAPD police
unit, the 1972 and '73 AMC Matador. Although police
officers liked the
Matador best because of its performance and air
conditioning, it would only survive the LAPD until 1975.
American Motors (AMC)
AMC seemed to
always be on the verge of oblivion. That didn’t keep it
from trying to raise its own profile with a police
version of its mid-size Matador sedan.
Matador woke up with AMC’s largest 255-horsepower,
401-cubic inch V8. It became an iconic police car of the
1970s. “At that time American Motors didn’t have that
great a reputation, but the Matador was an extremely
good police car,” said veteran Los Angeles Police
Department driving instructor Jerry Bush to Hemmings
Muscle Machines in 2005. “It was fast, it had
superior brakes to the Plymouths, and it handled pretty
were retired from the LAPD fleet, they often wound up in
movies and TV shows. It’s hard to get through an old
episode of “The A-Team” or “The Rockford Files” without
seeing one destroyed.
Ad for the
Dukes Of Hazard 1974 Matador and an LA County
Sheriff 1974 Matador seen on the opening of the TV show
Chico And The Man.
(The same Lightbar on the LA County Sheriffs car was
being tested for use by the LAPD Central Division in
Had Adam-12 continued, they would have used the
new Plymouth Fury. The LAPD 'Matador' patrol cars were
discontinued and vanished from the streets of Los Angeles. The Plymouth
Fury was the first patrol car to have power
steering, power windows and A/C and it would be the last
patrol car to
use the Trio T-2 "can-lights." By late 1979 the LAPD was installing the more visible blue and red lightbar on all patrol units.
A Note From Retired Police Officer Phil Herbert:
"The Matador actually survived well into the 80's and
LAPD only purchased 72, 73 and 74 Matadors. LAPD test
drove a 71 Matador (401ci) in their evaluation of the
car for the 1972 purchases of 534 cars. They did not
like the styling changes in the "coffin nose" 74
Matadors because it affected handling so much so in 1975
they went with the Plymouth Fury.
There was a LAPD EVOC instructor by the name of Jerry
Bush who indicated they had 72's in the EVOC program for
10 or more years.
1979 marked the change to different lights more by
"legal necessity" than anything else. I read somewhere
that a lawsuit resulted in the demise of the Trio T2 can
lights. (True or not, I lean true).
In 1979 LAPD also bought Ford Fairmonts and 1980 was the
Plymouth Gran Fury.
The 74 coffin nose shops were definitely around till
early to mid 80's. They weren't well liked and were
last to get used and rarely left the lot. The Fury's
were the preferred shop. Jerry Bush and the EVOC crew
liked to train with what was on the street, but the 72
Matadors were used for pursuit cars until I believe he
said '82 or '83. - Thanks, Phil!
Though the full-sized
AMC Ambassador was also
offered as a police car, the Matador would prove to be
very popular. The largest user of Matador patrol cars
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD),
primarily from 1972 to 1974, with some staying in
service until the mid-1980s. After extensive testing of
the special police models offered by Chevy, Ford, and
Chrysler, the LAPD chose the AMC Matador because they
"out handled and out performed all the other cars."
The LAPD police
Matadors included among other special equipment: T-2 can
lights, a five-channel
Motorola Motrac 70 radio, a
Federal siren, and a "Hot Sheet Desk" with a
The 1974 models would be the
last year for the LAPD's purchase of the Matador. The
second-generation longer-nosed restyle and the 5-mile
bumpers added weight that affected handling and
performance. Moreover, after 1976, AMC "let the police
car business go as it causes too many problems."
EVOC (Emergency Vehicle
Staying sharp behind the wheel. Malloy, Reed and Wells
on location at the former EVOC in Long Beach, CA
LAPD 1979 Ford
Fairmont. Just like your grandparents had!
NOTE: In 1974, LAPD's Central Division tested many different light
systems that were more visible than the
"can-lights." One was a strobe light in one of the
TRIO T2 red lights, another was referred to as the
in the center of the roof, similar to the light
NYPD had been using.
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department and CHP were already
using one of the lightbars tested (Federal
CTS California FRONT
burn forward facing red light) as seen on the 1974
CHP Dodge Monaco, pictured below.
NYPD cars from 1968, 1974 and in 2013. Quite a contrast from LAPD
cars then and now.
NYPD used a Green/White/Black color combo on its
cars from the late 1930s until 1973. The colors changed to Blue and White
until 1997 when the color changed to white cars with
had used station wagons for supervisory personnel
going back to the Adam-12 days of the late-1960s.
In addition to room for the typical
supervisor-specific equipment, the station wagon
had room for riot gear – shields, helmets, tear
gas, launchers and other tactical gear.
Driven by sergeants, the spacious wagon also
served as a mobile command post - an additional
radio control head was mounted in the rear. The
big station wagons faded from the police scene by
the early-1990s – and were promptly replaced by
SUVs. The big news for 1999 was the police-package
Chevy Tahoe and the LAPD immediately added the
Tahoe to their fleet. The only pursuit-certified
SUV at the time, these were used for both
uniformed patrol and supervisor vehicles.
The first pictured police station wagon below used
on Adam-12 in the scene is a real LAPD unit.
Note the car rides high because it's a "police
package unit" and there is a
strip on the wheel base and "Plymouth"
emblem on the
side. Studio police cars (commercial vehicles) sagged in the back,
did not have a chrome strip and all logos/emblems were
TheLAPD used station wagons for supervisory
personnel (sergeants) going back to the late '60s.
In addition to room for the typical
supervisor-specific equipment, the station wagon
had room for riot gear – shields, helmets, tear
gas, launchers and other tactical gear. The
station wagon also served as a mobile command post
- an additional radio control head was mounted in
the rear. The big station wagons faded from the
police scene by the early-1990s – and were
promptly replaced by SUVs. The new Area Command
Vehicle can be quickly set up as an incident
command vehicle in three minutes. Law Enforcement
Agencies in California including the LAPD, CHP
and the LASD all use SUVs now.
Who can forget Mac's station wagon. One of the station
wagons used as Mac's car was also used to tow the
Adam-12 unit in the first season, replaced with
another heavy-duty unmarked station wagon that would tow
the car through the streets of North
Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley and a few L.A.
red/amber "tin-can" lights on the towed police unit are angled
down and inward for a better frontal camera shot of the "reds"
- the hood of the car and the chrome siren are dulled to eliminate
reflection for filming.
The actors had hidden lavaliere microphones inside their
shirts for good sound quality during filming of the
tow-car scenes. However, sound was often redubbed
(looped) by the actors in a studio.
During the tow scenes, Marty and Kent are not in full uniform and usually
wearing jeans or comfortable pants. If they opened a car door in a tow shot,
you will never see them exit the vehicle. Exterior
scenes were filmed at the same location, but on a
different day with a different car and the guys dressed in
full uniform. The tow-car did not have a full police
radio installed, just a hand microphone and a button for
Marty to activate the front red lights. When you see the
police radio or Reed grabbing or replacing the
microphone, it is all stock footage that was filmed at
the beginning of each season and inserted where needed
in post-production. The director listening to the actors with headphones in the station wagon would have to remember
to cue the driver of the station wagon to pick up speed when they
had CODE 3
calls. The sound of the siren was later added to the scene.
Marty and Kent
had bright lights, cameras and a station wagon
full of crew members in front of them while the script
supervisor was hiding in the back seat reading the
dispatcher lines to cue the actors. There were
four different script supervisors during the run of the
series. The first season was Ray Quiroz, then Cynnie Troup
for 3 years (she went on to EMERGENCY!), then Barbara Amotto
and finally another young lady.
With the tow-car scenes the back lamps of the "tin-can" lights had to be
disconnected since they made an audible "click-click"
sound as the rear ambers flashed. The front lamps were a
steady red and did not make that noise. In a few early
episodes, the rear amber lights were not disconnected and you can clearly hear the "clicks" of the
T-2 Trio lights. Exterior shots used a different, shiny, untainted police
car or the tow-car was reset to LAPD specs for exterior
filming since tow-car scenes were shot
on a different day.
"G" Units - Central Receiving Hospital - Rampart Division
City of Los
Angeles Emergency Ambulance known as "G" units were under the
umbrella of the LAPD until 1970. Note the same LAPD uniforms
attendants with a red cross shoulder patch and older style 8
point hat. The G units were referred to as the "Brown Bombers"
or the "Meat Wagon."
THEN & NOW: The former Central Receiving Hospital becomes the
new location for Rampart Division
The former Central
Receiving Hospital at 1401 W. 6th Street in 2008 became the
of Rampart Police Division
In late 1910 the
"Receiving Hospital" became a department for the medical
and surgical treatment of all persons brought to the
City Jail and for all policemen and firemen. Throughout
time, the system grew to nine hospitals. For many years
the ambulances under the Receiving Hospital were
assigned the designation of "G." This would be combined
with the division number of the station where the
ambulance was assigned. The ambulances and crews (not
police officers, but dressed in the same uniform and
hat) were stationed at police stations, and other
locations for many years. The crews worked eight hour
shifts and the equipment was maintained by the Police
Department. In 1970 the ambulance service was
transferred from the police to the fire department.
Pictured below is the first LAFD Rescue
Ambulance parked at Harbor General Hospital (A.K.A. Rampart
General Hospital from
"Emergency!"). Notice how today's LAFD Rescue Ambulance
(RA units) now sport a similar, albeit larger, boxy design as the "G" units from
the late '60s.
In 2008, Rampart
Police Division moved east into a newly constructed facility at
1401 West 6th Street, the site of the former emergency
original Rampart Station was established in 1966 and was
located at 2710 West Temple Street
and served as the home station
where Adam-12 was based, it is now abandoned and closed.
Its name is derived from Rampart Boulevard, one of the
main streets in its patrol area.
on Temple Street in 1970 (front and back) and how it looks today, closed,
fenced and boarded-up.
(L-R) Rampart Station in 1969,
the building as it looks now and an artist rendering of the
proposed new building.
Division '02' was formerly
Lincoln Heights Police Station. This station was
closed by the 1940s and its number deactivated.
The number was reactivated in 1966 and renamed Rampart
Police Station, since Rampart Blvd is a major street
in the area. Rampart Station was only one year old when
Jack Webb decided to focus on the new police station
with the Pilot episode of Adam-12, filmed in 1967.
Central Division '01' - which "1"
Adam-12 is assigned - was in a congested area and
would have made filming exterior shots difficult because
of traffic. Besides, the LAPD and Jack Webb wanted to
feature the relatively new Rampart Police station.
Since the Rampart Division moved to their new location on
Sixth Street in 2008, the old station has remained empty,
a magnet for taggers,
copper thieves and neighborhood complaints about vagrants,
trash and litter.
The LAPD says
it plans to turn the former station at Temple
Street and Benton Way into the SWAT team
headquarters. The design concept created by Perkins & Will,
the architecture firm that created the new Rampart
Station, would sheath the exterior of the 1966 building in
glass and allow more natural light to pour into the interior.
proposal strategically carves
the 1966 concrete bunker to allow diffused sunlight into
high-priority areas. The renovation of the station is expected
to cost $17.6 million. So far, the building
abandoned and boarded-up in
disrepair and seemingly ignored.
Our favorite motor
cop riding the Moto Guzzi. Officer Grant, Malloy and Reed on bikes at LAX and it's
"Eddie Haskell" from
'Leave It To Beaver' -
real LAPD Motor Officer (1970–1988) Ken Osmond in 1974.
Watch the 1967 LAPD Motorcycle Safety Training Film
►WATCH NOW! A
FLASHBACK FAVORITE Quick Clip from the episode: 'SKYWATCH'
This multi-part episode "SKYWATCH"
demonstrates how important and necessary Air support was
becoming to the ground units for the LAPD. It also reunites the guys with "Lou (formerly Jerry, Bill)
WALTERS" and JACK HOGAN (formerly Detective Jerry
Miller) from early episodes of the show.
Two of LAPD's current fleet of Air
Units, AStar B-2, Black &
White Helicopter and the Bell Jet 206 B3, Black & White
WATCH NOW! Our 2 Minute LAPD Airship Tour
Malloy's Cars (that dang Mustang!)
Malloy's first personal car was a 1968 blue /white top
Mustang as seen in the episode: "LOG 73 - I'm Still A
Cop." Funny how the Mustang changes after students from
the college Malloy is attending, vandalize his car. The
blue Mustang belonged to Marty's stand-in Rick Warrick.
Many of the background cars were owned by employees of
the show and were paid $50 to use their car.
From the episode
Malloy & Reed driving to work in Malloy's brand new
tan AMC Matador coupe
when they abandon the car in the middle of the street to
pursue a purse snatcher. The producers have Malloy's second
car on the show, the
"Gold/white-top 1967 Mustang," pass by as they begin
their foot pursuit. The Mustang was owned by Universal
Studios and was either featured in scenes or often seen
as a passing or parked background vehicle throughout the
entire run of the series beginning with the pilot
recall it was featured as Malloy's personal vehicle in
the episode where his landlady is the victim of a
purse snatching and then expects Malloy (since he's her
tenant) and the LAPD to solve her crime immediately. She
is seen waiting by the Mustang in the picture to the
left. Next time you watch Adam-12, no doubt you will see
"that dang Mustang." The Mustang made its
first appearance on
9/21/1968: Log 1---The Impossible Mission Season 1,
Episode 1 and its last appearance on 4/29/1975:
Dana Hall Season 7, Episode 22.
Jim Reed's personal vehicles changed a few times during
the series run. From a Ford Falcon, an early 60's Ford
and finally, a blue Corvette convertible that was owned by Kent
McCord. On occasion the car was used as a parked vehicle in a scene
and is used in the episode: 'Million Dollar Buff''
as the guys are Code 7, the car and the young lady
driving, briefly get their attention as she pulls into
the parking lot. Looks like Kent has a worried look -
and with good reason - look at the parking job! The car
was used in the final season featured as Reed's last personal
vehicle of the series.
car on Adam-12... and, oops! someone left their script
book on top of the parked car in the scene as the boys roll up
in the Matador.
The Telephone Booth in the background was a prop and
placed there for the scene above.
ADAM-12's Matador on
COLUMBO and in the
The ADAM-12 Matador
also appears on QUINCY and in Ron Howard's
first movie GRAND THEFT AUTO in 1977.
The police cars on Adam-12
were owned by Universal Studios and had been used and
seen in many Universal Studio productions after the
series ended, such as Emergency! - Columbo and
The Rockford Files, as
well as many other Universal television shows.
Pictured above is the AMC Matador, former studio police
cars, the "junkyard" where former studio cars end
service - the original Adam-12 Plymouth
Satellite on an episode of Columbo, then dressed as a
Sheriff car on Emergency!
All Sheriff cars used in Emergency! were the former
Adam-12 Plymouth Satellite and AMC Matador vehicles.
cars are long gone - destroyed or sold as junk many
years ago. They were last seen in 1979. There are many
replicas now, restored by collector's and retired police
The Ford Crown Victoria is still
considered the all time favorite Cop Car by most LAPD Cops.
Described as the
most comfortable and smooth drive, didn't leak or squeak,
reliable and one great car. The last of the black-and-white
Crown Vic Interceptors, according to Ford was built in
September 2011. Pictured above is the final delivery of LAPD
Crown Victoria's in 2012 and one of the first cars to hit the
LAPD cars are no longer painted white, instead a white plastic
wrap is added during upfitting which converts the vehicle into
a black-and-white. It is the same process your local radio or
television station uses to have their logo cover the entire
side of a van. Upon decommissioning, a heat gun is used to
remove the white wrap and the vehicle reverts back to all
black as it did off the assembly line, saving the cost, legal
requirements and environmental issues of repainting a former
past vehicles used by the Los Angeles Police Department.
- ADAM-12 & LAPD Lights and Siren
The Trio T2 Lights,
known by cops as "Tin Cans" - "Can Lights"
- and various other monikers were TRIO Model
#T-2 Class A-1 lamps, manufactured for
the LAPD until 1979 when the LAPD
changed it's lighting standard to blue
and red lightbars. The lights were
configured with a steady red lamp in
the front section, and an amber bulb
that had a flash attachment in the
housing. Some Police departments ran the
flashers in unison or in an alternate
(wig-wag) pattern. Red Steady burn on
CA emergency vehicles is based on old
study that showed red steady burn
color is more visible to drivers than
flashy lights as there is no "off"
time like in flashing lights. It's an
outdated study that was done before
fast strobes and modern LED
technology. But now steady burn is
just a tradition that the public in CA
is used to on our emergency vehicles.
The LAPD being frugal, in some units had each lamp
installed with its own independent
flasher, so each light flashed in a
strange "haphazard" pattern independent of each
other, while other older units had the
lights flash in unison. All of the
studio police cars on Adam-12 used the wig-wag
(alternating amber lights)
pattern for the rear amber lights long before the LAPD.
Due to the influence and familiarity
of ADAM-12, the LAPD
finally incorporated the wig-wag
pattern on the rear amber lamps in
the late '70s and is still used on today's lightbar. The rear amber lights on the
real 1967 LAPD police unit in the
pilot episode flashed in unison, but
Webb only focuses on one amber
flashing, giving the impression of a
Flaws on the old "can lights" on the
Adam-12 cars, the designation "1-012" was also incorrect in
earlier versions of
the show. The side of the can lights should have shown the station [Division]
the car was assigned to and the last three numbers of the shop number (not the
assigned area). Current LAPD patrol units have the shop number on the roof and
the Division on the trunk in white numbers for helicopter identification.
The number on the roof "0-1-2" should have been the
shop number of the vehicle, not the beat assignment -- the air units identified
the unit in this manner to communicate with the patrol officers. The 1971
Plymouth Satellite and AMC Matador had the "0-1-2" stenciled on the roof, the
first year model Belvederes did not.
Former Adam-12 Producer Tom Williams has stated that
after the first few years they ended up combining the "shop number"
and "area division" number because it was causing too
much confusion between the two. 1-Adam-12 was the "radio
designation" for the unit. The number on the roof was
"0-1-2" because the "shop-number" of the unit was
The Trio T2 lights were originally made by S&M
Lamp Co. LA (Model 757) until 1964, first used in
1951 & standard by 1953, when S&M Lamp Co. went
out of business. In ’64, Trio-Sales Co. started
making them for LAPD (renamed Model T-2). The
lights were red/red until ’64, when rear ambers
were introduced. Each T-2 had a separate flasher
installed by MTD so that a ‘shop’ would not go
out-of-service for a BO amber. Last cars to have
the T-2 lights installed were the ’78 Plymouth
The can lights eventually were replaced due to
side warning issues, it was almost impossible to
see the lights on from side view. The Olympics
were coming to Los Angeles and international
visitors recognized "blue" as emergency vehicle
lighting, so in 1979 the transition began to the
lightbar. Most of the Trio T2 can lights
were tossed in the garbage when LAPD began
installing the Aerodynic Lighbar by Federal
The Trio T-2 "can-lights" were replaced with the
(very large) FEDERAL SIGNAL LAPD AERODYNIC LIGHTBAR;
customized for the LAPD with two rear
amber wig-wags and a steady red burn in front of the
lightbar. After decades of using the subtle TRIO T-2 red/amber
lights, the LAPD cars looked
odd to Angelinos with that
giant lightbar mounted on the front (not the center) of
the roof. In 1980, you could NOT miss a cop car if
current light system on most patrol cars.
Federal Signal Arjent S2 Lightbar as seen on the units
used on Adam-12 and the LAPD in the '60 and
is manufactured by Federal Signal
Corporation, they are listed as Model "CP-25
and "CP-100" siren speakers.
speaker sounded at 58 watts peak, the CP-100
at 100 watts peak, and was run from two of Federal's siren drivers, the "Interceptor"
Model #PA-20 & PA-20A. The siren consisted
of the bell, the chrome housing - and the
siren amplifier hidden by the cone.
was capped with a chrome crown. The only
difference between the two units was the
tones. The PA-20 had the "alert" feature,
and the PA-20A had the "hi-lo" feature in
place of "alert." The "Interceptor" had the
feature of being able to run the Motorola "Motrac"
Radio system through the Interceptor's
The other siren speaker was the "CP-100"
which had no back bolt on the rear of the
Pictured below (L-R) the manual toggle switches
that control the siren and lights mounted next to
the siren source.
The actors never heard the siren when
filming. The siren was later inserted during
post-production. The only time the actors heard
the siren is when the show aired on TV. The
Federal Signal PA-20A Siren is heard in most '70s
& '80s TV & Movie productions.
1 Adam-12 handle Code 3.
(toggle switches for siren and lights)
Federal Signal PA-20A Siren -
Watch & Listen
Federal Signal Smart Siren now used in LAPD
black & whites
In the '80s and
'90s the LAPD used the Unitrol 480K with the
Federal Aerodynic lightbars.
1-rear amber flashing only •
Position 2-Rear amber and front red steady burn •Position 3-all lights activated, including
headlight flash. This position also enables the
site has no affiliation with Universal/Mark VII, NBC, Adam-12 Productions,
or the actors from the show. There is no association with Universal/MCA,
its trade or service marks. This site is a non-profit fan and information
site that is designed to focus on the 1968-1975 television show, ADAM-12,
the history of the LAPD in the era of the 60's and 70's, law enforcement,
related collectibles, vintage police restoration, and the radio and
communications devices used by the LAPD.
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