Ford produced a "stealth" version of its 2012 Police Interceptor as a show (not production) vehicle. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.
The Ford Motor Co.'s Taurus-based Police Interceptor won't be available to patrol officers until the 2012 model year, however visitors to a Las Vegas tradeshow this week can get a glimpse of a stealth version.
Ford produced the "sleek, streamlined and slightly sinister" concept version to debut at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) trade show, which runs from Tuesday to Friday.
Ford designer Melvin Betancourt developed a customized undercover stealth version of the 2012 P.I., described as "stylish and full of high-tech surprises" by Ford.
"This car offered the perfect canvas for me as a designer," according to Betancourt. "I just started looking at ways to give it that mysterious but high-tech look."
Betancourt started the undercover version by lowering the body and giving the illusion of added width. The body was lowered an inch, and the special 22-inch wheels are inside a staggered rim section, so the front is 3 inches and the rear is 3.5 inches.
"The rim section is stacked to give it the illusion of greater width," he said. "The center of the wheel is glossy black, and the rim is chrome. So we have that racy, hot rod look, but at the same time we're building a sinister, stealthy, 'Don't mess with me' feeling."
The inspiration for the project came from Lockheed's SR-71 "Blackbird" — the long range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998.
Betancourt kept in mind the Blackbird's iconic imagery and status as he considered the elements of his own stealth project. "When you think stealth, you think, 'there, but not there.' This is all about strength, secrecy and concealment," he added.
The exterior of the Police Interceptor stealth vehicle is solid black. The grille is mesh (as is the original sedan), but the metal is thicker, offering more depth. The lights on the car are designed to be inconspicuous, blending in until illuminated.
The back of the vehicle sports an aggressive spoiler with bead lights that (also painted black) remain unnoticed until the car is started. The taillights are smoked, the windows tinted.
The stealth version includes a revamped interior.
"It's all about concealing everything," Betancourt said. "The headliner is black. We wrapped the B-pillars in black, and then we started looking at, 'Where can I hide this? How can I conceal this?' We repackaged the console — it looks like a production console with the waterfall of the instrument panel. But when you start opening doors and panels, that's when you see everything."
Unless you're supposed to be in the vehicle, you won't know where and how to find the compartments, he added. For example, the radio is hidden inside the console, as is an on-board computer. Also, the glove box has a secret weapons compartment.
Company officials didn't say which engine is in the vehicle. Two will be offered on the production version — a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 280 hp and 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injection EcoBoost V6 rated at 365 hp.
The stealth Police Interceptor will exist only as a concept. The production version was introduced in March, followed by a utility version in September. Both Interceptors will debut simultaneously when production of the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor ceases in late 2011.
The SEMA show is a trade show for automotive-aftermarket businesses and an exhibition of customized vehicles.
PHOTOS: Ford Stealth PI Concept