"End of Watch"
Chet Zeidler's '93 SSP
Photos by: Street Dreams Photography
Telling the story of the fox body Mustang is truly a full time job. Where do you even begin? The car itself is plenty to write about, then you have all of the special tuner cars from the likes of Saleen, SAAC, Steeda, and so on. There is however another role that the foxbody played, and a quite honorable one. The SSP cars, or special service package Mustangs began life in 1982. A bid conducted by the California Highway Patrol helped launch the eleven year long run of the SSP. The CHP determined that the Mustang was cheaper, and more reliable than the Z28 Camaro, and placed an order with Ford for 406 units.
By it's end in '93, over sixty state and local municipalities had SSP Mustangs in their fleet. Only 15,000 SSP cars were produced during those eleven years, making them quite rare. From '82-'85 there were not many changes from civilian units. But Ford worked closely with law enforcement to make the cars more user friendly to officers. As more and more cars were bought for service, it was clear there were some weaknesses that needed to be addressed. Satisfying the demands of patrol car duty is no easy job.
Several things set the SSP cars apart from a normal Mustang. The first thing Ford needed to upgrade was the cooling system. To withstand hours of idling with the a/c blasting, the hoses were upgraded to blue hi-temp units, that were said to be four times stronger than the black hoses. The fan clutch was also changed, and provided better cooling at low RPM, as well as less resistance at high RPM. Other cooling mods include an oil cooler, that began in '86, and all following models.
With all of the electronic gear, clearly the stock alternator would not cut it. For starters, additional ground straps were installed, and the alternator itself was swapped in favor of a 130 amp unit. The radio, lights, and other gear now had plenty of juice. Other notable upgrades include a certified calibration speedo, a single key system, floor pan reinforcements, and a full size spare tire now lurked in the trunk.
SSP cars could be ordered in the same colors as civilian cars, and both the AOD and T5 trans could be used. Despite what many think, there is no actual power upgrades for SSP cars. All of the additions were made to help the cars survive the rigors of police service. Agencies loved the cars as they were much faster, and handled better than the usual cruisers of the day. They were excellent for high speed pursuit, and earned a reputation for being extremely reliable. Many states did have different requirements when ordering the cars, and Ford was always accommodating. Some states wanted the side molding delete, Georgia had roll bars installed in their cars, and New York State required rear window defrosters for theirs.
Chet Zeidler of Central Indiana is a true foxbody nut. This pristine '93 SSP being one of three foxes in his stable. The history of this car is actually a story all on it's own. Ford ordered this car built in late 1992 as a test vehicle, and remained with Ford for two years, racking up only 2100 miles. The car was then sold through the dealer network to Cain Harter Ford of Huntington Indiana. After that, the Huntington County Sheriff's department bought the car, and was given to the matron of the jail for official use. Fast forward to 1999, the car was traded back to the same dealer, with just 32k miles on the ticker. The Wheatfield family of Huntertown Indiana purchased the car after that, and owned it up until a few years ago. Try as he might, Chet could not convince the family to sell him the car. Undeterred, he continued to badger the family until finally in 2012, they agreed to sell.
Being the fox body Mustang purist that he is, Chet knew the history on the car, and he also knew it was rare. How rare you ask? The Marti Report breaks it down to 1 of 94 automatic equipped notchbacks in '93, painted Calypso Green. Of those 94 cars, only 18 had black interior. Of those remaining 18 cars, only one was ordered as an SSP. That would make this car 1 of 1. If you are reading this I doubt you need me to tell you that a Calypso Green notch with black interior is rare, throw in the SSP factor and you can see why this car is so special.
Chet feels truly lucky to have this car in his stable. Yes his other foxes are rare, but even his Teal Cobra can't match the 1 of 1 status. The thoughts about what history this car has seen is enough to get your imagination working overtime. Why did Ford build the car? What did they do with it? What type of testing was done with it? I would pay cash money for those answers. The legacy of the SSP is truly an interesting one, and one only held by the foxbody. The SSP story takes us back to a time when fox body Mustangs lie in wait on the side of the interstate, with a confident state trooper inside, almost wishing someone would make a run for it. CR