Article Archive Details
Hendon Publishing

Have You Upfitted a Non-Traditional Vehicle?

The 2nd Annual Upfitters’ Challenge at the 2009 Police Fleet Expo will be very different from the “pit crew-style” equipment installation done during the inaugural competition. This year, the goal will be to present the best overall upfit on a non-traditional vehicle and put those vehicles on display for 500 of the nation’s police fleet managers.

This upfitted vehicle must be based on one of the retail alternatives to the current police package or special service vehicles. That means it cannot be based on any version of the Ford Crown Victoria, Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Tahoe or Dodge Charger.

Instead, think about what else is out there. From Ford, think Taurus sedan, Fusion sedan, Escape SUV, Edge crossover, Flex crossover and the new F-150 pickup. From Chevrolet, think Malibu sedan, the new Traverse SUV, and Silverado pickup. From Dodge, think Avenger sedan, Journey crossover and new Ram pickup. And, think way, way out of the box…Ford Mustang, new Chevy Camaro, new Dodge Challenger, Pontiac G6, Pontiac Vibe, Jeep Wrangler or Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Frankly, in keeping with the theme of this year’s Police Fleet Expo, we hope to see a parking lot full of upfitted hybrid vehicles, like the Malibu Hybrid, Silverado Hybrid, Escape Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Mazda Tribute Hybrid, and Saturn Vue Hybrid.

The vehicle does not have to be specifically upfitted for the PFE! It can be an already-upfitted vehicle, already in police service. It can be marked externally with graphics or completely unmarked. It can have an external lightbar or just interior emergency lights. The emergency and communication gear can be hidden away (admin-style) or fully and neatly deployed in the driver and front passenger area.

Yep, every bracket for everything will probably have to be custom made. So will every wiring harness. And, no facades or props…all of the installed equipment (emergency and communications gear) must actually work! We really want to see how the nation’s best upfitters get around the “problem” of the center console.

The vehicle can be submitted by either the police department or by an upfitter of any size. Since the whole point is to show off your ingenuity to the nation’s police fleet manager, one person must be on hand with the vehicle, knowledgeable enough to answer upfit questions from curious fleet managers. How DID you get that wiring harness through there? How DID you get those LED corner lights in that turn signal lens? How DID you hide all that radio gear? How DID you do that to the center console?

The first dozen vehicles will be placed under tents. All vehicles must have a 3-foot by 4-foot (minimum) rigid placard or banner with the upfitter’s name, police department, year, make and model of vehicle, and the manufacturer of the emergency gear installed. Clever or innovative aspects of the upfit should be pointed out! This includes custom brackets, custom wiring, innovative uses of the compartments in the vehicle to house upfit gear, etc. We will help you format the info.

The vehicles will be on display at the Milwaukee Mile Racetrack on Thursday, Aug. 20 from 9 a.m. to noon. See Move-in time for the vehicles is Wednesday, Aug. 19 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The vehicle owner is responsible for all transportation of the vehicle. One person from each police department or business displaying a fully upfitted, non-traditional police vehicle will be able to attend the full Police Fleet Expo conference at no charge.

Trophies will be awarded for the Best Sedan, Best CUV/SUV, Best Pickup, Best Hybrid / Electric Vehicle, Best Center Console Solution, and Editor’s Choice. The “Best” awards will be People’s Choice voting, with ballots cast by anyone attending the Track Tech activities. Send me an e-mail, let me know what you are bringing, and we will save you a spot under the tents.

Ed Sanow is the editorial director of Police Fleet Manager magazine. He can be reached at

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Mar/Apr 2009

Rating : Not Yet Rated

Related Products




Posted on : Sep 21 at 12:39 PM By

Is there a follow-up to this? I'd love to see the pics of the non-standard vehicles!

Article Images

Click to enlarge images.

Close ...