What do YOU think?
P.C. Davie Kerr
In the Ops radio room doing what he did best! 

We’ve just received a very interesting request from our good friend Davie Kerr for our collective opinions about the best and the worst-liked Traffic patrol cars we’ve had in Bermuda.  Dave explains his reason for seeking the opinions of our ExPo members:- 

“I'm a member of a British Police site, and the question is "What were your most and least liked Traffic patrol cars?" 
I’ve provided the following input on my personal choices either way:-  
I've gone for the Mk 2 GT Cortina (the one with the 4 gauges in the hump on the dashboard) and the Datsun 180B as my two favourite rear-wheel-drive cars, and the Morris Marina TC (which looked good, sounded good, but was bloody awful on corners no matter WHAT tyres we put on them!) as the least liked. Someone else has asked for any pics of a Datsun 180B: do we have any in the archives, and if so could these please be sent to me so that I can pass them on. Many thanks.

I’ve searched through our photo collection and realized that we have photos going back all the way to  our very first police car, seen below together with our then entire Police fleet of 4 motor vehicles in 1946. I suspect that none of our members will be ancient enough to provide us with a critique on any of these vehicles, but if you can assist in identifying the make of the other three vehicles in the 2nd photo it would be much appreciated.

P.C. John Marshall stands proudly outside Hamilton Police Station next to our first
police car, a Dodge Sedan purchased second-hand for the Commissioner of Police in 1946
The Police Fleet - 1946 with P.C. John Marshall

Apart from the Dodge Sedan can anyone identify the other three "motor vehicles"?  As a matter of information, the wooden structure at top right is a dog kennel for stray dogs.

P.C. Robert “Bob” Railton outside Hamilton Police Station
with his favorite patrol car -  a Sunbeam Talbot which looks
like a very speedy vehicle for the 1950’s and early 1960’s
Here’s another Sunbeam Talbot looking smart and sleek.
driven by Bill Bryan (left) and Tom Oliver (right)
Were these our first "fleet" of patrol cars?
Vehicles inspection at Traffic by H.M. Inspector of Constabularies
Remember the days when we used to have vehicle inspections at the Traffic Department?  
Here’s Sgt Bob Railton and fellow officers looking exceptionally smart as they line up for
inspection.  What are these patrol cars?  Definitely not the fastest in the world
or even the fastest here in Bermuda with our 20 mph speed limit.
And how about these Morris Minor Station wagons for chasing speeders!  This
photo was taken around 1966 and we were all lined up for another HMI inspection.

We are keen to obtain the opinions of anyone who worked in Traffic or as duty drivers or Divisional drivers.  Our first thought was to ask our good friend retired Inspector Roger Kendall for his professional opinion as a former head of the Police Driving School and as a very experienced traffic patrol driver.  Here’s what we received from Roger:-


This photograph taken in 1984,  shows the original 1953 Sunbeam Talbot,
used on the first Course in 1961, together with Sergeant Bob Railton in
his old khaki uniform, and myself with the new Turbo Lancer.

I agree with Davy, one of the best cars must be the Mark Two Ford Cortina GT. It was the ideal size for Bermuda’s roads and performance wise for traffic at the time when it was used for chasing speeders or transporting prisoners.

Then came the two Datsun’s, the 160J, a little too small and not as well on handling and performance as the next one, which was the 180B, with the bigger engine, but a bit too big for our roads.

A certain Senior Officer at HQ looked over the balcony at the cars parked below and saw a Hillman Avenger GT and said we should get some for traffic. I believe we got four and what a big mistake that was. Talk about being underpowered, even a souped up Mobylette could outrun it. Not much room for prisoners in the back seat and I could go on and on. 

They were eventually used for Courtesy Patrols when the first Policewomen joined traffic, (Tracy Armstrong, Coralie Trott, Cathy Every and Marg Amos). These ladies were tasked with giving praises for safe driving/riding or issuing warnings for traffic offences. One car was even used by Garry Murrell for the Diplomatic mail runs, as that is all it was fit for, so this easily has to be the worst traffic car.

Then came the Mitsubishi Lancers, four models in all. Like its predecessors, Japanese cars were all ideal as Bermuda traffic cars, because of their size, handling, and performance. The last of these four was, of course, the Turbo, what a pocket rocket.

  Driving School Instructors Roger Kendall and Charlie Mooney with their 
Mitsubishi Turbo, probably the fastest ever police car used in Bermuda

Seven turbo cars came to the Island, some of the others were Nissans (a rebranding of Datsun’s). The turbo unit requires constant lubrication by oil, and this led to the demise by Civilian users who drove them hard using the turbo, only to switch the engine off (so no oil circulation) which disintegrated the turbo unit. The Police were aware of this issue and had to make sure the car came out of turbo mode before switching off the engine, when responding to emergencies or chases etc. The Government quickly amended the law to outlaw any more turbo cars coming to the Island, by changing the power to weight ratios allowed on new cars (turbo trucks were not affected by this).

Also purchased in the same period were the Morris Marina TC’s. A British Layland product that used up all the left-over parts from other discontinued models. The TC had an MGB engine which was nice and various other steering, suspension, and brake parts, not the best thing for a police car. 

Traffic was restricted by the only models coming into the Island, and we even tried a Rover, and a Toyota Corolla, but neither were up to par. Even the Audi and BMW which were brought in for the AFO’s but did not last long. The final car was the Subaru Impreza, one of the safest cars to be used for high-speed work, but that too, did not last long.

Then like the United States, Bermuda changed from patrol cars to SUV’s. What a mistake this has turned out to be. First came the Jeep Patriots and the Chevrolet Trax, both of which spent more time in the repair garage than on the road. The SsangYong continues to be used, but not the best, as spare parts are not always available. Finally, the KIA, which is the best of the four SUVs, is being used by our AFO team.” 

Roger also supplied us with these brilliant photos of the following patrol cars in use during his time in Traffic:-

 Roger and Rover patrol car

Toyota patrol car 
Lancer patrol car 
Roger with Datsun 160J patrol car 
Ford Cortina GT
Roger also asked the following question:-
"Who remembers taking the traffic cars up to Kindley Field Road each month so Ernie Moniz and TCD’s Lenny Doars could conduct the speedo checks over the measured half mile. Each car used to tear up and down at increasing speeds to certify their speedometers. They then carried cards in the vehicle to show the true speed either faster or slower than the speedometer reading.  Keith Pratt of the Police garage then obtained a rolling road, where the cars could all be tested at Prospect in any weather.
Nowadays, police rarely chase speeders in cars, as radar and now laser speed checks have taken over with the police bikes doing the chasing." 
The photo below was taken of our good friend Sgt Mike Burke when he was 2 IC Traffic and shows the Traffic garage as it looked when most of us were serving in Traffic
Sgt Mike Burke in the Traffic Yard

We would be delighted to hear from you all about your personal preferences; which in your opinion were a joy to drive – and which were lemons! And please feel free to send us your photos of cars you drove while serving here in Bermuda

I know most of our readers have difficulty using our comments column, so if you want to share your opinion and your photos, you can submit them to us via email at info@expobermuda.com  or post it on our Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/BDAExPolice/   If you are sending photos can you please send them in JPEG format and in the highest resolution possible.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Roger Sherratt
2nd January 2024
5th January 2024
EDITORS NOTE -  Within days of publishing the above article we discovered the following comments in another police car related aricle on our website enquiring about whether the Bermuda Police ever had Singer Gazelle patrol cars.  CLICK HERE to view the article published on 11th June 2018.

Reply from Derek Jenkinson:-

In 1960 to about 1964 we had Sunbeam Talbot Saloon Cars.   They were replaced by mostly Riley’s and a couple of Wolseys.  After that we had Ford Cortina’s into the ‘70s and ‘80s.   A Singer Gazelle may have been one purchased for a senior officer but I certainly can’t remember it.  Oddly enough Ken Norman and I purchased a Singer Gazelle convertible, white with a red stripe down the side and had it until he (Ken) emigrated to Canada with his wife Joan and took it with him.

Comments received from Mike Cherry:-

With regard to various vehicles being driven,  when I was transferred to Traffic in 1960 the patrol vehicles were Sunbeam Talbots and 500cc Triumph motor cycles. Both were a pleasure to drive and ride. The OIC Traffic at that time Inspector John Marshall had an MG Magnette, which no one else was allowed to drive. The Commissioner drove a Morris 1000, as did most of the CID members.

As the Sunbeams became more difficult to maintain due to lack of spare parts they were replaced by Riley 1500 saloons which were quite fast, but did not handle too well on corners. I recall also that at some stage we had to use Ford Anglias or Prefects due to a shortage of vehicles. Fortunately that did not last very long as they were not very glamorous for Traffic Boys, and were not suitable for catching speeders before the days of radar guns.

The 500cc Triumphs were replaced by 350cc twin Triumphs which were a great success, being used by the popular Police Motor Cycle display team.

 9th January 2024
Charlie Mooney
We just received the following comments from another of our Driving Instructors and  experienced member of Operations Division, retired Chief Inspector Charlie Mooney:-
"The Police car that meant the most to me was the Dodge Avenger !!!!

The reason for this was that due to the lack of headroom (height) inside the car some of us were not able to sit and wear our uniform hats. Therefore a decision was made, up top, at HQ that it was no longer a requirement to wear your hat whilst in a Police car. This covered all Police patrol cars.

The best Police car, during my time, was the Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo (02893). I have no hesitation on that one. The only downside was when it was attached to Driving School and I was seated in the front passenger seat with someone else driving!!!

I enjoyed driving the Morris Marina but you had to watch out for them on right hand bends (attention 186 Dave O’Meara at Slelly Bay).

The worst car to drive, in my opinion, was that same Dodge Avenger. It was useless for a traffic car. Had nothing going for it."