Cpl. Brad Lisson loves to collect old cars. He owns 11 that once patrolled the highways.
Lisson's love for cars began when he was a boy — his father was a mechanic. When he was a teenager, the younger Lisson learned about cars by working in service stations.
As an officer of the New Brunswick Highway Patrol, Lisson started a love affair with police cars that he took with him when he joined the RCMP in 1989.
“Old police cars are nostalgic and something really different. When you take them to car shows, people can relate to them, because they remember police cars,” he says.
Cars are a hobby and a job for Lisson, a facilitator and trainer at the RCMP's police driving unit at the national training headquarters in Regina.
“What really impresses me is they always handle extremely well. The suspension, the larger tires, the lower-profile tires, the heavy-duty sway bars, the heavy-duty shocks and springs mean the cars' rides and handling are really superior.
“It's a four-door sports car, really; you feel close to the driving experience,” he adds.
In his youth in the 1970s, Lisson drove such cars hard and disposed of them, as many did.
“I used to have a Pontiac Trans-Am for my daily driver. Every winter I'd put it away and go to the government auctions and buy a cheap, $1,000 or $1,500 ex-police car, drive it for the winter, and then sell it in the spring. I did that every year for about 10 years.”
But he started keeping the ones he bought. Now, he has 11 of them. It started when he bought a car he used to drive on the job.
“I was a police officer with the New Brunswick Highway Patrol, a provincial police force, and we all got fired in 1989 (when the force was disbanded). The car that I drove went to auction, and I thought it would be kind of nostalgic to buy that car,” he says.
It was a 1986 New Brunswick Highway Patrol Ford Crown Victoria. Next, Lisson bought a 1985 Dodge Diplomat. It had been an unmarked RCMP car. Then he found a 1980 Plymouth Grand Fury used by Saskatchewan RCMP.
Lisson now has three former RCMP Ford Mustangs, two of them 1986 models, the other a 1991.
He's now restoring one of them.
Lisson has a 1996 high-performance LT-1 Chevrolet Caprice, which was used by Alberta RCMP. With an engine that had earlier been in Corvettes, the car is fun to drive, and, Lisson says, “very tight.”
He also has a 1983 Chevrolet Malibu and 1992 and 2002 Chevrolet Camaros, the latter from the Florida Highway Patrol.
Lisson also has a truck in his collection, a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe two-wheel drive.
“They stopped making the Caprice after 1996, so GM came out in 1997 with the Tahoe police edition and they hoped it would be a replacement for the Caprice. But it didn't really sell that well.”
Lisson likes his 1986 Mustangs best, because they were the first of that model the RCMP bought. They represent the first step by the RCMP into really high-performance cars.
“Even though they may not be the fastest car by today's standards, they're still fun to drive,” he says.
Next on his list, if he can get one: a late 1970s Chevy Nova.
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