There’s a great story behind mysterious CHP’s Turbo Toyota Camry Cop Car

  • Back in the 1990s, the CHP had a Toyota Camry with turbo
  • It was part of a test program
  • The man behind the program upgraded the Camry to make it more powerful

Published on May 20, 2024 at 2:50 PM (UTC+4)
by Siddharth Dudeja

Last updated on May 21, 2024 at 3:26 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

You might have seen unusual police vehicles, but there’s a Turbo Toyota Camry cop car with California Highway Patrol livery in the history books.

And it has quite an interesting story behind it.

Most patrol or cruiser cars in a US police department’s fleet are American-made, so what was a Toyota doing there?

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Well, it was a one-off test program courtesy of one man who wanted to explore the potential of Japanese cars in the early 1990s.

It may look like any other Toyota Camry from back in the day, but the real deal was under its hood.

You see, it was completely turbo’d out and had the potential of a race car.

Joel Luz, who created this gem, recently spoke to The Drive, sharing peculiar details of the Camry.

Toyota sent out several Camrys to the CHP for evaluation and testing because it had set up operations in the US by then.

Luz was the man for the job because he founded the nation’s first TRD (Toyota Racing Development) called Toysport.

As he was familiar with the parts and the machinery, he decided to take the testing to the next level.

In one of these Camrys, he fitted a 2.0-liter turbocharged 3S-GTE four-cylinder engine.

That may seem overkill for a Toyota Camry, but it made it an absolute beast.

This was the same engine used in the World Rally Championship (WRC) Celica GT-Four.

Since the chassis of the Celica and the Toyota were almost identical, the engine fitted easily.

And now, you have a Turbo Toyota Camry cop car with police livery.

It’s not the first time we have seen an unusual cop car, just like this Rolls-Royce Ghost that Miami Beach Police just acquired.

If you think that’s interesting, there’s more.

Luz wanted it to be more powerful, so he did some additional tweaks.

He added a huge compressor wheel, installed some HKS bolt-ons, and increased the boost from 3 psi to 5 psi.

Further, Luz ensured it had limited-slip differentials, a five-speed manual transmission, and larger 15-inch wheels with Goodyear police tires.

And now, according to Luz, the Turbo Toyota Camry was pulling off around 280 to 300 horsepower and ‘a little more torque.’

After all these modifications, it was practically a track car with police lights and livery.

While this seemed like a great opportunity for Toyota to keep making cop cars, it didn’t last.

So, what happened to the cars in the test program?

It was discontinued shortly after it began, and this unique Camry is nowhere to be found.

“It was probably crushed with all the good parts in it,” Luz said.

# Tags - Cars, history, Toyota


Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth is a tech nerd with a secret love of all things cars. He has been writing for a few years now, and on his free time you would find him gaming when he's not procrastinating.