Imagine seeing a Nissan Skyline GT-R closing in on your rearview mirror, red lights ablaze. Packing a straight-six twin-turbo engine, this beast is one surefire way to get you to behave. Who in their right mind would go over the 100km/h speed limit knowing such fully accessorized monsters are lurking, looking for their next victim?
Ever since the early ’90s, domestic manufacturers have churned out a string of affordable sports cars, ranging from your average Subaru Impreza WRX to the top-of-the-line Honda NSX. And Japanese police departments have wasted no time buying them up — effectively creating a fleet of super patoka.
Luckily for urban drivers, the speediest vehicles are used mostly to cruise the highways. On city streets, the police deploy more run-of-the-mill models. The Toyota Crown is probably the one everyone is most familiar with—a big, Japan-only four-door sedan packing, in the latest model, a 3.5-liter V6. Black-and-white Nissan Crews, which like Crowns are also commonly used by taxi companies, are another regular sight in central Tokyo.
Helping the feared parking police squeeze through the tighter alleys of the capital are vehicles like the yellow-plated Daihatsu Mira kei-jidosha, which within the blink of an eye can dispatch four ticket-book-equipped policewomen ready to chalk your tires.
The two-wheeled approach to policing is also very common. Official vehicles range from the squeaky pushbikes, equipped with the latest in umbrella-holding technology, all the way to the top-of-the-line Honda VFR800P "shiro-bai" — one of the most tactical weapons thanks to its compact (easily concealed) size.
The best way to get a glimpse of these and other cars is at one of the yearly inspection parades put on by regional departments. In search of the latest and greatest, we attended one recently put on by the Chiba Prefectural Police at Makuhari Messe.
On top of the dozens of "shiro-bai" driving in formation, we spotted a few undercover cars, including the brand new Toyota Crown Majesta and the Subaru Legacy B4 turbo, both stealthily deployed on the Higashi-Kanto Expressway. There was also the massive Isuzu Giga armored bus, used to transport riot police and prisoners. At the other end of the scale were the hybrid Toyota Estima and the frugal, futuristically styled Mitsubishi i.
The sheer variety of vehicles attracts some pretty hardcore "otaku" who fanatically attend every one of these parades with their cameras documenting the rarer machinery on display.
For more information on future parades, keep an eye on the websites of your area’s police websites. Or push the pedal to the metal, and roll the dice — you may earn yourself a real close look.
This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).© Japan Today