Bob Dylan once said, "The Times They Are A-Changin'." If you lived in Britain in the 1950s and '60s, you'd see custodian helmeted policemen driving around in Morris Minors and Ford Anglias. In the '70s you'd see mustachioed policemen driving around in Ford Consuls and Rover 3500s. Then the '80s rolled around and there were policemen and women cruising around in Rover SD1s and Land Rovers.
Then, starting from the late 1980s, something strange happened. Rover - one of the most British of carmakers - started rebadging Hondas. In the 1990's, Germans, who had lost the War, began buying all of Britain's beloved marquees. And the UK Police, who had always bought British before, began buying Mitsubishis. The world had gone mad.
Now, in 2010, Hyundai has been awarded 'preferred supplier' status by the National Association of Police Fleet Managers. That means the UK Police Forces can buy Hyundai's new vehicles.
It's a big sales and publicity boost for Hyundai. Each year, 2,000 cars are acquired by London's Metropolitan Police and a further 7,800 are acquired for work outside the city.
Managing director of Hyundai UK, Tony Whitehorn, said: "Anyone buying a car needs to make sure that they are getting the best possible package for their money. That's especially true when you are buying thousands of vehicles and spending taxpayers' money! The quality, reliability, resale value and performance of Hyundai vehicles has shone through and they've been given the green light to carry a blue light."
Hyundai said the most popular vehicles are expected to be the i20, i30, ix35, Santa Fe and iLoad van. Can you imagine an i20 police car? Doesn't the mere thought of it make your skin crawl?
For the time being, here's an ix35 / Tucson in police livery. It's an okay looker, though doesn't look half as smart as a Land Rover in the same outfit. Maybe I'm just bitter. Oh well, at least Officer Plod will have iPod integration and ESC as standard. That'll show them hoodlums whose boss.
By Tristan Hankins