A POLICE car is one of the last places you’d think of spending a memorable evening in.
But a love for American motors has seen a car enthusiast get a licence to put his Highway Patrol cruiser up for private hire.
We attend a lot of summer fairs, school fairs and emergency services days because people enjoy seeing it.Mark Heiford
Mark Heiford, from Fareham, is the proud owner of a 1985 Ford Crown Victoria Californian patrol vehicle.
He decided to apply for the licence from Fareham Borough Council after receiving requests to take students to the proms in the motor you would be used to seeing in a 1980s American cop show.
Now, after having his application approved, Mark is the only person in Fareham and Portsmouth to own a novelty private hire licence.
The 47-year-old said: ‘My wife Mary and I have always loved American cars and it is our hobby.
‘We bought the police cruiser a few years ago and people love it.
‘We attend a lot of summer fairs, school fairs and emergency services days because people enjoy seeing it.
‘We support Hampshire Constabulary quite a bit and in the summer we tend to get really busy going along to all the fairs.
‘Recently, people have been asking if the police cruiser can be used for prom nights because it is a lot different to a limousine.
‘But I have had to decline because you need a licence to do it. ’
The car had to undergo a series of tests to get the licence, including the cruiser being fully checked, while Mark also had to prove his driving ability.
He will now have the licence for a year before it needs renewing.
But he said he wants to still enjoy his American police cruiser as a hobby to allow others the pleasure of riding around in it in style.
‘I am not aiming to use the private hire licence as a job but just as part of my hobby,’ said Mark.
‘If people want to use it as a private hire vehicle for events then they can get in touch.’
The licence given to Mark was the first one of its kind ever given out by Fareham Borough Council, with Portsmouth City Council not having issued a novelty private hire licence for a few years.
The city did have a horse and carriage and fire engine for hire but now have none on the books.
Mark added: ‘The cruiser is just something a little different.
‘I bought my first American police car about 18 years ago and have had three since then.’