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Byline: Al Haas
PHILADELPHIA _ General Motors Corp.'s attempt to get back into the police-car business with the new Chevy Impala raises an obvious question: Can the company make the comeback by trying to sell a front-drive car to traditional rear-drive lovers?
Until the mid-`90s, GM shared top billing with Ford Motor Co. in a national sales drama titled "America's Police Cars." Both the Chevy Caprice and the Ford Crown Victoria were just what cops love: big, roomy, rear-drive sedans motivated by powerful V-8s. And each had about half of the police market, which totals roughly 70,000 cars a year.
But Chevy lost its half of that profitable pie with the demise of the Caprice four years ago. Although this large sedan was beloved by police departments, its homely styling wouldn't allow enough civilian sales to make a strong business case for its continued production. So General Motors decided to stop building the car, and use its assembly plant to make hot-selling …