A modern panda car of the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary
The phrase panda car refers to a small or medium-sized police car operated by British police forces. They are used for ordinary patrol work, with larger and more powerful vehicles being used for emergency response, Road Policing Unit duties and as Armed Response Vehicles
History of the term
Panda cars were named after pandas because they were originally painted with large panels of[ black and white, or blue (usually light blue) and white.]
The first use of Panda cars seems to have been in Lancashire Constabulary area in about 1965, the Chief Constable described the use of blue and white Ford Anglia Panda cars in Kirkby in an article in The Times on 26 January 1966. These were blue with a white line painted around them. In 1967, the Dunbartonshire force bought two Hillman Imps (subsequently nicknamed "Pinky" and "Perky") for escort duties on the A82 road; one blue and one white. The boot lids, bonnets and doors were then swapped to create a panda car style scheme.
In the 1980s police cars in the UK began to be ordered in white to save acquisition costs, usually with orange or red "jam sandwich" reflective stripes. Today, patrol cars are painted in a variety of different colours, often with multicoloured Battenburg markings or stripes, although many forces still use a mainly white colour scheme. The name panda car or panda is still often used.