LAST year, while on holiday, former traffic cop Tony Peters had picked up a copy of Classic Cars magazine to read when he spotted a familiar-looking car.

"That's Tango 8," he said when turning through the pages, and on closer inspection there was a picture of him with Pc John Cooper standing next to the four-door Ford Lotus Cortina Mark II in 1972.

On Friday, 40 years after the picture was taken, Mr Peters was reunited with the car, based on the Ford Cortina model but with a Lotus engine, which he drove for what was then known as Mid-Anglia police.

The 67-year-old last drove the car in 1974 before it was sold at auction for £300. It emerged from under a dust cover six years ago when Ford Anglia driver Steve 'Ozzy' Osborne bought it for its engine and scrap for just £500.

When Ozzy researched the history of the car, he changed his mind and decided to restore the rare vehicle, thought to be one of just two that was ever produced.

Mr Peters, of Clayton's Way, Hartford, said the car was made specially for the police force, and could outperform other cars at the time by more than 20 miles per hour.

"Ford made us the four-door version of the car because we couldn't ask criminals to climb over the front seats," he said. "It had a sports engine in a normal car and could do 0-60mph in nine seconds - I suppose for police cars these days it's more like five."

Mr Peters joined the force in 1962 and transferred to the traffic section in 1970, where he stayed until his retirement in 1994.

He added: "The picture was taken by a crime scene investigator at the scene of a fatal accident on the A604 between Spalding and Bythorn. I hadn't seen it before I saw it in the magazine because I forgot to pick it up."

The Ford was on show at Cambridgeshire police's HQ at Hinchingbrooke on Friday.

"Seeing the car again was brilliant," he said. "Ozzy has done a really good job at getting it back into its former state. I got to drive it again. It didn't feel the same as it did but I'm glad it was saved from the scrapyard.

"It brought flashbacks of memories including running blood samples and transplant organs to Papworth Hospital when they first started. We could get to the hospital about five minutes quicker than any other squad car.

"Seeing the car next to the current fleet of Audi 7 series shows how much technology and motoring has changed over the years."

The car is now worth more than £16,000, and Ozzy hopes it will be reunited with Pc Cooper in the same spot as the 40-year-old photograph. The car's story will be completed when it meets its sister, which is close to being fully restored in Kent by a Ford mechanic.