Old is better, as far as the Maryland State Police is concerned -- at least in the color scheme of patrol cars.

Two-hundred cars have been put on the road since last month in the new olive drab with black-stripe colors used by state police from their first vehicles until 1972, when yellow became fashionable.

Yellow was superseded in 1982-1983, when a sand coloring was adopted.

Sand-colored cars are to be replaced at the rate of 200 to 400 a year, and by 1997-1998, all 900 marked state police cars should have the new-old color scheme, said Mike McKelvin, an agency spokesman.

The colors approximate those on trousers worn by troopers, olive drab with a black stripe down the side, Mr. McKelvin said.

Last year, the department's uniform committee proposed a return to the traditional color scheme.

The plan was circulated to all barracks and won 95 percent approval, Mr. McKelvin said.

Cars are factory-painted in the colors; the gold lettering and state police emblems are added locally, he said.

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