The force unveiled a restored 1966 Ford Custom police cruiser Tuesday afternoon. The department’s project to recreate the past took almost a year to complete. The car cost a total of $30,000 to restore, said police spokesman David Baldwin.
The police only paid $2,100 of the cost to restore the cruiser, and contributors gave about $26,000 in materials and labor to complete the car, Baldwin said. The Police Department Explorer Program, which teaches teens who aspire to become police officers, bought the car for $2,500 from a man in Alabama, Baldwin said.
Police Chief Dan Flynn said he is excited to share the car with the community. The car will be featured in the city’s Fourth of July parade Friday, he said.
“It’s important, as a community, when you see your police department as a friendly place, and we do that through projects,” Flynn said.
The car is completely authentic, Flynn said, even down to the shade of the cream-colored paint on the top of the car’s exterior.
“Marietta is a city that is very history-conscious, and we thought it would be nice to have something that shows we value our history,” Flynn said.
The old police cruiser, complete with a rotating red light on the top, was sitting alongside a new police Ford Interceptor on Tuesday.
Rupert Raines, a retired Marietta assistant police chief, said he remembers driving the old Ford Custom every day. Raines said the cruiser has a sentimental value to him because it functioned as his office for eight hours a day.
“That was our home away from home,” Raines said.
He said times have changed, and so have police cars.
“They’re so much safer now, and there’s so much more technology,” Raines said.
Raines said in the old police cars, the windows had to be cranked up and down by hand and air conditioning was not included. The cars also didn’t have anything separating the arrestee in the back seat from the officers in the front seat, such as the metal cage cars have now.
A total of 18 contributors donated money or services to complete the restoration of the car.
Tom Giarrano, owner of Tom’s Hot Rods and Restorations Marietta, said he worked on the paint and body work of the car. Giarrano said he put 300 hours and $15,000 into the car, and it was worth it.
“I was immediately drawn to (the car), and I immediately knew I wouldn’t charge them anything,” Giarrano said. “These guys give up so much every day, and they put their lives on the line every day. That makes it worth it.”