If you were fond of tearing up the roads of the Windy City in the muscle-car years, chances are you would have hit the brakes hard if you saw an imposing patrol car like Greg Reynolds' meticulously recreated 1972 Dodge Polara cruiser.
Reynolds, a Chicago resident and sergeant in the city's police force, restored his sedan classic to be an authentic duplicate, and to remind all who see it of the brave badge-toting men and women who keep our streets safe.
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"I wanted to make a rolling time capsule to honor the brave Chicago police officers who have faithfully served before me," he said.
The local lawman found the base model car in November 2005 out on the West Coast, where it was being restored as a replica of a California Highway Patrol command car.
"I always liked the elongated 'fuselage body' (1969-73) full-sized Dodges and knew the Chicago PD had hundreds of them in service during those years." It also helped that Reynolds had just sold a previous restoration; another patrol car that was purchased by a retired police officer.
"For all of my projects, the goal is make the car as historically accurate as possible based on photos and accounts, descriptions from retirees," Reynolds said.
This West Coast Polara was free from major defects, having no major sheet metal issues other than a few pinhole rust spots in the trunk and floor pans. "The car was being used as a daily driver in Las Vegas and was running strong. I flew out to and drove it back the 1,900 miles to Chicago in 2½ days without any trouble."
From the factory this vehicle had been painted white, but over the years had received several more coats of paint; all of which had to be removed. "I discovered that at one point it was white, metallic brown, white again, and then the final B5 blue, which is the color when I got it," he said.
The cabin was also spotlighted and received a facelift to match the law enforcement theme. "The seats were covered in a soft, plushy velour material that was not used in Chicago police vehicles."
Using a 1972 Dodge Factory Police Vehicles brochure for authenticity, Reynolds installed a more correct 50/50 blue pattern composed of burlap cloth and vinyl.
Underhood is the original 360-cubic-inch V-8 and on the sides are period-correct city badges, including the vehicle number, 8208, a patrol car that saw duty on our streets. On the roof is an original Mars Skybolt Combo light bar unit, manufactured right here in Chicago and first implemented on the force's traffic division vehicles in 1971.
"It was a new design that utilized two revolving blue lights instead of just one. It made officers more highly visible and increased safety," Reynolds said.
The project was completed in May 2006. Since then, Reynolds has used this rolling reminder to honor our public servants in blue. He participates in many ceremonies and activities during the year, including a special event that took place on Monday: an annual candlelight vigil held every September at the Chicago Police Department Memorial, located not far from Soldier Field. There several vintage service vehicles stood in silent tribute as the names of the 550 city police officers who have died in the line of duty were read aloud.
"It's a neat way to use these vehicles for a higher purpose than merely driving around," he said.