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updated: 2/4/2013 7:10 AM

Tribute 1967 squad car honors police profession

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  • 1967 Plymouth Fury

      1967 Plymouth Fury
    Photos Courtesy of Prestige MotorCar Photography

  • Chris Hahn wanted to create a tribute car in part because his uncle had been a sergeant with the Elmhurst Police Department.

      Chris Hahn wanted to create a tribute car in part because his uncle had been a sergeant with the Elmhurst Police Department.

  • Hahn located vintage equipment, such as a light bar and siren, for his 1967 Illinois State Police tribute squad car.

      Hahn located vintage equipment, such as a light bar and siren, for his 1967 Illinois State Police tribute squad car.

  • This was the condition of the 1967 Plymouth Fury before Hahn restored it.

      This was the condition of the 1967 Plymouth Fury before Hahn restored it.

  • Under the hood, a 230-horsepower V-8 and two-barrel carburetor are ready to chase down suspects.

      Under the hood, a 230-horsepower V-8 and two-barrel carburetor are ready to chase down suspects.

 
By Matthew Avery
Special to the Daily Herald

Chris Hahn grew up spending a lot of his childhood inside a Plymouth police car.

It wasn't a proclivity to be a social nuisance that landed him there, but rather a family member's occupation.

"My uncle was a sergeant with the Elmhurst Police department and I can remember getting rides in his car as a child," Hahn said.

In addition to these fond memories, it was also Chrysler's design that caught his attention. Hahn, who now lives in southern Illinois in Golconda, always wanted a mid 1960s Fury because it was Chrysler's first attempt at what became known as "Coke Bottle"' styling -- smaller up front, growing larger and higher toward the rear deck.

"It turned out to be a hit. When I saw a friend's restored example, I knew I had to do a car similar to his."

Hahn located his 1967 Fury in rural southeast Missouri. "The previous owner had started to make a rat rod out if it," he said. "He had installed red steel wheels on it and it was still painted its original dark brown color."

The only history Hahn learned was that the car had been purchased several years earlier from a family in Oklahoma who had acquired it from an aunt. "It appeared the car was in good shape although it had a 1968 Fury grill and passenger-side fender on it."

Those body components were interchangeable between the 1967 and '68 model years. The auto enthusiast brought his rolling treasure home and took it to a local bodyman, Steve Shales, for a more complete look.

"We quickly found the reason for the mismatched panels. There was major body damage on the passenger side," Hahn said.

The crew removed the gobs of bondo and shoddy craftsmanship and massaged the body back into like new condition. The original 318-cubic-inch V-8 remains underhood but has been reworked to ensure optimal operation. With a two-barrel carburetor and 230 horsepower at his disposal, Hahn won't be participating in any high-pursuit chases anytime soon. Yet he has found the Fury adequate for area motoring.

With his heart set on creating a tribute police car, Hahn learned it was more difficult than he first realized.

"A big challenge facing those who restore old emergency vehicles like this is the availability of period correct parts," he said. "When a new or updated part came along, may departments just threw away the old light bars and sirens that were no longer useful to the modern fleet."

With the help of the area online forums, Hahn was able to locate vintage equipment like the car's Federal Signal model Twin Beacon Ray lights, Federal Signal director siren and General Electric two-way police radio. It may take a bit more effort to acquire the correct components, but the effort is well worth it.

"Not a day goes by driving this car that I don't receive a thumbs-up or a wave," Hahn said. "One day an elderly woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. She told me her husband had been an Illinois State trooper and she remembered him driving a car like mine. Encounters like that make it all worthwhile."

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