Sandwich Patrolman Restores Vintage Police Cruiser

Antique Sandwich police car.
DON PARKINSON/ENTERPRISE - Antique Sandwich police car.

A restored 1977 Dodge Monaco, once owned by the California Highway Patrol, is a source of pride for Sandwich Patrolman Philip H. Anderson.

With a 440 cubic-inch, high-performance engine, he said this particular car was difficult to find.

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“I had been wanting to buy this type of car for 34 years. When I saw it for sale four years ago, I grabbed it,” he said.

Purchased for $3,000 from a Foxboro police sergeant, Ptl. Anderson said there was a lot of work to be done to bring the former police cruiser back to its original condition.

“It came in pieces in the back of a pickup truck,” he said.

For the past four years, he has been working to restore the vehicle, searching junkyards and other venues for original equipment and parts.

“I got the last piece of chrome trim on the windshield and assembled it last week,” he said.

Ptl. Anderson said he has been diligent about making sure that the parts and even color scheme are consistent with the original vehicle.

“I used the correct period light bar and even the mounting brackets. Even the two-way radio inside is the correct time period. And everything is operational,” he said.

He explained that 1977 was the first year that this Dodge model came out and it was one of 1,400 that were purchased by the California Highway Patrol to be used as police cruisers. With the life span of a police cruiser much less than that of a personal automobile, in 1980, the vehicles were auctioned off.  “Most of them went to movie companies. They were used in shows like ‘T.J. Hooker,’ ‘Dukes of Hazard’ and ‘Hunter’,” he said.

But a rare few of the cars sold at auction were purchased for personal use, extending their life span.  “This car is one of five or six that is still running,” he said.

Because the car came from California, that was an added bonus, Ptl. Anderson said.
“There’s absolutely no rust on it,” he said.

Now fully restored, the Sandwich patrolman plans to donate the car for various events in town. Police Chief Peter N. Wack said he is impressed with the work that his officer has done to restore the vehicle and it has even impressed some visitors to town.

“We had it out in front of the police station one Saturday this summer, and tourists were coming by to look at it and take pictures,” Chief Wack said.

Patrolman Anderson is quick to point out that although it is a replica of police cruiser from the 1970s, it is not the same type of vehicle used for cruisers by the Sandwich police department in the 1970s. 

“They had Fords and their color scheme was slightly different. Instead of black, they had blue trim at the bottom. I chose to paint it black to restore it to its original colors,” he said.

On Tuesday this week, he brought the cruiser to the car show at the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Bourne.

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