Halls of History—The 1961 Dodge Polara police car

Halls of History

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When Jim and I decided to go to the May 3 fundraiser for Cat House on the Kings in Fresno, we also decided to drive, even though the round-trip distance would be 800 miles….

we also decided to go up a day early and get a hotel room for Friday night….

we also decided that we would come back via the loop road that goes through Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park so we could visit the huge, gigantic, monster, really really big sequoias and redwoods….

we also decided to rent a car since rental cars are really inexpensive, they give you unlimited mileage, and they get better gas mileage than our 2002 Toyota Camry….

We stayed at a hotel in Visalia on Friday night, about 20 miles south of Fresno. When I got up Saturday morning, I went to check out the neighborhood, which basically meant that I walked around the hotel parking lot because my choice was that or walking along the freeway.

Around the corner from our room was this really cool car:

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That’s a 1961 Dodge Polara, but not just any 1961 Dodge Polara. This one is special.

I spent some time taking pictures and examining virtually every square inch.

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As I was taking pictures of the car, the owner came out of his hotel room and unlocked the car.

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Check out the pushbutton controls:

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Dodge Polara was introduced in 1960 as Dodge’s top-of-the-line full-size car. The Polara nameplate was retired in 1973.

The owner had just bought the car at auction and was driving it home to California. The trunk was full of historical papers and books documenting the history of this specific car.

In addition to being registered in Arizona as a historic car, its history includes starting out as a police car for the California Highway Patrol, one of only two authorities (the other being the City of Los Angeles) which used the 1961 Dodge Polara with police car outfitting. This was quite a historic vehicle.

The owner’s intention is to restore the car to its police days. I believe he said that he would need special permits in order to do that since installing flashing red lights and other such police outfitting on a car is illegal. Nonetheless, it was pretty cool that the car came with a trunk full of historical documents associated with the car.

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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15 thoughts on “Halls of History—The 1961 Dodge Polara police car

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      If I were a little more mechanically inclined, I’d take a classic 1964½ Mustang. Since I’m not, I will let you be #2 in line, behind me, for modern cars! Let’s hear it for fuel injection, electric door locks, key fobs, Sirius radio, mp3 players, and NO CARBURETORS!

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  1. laurie27wsmith

    First time I sat behind the wheel of a car to drive it was a pushbutton job. I was 15 and after working on the meat delivery truck I had to wash the boss’s car before I knocked off. I reversed it out of the shed, washed it and drove it back inside. Cool. I do believe it was a Dodge. We had a huge range of American cars here in Australia back then.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I just knew you were going to say that after you washed it, you went to drive it back inside and pushed the wrong button, going full speed in reverse and crashing through the boss’s house. Or something like that………… LOL

      I remember when we moved to Utah after my dad’s death, and my mom’s new boyfriend had a really fancy car. I don’t know what make and model, but it had automatic door locks, electric windows, and pushbuttons controls. It was such a cool car.

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      1. laurie27wsmith

        That would have gone over well Russel, I would have found myself hanging on a meat hook in the shed. 😦 He didn’t have much of a sense of humour. There really were some cool cars around then. We never had a car when we lived in England, although my Mum had a job working for a caryard. She would bring cars home to detail. I remember going to the Lake District in a black, 1951 Jaguar saloon car. Leather seats, ahh the luxury.
        Our first car out here was a black, 1939 Dodge sedan. I felt like a mobster sitting in the back. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Music on Mondays (9-8-14)—1959 car songs | Russel Ray Photos

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