A 1955 Buick and Reruns of ‘Highway Patrol’ – Wall Street Journal

Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Gary Goltz, 63, a health-care industry sales consultant from Upland, Calif., with his 1955 Buick Century, which he has outfitted to look exactly like one the actor Broderick Crawford drove in the TV show ‘Highway Patrol,’ which Mr. Goltz watched avidly as a kid growing up.

Mr. Goltz with his car, photographed not far from his home. Mr. Goltz bought the car in 1995. Those holes above the front wheel aren’t bullet holes; Buicks from this era are known for this styling cue.

The car’s prodigious nose. There’s enough chrome on this vehicle to keep its owner busy buffing for hours.

A peak into the car’s interior. The Buick was not a cheap car in 1955, and the interior featured elegant art-deco styling.

Unit 2150 was Broderick Crawford’s car number on ‘Highway Patrol.’ ‘Talk to anyone over 60 about that show and they’ll get a big smile on their face,’ says Mr. Goltz.

Mr. Goltz even has an ID card for Dan Mathews, the character Broderick Crawford played on ‘Highway Patrol.’

Some detail of the policing equipment. The TV show ‘Highway Patrol’ ran original episodes from 1955 to 1959, according to the Internet Movie Database, with reruns airing after that.

Mr. Goltz checking in the trunk. When he’s not out driving his Buick, he is often to be found teaching Judo. He is a former President of the United States Judo Association.

More detail of the 1955 Buick. It was a slightly odd choice for a police car in the 1950s because it was expensive. ‘The Buick was the car doctors drove,’ say Mr. Goltz.

The hood ornament and the Buick logo—classic 1950s styling.

The car from behind, showing the 2150 license plate—Broderick Crawford’s car number on the show ‘Highway Patrol.’ ‘Growing up in Pittsburgh and watching that show, the cars looked so different from what police drove where we lived,’ says Mr. Goltz.

An old highway patrol hat completes the package.

‘Everyday I’d come home from school, have a peanut butter sandwich and watch Broderick Crawford in [‘Highway Patrol’], followed by ‘The Three Stooges’ and ‘Popeye’ cartoons,’ says Mr. Goltz.

‘I’ve owned this car now for 21 years,’ says Mr. Goltz. ‘Every time I take it out, it still draws a crowd.’

Gary Goltz, 63, a health-care industry sales consultant from Upland, Calif., on his 1955 Buick Century California Highway Patrol enforcement unit, as told to A.J. Baime.

As a kid growing up in the 1960s, I loved the TV show “Highway Patrol.” Every day I’d come home from school, have a peanut butter sandwich and watch Broderick Crawford in that show, followed by “The Three Stooges” and “Popeye” cartoons. “Highway Patrol” was all about good guys winning over bad guys. Watching that heavyset cop in a fedora driving a Buick California Highway Patrol car and ordering people around—there was something mesmerizing about him.

When I sold a business in 1993, I decided to indulge myself with a classic 1955 Buick, which I purchased in 1995. It cost about $25,000 to convert it into a what you see here: a Buick California Highway Patrol car like one of the cars Broderick Crawford drove in the show. Over the years, I’ve added power steering, power disc brakes, air-conditioning and cruise control, and a sound system that’ll knock your socks off, not just internally but externally. When I want to blare the theme song from the TV show, I want it to sound like it’s being played right before you. I also blare the opening narration, spoken by the famous Hollywood pitchman Art Gilmore: “Whenever the laws of any state are broken, a duly authorized organization swings into action.”

In 2001, I drove this car across the entire Route 66, from Chicago to the Santa Monica Pier, with Broderick Crawford’s son Kelly (who died a few years ago, unfortunately). I also take the car in a parade every year on Oct. 4, to Broderick Crawford’s Walk of Fame star near the Chinese Theatre. Why Oct. 4? Crawford is known for the way he barked into his mic at the end of radio messages on the show: “10-4.” When we come down Hollywood Boulevard each year on that day, with about 25 classic police cars, we stop all of Hollywood in its tracks.

I’ve owned this car now for 21 years. Every time I take it out, it still draws a crowd.


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