A 1955 Buick and Reruns of ‘Highway Patrol’ – Wall Street Journal
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.” Everyday 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 heavy set 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.