About 50 people crowded around a brown 1966 Ford Galaxie parked in front of Fauquier’s 139-year-old courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
The car, a replica of the first sheriff’s office cruiser, officially joined the 150-vehicle fleet.
“It’s a great community relations tool to engage the public, especially kids,” Sheriff Bob Mosier said.
> Video at bottom of story
The ceremony resembled one on the same spot, where the late Mr. and Mrs. Fredrik Wachmeister donated a 1965 Ford Custom to the sheriff’s office in March of that year.
Before that, Sheriff Sam Hall and his deputies used their personal vehicles and received mileage reimbursements.
Soon after taking office in 2016, Sheriff Bob Mosier ran across a newspaper clipping about the original cruiser donation “and decided we should try to find one and restore it,” Sgt. James Hartman said.
Several car-savvy members of the sheriff’s staff — Lt. Mark Jones, School Security Officer Jeff Crane and Sgt. Hartman — took up the challenge.
“We probably looked for a couple months,” Officer Crane said Tuesday. “We wanted a ’65, but most of them were too far gone or too expensive.”
Then, in October 2017, he found on Craigslist the burnt orange Ford Galaxie in Huntersville, N.C., north of Charlotte.
“This is a ’66, but there’s not a whole lot of difference,” Officer Crane said.
Manufactured in Norfolk, the car had 177,000 miles on the odometer but remained in decent shape. He and Sgt. Hartman borrowed a one-ton pickup truck and a trailer for the six-hour drive. They came home with the project car.
Sheriff Mosier had arranged for the Fauquier Historical Society to take ownership and to accept donations for the car’s restoration.
Fauquier resident Jim Walker, who owns Classic Automotive in Manassas, agreed to do the body work. Mr. Walker’s crew stripped the car before sanding and painting it in the official brown and tan colors of the day.
Officer Crane scoured the internet for parts — pieces of chrome trim, lettering, light lenses and the greatest find, the roof light and siren.
“It took me a good six months to locate one in pristine condition,” he said. “The unit is a Federal WLRG . . . from Rescue Market in Elyria Ohio. It is re-chromed and like new.”
The siren cost $1,000.
Altogether at market prices, the old Ford’s purchase and restoration would cost about $35,000, according to Officer Crane. But, donations covered everything.
Arthur Digges, who owns vehicle repair shop in Morrisville, worked on the car’s 265-hp V-8 engine, Cruise-O-Matic three-speed transmission and other mechanical systems on and off for about a year.
Finally, the car went to Danny’s Custom Upholstery in Charlottesville for a new interior.
The cruiser has a new, authentic rubber floor liner, but the two-tone seats exceed those of a ’65 police cruiser.
The car has no “cage” separating the back seat from the front. But, it does have a vintage Motorola two-way radio that works on a low-band frequency that the sheriff’s office still maintains.
The vehicle will make its ceremonial debut Friday night, Dec. 6, leading the Warrenton Christmas parade. The following day, it will take part in the Marshall and Bealeton parades.