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Portland man donates antique, 1915 police car to Portland Police Museum

Bob Walters with his 1915 REO "The Fifth" touring car. (KATU)

You never know what you might find tucked away in a Portland garage.

Retired IBM engineer and former Navy submariner Bob Walters was given a 1915 REO touring car by his uncle in the early 1990s.

It’s called "The Fifth," and is different in style than the REO Speedwagon, which was chosen as a name for the rock band.

The car (labeled “No. 2”) started out as the second patrol car for the Palo Alto, California police department. During a visit, his uncle had a question:

“He said, 'Do you want this car?’” Walters said from a garage near his home. “I could feel my wallet taking a heavy diet. But he said all you have to do is pay to get it up here. So it was sort of a gift. It's not pretty to me ... it's ugly, so I thought, OK fine.”

Walters had the car painted and had “Portland Police” painted on the hood in gold leaf after getting written permission from then-Mayor Vera Katz.

But he drove it infrequently, and other than having a dead battery, it still runs.

During an online search he found the website for the Portland Police Museum & Historical Society and asked if it wanted it. Gratis. They did.

“I asked my kids if they wanted it. I got a no. I have no place to put it. I have no use for it, so. …”

Walters pointed out some of the cars quirks, which include the gas tank under the front passenger seat (remove to fill up); a clutch that also works as a brake when pushed down completely; and a wooden battery cover on the back seat floor that opens to reveal the battery, the drive train and the road below.

Portland Police Museum officials say they are looking for a place to store the car and plan to tune it up so it can roll again in the Rose Festival Parade with other vintage police vehicles and become a permanent display at the museum.

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