Portland man donates antique, 1915 police car to Portland Police Museum
PORTLAND, Ore. —
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.