1946 Pontiac Streamliner
San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrol Cruiser
In 1946 the department's first marked patrol car was a Pontiac. It was the result of a campaign promise made by Sheriff Carlos Sousa in the 1946 Sheriff's election. Prior to 1946 deputies drove their own cars on patrol. After the election the car was purchased and in the rush to get into service, the Sheriff star was painted on upside down. Our star remained upside down for several years. In late 1997 during a conversation with our department historian Tod Ruse, he explained the history of our first car and the quest to find one and restore it to match our very first patrol car began. It was not until July 1998 that a suitable car was located. This car was in Pounding Mill, VA and had been barn stored since 1950: it had only 14,000 miles on it.
There was one problem. We had no money and public funds could not be used on this project. Never fear, where there is a will there is a way. I started contacting local business people and was surprised when only 2 hours into my fund raising efforts I received $10,000 from Alex Spanos the owner of the San Diego Chargers.
The car was purchased for $6,500 and shipped to California. The Restoration was started immediately but was slowed by things such as chrome work. The budget now down to $2,500 an $8,000 chrome bill was out of the question. Never fear, Where there is a will there is a way and I met with the manager of Stockton Plating and explained why this was such a good cause. He agreed and the chrome work was donated (thank you Mike at Stockton plating).
We have a body shop training center at our jail so the inmates did a complete tear down of the car restoring it to its original beauty. Changes made to the car include a complete 12 volt conversion and vintage lights and siren. The interior was restored by Terry Henson of Fowlers Auto Body at his own expense.
The car is lovingly maintained by the Sheriff S.T.A.R.S. ( Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors) and used in school programs, parades and many other functions that benefit our community.
Capt. Mike Padilla