A Wyoming police officer is bringing history to life after restoring a classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air as a police cruiser.
Thermopolis Police Officer Dood Jaussaud is passionate about old cars.
His project to restore a classic car as a police cruiser began three years ago when he bought a Chevy Bel Air in Columbus, Montana.
It was then that he decided to merge his hobby with his career.
Two years after the purchase, Jaussaud found what he was missing in Douglas, Wyoming.
“I got a hold of this guy, and he goes, ‘I don’t know anything about cars, and I don’t really have parts, but why don’t you come see what I got?’” Jaussaud told Cowboy State Daily. “So, grandma and I got in the car and we drove to Douglas.”
“It was on the weekend, and this guy had two ’57 Bel Airs that had been parked in his dad’s garage since 1975.”
Jaussaud then sold his original Chevy to make his dream of transforming a four-door Bel Air into a working police patrol vehicle a reality.
According to Jaussaud, the Bel Air’s engine is a 283 small-block Chevy original with power steering and power brakes.
“It’s a two-speed powerglide with positrack in the rear end. It’s got a four-barrel carb, which is factory — it’s a Rochester, and it’s all original,” he said.
To retrofit the classic car’s exterior, Jaussaud only had to replace the aftermarket steering wheel with an original.
“We haven’t done a bit of body work to this. All the chrome, the body — it’s all original,” he said. “The motor, transmission, all the way to the exhaust at the back of the car is exactly how we found it.”
Renovating the vehicle into a functional Thermopolis patrol vehicle took around three months in total.
Jaussaud said he restored the Chevy entirely with his own personal finances.
“We got the car back in May, beginning of June,” the officer said. “We didn’t start on it for a couple months, and then I’d say in September, October we just went crazy on it. I came here to work four days a week, and I’d spend three days in Casper working on it.”
Jaussaud then commissioned a professional artist to design the vehicle’s graphics.
“She’s a former artist for Disney and she’s now a full-time pinstriper in Colorado, and she hand-painted everything on the car,” Jaussaud said. “We did the badge and the police eagle on the door.”
The artist added details like miniature cops and robbers on the fender and tiny donuts across the vehicle for a final touch.
Whether or not the vehicle actually sees action will be up to city and police leaders.
Sergeant Mike Mascaro said the city needs to make the decision as to whether the vehicle can join the department’s fleet of cruisers.
“It is a possibility for this vehicle to become part of the Thermopolis vehicle fleet,” Mascaro said. “However, that decision is going to be made by the town mayor, the council members and the chief of police.”
Regardless of the outcome, Jaussaud said the car benefit the community.
“We’ve gotten a lot of attention with it. I think it’s going to be fun with our events and the kids, and like today, when the weather’s nice, and funeral escorts,” Jaussaud said.
“It looks good for the police department. It’s fun for me because it’s my personal hobby and it fits into a lot of categories that work well,” Jaussaud explained. “But it has a lot of potential for a lot of fun.”