It’s not often that folks take pleasure in riding in a police cruiser.
But Rushville’s James Haskett immensely enjoys every time he’s in a police cruiser … at least whenever it’s his cruiser – an authentic 1963 Plymouth Fury III custom one.
Haskett came across the car almost by accident. An avid fan of classic automobiles, he was searching the Internet about eight years ago for classic and antique cars, although not necessarily a police car.
However, being experienced with classic cars, he knew original purpose-built police cars, especially those in pristine condition, were rare. He contacted the car owner in Texas and inquired further.
This 1963 Fury III was purchased new and used through the 1960s by the Brazoria Police Department, which is southwest of Galveston. From that point it was at a local museum through the 1980s. Then it was mostly kept in storage, occasionally brought out for a parade or a local event. It was put up for sale eight years ago, and that’s when Haskett came into possession of it.
To prove that the car has been kept in almost immaculate condition its entire life, Hasket has done almost nothing to it since taking ownership. It still has the factory Chrysler 361 B engine, which in 1963 was used only in Plymouth police and fleet vehicles and DeSoto cars. It has the original push-button three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission, meaning there’s no gear lever on the steering column. 1963 was the last year that Chrysler used the push-button transmissions in its cars.
Additionally, the car still has the original windshield wiper fluid reservoir and pump. This essentially consists of a large, heavy-duty bag under the dashboard. The fluid was delivered from the reservoir to the windshield by having the driver press a button on the dash several times, which primed the line and “squeezed the bag,” ejecting fluid onto the windshield.
The car has the original lights on the roof, the back deck, front dashboard and grille and federal signal wind-up siren in the grille, all fully operational. It originally had a whip antennae that anchored on the rear and was tied down to the roof, which shows some wear. Due to not being able to find the exact antennae, more modern ones have been installed.
Hasket shows the car 10 to 12 times a year at parades, shows and other events. The lights and sirens are a big hit with the kids. He was asked to have his Fury serve as a pace car for a dirt track in Kentucky a few years ago.
The car is in excellent condition inside and out, and the interior looks almost new. It still sports its original paint and police decals.
If you see Haskett and his cruiser at a show, be sure to stop and talk to him. He’s a great guy who has many stories to share.