Restored vehicle is more than just living history
Local man's replication a tribute to his grandfather
A few weeks ago, Corbett resident Chad Olin took his father, Lanny, for a ride in a car he had just finished restoring.
I asked Dad if it was the way he remembered it, Chad said. When he didnt answer, I looked over and he was wiping his eyes.
The robins egg blue 1971 Dodge Coronet is a replica of the one driven by Chads grandfather, Oren Wes Olin, who was Fairviews first modern day police chief from 1977 until his death in June 1982. The vehicle is an authentic representation of the original and meant to be a tribute to a man Chad calls his best friend.
A self-employed construction contractor by trade, Chad, 43, is an admitted tinkerer by hobby. His notion to recreate Fairviews first marked police car began about three years ago, but grew legs from a posting on Craigslist several months ago.
I knew my grandfathers car was a 1971 Dodge Coronet, but they dont show up for sale very often, Chad said. In December, one popped up from a young girl in Cottage Grove. At first, she wanted too much for it, but I watched, and in February, she dropped the price. I bought it for $2,000, and it has the original 38,000 miles on it.
Chad sanded down the chocolate brown frame, painted it blue and began a painstakingly accurate restoration. He located dated Oregon E license plates and a variety of authentic equipment, which includes a switch control panel made by Lanny for the car in 1979.
But Chads most prized score for the vehicle was the overhead light bar.
I bought it from a guy in Eugene, he said. My dad engraved City of Fairview inside the light bar that was on my grandfathers car. When I got it home, I started looking at it, and the engraving is there. Its the same one.
Oren Olin, who went by Wes, was a retired Portland Police officer when he became Fairviews chief of police in 1977. Since the position was new to the city, there was no official police vehicle. The chief was forced to share a pickup with the public works department to patrol the streets.
Grandpa wanted to start driving during the day, but couldnt because the guys in public works needed the truck to fix pot holes, Chad said. Thats when the city decided to buy a car.
Wes went to Corvallis in January 1979 and for $700 picked up the 1971 Dodge Coronet from a sale of vehicles once used by campus security at Oregon State University. It was retired from service in late 1980s, stripped of the equipment and sold as a surplus city vehicle for $1.
The younger Olin admits to being briefly lured by a possible career in law enforcement, until my wife talked me out of it, he said. He admits hes hidden the receipts detailing the costs of the police cars restoration, preferring to remain ignorant of the total. Still, theres great satisfaction that his efforts have earned the appreciation of the city of Fairview and other law enforcement officers.
I loved my grandfather, Chad said. Its always been a dream of mine to do this, but it isnt just family history, its city history too.