ANDOVER — To assist the Methuen Police Department with adding to its fleet of community policing vehicles, students at Greater Lawrence Technical School spent the last month restoring an old 1972 Dodge Polara to its original form.
Officer Aaron Little, curator of the Methuen Police Department’s historical police collection, had the idea to restore the vehicle, which Chief Joseph Solomon supported.
“Officer Little and I thought this 1970s cruiser would be a great piece of history to be placed on display and to be used in parades and other functions within the police department,” Chief Joseph Solomon said. “We have worked with GLTS on past projects and they always produce great work, so we knew their students would be the perfect people to take on this task.”
Fifteen students in the automotive collision and repair shop, under the guidance of lead teacher Tom Hatem, began working on the car on March 21, repairing rust spots, removing molding that wasn’t part of the cruiser design back in the ’60s and ’70s, and changing the color from green to black.
“What’s great about these types of projects is that students get to practice what they’re learning about in class and everything they do is part of the curriculum,” Hatem said. “At GLTS we take pride in giving back to the community and we’re happy to assist the Methuen Police Department bring this old car back to life.”
Lawrence junior Christian Rodriguez worked on the vehicle, welding three patches around the windshield where there were holes and spray painting the cruiser.
“I think it looks really nice and I would love to see it on the road,” Rodriguez said. “This project was a good way for me to practice welding and spray painting. It’s always good to keep practicing.”
The vehicle also features white lettering, a vintage blue beacon police light, siren, and door decals that Hatem Graphics recreated. Because cruisers back in the 1970s used a single number for identification purposes, the vehicle is dubbed number seven.
“We tried to keep everything as original as possible,” Officer Little said. “Now that it’s completed, the cruiser is a great piece of history that we believe community members will really enjoy.”
“Restoring this old 1970s police cruiser is a kind of project that adds something not only to the police department, but to the City of Methuen as a whole,” Methuen Mayor James Jajuga said. “We want to thank GLTS for their dedication and great work on this vehicle.”
The Methuen Police Department would like to thank Tom Hatem and the GLTS auto collision and repair students, Ronnie Hatem, owner of Hatem Graphics, Methuen Glass, city mechanic Bob Holgate, Sheehan Towing and Lt. Bob Murad.