Brian Weber found the police car of his dreams in a cow field.
Weber and his son were travelling through central Washington on a motorcycle trip when he spotted the husk of a 1969 Plymouth Satellite rusting among the bovines.
He immediately stopped to seek out the farmer and bought the car for $350.
It wasn’t exactly a police car, but at least it was his. Weber had previously tried to buy a vintage police car from a seller in Texas only for that deal to go south.
“When he found out it was a police officer who wanted to buy it he wouldn’t let me on his property.”
Weber, a sergeant with the Nelson Police Department, has been restoring his cow-field car with L.V. Rogers students since 2015. The project will eventually see the Satellite changed into a heritage police car that Weber hopes to use for community events like the Pride parade or annual Road Kings show.
Weber makes regular visits to the LVR shop. Approximately eight students, mostly from Grades 9 and 10, are working on the car.
Angus Bustin, 15, is in his second year of shop class. He said at this point the car is a mishmash of different components from other cars. The trunk, for example, was recently replaced with the intact back end of a Chevy truck.
“I think it’s cool that officer Weber has so much passion about it,” said Bustin. “It inspires you to work on it when you see how much he enjoys working on it.”
Weber said the project’s genesis with students originated in a collaboration between the Vancouver Police Department and indigenous youth on the Downtown Eastside. The car was essentially an afterthought. The goal was to create relationships where communication had historically failed.
When Weber was a teenager, he said school was no place for police. He was dismayed later in life, and on the other side of the badge, to find that attitude hadn’t changed.
“Police are the people who take your drugs and alcohol away from you on the weekends when you want to party or be with your friends or hang out on the corner,” said Weber.
Which, of course, they do.
But Weber wanted students to know officers aren’t the enemy. So early in his career he began taking his lunch in a high school cafeteria.
“That’s how you demonstrate to the youth that you’re just a normal person like everyone else,” he said. “I have a job, I laugh, I cry, just like you. I just have a job that sometimes puts a wall between us so we need to make sure that we can find ways of communication and keep those open. That’s the goal.”
The car may still be in the shop, but Weber has reason to believe the project has already been successful.
Earlier this year he went out to eat wings with his wife at a restaurant in Slocan when a waitress brought over a pitcher of beer and pointed to a group nearby. They turned out to be four of Weber’s students.
“It was awesome,” he said. “We sat down and talked and they told me how their lives were, what their jobs were, who their girlfriends were, what kind of cars they were driving, what their hopes and aspirations were and we just talked about life.”
It didn’t take LVR shop teacher Arran Wilkin long to understand how important the project has been to students. Wilkin, who just started teaching at the high school this semester, said he is inevitably asked about the police car whenever he introduces himself.
“It’s just sort of cool. It’s these antique cars, simple to work on but they have the cool factor that some newer cars don’t have.”
This year the class’s goals include installing a new rear differential, motor and transmission, as well as sending it off for a paint job. Wilkin thinks the car could take another two years to finish.
That’s fine with Bustin. He’s been fixing vehicles since he was a six year old collecting cans in Ymir to buy his first motorcycle. Now he’s content to scrub grease off the underside of Weber’s wonderful wreck.
“This is the cop car I want to ride in the back of.”