Classic police car still cruising

2009-06-09T19:00:00Z Classic police car still cruisingBRIAN GEHRING Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune
June 09, 2009 7:00 pm  • 

As far as barn finds go, Marlin Leingang may have found the Cadillac of them all. To be more precise, what he found was a 1959 Ford Custom 300 that was part of the Multnomah County, Ore., Sheriff's Department's rolling stock.

Leingang, originally from the St. Anthony area, trailered the squad car to Mandan for last wekeend's Buggies-n-Blues festival, but didn't have the chance to showcase it thanks to Mother Nature.

Leingang is a retired construction Teamster now living in the Portland, Ore., area.

Through the right connections and good timing, he was given the car by the widow of a former sheriff's deputy.

Don Layman was a member of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department for 22 years. When he retired, the car retired with him. With a blown head gasket, the car sat in garage from January 1972 until a couple of years ago, when Leingang got it after Layman died.

Actually, he got two cars - the police car and a 1950 Buick Rivera, both tucked away in a garage.

Leingang said he had done some work for the couple over the years, and when he asked what would happen to the cars, he was told they were his.

"She just said I had done more for her over the years than she could repay, so the cars were mine," he said.

In old car lingo, a barn find is a classic gem that's found tucked away - usually in a barn somewhere. When Leingang started dusting off the car, he found it was in surprisingly good shape.

He said he jacked up the car and aired up the tires and they still held 40 pounds of pressure.

"I must have lost 20 pounds waxing it," he said with a laugh.

So with a little work to the engine, a 223 cubic inch inline six-cylinder with the three-speed manual transmission, Leingang has spent the last couple of years showing it around the country.

"It's original and unrestored," he said.

Original meaning original paint, original interior, original police equipment inside, right down to the original muffler and tailpipe.

The car is equipped with both a 12-volt and 6-volt electrical system, the latter for radios and lights.

The interior of the squad car remains intact with the police equipment it came with, and some it didn't come with.

On the dash sits a bag of Bull Durham rolling tobacco, used for defrosting the windshield and, in a pinch, for stop-leak in the radiator.

The trunk, with its plexiglass cover, is like a rolling museum of law enforcement gear.

Handcuffs, gun belts and holsters, billy clubs, badges - you name it, it's probably in there.

Even a coffee can from 1961. "I know it's from 1961 because there is a tire repair kit in there still in the wrapper," Leingang said.

Part of the interior also includes uniforms that were cleaned, pressed and stored, also in 1972.

One of the most frequent questions he's asked is, "Is it real?"

His response: "It's real, it's original and it's unrestored."

Leingang said the car had 85,000 miles on it when it was parked, and he's put about 5,000 more on since then.

Yeah, he does drive it on occasion.

"It still cruises down the highway at 70 miles an hour."

(Reach reporter Brian Gehring at 250-8254 or brian.gehring@;

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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