By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Dood Jaussaud may have been born decades too late.
Instead of being a tech junkie and up on the latest trends, the 22-year-old Thermopolis police officer lives vicariously in the past – at least as far as what he drives is concerned.
The 1957 Bel Air
Three years ago, Jaussaud began working on a classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air he bought in Columbus, Montana. Then earlier this year, Jaussaud was tipped off about a guy who might have some parts for his Chevy.
“I got ahold of this guy, and he goes, ‘I don’t know anything about cars, and I don’t really have parts, but why don’t you come see what I got?’” Jaussaud told Cowboy State Daily. “So, grandma and I got in the car, we drove to Douglas.
“It was on the weekend, and this guy had two ’57 Bel Airs that had been parked in his dad’s garage since 1975.”
Jaussaud sold his original Chevy so he could finance a dream that he had – transforming the four-door Bel Air into a working police patrol vehicle.
Jaussaud explained that the Bel Air’s engine is a 283 small block Chevy original with power steering and power brakes.
“It’s a two-speed power glide tranny with positrack in the rear end,” he said, reverting to carspeak.
“It’s got a four-barrel carb, which is factory – it’s a Rochester, and it’s all original,” he said.
Jaussaud said that with the exception of replacing the after-market steering wheel with an original, he didn’t have to do any retrofitting of the classic car’s exterior.
“We haven’t done a bit of body work to this. All the chrome, the body – it’s all original,” he said. “The motor, transmission, all the way to the exhaust at the back of the car is exactly how we found it.”
It took three months of solid work – all paid for out-of-pocket – to transform the classic Chevy into the showpiece it is now. He went the extra mile to not only restore the Bel Air, but also to outfit it to be a working police cruiser.
“We got the car back in May, beginning of June,” said Jaussaud. “We didn’t start on it for a couple months, and then I’d say in September, October we just went crazy on it. I came here to work four days a week, and I’d spent three days in Casper working on it.”
A Team Effort
Jaussaud also said he found help along the way, including a professional artist who did all the detail work.
“She’s a former artist for Disney, and she’s now a full-time pinstriper in Colorado, and she handpainted everything on the car,” said Jaussaud. “We did the badge, the police eagle on the door. “
He added that the artist included tiny details, like miniature cops and robbers on the fender and tiny donuts in random places throughout the paint job.
Working Police Car
While Officer Jaussaud said it’s his dream the vehicle would become his personal patrol car, Sgt. Mike Mascaro of the Thermopolis Police Department said that’s not necessarily up to him.
“It is a possibility for this vehicle to become part of the Thermopolis vehicle fleet,” said Sgt. Mascaro. “However, that decision is going to be made by the town mayor, the council members and the chief of police.”
Jaussaud said the restoration has benefitted everyone involved in the project.
“We’ve gotten a lot of attention with it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be fun with our events and the kids, and like today when the weather’s nice, and funeral escorts.”
For Jaussaud, the effort’s been one that’s merged his two passions – classic cars and law enforcement.
“It looks good for the police department, it’s fun for me because it’s my personal hobby, it fits into a lot of categories that work well,” Jaussaud added. “But it has a lot of potential for a lot of fun.”