Restored 1967 Tennessee Highway Patrol Ford

In June of 2007, Randy Barclay and his brother Jake purchased a derelict 1967 Ford Custom 428 from Holt's Salvage Yard in Fayetteville TN for $625 and saved it in the nick-of-time from the portable crusher. The attraction to the brothers was to have a classic car to restore that was unique and challenging for two guys who already had a knack for bringing older forgotten cars back to a new life on the road. The car had been registered to the Tennessee Department of Safety in Nashville, so the idea of restoring an old THP cruiser was a rare and exciting opportunity for the two men. The restoration on the old Ford began by May of 2008 as the brothers were already in the midst of another restoration on a 1955 Chevy.

While the Barclay brothers were breaking down the VIN Codes and the Trim Codes of the car, they found out what they really had: A 428 ci with no power steering, and no air conditioning. This is when they became interested in knowing what kind of a man could drive a car like this day in and day out. In the depths of the ashtray inside the car, was the carbon paper from a gas station receipt issued in Covington TN dated May 16 1968 and signed by a W.M. Duffey. The search began for the man behind the gas purchase and who apparently also smoked unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes some 40 years earlier.

They started trying to track-down this guy through conventional methods, not knowing his age, if he was alive or dead, or even if he lived in the state anymore. A lead brought them to an 84 year-old Walter M Duffey living in Brownsville TN. The Walter Duffey who answered the phone that day was the son of the retired Lieutenant with the Highway Patrol who advised that the senior Walter was recently admitted to a hospital in Jackson TN due to a bad fall. Randy and his brother Jake raced-off to the hospital in Jackson armed with every available photo of the old Ford to at least get the information passed to Walter via the nursing staff. The nurse called-over Mrs Duffey who had already been at her ailing husband's bedside to hear what these two nice young men from Mississippi had to say and show. Not a moment was hesitated to bring Randy and Jake into Walter's hospital room to show him what they had found and what they were bringing back to its former glory. This gave Walter his "second wind" and his recovery was bolstered by the notion that his old patrol car was found and being restored.

 

Walter who had a very seasoned and celebrated career with the Tennessee Highway Patrol recalled one instance that took place in that very car "back in the day". Sgt (then) Walter Duffey while on routine patrol had the opportunity to arrest two men. One man was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the patrol car while the other male was riding up front in the passenger seat. The male up front was able to wrestle Sgt Duffey's gun away from him, and a kidnapping of one of Tennessee's finest was now underway. The men drove Sgt Duffey a few miles away and then pulled over to order him out of the car. The passenger in the rear was able to talk the gunman out of the idea of shooting Sgt Duffey and the two fugitives took-off in that Ford 428, leaving it abandoned some miles away when they could make good their escape.

 

The old Ford patrol car has been painstakingly restored using period-correct equipment and paint as well as decals and trim. In fact, once the first meeting took place between the Barclay brothers and Walter, they kicked-up the pace of the project to complete the restoration and the '55 Chevy project was placed on the back-burner. They obtained a blue-dome rotator light which was introduced for the THP in 1967, the radio equipment and siren from that era were added as well as a new-old-stock spotlight that was the precise kind used on these patrol cars at the time. The motor and transmission were found in Michigan. They came out of a T-Bird with 29,000 miles on it. The 428 in the Ford Customs were actually T-Bird engines that year. As Randy told me: " The motor was never rebuilt, just some gaskets freshened up and things like oil pump, water pump,etc. It runs like an ace, no smoke, no misses, like it wants to run down some moonshiners."

 

 

As for the license plates (sorry..."tags"!), they are excellent embossed metal reproductions. Those of us in this hobby know well-enough how hard it is to find originals in any condition aside from rust-on-rust! The color and layout on these reproductions are spot-on, and an assignment number beginning with a 4 is correct for the Brownsville District where this car and Sgt Walter Duffey ran their beat. With the car being a 428, no other number could be more appropriate for such a wonderful tribute to the patrol cars of the muscle era and the Tennessee Highway Patrol as well. The Barclay brother's "Duffey car" as I call it, makes appearances at THP functions and serves as a rolling tribute to the proud history of excellence of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the integrity of fine patrol officers like Walter M. Duffey.

 

Statetrooperplates.com wants to deeply thank Randy and Jake Barclay of Nesbit and Southaven MS respectively for their marvelous contribution, and to Retired Lt Walter M. Duffey of Brownsville TN for leaving that gas receipt in the ashtray of that old Ford 40 years ago so that he could be reunited with that car and have his name and career live-on for the ages!

..by the way...Walter confirmed that those unfiltered Lucky Strikes left behind in that same ashtray was his brand back in the day!

The meticulously restored Duffy 428 Trooper car
has been shown to rave reviews all over Tennessee
from civilians and THP personel alike .