MODESTO — It’s a gigantic passion, on a miniature scale.
Replicas of what real state police officers drive into the field every day were parked in style at the California Highway Patrol’s Modesto office.
All 986 tiny patrol cars were thanks to a heartfelt donation by one of the department’s senior volunteers, Ray Proctor.
“I guess they’re like potato chips to me, you know, you can’t just have one,” Proctor told FOX40.
A total of around 2,300 cars, plus the occasional boat and chopper, made Proctor a collector extraordinaire 27 years ago after a very ordinary trip to Toys R Us with his then 5-year-old son, Christopher.
“And they had these little tiny police cars and I said, ‘Wow, bought all they had.’ About six or seven of them,” Proctor said. “I was really surprised to see them and even more surprised when I went back the next week and saw there was a whole bunch of different ones.”
Proctor then began ordering more replicas online and through collector clubs.
“And then I really got hooked and I had to keep going back. And then I looked for the ones I didn’t have and kept getting more and more,” he told FOX40.
“This display, doesn’t matter how old you are, it brings the kid out in all of us,” said CHP Modesto Officer Tom Olsen.
Proctor, a native of Auburn, Massachusetts, wanted to be a state police officer there. But the Air Force, marriage, management and security work for commercial airliners and then Homeland Security kept him from it.
However, nothing could keep him from collecting.
He even has a car that looks like the cruiser he drove as a patrolman in Albuquerque.
It’s all a massive lesson in love and history, resting on wheels less than an inch tall.
“It’s a bucket list for me,” Proctor said. “I’m glad that they’ve all found a home. I didn’t want everything to just be in a box and put away when I’m gone, and I feel good that they’re going to still be here.”
If that collection wasn’t enough for you, Proctor actually started his collecting with police patches and gifted thousands to the Albuquerque Police Department when he left there. He moved onto police badges and donated those to the Oakland Police Department after working in that city for Homeland Security.
Around 1,200 to 1,500 of his cars that couldn’t fit in that Modesto display case have been sent to a Texas police department for display.