- Written by webmin
As Prohibition ended in 1933 and as bootlegging began to become less profitable, gangsters began to seek new sources of revenue, often turning to bank robbing. Armed and armored cars thus became the rolling stock for these jobs, and it’s known that Capone used at least a couple Cadillacs in his trade. So, apparently, did the Dayton Police Department.
Steve Grismer, a retired sergeant from the Dayton PD, who is now with the Dayton Police History Foundation, recently sent us a picture of a 1930 or 1931 Cadillac V-8 apparently modified for an unusual duty: Stopping bank robbers before they could get away. Equipped with bulletproof windows and tires, a fortified front bumper that allowed it to smash through brick walls, and a heavy steel radiator shield, the Cadillac also featured enough racks inside to hold a virtual armory of machine guns, shotguns, grenades and bulletproof vests.
Only thing is, what information Steve’s been able to put together on the Cadillac is thin. He’s been able to identify at least two of the men in the photo – Chief Rudolph Wurstner on the left and Captain Harvey Siferd next to him – and from that has been able to deduce that the photo was taken in early autumn 1931. Steve has documented the Cadillac as a part of the Dayton police fleet through the 1930s and has even seen evidence that it was used as late as 1939, which would mean that it was part of the fleet at the time when Dayton police detectives tracked down and apprehended John Dillinger in September 1933 after he robbed a bank in Bluffton, Ohio. Whether those detectives used the Cadillac in that pursuit isn’t documented.
Exactly what purpose the Cadillac served also remains undocumented. Steve believes that local business and bank owners gifted the Cadillac – possibly bodied by Hess and Eisenhardt – to the department, which then possibly used it for quick response to robbery alarms or for publicity and deterrence campaigns rather than for normal patrol duties.
Steve also isn’t sure what became of the Cadillac. He writes:
The last reported siting of the “Bank Flyer” was at the construction site for the Dayton Police Safety Building, which was completed in 1956. The Cadillac, which had been in closed storage at the old police headquarters was moved to Lafayette street and protected from the elements beneath a tarp. I have no other reports. I believe the car exists in the hands of a collector. I cannot fathom that it would have been scrapped.
Steve has appealed to the community of Dayton for more information, but so far has had no luck there. If you can fill in those blanks or add to the story, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with Steve.