“Adam-12” Still Airing in the Hearts of Squad-Car Fans

“One Adam 12, One Adam 12…” Does that sound familiar?

It’s been more than 45 years since the final episode of Adam-12 aired. A show following two Los Angeles Police Department officers through the streets of Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s on real LAPD cases.
Television and classic car lovers alike have something of an obsession with the show put forth by director Jack Webb, famous for his role in Dragnet. Webb wanted the show to be as accurate as possible, telling real life stories of the LAPD, in hopes of sharing some of the raw on-the-job experiences of law enforcement.
While the show and cars are well-past production, it doesn’t mean people have stopped loving it. Reruns are ever present, and people still continue to love classic cars. Groups all over country – and the internet – are committed to restoring these “Adam-12” cars.

Credit: Ryan Olsen

One of these groups, Adam-12 Squad Car Replicas/Clones, was started on Facebook by Jim Gauldin and Ryan Olsen in December 2015 specifically for those interested in restoring the old Adam-12 squad cars.
We had a chance to ask Jim a few questions about the group, its members, and why they do what they do.
National Law Enforcement Museum (NLEM): How did you come to the decision to create the group and leverage rising interests in the Adam 12 show?
Jim Gauldin: The decision was based on the fact that there was a fractured population of Adam-12 squad car owners who were not aware of each other’s existence. As a result, these people were not sharing information, and everyone was reinventing the wheel.
NLEM: Why do you think there is such a fascination with the Adam-12 cars?
Gauldin: The popularity is driven by a combination continued love for the TV show, due in large part to its continued airing by nostalgia TV networks such as ME-TV, and the antique car culture.
NLEM: Is your Adam 12 group involved with other organizations or police associations for events or car shows?
Gauldin: Our members are scattered nationwide, so it is difficult for us to attend shows as a group. However, most of our members are involved with organizations and car shows close to their homes.
NLEM: What is the age range of people in the group, and what sorts of topics are discussed surrounding the show and cars?
Gauldin: Most of our members are in the 50 – 70-year-old range—the show made a huge impression on them as kids during its first run—but this is not universally true. One of our founding members is 31 years old and began building his car when he was in his early 20’s, so there is some diversity.
Credit: Ryan Olsen

NLEM: Do you think the continued presence of these Adam-12 cars strikes positively with people?
Gauldin: Of course! Malloy and Reed were exactly the types of police officers that you’d want to show up when you needed help in that simpler time – a time for which many feel fond nostalgia. The cars are an extension of that.
NLEM: What are your thoughts of the depiction of law enforcement professionals in Adam-12?
Gauldin: Malloy and Reed were consummate professionals – tough when necessary, compassionate, well trained. They depicted LAPD in a positive light.
NLEM: Seeing the show air during the Vietnam War, what sort of affect did the show have on the public considering the tensions between them and the police?
Gauldin: Malloy and Reed were positive influences on the public regarding law enforcement in general and the LAPD in particular. There were many cases where they encountered anti-establishment and anti-law enforcement types and they always handled them with professionalism and courtesy – sometimes making them see law enforcement in less of a negative light.
NLEM: Jack Webb was well-renowned for ensuring accuracy in the show. Do you think this resonated with viewers that what they were watching had a lot of truth to it?
Gauldin: In my case, I only learned of the level of authenticity much later, as an adult. I was a kid when Adam-12 was in first runs. For the people who knew enough to recognize the authenticity that Jack Webb demanded and depicted on screen, yes, I think it gave the show some credibility. For the rest of us, the authenticity was one of many layers that, only subconsciously, made it a good show.
NLEM: Lastly, are there any future plans for your group that we can help promote?
Gauldin: Much more than the civilian population, people currently or formerly involved in law enforcement do not have Facebook accounts. I know of a few Adam-12 cars owned by law enforcement officers who avoid Facebook, and I occasionally encounter someone building a car on their own, without the combined knowledge of our members. “Getting the word out” to non-Facebookers would help our hobby greatly.
Credit: Ryan Olsen

Adam-12 is one of many law enforcement shows over the last half-century to have a legacy and still speak to people of all ages. The realism of the show gave people an opportunity to see beyond the badge and uniform and learn a little about what police officers have to deal with every day. This show was one of the earliest depictions of law enforcement at a time that was rife with negative interactions between the general population and police. The show strived to give a more complete picture of the sacrifices made by law enforcement professionals.