Regrettably, Andy Griffith passed to the great beyond Tuesday. At 86, he could tally a successful life as one of Hollywood's quintessential nice guy actors and North Carolina's favorite mascot.
While we will miss Griffith's wry humor and gentle North Carolinian charm, we can take heart that Mayberry squad car replicas seem to be a thriving American tradition. Ride on, Sheriff of Mayberry.
Although Griffith played a number of roles over the years, he is best known for his portrayal of himself as the Sheriff of fictitious Mayberry, N.C. (loosely based upon his hometown of Mt. Airy, N.C.) from 1960-1968.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house in North Carolina, enjoying wafts of warm, humid, pine-scented breeze drifting in through the open windows as I watched Andy Griffith Show reruns. It didn't matter that most of the show's episodes were black and white; so was our TV.
Already a car nut, I watched intently as the show's characters piloted huge American land yachts from scene to scene, comparing them with cars of the same vintage that were so often for sale in front of farm stands and run down gas stations.
A number of awesome cars were featured in the Andy Griffith Show over its nine year run, but Griffith's squad cars were always Ford Galaxie 500 sedans. Fords were increasingly featured as the show reached its later years, undoubtedly because of a sponsorship from Ford Motor Company.
But in the intervening years since the Andy Griffith Show left production and entered its entrenched status as a TVLand staple, Mayberry police cruisers have become something of a tradition. Interested restorers can get all the specs for Sheriff Andy Griffith's police cars online, as well as information about uniform components, badges, and insignia. Apparently, showing up in a parade dressed in Andy Griffith regalia behind the wheel of a Mayberry spec Galaxie is the bees knees.
There are clubs dedicated to vintage police cars, but based on the information available on certain antiquated websites, it's been almost 20 years since anyone formed a Mayberry Sheriff's Office-specific one. We think that it's high time someone rekindled the craze with an official Mayberry Squadcar Rendezvous.
One opportunistic classic car dealership seems to have found their lucky break in Griffith's passing, and posted a Mayberry liveried 1962 Galaxie 500 for sale on eBay the other day. It's in perfect condition and can be yours for just under $12,000. They probably should have let the dust from Griffith's funeral procession settle before hawking the car to be respectful. But perhaps there's no room for such sentiment outside of Mayberry, where business is business.
Photo credit: Internet Car Movie Database/Associated Press