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How’d a car end up on the side of a Miami office building? We’ve got the answer

You’re taking a drive along Biscayne Boulevard, taking in the sights and then all of a sudden you see it—a random car attached to the side of a building.

We can’t tell if it’s mid-chase or parked, but either way, it’s a totally random thing to be affixed to the Biscayne Medical Plaza (unless they’re trying out a new valet system).

It’s actually not so random. The car is the last trace of the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum, which opened in 1990 and used to be housed in the building. It moved up to Titusville, Florida more than a decade ago, but the car stayed. We talked to the museum’s IT director and kinda historian Jamie Maynard about the building and its unique decoration.

Where did the idea come from? The idea came from a guy named Derrick Van Brode, who helped design the building. He saw it as a sort of artistic element and knew it would be eye-catching. He was right.

And what about the actual car? The one that’s on the building now–a Chevy Caprice–isn’t the original car. They’ve had to replace the cars over the years because Miami’s torrential rain and heat made them rusty and they started to fall apart. (Fun fact: Jamie told us the OG car was actually donated by the Sweetwater Police Department)

So why leave it behind? When the museum decided to relocate to Titusville, across the street from the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, the organization didn’t think the car would draw the same kind of attention as it did here on a busy road like Biscayne Boulevard. Jamie put it best: “There’s no way a police car is gonna compete with a space shuttle.”

Ok, why did the new owners keep it? When the museum relocated and sold the building, the police car was stripped of its police paint and sirens but the actual vehicle stayed. Jamie told us she isn’t sure why the car remained when the building changed to a new use. Richard Berger, one of the building’s owners, reached out after our story was published and said he and his partners saw a story about iconic buildings in Miami and the Biscayne Medical Plaza was included because of the car. So, Richard told us, they decide to keep the car: “We thought, why mess with an iconic building?”

Oh and BTW. The car’s engine and parts have been totally gutted, so don’t try taking it for a test drive.

This post has been updated with comments from one of the building’s owners.

Got other questions about random landmarks in Miami? Is there anything else you’ve always wondered about? Nothing’s too random. Let us know in the comments or email us at [email protected]

By Lance Dixon
Lance is the Storytelling Producer for The New Tropic