Don Bolles Car 



Don BollesIn 1976, Don Bolles was a newspaper reporter for the Arizona Republic investigating possible links between organized crime and high ranking state officials. On July 2nd, 1976, Bolles was leaving the Hotel Clarendon in his '76 Datsun 710 when six sticks of dynamite placed in the undercarriage of his car exploded. Bolles died as a result of his injuries eleven days later. Many believe he was targeted by organized crime as a result of his investigative work. After the police investigation, the Datsun was towed to a police impound lot where it remained until it was obtained by the Newseum in 2004. The Newseum/ Freedom Forum Foundation, located in Washington D.C., acquired Bolles 1976 Datsun 710 for an exhibit illustrating the dangers of reporting the news and to honor the life and work of Don Bolles.


Before Treatment: InteriorAfter 28 years stored outside in a police impound lot, the Datsun showed obvious signs of weathering and abandonment. The interior of the car had been disassembled by police investigators directly following the explosion but never reassembled. All of the components had been haphazardly stored inside the passenger compartment from that time forward. Much of the unpainted metal was covered in a moderate layer of surface corrosion. The paint itself was severely oxidized and powdery. Every surface was covered by a thick layer of dust and grime. The shattered windshield had continued to collapse into the interior of the car and the tires had deteriorated and gone flat. In addition to the damage caused by the initial crime and subsequent abandonment, desert wildlife had used some of the interior textiles for nesting materials; making the Datsun their home.


After Treatment: InteriorB.R. Howard & Associates, Inc. was contracted by the Newseum to stabilize the automobile and its components for exhibition and long term preservation. Conservation involved pest eradication, removal of any remaining combustible materials, cleaning, and stabilization of all of the original materials. The above procedures were necessary not only to conserve the artifact, but to protect other artifacts within the Newseum. Most importantly, the primary objective of treatment was to return the Datsun to an appearance similar to that immediately after the crime had taken place, but without concealing the fact that the Datsun had been stored in the Arizona desert for more than 30 years. With these objectives in mind, conservation of the object began.


Before cleaning, the car was placed in a custom fabricated envelope and fumigated for 48 hours with carbon dioxide gas to eradicate any and all pests which may have continued to infest the vehicle. Upon completion of this initial step, the Datsun was thoroughly documented and cleaned. With the museum staffs approval, select interior pieces were then reinstalled in their original locations. Loose pieces of glass from the windshield were removed and placed in archival storage. The remaining intact portion of the windshield was consolidated to prevent further degradation. The car's undercarriage and engine compartment were cleaned using aqueous or solvent based cleaning systems to remove accumulated grease and grime. The engine compartment and the undercarriage were coated with a protective synthetic resin to insure their long term preservation. Reproduction tires were acquired and mounted to replace the deteriorated original tires. The exterior of the Datsun was sprayed with a matted, reversible synthetic resin to consolidate the cracked and chalking paint. This resin was specifically formulated to prevent future paint loss without significantly altering the weathered appearance of the vehicle. When conservation procedures were complete, the Datsun was returned to an off-site Newseum storage facility prior to installation in the newly constructed exhibition galleries.

  • Contact Us

  • B.R. Howard & Associates

  • Phone: 1.888.264.2959
    Fax: 717.200.2537