WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — It has been four years since Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Deputy Robert Kunze III was killed in the line of duty. He was investigating reports of a stolen truck near Garden Plain, and while arresting the suspect, Deputy Kunze was shot. He died later at a hospital.
Those who knew Deputy Kunze well say he loved cars. Before he joined the SCSO, he purchased a 1966 Pontiac GTO he hoped to work on one day as a retirement project.
A local car club later learned of Kunze’s project and decided to help turn that dream into a reality.
“We knew the car would not get done without us stepping in,” Sam Nance, a member of the GR-RRR8’R Wichita GTO Club, said.
For Nance and his brother Tom, restoring Deputy Kunze’s car is no ordinary project.
“It’s almost been like everything you’ve done to this point in life has led you to this,” Sam Nance said.
For the past two years, the brothers have led the charge to fully restore the fallen deputy’s car.
“We want to make the car the best we have with what we have to work with,” Tom Nance, the President of the GR-RRR8’R Wichita GTO Club, said.
The vehicle was originally a demo car that belonged to a Pontiac executive before Deputy Kunze purchased it. Because of its rarity, it makes finding original parts even more difficult to find.
“They’ll be a lot of electrical work, all the brand, new wiring to be put in, we’ll have the dash to put in, all the interior to do,” Tom Nance said.
But thanks in part to the brothers’ tireless efforts to spread the word, the project has come a long way since the club approached the Kunze family to talk about plans for the car.
“We’ve had parts donated throughout the country—we’ve had services offered around the country,” Sam Nance said.
Monetary donations have also poured in from Wichita all the way to Switzerland.
“I mean it’s just amazing how you can turn something bad into something good by being selfless and giving to somebody else,” Sam Nance said.
The brothers say the car should be finished by Spring 2023. To learn more about the restoration project and a related upcoming fundraiser, click here.