Dillinger getaway car on display at Indianapolis airport

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A famous getaway car has moved to Indianapolis from the National Crime Musuem in Washington, DC. You can get a close look at it during the next two years if you're passing through the Indianapolis International Airport.

The car belonged to infamous Public Enemy Number One - John Dillinger - who was shot in the leg as he sped away from police in that car.

Dillinger is one of the most notorious criminals in Indiana history. His career lasted only 14 months; his car, only eight days.

Bob Jackson from Indianapolis just happened to wander into Indianapolis International Airport as the car was being unveiled. He was snapping a picture of the 1933 Essex Terraplane.

"It's a part of Indiana history," he said.

Now it is back home in Indiana. John Dillinger's Essex Terraplane, on loan from the Crime Museum in Washington, DC, will now be on display at the Indianapolis International Airport for the next two years.

Jodi Watkins from McCordsville proved it is not just a "guy" thing.

"I'm surprised it is red. I would have thought it would be black but it's very sporty and sleek," she said.

It was abandoned along the Tipton-Hamilton County line.

The car had a short run. Dillinger bought it in late March 1934 and by early April he was on the road back from St. Paul, Minnesota on US 31 when the car veered off the road and wrecked. He left it behind.

A former law enforcement officer and retired State Jail Inspector Walter Smith is a long time Dillinger enthusiast.

"John found his way on down to Mooresville and had the famous family reunion just before he was killed," said Smith.

The car odometer reads just over 15,000 miles and comes complete with bullet holes from his harried departure from Minnesota.

Janine Vaccarello is the Chief Operating Officer for the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, DC. She says the car does have some bullet holes.

"Two, and you can't see them. You really have to climb in to see them and to preserve the car we don't want people to do that," she said.

But you can stop and take pictures, and airport visitors were certainly doing that.

"I expect mixed emotions to some extent because John was what he was. But it is still a significant piece of Indiana history. I think they will find it interesting myself," said Smith.

Jodi Watkins was gushing about the car.

"Look at those whitewalls. Man!" she said.

"Were you disappointed you can't see the bullet holes?" we asked.

"Yes, I am. It would be nice," she said.

Even without the bullet holes, this 80-year-old Depression-era car is still stopping traffic.

The car will remain on display at the airport until March 2015.

Related links

John Dillinger Wisconsin Hideout - There is a John Dillinger exhibit at the Historic Little Bohemia Restaurant where Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson hid from the FBI. There are still bullet holes in the building in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin.

Indiana State Police Museum - The Indiana State Police Museum on East 21st Street in Indianapolis has items from Dillinger as well as other bank robbers from the 1930s.

John Dillinger Museum - Exhibits on the criminal life of the Indiana native who was Public Enemy Number 1.