Friday, March 2, 2012

CARS AS CHARACTERS

Cars as Characters

Like most guys, I like cars and trucks. They sometimes represent how we feel about ourselves or what we think is important.

Certain cars seem to reflect a time in our lives. For instance, when I think of the “General Lee” (1969 Dodge Charger R/T) from “Dukes of Hazzard,” I recall scenes form my childhood, usually some after-school snacking.

The highly modified 1969 Dodge Charger had the doors welded shut so you had to climb in and out through the windows. The bright orange Charger featured “01″ on both sides and had a huge Confederate flag on the top. I think I even played Dixie when you blew the horn. What was really amazing was its uncanny ability to squeal its tires on dirt roads! There several of these cars and one sold at auction for $450,000.

Many other vehicles really became their own characters. You can probably add some. I bet you remember these as well.

I now only loved the television version of the Ferrari 308 GTS used in “Magnum, P.I.,” I love my Matchbox and Hot Wheels versions. Affable Tom Selleck made this one famous. He also made all of us want to be head of security for an estate in Hawaii.

A similar series that really made the car the main character featured the 1982 Pontiac Trans Am used in “Knight Rider.” David Hasselhoff was second-fiddle to “KITT,” the black talking car with the cool red scanner in the hood. It even drove itself.

This was not the first cool black Trans Am. Remember “Smokey and the Bandit?” Eastbound and down? The black 1977 Trans Am with the obnoxious golden firebird covering the ample hood? In that movie we learned that, for some reason, Coors used to be illegal east of the Mississippi. Second only to Star Wars that year, this movie was an epic hit.

How is that two of this list are basically the same car? Black Trans Ams. And now, you cannot even buy one, or even a Pontiac at all. Pontiac closed up shop a couple years back.

Speaking of cool black cars, was there even one cooler at the time than the Batmobile? I had no idea what kind of car it was, but turns out it was a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car. You might recall the silliness of the predicaments Batman and Robin found themselves in, or the childish “Bam!” graphics when Batman really slugged the bad guy, but you cannot forget the Batmobile.

If we are talking silly, another intelligent car must be included. Not because it is cool. It is imposible for a VW to be cool to me, but the “Love Bug,” alias “Herbie,” was a cute little 1964 Volkswagen Beetle.

From silly to scary, I must also mention the creepier cars. “Christine,” the red 1958 Plymouth Fury that terrorized us all. The movie “Ghostbusters” (was that really made back in 1984?) featured the Ectomobile (Ecto-1)which really was a1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Ambulance. Who ya gonna call?

But there are two character cars that stand out to me as the coolest ever. I base this on the highly scientific view that I would still want to driver either of these even now. The first is “Bullitt’s” dark green 1968 Mustang GT 390 CID Fastback piloted by Steve McQueen’s fastback through San Francisco in the most famous car chase in movie history. By the way, it was being pursued by a pretty cool black 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum. I was surprised to find that the chase was shot at normal film speed, though it looks downright frenetic.


A very different kind of cool, British cool, is shown by the tastefully powerful 1963 Aston Martin DB5 driven by none other than, “Bond…James Bond,” in “Goldfinger.” It currently sits in The Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. But if it ever sells, it will be a large number. One DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball was auctioned for over $4,000,000. I guess someone else thought it was cool, too.

But the coolest to me, is nowhere near the most expensive. Nor is it the fastest. Shoot, it’s just a V6. But it was the hit Michael J. Fox movie, “Back to the Future” which introduced most of the world to the 1982 DeLorean DMC-12. The stainless steel car had gull wing doors. Oh, and a flux capacitor that sent it back in time. Though made in real life (without the flux capacitor) they were slow and unreliable. When John DeLorean was indicted on drug charges, they became extinct. Oddly, he beat the charges, but the company went bankrupt. I understand a new company has started to make them again, up to more modern standards. They need to at least be faster than a SUV to look that cool.

So there is my list. If you want to drop off a DeLorean for me, please have it turbo-charged first. What would you add to this list?

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