Category: Movie

11 of the best American muscle car movies – Scott Oldham @Hemmings

11 of the best American muscle car movies – Scott Oldham @Hemmings

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Many of our favorite car movies don’t feature American muscle cars. Some are racing flicks, like Grand Prix and Le Mans that take place in Europe. Others, like the moonshine classic Thunder Road with Robert Mitchem, predate the original muscle car era, which unofficially began in 1964 with the introduction of the Pontiac GTO. Even American Graffiti, arguably the best car movie ever made, is without American muscle since it takes place in 1962.

American muscle cars, like GTOs, SS Chevelles, and Dodge Chargers R/Ts, began showing up on the big screen in a big way in the late 1960s and they’ve been popular with Hollywood ever since. Maybe more so today than ever. When we decided to make this list of the best muscle car movies it was tough to narrow down our picks to the top 11, so we prioritized films that feature more than one notable car, and gave extra points for the use of authentic machines over clones. Did your favorite make the list? Let us know what belongs in a follow up.

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Susie the Little Blue Coupe – Walt Disney 1952

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Susie the Little Blue Coupe is a 1952 animatedshort film produced by Walt Disney Productions and originally released by RKO Radio Pictures on June 6, 1952.[1][2] The eight-minute film was directed by Clyde Geronimi and based on an original short-story by Bill Peet. The story was adapted for the screen by Peet and Don DaGradi.

Susie is a small blue coupe on display in a dealer showroom who is bought by a well-to-do man who is taken with her. Thrust into high-society, she finds herself surrounded by much larger, more luxurious cars but eventually makes do. He treats the car well but neglects to maintain her; after years of neglect, wear and tear, the car no longer runs properly and the owner, when informed that Susie needs a massive overhaul, abandons Susie for a new vehicle. At a used car lot, Susie is purchased again, but the new owner, a cigar-smoking man who lives in a seedier part of town, does not treat the car with the same fondness as the first and leaves her on the curbside at night.

One night, she is stolen, chased by the police and is wrecked; presumed “dead“, she is sent to a junkyard. She shows stirrings of life, even in her wrecked state, and a young man notices and buys her at a bargain price. With the help of his friends, the young man completely restores and revives Susie as a brand new hot rod. An overjoyed and like-new Susie rides off. [3]

Sources – Wikipedia and ichi3ruki3 on YouTube

These 8 car movies from 1971 brought hot rubber to silver screen – Priscilla Page @Hagerty

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With the era’s racing films and road movies, James Bond and Bullitt, the 1960s gave us the genesis of the modern action film, but the decade that followed defined and refined it. Stunts and stunt driving were more impressive than ever, and there was a boom in road movies and car chases. The 1970s is remembered as one of the best and most innovative decades in film, and cool cars were essential to this cinematic evolution.

Road films like Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider had been watershed moments in film history, and so the late ’60s through the early ’70s became a particularly prolific period for the genre: they reconfigured the western, trading in horses for cars. The American psyche had been fundamentally altered by a tumultuous period, from assassinations to the Vietnam War, and films reflected this change, abandoning the peace and love era for the new decade’s darkness, disillusionment, and fascination with antiheroes. And so the car-centered movies of the early ’70s would be defined by rebellion and wanderlust and loners on the road in search of new frontiers in dusty muscle cars.

Advances in technology also helped shape and pave the way for great films with equally great cars. Films like Grand Prix and Bullitt changed how vehicular action was shot, bringing about the advent of camera cars and the ability to put real people in real cars on a real road, meaning rear projection was slowly becoming a thing of the past.

These circumstances would come to a head 50 years ago in 1971. It was the perfect storm of road odysseys, gripping car chases, and spectacle, a year that gave us some of the best star cars of all time. Splashed on screen was an embarrassment of riches from James Bond’s 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 to Kowalski’s 1970 Dodge Challenger.

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My Very Brief Hollywood Film Career – George Holt @Hemmings

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I’m the proud owner of a 1961 Ford Galaxie Town Sedan. In 2011 I got the chance to drive my car in a major motion film shoot on the streets on Manhattan. Sounds exciting, right? Well it was, but also nerve-wracking


My Galaxie is an all original, full-size 1961 base model: four doors, 6-cylinder, manual steering, manual brakes, no air. The one and only option is the two speed Fordomatic transmission.

The paint is faded, but there is no rust or dents. The speedometer/odometer cable broke at 53,000 miles which must have been at least the second time around.

A semi successful conversion from generator to alternator by a previous owner left not one gauge or warning light working on the unilluminated dash.

In all, a fun driver that I have been taking to local shows on Long Island since 2006 with my local club Empire Galaxies.

When I do go, I never go on highways. Driving from my home in the New York City Borough of Queens, I would stick to local secondary streets. It doubles or triples the drive time, but the car is a handful to maneuver and stop so high speeds and heavy traffic need to be avoided.

A notice from a film production company was sent out through my Galaxie club for anyone with a late fifties to mid-1960s car that would like to be in a film.

The production company specified they wanted “average used” cars not modifieds or concours winners.

Since mine is definitely an average used car from that era, I sent in a photo of my Galaxie and was accepted.

The film turned out to be “Not Fade Away” written and directed by David Chase who had recently completed his HBO series “The Sopranos”.

The new filmed stared James Gandolfini, John Magaro, Jack Huston, and Bella Heathcote. It was a coming-of-age story set in suburban New Jersey in the 1960s a group of friends form a rock band and try to make it big. 

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Here’s What Happened To James Dean’s 1949 Mercury From Rebel Without A Cause – Arun Singh Pundir @HotCars

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Here’s more about the ’49 Mercury from Rebel Without A Cause and where it is now…

The Mercury Eight line was brought forth by Ford’s now-defunct Mercury division; however, the nameplate tasted sweet success between 1939 and 1951.  In 1955, the world mourned the death of the rising star James Dean in an automobile accident. Naturally, when the movie Rebel Without A Cause was released just a month after his demise, it became an instant hit. And James Dean was mourned even more after his acting skills made it apparent that he could have been the next big thing in Hollywood.

Everything Dean touched was gold at the time, so his 1949 Mercury from this very movie became a sensation as well, adopted by the hot-rodding generation with instant ease. Was the Mercury always destined to be a hot rodder hit or did the movie’s success further take it to great heights?

Since time cannot be turned back or altered, we can’t say. Perhaps it was a bit of both, further compounded by Dean’s untimely death. Either way, his 1949 Mercury became a huge hit and has carried on being a classic hot rodder to date.

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1967 Eleanor Mustang From ‘Gone In 60 Seconds’ Up For Sale – Edward Snitkoff @FordAuthority

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The Ford Mustang initially achieved cinematic immortality in Bullitt, a 1968 film starring Steve McQueen that featured some of the best car chase scenes of all time. Fortunately, it wasn’t the last Hollywood production to give the pony car a starring role. Gone in 60 Seconds, the 2000 remake starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie, introduced the iconic 1967 Eleanor Mustang to the world, and things haven’t been quite the same since. The Eleanor was an incredible and unique take on the ’67 Shelby GT500, and enthusiasts as well as those who aren’t your typical “car people” instantly fell in love with the design.

Three Eleanors survived production to make it into the hands of private collectors. As Ford Authority previously reported, one of them sold for quite a bit of money back in January 2020. That example went to auction, but the Eleanor featured here today is simply being offered for sale by a German dealership.

The 1967 Eleanor Mustang for sale at ChromeCars is #7 of the 11 originally built for the movie. Cinema Vehicle Services, the company responsible for producing the Mustangs, worked with legendary automotive designers Steve Sanford and Chip Foose on the design, which explains why they look so great.

This particular Eleanor has traveled far and wide over the last 20 years. A British collector brought it to Europe some time before 2012. Then, ChromeCars purchased it in 2017 and transported it back to Los Angeles to revisit the original film locations. It then made its way back across the Atlantic to Germany, where it currently resides.

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The 10 worst mistakes from great car movies – Scott Oldham @Hemmings

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We can’t get enough of car movies. They’re like pizza, even when they’re pretty bad, they’re pretty good. From the campy flicks of the 1950s, like Hot Rods to Hell, to Hollywood’s latest, like Ford v Ferrari, we watch them all and we watch them over and over and over. And like you, we have our favorites.

Recently, we chose our favorite street racing films. This time we’re going to dive into the worst automotive gaffs in movie history, the mistakes made by the filmmakers that only us car geeks pick up and complain about.

Directors and stunt coordinators should give us a little more respect. They don’t think we notice when they goof up, but we always do

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)

One of the great road films of the early 1970s, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry stars Peter Fonda and a salaciously cool 1969 440-powered Dodge Charger on slot mags with a “black racing stripe”. It was also painted Citron Yella (code GY3), a High Impact Dodge color from 1971 because Director John Hough wanted to make sure it jumped off the screen. But look closely: R/T badges come and go, and in some of the driving shots, the Mopar is a 1968 without the divider in the center of its grille.

Vanishing Point (1971)

Another legendary Mopar road film from that era is Vanishing Point, with doped-up ex-cop Kowalski (Barry Newman) racing through the west in a white 440-powered four-speed Dodge Challenger. Spoiler alert, the car is destroyed at the end when it loses a fight with a couple of bulldozers. During filming, Dodge loaned the production four cars, but look closely, it isn’t the E-body that hit those iron buckets, it was the shell of a 1967 Camaro filled with pyrotechnics.

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“You’re racing against something that isn’t human:” a short virtual film festival focused on all things Bonneville – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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Bonneville’s one of those places where, once you see it, you can’t get it out of your head. You could travel the world and not feel that you’ve ever really left home until you set foot there. You come away from the place transformed, with your perspective on horizons and scale and time absolutely demolished. You begin to reconsider what your limitations truly are.
And, it’s been said, nobody can take a bad photo at Bonneville. So it’s little surprise that documentary makers have flocked to Bonneville over the years in search of good stories and have come away with not only the stories they’re looking for, the lingering perfect-light shots they’d hoped to get, but also contemplative pieces full of prose and humanity.
There’s probably an entire film festival worth of documentaries that we could highlight in the wake of this year’s Bonneville Speed Week. So let’s do it.

Was Leo Beebe a corporate villain or a good guy with a tough job? – Frank Comstock @Hemmings

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With the release of the Ford v Ferrari movie, there has been renewed interest associated with my 2016 article here on Hemmings concerning Ford executive Leo Beebe and the end of the 1966 Le Mans race. Comments, around 200 in number four years after initial publication, show the passion of people on both sides of the dispute. With that in mind, it’s worth another dive into what kind of person Leo Beebe was, based on his background and people who knew him.
Editor’s note: This story comes to us from Hemmings reader and contributor Frank Comstock, a friend of the late Leo Beebe.
Let’s think of this as a highway between two cities representing the two major aspects of the dispute. While there are several entrance and exit ramps along the highway, the ramps at one city represent the argument that Beebe did not like Ken Miles and didn’t want him to win the race, while the ramps at the other city represent the argument that Beebe engineered the end of the race to please Henry Ford II, the man who had funded Ford’s Le Mans effort to the tune of as much as thirty million dollars. The ramps in between those cities represent the opinions of those who fall somewhere in the middle of the two sentiments.