Archive for July, 2011


The Rockford Files Fans get together for their first Festival!

My pals Pat McKinney and Jim Suva you can say are big Rockford files fans.  We connected because of their Rockford files screen used cars, but obviously if you get the car, well you love the show it came from!   So below is Jim’s write up of the fans first big get together!  Read on!

Nate Truman Founder

Rockford Files Fest – 2011

Written by Jim Suva

On July 13, 2011, the 1st Annual Rockford Files Fest was held. In April I began to make arrangements to meet Pat McKinney and Brett Papworth. Pat and Brett are friends who helped me with my research of the Rockford Firebirds. Since my family and I were coming to the Los Angeles area during the second week in July, it seemed like a great idea to meet them in person! I then told Rob Howe that we were coming. Rob runs the official James Garner Fan Page on Facebook. He took this prospective meeting, which was going to include lunch at Paradise Cove, and transformed it into the 1st Rockford Files Fest. A Fest had been discussed for years on the Yahoo Rockford Files Group, but somehow that never became a reality. Until now.

Rob used to work on the set of the series during the last two seasons. Through the Garner Facebook page and his contacts with the show, he combined Rockford crew members and fans. This year’s Fest had a very limited budget and was really a trial run for next year’s Fest.

The Rockford Files Fest was held in two parts, in two different locations. The first part was held at Pat McKinney’s house, where we met at 10 a.m. Pat owns three (yes, that’s right, three) original Rockford Firebirds from the TV series. He has a 1976, a 1977 and a 1978 Firebird Formulas that were all driven by James Garner.

Pat also displayed his collection of Rockford Files memorabilia, including photographs, an original screen-used license plate, a telephone answering machine, a phone, a clock and a pencil holder, similar to the ones used in the series. Pat was nice enough to let us actually touch these items, and pose for pictures with his Firebirds!

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Pat also has a collection of Rockford crew jackets and hats. These items were given to the Rockford cast and crew by James Garner during the filming of the series and the movies. What a classy guy!

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The 1977 Firebird gets to stay in the garage, out of the sun. It is the actual sound car from the fourth season. You can see the plugs in the fenders where wiring and cables were run. It’s a beautiful car!

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The 1976 Firebird is the only known car that has a letter signed by James Garner documenting the VIN number. It also states that he drove this Firebird on The Rockford Files.

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The 1978 Firebird was used in the last two seasons of the series. As you can see, it still needs a little TLC!

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Pat will be restoring these Firebirds as time and finances allow.

We also stopped by a nearby RV storage facility where Pat’s newest project is parked. He was given a 1959 Nashua trailer, which is the same kind of trailer Jim Rockford lived in during the series. Pat is hoping that with the help of Robert Zilliox, he will be able to paint and decorate the trailer to match Jim Rockford’s trailer. Robert Zilliox was the set designer from The Rockford Files. Robert has pictures of the interior of the trailer and the designs used on the show.

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We are hoping to have all of Pat’s collection items at the 2nd Rockford Files Fest!

The second part of the Fest was held at Bob Morse’s Beach Café. This is the old Sandcastle Restaurant that was the site used for both the TV series and the CBS movies.
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We met at the restaurant at 1:30 p.m. Rob made sure that we were sitting at tables where the original trailer sat. This area has been transformed into a beach area and has tables with beach umbrellas to keep the California sun off, our heads. The parking lot has been removed a few years ago. It was very cool to be sitting in that exact location!

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Once most of us arrived, Rob held a brief introduction, welcoming us and introduced the Rockford crew and the fans. Everyone received a T-shirt that was designed by Sheilagh Howe. The T-shirts were black because that is James Garner’s favorite color. Pat McKinney also gave out Rockford Files hats, that he had made to many of the attendees.

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Unfortunately, James Garner was not available to attend. Jim did send his personal car along with his driver, Chester Grimes. Chester has appeared on The Rockford Files several times in different roles. Note the Cadillac’s license plate! Obviously, a combination of his two favorite characters!


Roy Clark, Jim’s stunt double since his Maverick days, was kind enough to attend. Rob introduced Roy and he held a very nice speech. Roy also entertained us with several stunt stories, and about one particular stunt that he did in the episode “Battle of Canoga Park”

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Roy was nice enough to go around to the different tables and he spoke with everyone. I was even fortunate enough to have him sign the visor of my Firebird! Roy also brought a great poster signed by James Garner, as well as a Rockford crew jacket.


Rob introduced Jon Winokur, who relayed a special message from James Garner. Jon is co-authoring The Garner Files, the story of James Garner’s life. It will be published in November, 2011.


Also in attendance was Blake Delgado, the son of Luis Delgado, Jim’s best friend for almost 50 years. You might remember Luis playing Officer Billings. Robert Zilliox, set designer, and Diane Adler, film editor, were also there. They signed autographs and had pictures taken with the fans. Unfortunately, my family left before Don Wilkerson came. He was an assistant director and was responsible for getting Rob Howe on the set. Ed Robertson also joined us. He is the author of Thirty Years of The Rockford Files. This book is my Rockford bible!


A very special treat was Paul Santo’s restored 1977 Firebird, painted in the correct Rockford color. He parked close by in the parking lot (management wouldn’t let him drive it onto the sand! I wonder why?) Many many pictures were taken of Paul’s Firebird. It was so cool to have the Firebird in Paradise Cove again.

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Roy Clark’s son Dennis and his grandson stopped by with a truck that was used as background truck in several episodes. Of course, the truck had different paint jobs in those episodes.


James Garner was so appreciative of his fans that he signed three items to be raffled off at the Fest. He signed a Rockford hat, a pilot script, and a Rockford T-shirt. Below is a picture of the lucky winners with their prizes! They received their prizes in custom Rockford Files Fest bags, also designed by Rob and Sheilagh.


We had a wonderful time! We wished it could go on forever!

For more pictures please visit The Official James Garner Fan page on Facebook.!/pages/The-Official-James-Garner-Fan-Page/137716439595713

We are already starting to plan a bigger Rockford Files Fest for next year. All will be invited, so tell your friends! Please check back for updates on next year’s event.


Jurassic Park Explorer is here to stay in the Star Car team! makes a parody!

Some guys figure out haveing a recognizable movie car is fun quickly, others take more time!  Stephen is mainly an off roader enthusiast who had painted his explorer rock climber like the driverless trams made from Ford Explorers for Jurassic park.  After a couple of appearances with the Starcar Central gang, and oh yeah, a movie company wanting to give him money to point cameras at it, he’s decided he’s gonna leave the paint just the way is!

Now his weekend rock climbing toy is suddenly a celebrity!  It will be appearing in a Jurassic Park Parody Movie on check the site often!

The plot was to reenact the scene where the lawyer gets eaten. The lawyer in this version realizes he’s not really important in the story, so everyone pretty much throws him to….well the T-rex.  Apparently they  secured Martin Ferrrero who played the lawyer in the original movie, and he had not acted in 10 years!  The shoot took place on a private residence up in Topanga Canyon. It was really interesting for Steve because to do it he had to ask his new boss on his 2nd week of his new job for a day off. Luckily the owner is the daughter of a big Hollywood Producer so she was understanding.

So it ended up being an all day shoot.  Steve got to meet Martin Ferrero (yes he had him sign the truck), They ended up using another truck for all the interior shots because of his roll cage being in the way and used Steve’s Truck for all the exterior shots. Overall a very rewarding experience. The film is due to come out in early Aug.

Then after that in Burbank, Steve participated in the City of Burbank’s “Party of the Century”. He was asked to be in front of Universal Studios City Credit Union with a 18′ Animation T-rex  while they played the original movie in the background. (Too bad Ari’s Jurassic Park Jeep was still in the shop!) There were a crazy amount of people, and Steve learned a lot from doing this event. He had a family that decided that it would be ok to climb up on his hood and take pictures! Seriously? Yeah, people – famous movie cars are not jungle gyms.  You can go climb on Monster trucks, not movie cars.  Welcome to the lime light, Stephen!  (I think he likes it!)

“Either you move your car, or my Deputy with the little arms moves it for you!”


“The Great Race” IS my favorite car movie and “Prof. Fate” had the best GADGET cars ever! The Hannibal 8!


The Fabulous Fates and the Hannibal 8!

OK, I may be biased, but the amount of stars and future stars in this film, along with the amazing race footage of classic cars will always keep this movie in the top ten comedies and top ten of my favorite car films of all time.  Watch it once for the story and the comedy, then watch it again for the amazing footage of turn of the century cars really being pushed to the limit and driven hard! This film was an homage to all the Keystone Cops and Buster Keaton era car stunts that all of the world had seen and enjoyed in their youth at the dawn of movies, and they did a “bang up” job! Hats off to the stunt men on this film too!

Jack Lemon’s performance as Prof. Fate,  along with Peter Faulk (aka Columbo) as Max his dimwitted assistant are the highlight of the film.  I got a chance to spend some time with Mr. Lemon and asked about the film and he obviously enjoyed every minute of filming, except the second day of the pie fight.  (The first day was fun, then they had to put on the costumes from the day before covered with old merengue and  pie crusts. He said the smell was horrendous!)


Luckily all of the original screen used cars are still around, and had been hidden away for many years before SCC member Jerry W. bought them, and had them put on display at the Volo museum.

The actual Professor Fate Great Race vehicles,  now owned by a member  are on display for the first time in nearly 4 decades!   Three vehicles from the famed Warner Bros. movie, The Great Race with legendary stars Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis and a cast of thousands!  The Great Race was one of the most expensive and advanced movies of its time.  Its production cost in 1964 was $8 million. These Professor Fate vehicles,  untill now, had not left the borders of California since their construction in 1964.  After their release from Warner Bros. they became one of the prime attractions at the world famous Movie World museum in Burbank, where they were on display until the museum closed its doors in the late ‘70’s.  The cars, along with the rest of the Movie World collection, did not see the light of day for nearly 3 decades until 1993 when a portion of the collection was offered for sale at an elite auction and that’s when our Jerry purchased the trio for his private collection. 

The Hannibal 8 custom built by Warner Bros at a cost of $150,000 ($150,000 in 1964 is equivalent to over $1 million today).  All hand constructed, it is a true work of art.  Powered by a Corvair 6 cyl and 3 speed manual transmission; all 4 rear wheels are powered and chain driven.    The car remains in its original un-restored condition as when it was used on the movie set.  Still fully operational this beauty does actually run and drive!  It was assigned a VIN, has a title and can be registered.  Original documents include full history and Warner bros title from 1964.

All Original Hannibal 8 Dash!

As this was long befor CGI, everything had to be made so it actually worked!  Scissor lifts, smoke screens, firing cannon, these cars were really a tribute to the car/prop builders that worked on the film.

high speed rail car and rocket!

The Rocket Car  is actually functional!  Special effects include gas nozzles inside the prop rockets provide flames for propulsion effects. It drives and rides on rails and is powered by a Corvair 6 cyl but with an automatic transmission. It is in its original un-restored condition as when it left the film set.  In the film, Prof. Fate and his assistant Max try to break a speed record on rail, but go airborne in a hilarious fashion.

Then there is the NOISE seeking Torpedo, complete with its screen used trailer!  This torpedo is originally fitted with an electric motor and actually floats!  The rudder turns side to side as does the “hearing apparatus”.  Again, in true “good guy, bad guy” fashion, Prof. Fate’s attempt to stop the Great Leslie in his speedboat, but  instead it comes after Fate and Max to end badly once again for the villians!  Only a big budget comedy could have ever created something like this just for a quick gag! How great that they are all together! 

Jerry was glad to be able to display these at the Volo Museum, but with a VIN number and registration I want that Hannibal 8 back here in California and lets start driving it, Jerry!  The cannon sure would help in traffic!

Yeah, I know, Tony Curtis had a cool car too, “the Great Leslie” had a pretty white car, but until I meet an owner who wants to come out and play with the SCC, only Jerry’s Prof Fate vehicles will get their own blog! MAX!  PUSH THE BUTTON!



Starcar fans are all around the world, and is trying to keep up with all of our members and chapters so you can find the famous movie and TV car events near you!

One of the most active groups outside of Nate Truman’s  Hollywood division is run by Dee up in the upper left corner of the USA!  He has even started a “starcar Concourse”.  After searching for star cars all over the U.S. Dee and Nate found several owners and they all started hanging out together up north!  So heres the info on their upcoming event!

Its time for the big 5th Annual ‘Star Car Concourse Classic” show at the Americas Car Museum.

The show is always the last Saturday in August, this year the 27th, and is held at the LeMay Museum’s Marymount location in the Tacoma/Spanaway area. This will be a ‘sanctioned’ AMCA event, hosted by the International Movie & TV Vehicle Owners Association and The larger event, the LeMay/Americas Car Museum’s “Openhouse” that we are featured at, is a VERY COOL annual event even if it were not for the moviecars contribution, so it is well worth the trip. You can find the basic details on our events page here:

Then out in the middle of the USA Michael Knight has a great group that is now doing Comic cons and features one of the two original Monkeemobiles!  Here’s a few shots of them sharing the star cars with fans of all shapes and sizes at a recent con!

"Robin, you seem.... Different?"

Original Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson showed up to see and sign the Ghostbuster tribute car (Hey, before you point out it’s not the right body style, not everyone can find a 1959 Mercury Meteor Ambulance, ok? )

Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson and SCC chapter leader Mike Knight!

Everyone had a great time chatting up Ernie about his time as a ghostbuster, and he even signed their car!

"To, thanks for the cool car... what? I don't get to keep it?"

Like I mentioned before, They also have one of the two Monkeemobiles from the old TV series, and it showed up at a live Monkee show!

Well what did you expect them to be rolling in?

Meanwhile, over in Europe, France specifically, Claude has been hosting a great star car get together each year, and it keeps getting bigger each time!

And an article in the french mag “La Vie de l’Auto” The N°1 for the collectors in France! 🙂

Thanks to guys like Michael, Dee, and Claude – fan boys and girls around the US and the world have opportunities to see and get up close to their favorite movie and TV cars!

Where ever there are two or more starcars gathered in the SCC name, you are sure to have a party with some fun loving people!  So to all those who are lovers of cool creations for the screen,

thanks for being part of the star car movement in your neck of the woods!  TO THE BATMOBILE! Transformers, ROLL OUT!   If you see a star car, or better yet, a bunch of them together,

Make sure you say “HI” and tell them you saw them here first!







Batman, aka Bruce Wayne, aka the Dark Knight, is the world-renowned DC comics superhero who is notable for having no superpowers…but a lot of money. So if any superhero can make a hydrogen-powered supercar, it’s Batman.

This new batmobile designed for the new stage show of batman, was designed by a real-life superstar, Formula 1 race car designer Gordon Murray. Murray, who is also behind the hyper-exotic car brand McLaren, was drafted to design a 21st Batmobile for the “Batman Live” show taking place on stages across Europe. The Batmobile that Murray has designed comes with plenty of Bat-gadgets that have a 21st century twist. For example the forward-mounted lasers and “virtual wheels” that would “lift” the Batmobile off of the ground using an electric field.

While compact laser weapons and hoverfields are still a ways into the future, the hydrogen fuel cell system is a reality in today’s world. Multiple manufacturers are testing hydrogen-powered vehicles, from Germany to Japan, so these vehicles do exist. The problem is, they aren’t affordable or practical yet.  However, money is no object for Batman’s alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, so he could easily affordable all the whiz-bang gadgets and the hydrogen fuel cell.


Batfans, this is NOT the new batmobile for the next dark knight film, so settle down.

it’s just the Batmobile for the Batman Live World Arena Tour.  This new design is supposed to project Formula One design elements as they might exist in 15-20 years, including what he calls “breathable” carbon fiber.







Now it seems the Caped Crusader is now fighting pollution as well as crime.

The latest version of the Batmobile swaps traditional jet power for electric propulsion generated by a hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery pack.

Murray penned the McLaren F1 in the early ’90s that for a decade was the world’s fastest production car, while he’s currently producing a tiny city car called the T25.

“It was a clean sheet of paper from a design point of view,” says Murray. “I drew on my early experience as a child reading comics and watching the Batmobile grow as a character in the comics.

“I wanted to have a bit of fun with the wheels, so [the car] includes what I call ‘virtual wheels’, which interact with gravity to lift the car off the ground.”

In addition to the LED-illuminated wheels, the Batman Live levitating Batmobile features laser-beam generators in the nose, a carbonfibre body that “breathes” and a carbon-ceramic afterburner – which presumably produces zero emissions.

The jetfighter-meets-F1-car creation has more in common with Batmobiles from the 1990s Batman films, starring Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight, rather than the 1960s TV series version, which was based on a 1950s Ford concept car called the Lincoln Futura.

Murray’s Batmobile includes room for both members of the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin, with the cockpit accessed via a sliding split canopy.

The multi-million-dollar Batman Live production will tour Europe and North America after its UK and Ireland dates.

So, for all my batmo-builder pals out there, here’s the starting sheet, someone is gonna build it anyway, so I might as well help out!  That hydrogen fuel idea is a good one!

Gentlemen, start your engines, and welders! Who's first?



Star Car Central is made up of quite of collection of cool cars and just as cool and varied owners/drivers!  If you had told me a few years back that I would have so many starcars that I would find and connect cars like Transformer owners, I would have laughed!  But now off shoots are going to events that are just for their type of car.   Back on June 3-5,2011 (I know, I am trying to catch up!)  Bumblebee owner Jon Merker  and Jason Ybarra with his  Ratchet Medic van decided to display their transformer autobots at the annual BOTCON Convention held this year at the Pasadena convention center.   The robot fans flipped out when they saw the cars.
Friday morning BOTCON held their annual fan film festival screening. There were 16 short films shown and that night at 10pm the winners were announced. “Trampsformers” won 3rd place.

Photoshopped? Well, yes, but they were all there! From left to right , Writer/Director : Hahnah Jackson, Laundryman: David Bear, Tramp: Jason Ybarra, Thug: Jon Merker, Editor: Alex Wong, not shown was Scott Bradlee :the music composer.

Congrats to the Transformer SCC team who won third place for their movie “Trampsformers!”

 Then on Saturday Alex Wong brought his KITT to be displayed too. Possible new members to SCC were on hand as well. Paul from Pomona brought his Ironhide and Shannon from Arizona brought his Trailbreaker to be on display too.  Stay tuned to see Paul with SCC, soon a whole set of Transformers!!! (video down below of all ratchets features!)

"Transformers, ROLL OU.... hey, where's optimus and who's that new guy?" "Hey Guys, I'm KITT. Optimus went out with Goliath and left me in charge."

A fun weekend in all, with Bumblebee,Ratchet, and Ironhide even taking a cruise to IN N OUT on Saturday night! and then a theater in Santa Monica showed the original 1986 Transformers cartoon movie Sunday night where Ratchet and Bumblebee were displayed outside the theater as well, many of the voice actors were in house too!


"I've never seen this movie, nothing happens to Optimus Prime, right? Right? Hey Guys..."

You can find many more photos from BOTCON as well as a link to watch “Trampsformers” Ratchet on page 2 of Ratchets website :
watch the video, and see what his licence plate reads out! NICE, JASON!  The boys and bots have found each other, and there is no turning back!  Great job everyone!

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July 2011

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