If there’s one star car-lover who knows determination, it’s my star car pal, John Boyle. He is a 59 year-old, retired Air Force officer from Colbert, Washington and he had a dream car. It was the George Barris-built car, the Stutz Bearcat, from the short lived TV series “Bearcats” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearcats!
It was in 1971, when John Boyle was a teenager that he saw a TV series called “Bearcats!” It was the story of two soldiers of fortune ala “Butch and Sundance” who drove a 1914 Stutz Bearcat. Boyle says he loved the car and wanted one. He’d read in TV Guide that George Barris had built two Bearcat replicas for filming.
The antique Bearcats were extremely expensive, so when the show was cancelled Boyle told himself he’d keep his eyes open for one of the Barris replicas. After searching for over 25 years, in 1999, he found one, whose owner agreed to sell it at a price he could afford. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Boyle. “I was now driving the exact car I saw on TV when I was a kid, made by George Barris.” He later met with Mr. Barris in his L.A. office, and the car was authenticated. Boyle admits that the car is now his “weekend toy” and he feels very lucky to have it.
Bearcats!, despite a large promotional campaign prior to its premiere and having a loyal fan base, lost in the Nielsen ratings to both The Flip Wilson Show on NBC and a more traditional Western, Alias Smith and Jones, on ABC, and was cancelled midseason after only 13 episodes.
Both series were trying to cash in on the popularity of westerns. “Bearcats” were two soldiers of Fortune, hero’s for hire, like “The A-Team” and “Smith an jones was patterned after the big movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. Smith and Jones coyly pointed out in their title that Butch and Sundance was what they were aping. In the movie staring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, when they rob a bank there is a line where they are deciding their “aliases”. Sundance says to Butch, “Now remember, I’m Smith, and you’re Jones”.
Bearcats! is an American Western television series broadcast on the CBS television network during the Fall 1971 television season. It starred Rod Taylor and Dennis Cole as troubleshooters in the period before America entered World War I.
Bearcats! was produced by Filmways Inc. (which previously produced many series including The Addams Family, Mister Ed, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction). It was co-produced by Rodlor, Rod Taylor’s production firm. (Rod Taylor did many films, such as “The Time Machine” Hitchcock’s “The Birds”) I “found” John on the internet years ago in a “chat room” (remember those?)
It was great to find out that the car was in good hands and won’t be changing hands any time soon! Machine guns on the fenders and tearing through the old west? What’s not to like!