Posts Tagged ‘Dukes of hazzard

28
Aug
11

The Making of the A-Team van starcarcentral.com style! Mr. T GMC vandura is styling!

So you have a dream to put together the most famous van this side of the Scooby Doo van? But it’s just a rainy day fuzzy dream? Here’s the steps I took to put together the coolest van known to man, and don’t say different because Mr.T will find you and bust you up!

Well to start off, I wasn’t looking to own or make an A-team van!  As founder and creator of starcarcentral.com  I always have my eyes out for finished real or replica movie and TV cars at all the car events I attend, and I have discovered that it’s WAY cheaper and more fun to find a fan who has put in the detail work and money to get his or her dream movie car, than to try to own them all myself.   Besides, if I did that, who would drive all the cars?   So just like my Knight Rider KITT car that sort of fell into my lap (that’s another story!) the A-Team van sort of “found me” as my new project.

While looking for some cheap transportation for my son, I found myself at an auction looking at beat up Government cars.  They were all going for too much money and I felt I had wasted a morning.  But then I saw it.  A 1983 GMC solid panel van!  Well, being a star car fan, I knew my A-Team facts, and after finding out it was a LAUSD van that had been maintained unlike a privately owned delivery van, I knew I had a “deal”.  $600 later and some fees to the auction house, and I had the keys to my new full-scale model kit!

No rust, solid door, right year and $600! SOLD!

I got the keys!

True Love! Mounting roof foglights!

As Star cars go, the A-Team is not the easiest one to put together, but it is not the hardest by a long shot!  Any Batmobile is up at the top, then the back to the future Delorean and the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters would be next in line as some of the hardest, most expensive and detail oriented to recreate.  The A-Team is a lot less complex than just the wiring of a Knight Rider car.  It just needs time, money and attention to details – and not giving up!  The first step in any star car build is research, and thanks to the internet, that is easier than ever. Having done a Batmobile at the dawning of the internet, if you are building something now, you have it SOOOOO EASY!   After a lot of searching I finally found the guys I was looking for, A-team fans in England who had done a lot of the research all ready and were happy to help “educate” me.  I was the pioneer in the bat world doing all the leg work, so this was nice to have some fans who knew their way around the A-Team van.  (BTW A-team show? HUGE in England. Like Beatles/Rockstars … I don’t know why.)

After the van came home, and all the paperwork was done I started doing prep body work, banging out dents, drilling holes where I would need them, and filling in or marking holes that needed to go away.  A long drive out to a van store got all the exterior pieces that needed to be bolted on, and I cleaned out two pepboys stores of their fog lights!  8 yes EIGHT fog lights in addition to the low and high beams on the front of the van!  4 white, 4 amber.

Now here’s were the “model kit” stuff comes in.  The Fog lights were not quite right, so I had to modify all of them, cut off stone guards, and then find glass paint to make 4 of the lights yellow.  I painted the inside of the glass as yellow lights are difficult to find and to get 8 matching lights in two colors even harder!  Sometimes you have to improvise!  Anyway, the biggest transformation was obviously the paint.   I did my research, and explained to the paint shop what I wanted, and provided them with a pile of photos of the original van to use as a guide.  They did great, and it came home all new and shiny!

In 20-20 hindsight, I should have had them paint the insides, but I was trying to keep this project cost as low as possible. I had to put in a lot of extra time and cans of paint but the end result was fine.   The main difference between a “Oh, that’s supposed to be that van from the show” and “Oh my Gawd, is that the original A-Team van?” is really in the details.  I could have slapped some cool wheels on it at this point and been done.    But like most star car fans, the fun is getting the details right.    “Is that handle chrome or grey?” “Are the wipers black or chrome?” Does the red stripe go into the door frames?”  Details like that about 20 people in the world would care about or even know about.  But I believe that people can tell something is just “off”, they don’t know what it is, but once all the parts are in place the over all effect is “WOW! IS that THE one Mr. T drove?”

Besides, just like scale modelers, you are doing the details your way, and you want them to be right for YOU, otherwise it’s just gonna bug you forever. But that’s later in the build!

   

So there are phases in every star car build, prep, exterior, interior.    I was working on getting the exterior right first.  One of the big elements of the A-Team van was the super big bull bar and brush guard combo on the front of the van that Mr.T’s character B.A. put on the van.  Now, if you scroll up and look at the photo of the van without a bull bar, it looks like the van.  Most people when I told them it was missing, said “it had a big bar on the front?”  but for me to be happy,  it needed that detail.  Only one problem, the ones they used that were everywhere and in every catalog in 1983 are all gone and not for sale.  After scouring Craigslist and eBay for months for the right  bull bar I gave up and made my own.

I took a Craigslist suburban bull bar and tossed the center sections,  then welded on a section to make them longer. Next I went to a muffler shop and had them bend the brush guards to my specifications.  Then two pals helped with the welding and grinding.  A little more money to the powder-coater and it was ready to go!

Trying it on for size, after powder coating!

A long process but the bull bar finally is welded onto the front of the van!

Now there were lots of other details that I am skipping over, but mainly it went like this “Hey, I need a part for a 1983 GMC Vandura that looks like this!”

and the answer was “Oh yeah, those were everywhere in 1983, but I haven’t seen one in 20 years!”  SO again I had to find it on eBay, or make one to keep the project moving ahead.

In front of the Batman steps at Warner Bros. studios, a little crossgeeking at work!

Throughout the build I was always searching for parts, but for the most part to the untrained eye, it’s was done.  However I needed three different antennas for the roof, and more importantly specific 8 lug ribbed wheels and tires!      I was also buying stuff for the interior, police scanners, reel to reel tape players, CB radios, and lots of guns but that all went into a box for when I got to the interior.

Not one, but TWO police scanners!

In every projects story, there comes a stumbling block and for me and my van it was the wheels.  The series used all sizes of vanduras both 5 lug and the heavy duty 8 lug full ton vans.  (They didn’t break as much when you jumped them through buildings!) but finding the original rims was a daunting task. I would find one rim, but it was in montana, and it was $300 to ship it. Would I find a set of three? pass.  Found a set in Alaska, again, the shipping was prohibitive.  Then a set of “almost right wheels” came up a few miles from my house. $200 for 4!  So I grabbed them knowing that I would rather have “The exact ones” but knowing now after a years search that the perfect ones may never appear so these were better  than nothing.  So I got the only red paint designed for wheels, and started blasting and sanding and painting and masking all four over a few weeks.  Once they were done they sat and sat as I finished the exterior and started on the interior.

I figured “Hey, when I have some cash for tires, I will run down to the tire store and get my BF Goodrich tires and slap them on the van!”

Well that day came, and after telling the clerk the tires I wanted and asked how much his reply was “You can’t buy those size tires anymore, they stopped making them in 2005.”   WHAT!!!!@#$@!@   Back to Craigslist, to find 31 inch BF Goodrich tires that will fit on my 16.5 (yes, point 5!) rims.

Image At that point blowing the car up and smoking a cigar was a brief option! But I still wanted to drive it all put together!

Weeks later I had a set of 6 tires from two sources, shipped two, drove for 2 hours for the other 4, and took my rims and tires to the tire shop to finally get some rims on my van!  Well sort of!

No lug nuts, and no way will these fit!

So I got my 6 tires, and 4 rims.  I thought I was good to go, but the rims needed special hard to find lug nuts! So back to eBay and I return with the lug nuts. I GET TWO ON THE BACK!  Yeah!!! Then as they try mounting the front tires, we find out  the tires will rub and are too big.  Grr.  I know they are too big, but that is the smallest 16.5 tire they made!!!!  31,35,37 for all the big trucks.  So I have to cut the front flares to get them to fit.  I take my other two tires home.  I also notice, that the red doesn’t match the red stripe on the van.  It starts to bug me and I know I will have to repaint them.

  

Blacking out rear windows -frames – tail light frames – handle and keyhole and a few bullet holes for style!

I planned to cut the wheel wells and mount the other two front tires, but in the morning one of my tires has a sidewall leak.  I will have to go to the tire shop to swap tires now, so no way of me getting them on at home.   I give up on the tires for now and decide to start work on the interior of the van.

As most modelers and fanboys realize, no one other than the other super fans know or care about the details like they do. No one will notice or even care after you point it out that you put in so much research time and freeze framed every episode and discussed on fan chat boards what that thing is in the corner or what brand Reel to Reel tape machine is that behind Mr. T.    Again, that’s the fun part!  SO knowing full well that even I didn’t know what the interior of the A-team van looked like I had to do the work.  That ment scouring the show for glimpses of interior shots and noticing changes over the seasons and picking the interior that I wanted to emulate.   (For Knight Rider owners this can be down to an Episode as the interior dash details changed from show to show!)

Once the research was done, it was time to BUILD!

Notice the reference photos taped to the front!

Behind the back set of seats in the van were two sort of matching cabinets.  One  was well seen on screen and used in several episodes. It had a reel to reel tape recorder and a police scanner in it, so they could listen in on the bad guys they had bugged.  Correct scanner and tape recorder found (gotta love eBay!) and measurements taken, so the first cabinet came together pretty quickly.

In the back was an ammo box where they kept their guns and ammo.  Sometimes the back row bench seat was in the van, often it wasn’t so they could jump out or carry stuff.  My thought was the van was changed based on the mission, so things could change around just like it did on the show.  My ammo box got an “A-Team” logo that was not on the show, but just for some flash and name recognition.  I also added speakers for the reel to reel so I could make it all work and build those into the sides of the cabinet.   Correct details and actual function often collide, and you have to decide what is more important to you.  I like electronics and gadgets to be operational, even if they never did work in the “reel” world! An example of funciton vs screen correct is on the screen used vans they had tiny little side custom mirrors and after driving this monster in traffic I opted to use larger mirrors and custom paint them.  When it comes to safety or accuracy for a starcar you want to drive, choose safety!

Once they cabinets and ammo box were finished and painted, interior installation was next.  All along small details are being improved or corrected, and parts and bits are being searched for and tossed in a box so that I have them when I get to that point of the build.  I tried to get “MR.T” for the licence, but someone all ready had it!  There are companies that make fake licence plates and for display often star car owners will take off their plates and put on the “show correct” ones.  The A-Team van had several blue and gold California plates that changed depending on which version of the van they used on the show that week!

The final interior upgrades, carpet, upholstery etc. should always be saved until the end, so you don’t damage it, and you are free to climb all over the car and set tools etc. without worrying about leaving a mark.  I just painted the floor black and grey as a temporary look, while all the work was being done. Plus, you have to take into account your bank book and sometimes projects have to sit for a while until funds are available!

Guns in a box don't look as cool as guns all over the walls!

Less seen right side cabinets that had a desk and makeup kit inside for disguises!

 

Well after months of putting off the wheel and tire situation, I got more lug nuts, and found a better set of rims for cheap, cheap enough to make me buy a second set and sell off the first set that didn’t have enough “ribs”.  I figured I was going to repaint anyway, so if I was going to re do all that work, I would rather use more accurate rims!  So several Craigslist ads of buying and selling and trading, along with taking a saws-all to the underside of the van’s front wheel wells, I finally got 4 tires and rims on the van!   Also it’s hard to see in this photo, but there are three antenna along the top, a CB radio, Car phone antenna, and police scanner antenna.

Is it done? Well one thing that any custom car owner will tell you, is that it’s never done! There are always details to do and I am continuing to tweak, replace and improve items when I feel the urge to do some more upgrades.   Final upholstery, DVD player for the roof, finding old style “square” speaker covers, running boards with fake exhausts ports – upgrading the walls to the “correct” coin top gray rubber are all on the list.  But now Star Car Central.com has an A-team van for appearances for charity events, and more importantly a place to get out of the elements and haul stuff to events in style! As Hannibal always said, “I love it when a VAN comes together!”

Great stunt with a replica van, but you won’t see me doing this EVER!!!!

The A-Team was the original Wild boys in the 80’s! Why was it popular? Comedy, action, car crashes, blowing stuff up and shooting guns! What’s not to like?

Now I have to go tear around in my van and look for a damsel in distress who needs to hire…. THE A-TEAM!

19
Aug
11

Star Car Central update! See famous movie and TV cars in August 2011~ to the batmobile!

OK star car fans, I have been asked to post more info on where we will be appearing so here ya go! Here’s the line up for the rest of August!

This Saturday Aug. 20, 2011 join Nate Truman and a big chunk of the Star Car Central gang for a  FUND RAISER for a  youth center in Montery Park.

Show Time: 3pm to 9pm

Location: Praise Alive Worship Center 201 S. New Ave., Monterey Park, Ca. 91755

Star Cars Confirmed so far:

1) Paul – BTTF DeLorean

2) Jason – Ratchett

3) Brian – Herbie or Bond

4) Oscar – Magnum PI

5) Jason – Herbie

6) Jon – Bumblebee

7) Sue – Get Smart

7) Ari – Jurasic Park Jeep

8) Mark – Adam 12

9) Alex – KITT

10) Nate in Batmobile! He’s actually going to bring it out of the garage, even after getting the right rims on his A-Team van! (I’ll believe it when I see it!)

So join us for some music and star car fun this Saturday!

Then on Sunday

AUG 21ST SUNDAY  SCC-SD CHARGER STEVE’S WILD RIDES AND CLASSIC CARS 6AM  
 This Sunday, if you are in the San Diego area, check out these SCC member’s cool movie and TV car rides!

http://www.chargersteve.com/pb/wp_8ca66bb4.html?0.31193643528426784
   BRIAN HERBIE OR BOND
JENNIFER KITT
LEE GENERAL LEE
STEVE SCOOBY DOO
MIKE TOWMATER
ARI JURRASIC PARK

TONY BANDIT
RICHARD PETTY CAR
Bikini Contests, star cars and great San Diego weather, what more do you want? Check it out!Aug 28th SUNDAY this yr. 9-4 ANIMAL ADOPTION EVENT
Ventura County Animal shelter. event is on August 28.At the shelter in the Camerillo Airport.This will be our 7th year and anywhere from 150-200 animals find homes that day. Event is located at: 600 aviation drive in Camarillo.
The shelter is located on the property of the Camarillo Airport.There will be signs that will be posted they will say adoptathon.Off ramp off the fwy is Los Posas.  Starcars attending as of today: Jon’s Transformer BUMBLEBEE Camaro and Brian’s Die Another Day
007  JAMES BOND CAR!  If you want to adopt a pet and can’t make it, send my pal Craig Nadel an email!
Craig Nadel
ruffbarber@yahoo.com
Thank you for choosing to adopt a special orphan in need of a loving home.
http://www.rescuemeinc.petfinder.com

Aug  31 wednesday SCC-SD Cajon Classic Cruise Star Car Event (The Wed night show) http://downtownelcajon.com/event_ccc.shtml
Back down in San Diego, Charger Steve is lining up some star cars Mid week for all to enjoy!

Gary’s  herbie
Steve Scooby Doo Van
Michael towmater tow truck
Lee      general Lee from Dukes of Hazzard will all be on display!
There are lots of events for the Cajon Cruise, but only this one has star cars!
So come on out and say “HOWDY!”  and bring your camera and friends!
17
Jul
11

STAR CAR NEWS FROM AROUND THE USA AND THE WORLD! GO TEAM SCC! (THAT’S STAR CAR CENTRAL!)

Starcar fans are all around the world, and starcarcentral.com 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 madmaxcars.com. 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: http://www.madmaxcars.com/events.shtml

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 StarCarCentral.com, 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!

24
Jun
11

KITT and Batmobile NOT everyone’s top movie cars! Here’s some rarely talked about star cars!

 

Here is Jim’s list of his favorites, and his reasons for choosing them!

My favorite TV and movie cars: It’s not KITT and the Batmobile

Lists of great movie vehicles are pretty boring because they usually list the same blockbuster choices. Here’s a few from off the beaten path.

1969 Dodge Charger YEE-HAW: The General Lee (a ’69 Dodge Charger) takes a ride. (Photo courtesy of CBS)
The next episode of “Hollywood’s Top Ten” (Friday night at 11:30 p.m. Pacific on ReelzChannel) features viewers’ choices for the coolest movie/TV cars, and you know what they’re going to pick: the Batmobiles, the custom Cadillac Ecto-1 from “Ghostbusters,” the jalopy on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” James Bond’s Aston-Martin, KITT from “Knight Rider.”
They wouldn’t give me the whole list — that’s why you tune in — but here are a few of the winners:
  • The Trans Am from “Smokey and the Bandit”
  • The ’69 Charger from “The Dukes of Hazzard”
  • The ’56 Thunderbird from “American Graffiti”
Ho-hum. But there are some less-heralded cars out in movie and TV land, and here are my five, very personal, favorites:
Volvo from The SaintThe Saint’s Volvo: The Saint, played by Roger Moore on the 1962-1969 TV show, drove a Volvo 1800S, just like me. Mine was even the same color as his. The Saint was a low-rent James Bond, and the car — a sporty version of the 122S, with nearly identical mechanicals — was no Aston-Martin. The Saint could pursue criminals, but not if they were moving too fast. Switching into “overdrive” provided a powerful visual, but the 1800 topped off around 100 mph. And zero to 60? Well, maybe 11 seconds.
Alfa-Romeo DuettoThe Alfa-Romeo Duetto from “The Graduate”: Another personal connection because I owned that car’s linear descendant, a 1976 Alfa Spider (with a cut-off Kamm tail instead of the Duetto’s rounded example). Alfa even created a “Graduate” model because of the popularity of the movie and the car’s starring role in pursuit of a stopped wedding, with Dustin Hoffman at the wheel. The exposure garnered by this ’66 Duetto 1600 didn’t save Alfa’s fortunes in the U.S., but it probably postponed the departure for a number of years.
Mercedes from Bad TimingThe “Bad Timing” Mercedes: Admittedly not a star movie car, this circa 1959 Mercedes 220S from Nicholas Roeg’s 1980 “Bad Timing” again duplicates one of my own cars — my all-time favorite. It was probably the scene with Denholm Elliot and Teresa Russell, captured in the video below, that stimulated my interest in the car in the first place. Alas, I let mine get away, and now I couldn’t touch a nice one for less than $10,000. If you get a chance, it’s a really good movie (forget what the blurb says) — from the director of “Walkabout” and “Performance.” Kind of hard to find, though.
Buick from Julie and JuliaThe “Julie & Julia” Buick: I’d love to own one, but they’re worth $40,000, so it’s not likely anytime soon. The movie’s production designer describes the car as “a 1947 wooded blue Buick station wagon.” It was nicknamed the Blue Flash, and found in France where they filmed much of the movie. Sorry to disagree with Mark Ricker, but I think it’s actually a later car than 1947. Can I suggest that it was actually a 1950 Roadmaster with a 1949-style two-piece windshield? “It could have been Paul and Julia’s original car, as far as we knew,” said Ricker. Maybe.
1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville from Mad MenThe 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville from “Mad Men”: Don Draper (John Hamm) brings home this beauty in the second season, at his boss’ urging. It’s interesting that there was no product placement here — instead, it’s exactly the right car for the character at that time. It’s the car Don thinks he wants, even though it turns out all wrong for him. This is the pinnacle of  “Standard of Excellence” Cadillacs, for a guy on top of the Madison Avenue nest of snakes. There were some great Cadillac ads in National Geographic around this time. The Draper-type owner was shown heading into a country club with his fur-bearing wife, looking back at the car that his power and prestige had secured for him.
There’s actually an Internet Movie Car Database you can search by make. Have fun with it. Make up your own list and post your choices below in the comments — I’d love to see what you come up with.
28
Apr
11

STARCARCENTRAL IS EVERYWHERE THIS WEEKEND! WizardCon Anaheim, Torrance, and Rosemead!

Three, count em, THREE events, 5 days of viewing most of the line up of starcarcentral.com this weekend!

First, you can see Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward, along with other cast members and tons of stars and cool stuff all three days at the Anaheim WizardCon!  Friday 5-9 pm, Saturday and Sunday all day long! (No Adam and Burt on Sunday, FYI, but the star cars will still be there for you!
APRIL 29-30 – MAY 1st ANAHEIM COMIC CON WIZARD CON
http://www.wizardworld.com/home-anaheim.html
Here’s who’s at the Wizard Con all three days this weekend:
NATE with his  street legal tv style BATMOBILE
PAUL with his  Back to the Future Delorean Time Machine!

BRIAN is bringing his fully robotic ROBO HERBIE the love bug, along with his James Bond BMW with roof rockets!
ALEX is F.L.A.G.’s agent with his super car, KITT from Knight Rider.
and OSCAR will have his 308 GTSi Ferrari decked out just like MAGNUM P.I. !

Then on Saturday, while those guys are still at the Anaheim Convention center,
April 30, 2011  Jennifer and her Super Persuit mode car will be appearing at the
85th Anniversary Celebration of the Volunteer Club
Place:  California Mission INN 8417 Mission Drive, Rosemead, CA 91770
Date:  April 30, 2011
Time: 2pm-6pm
Theme – roaring 20s  !!

If you go to this show, you can see:
jenn and her SPM version of KITT from Knight Rider
gary with his Love bug AKA Herbie
John will bring his tricked out Transformer Camaro Bumble Bee
and Mark will be displaying his Adam-12 police cruiser as well!
mike will be showing his “CARS” tribute to “Towmater” too!  There’s even a rumor that the HOFF himself might make and appearance!
There will be food, entertainment, dancers, the car show and a raffle –

That wraps up April, but Sunday is
MAY!

MAY 1 REVVED UP FOR KIDS EDELBROCK SHOW
Sunday May 1, 2011 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM PDT
Vic’s Garage
510 Madrid St
Torrance, CA  90503

So on Sunday you can check out the rest of the gang in Torrance!

At this show, scheduled to appear with their movie and TV cars are:

CLIFF with his HERBIE Fully loaded NASCAR Love Bug
GARY with the more classic HERBIE
charlie with his Green Mustang fastback from the Steve McQueen movie, BULLITT
JASON and his one of a kind Transformer cartoon tribute to RATCHET
CHUCK with his award winning ROD RIGUEZ custom rod
JOE with his transformer camaro BUMBLEBEE (SECOND MOVIE)
VIC with his BLUES BROTHERS car
LOU with his STARSKY and HUTCH Torino.
J RYAN BTTF may be there as well with his Time Machine Delorean!
You would think that would be enough, but then the next weekend another big appearance! So if you are busy this weekend, come see all the great collectibles and toys at Frank and Sons!

MAY 7th FRANK AND SONS SHOW    enjoy too many toys and collectibles  assembled under one roof!
Frank and Son
Star Car Central Show
19649 San Jose Ave.
City of Industry, CA 91748
9:00am to 5:00pm
So if you want to come see the cars all in a pile indoors, this is the one to come to!

OSCAR – MAGNUM P.I. Ferrari
PAUL – BTTF Delorean
NATE – 60’s TV style  BATMOBILE
BRIAN – JAMES BOND BMW
JON – BUMBLEBEE from Transformers
JASON – RATCHET  also a transformer
JERRY – HERBIE THE LOVE BUG
ALEX – KITT KNIGHT RIDER

The more we do, the less I have time to blog and tell our fans about it! So there are the facts!

24
Mar
11

General Lee vs new Charger

2011 Dodge Charger R/T vs. The General Lee

Dodge’s Latest Against Hollywood’s Greatest

By John Pearley Huffman, Contributor | Published Mar 14, 2011

The only way to do this test right was to recruit an actual General Lee for a test. No, not just a ’69 Charger somebody painted orange to look like the General, but an actual survivor from the set of the TV series. That’s right, a General Lee that was actually used in filming the show, authentic from the top of its haphazardly painted roof to the bottom of its correct American Racing Vector wheels. The real thing.

Not an easy thing to do. Real General Lees were sacrificed for our entertainment. According to Ben Jones, who played Cooter on The Dukes of Hazzard, as well as builders involved with the show, 256 General Lees were used to film the series. Others claim about 321 were used in the series. Regardless of the number, only a handful remain, and they are big-buck collectors’ items.

And so we called Bob Hartwig, a former airline pilot who now works at Cinema Vehicle Services. He’s also a collector of movie and television star cars. Hartwig said yes.

“It’s the only R/T 440 left from the original show,” he explains while removing the straps that hold his prize General Lee to its trailer. “When the show went off the air in 1985 there were still about 17 General Lee Chargers left. They auctioned those off. And I bought this one from the guy who bought it at the auction.”

Jacked up on its rear leaf springs, Hartwig’s General has the attitude we all remember from the series. But get up next to it, and the reality of how Chargers were treated during production of the show is apparent. Hartwig hasn’t restored this car to pristine condition, instead choosing to keep it in as close to the state it was in when filming concluded. There are dents, dings, scratches and enough patina to document this muscle car’s 42 years of hard use, including more than a few drunken dirt road runs after late nights at the Boar’s Nest.

In other words, it’s frickin’ beautiful, and it’s here at California Speedway on a cool February morning ready to take on its shiny new grandchild, the 2011 Dodge Charger R/T.

The General Lee Fantasy
It won’t show up in any marketing research, but the reason anyone will buy a new 2011 Dodge Charger is the fantasy that it’s really the General Lee. It’s the dream of sliding across that big orange hood, leaping in through an open window, drifting across dirt roads, eluding Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane and jumping a 400-foot-wide creek. It’s the dream of freedom, joy, implausible indestructibility and being a Duke boy in Hazzard County.

Actually we’d bet you our last pair of Daisy Dukes that it does show up in the marketing research. But Dodge doesn’t share that with anyone.

Of course there have been Chargers other than the General Lee that have given the name some cultural heft. There’s the 1969 Charger Daytona Big Willie Robinson drove around Los Angeles when he was organizing the Brotherhood of Street Racers. There are the Chargers Richard Petty drove to NASCAR championships in 1973 and ’74. And of course there are all the Chargers that have been featured in movies like Bullitt, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Blade and most recently Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, and that black, blown ’70 Charger that scares Vin Diesel so much in the Fast and Furious movies.

The General Lee is America on a 117-inch wheelbase.

But despite all that, the Charger that matters most is the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard television show that ran on CBS from 1979-’85. It’s the big coupe millions of us grew up watching fly. Millions who have grown up to find themselves smack in the middle of the current Charger sedan’s sales target demographic.

Generally General
According to Hartwig’s estimate, 60 percent of his General Lee’s sloshed-on orange paint is as it was laid on at Warner Bros. The roof’s flag has been replaced, but the “General Lee” lettering above each door is vintage and the “01” graphics on the doors are cracked and fractured. The front bumper is munched, all the plastic pieces show weathering and the interior has been re-dyed. The truth is, back then, the producers of Dukes didn’t see the Chargers they were consuming as collectibles or classics. They were simply disposable props. And they were treated as the throwaways they were. Why waste time trying to get the paint perfect when there’s fresh donuts to be eaten over at the catering truck?

However, original doesn’t mean this can didn’t come ready to run. Hartwig has rebuilt the General’s 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) Magnum V8 so it runs stronger than its original 375 horsepower. It also fires up with roar, as you’d expect, and settles into an appropriate ’60s muscle car idle, complete with just the right amount of rumpity-rump.

And the rest of the drivetrain is in excellent shape, too. Its Torqueflite three-speed automatic and solid rear axle, packing a limited-slip differential and 3.55:1 gears, are a time-tested combination that stood up to anything our test-driver Mike Monticello could dish out.

In sum, it’s a General Lee ready for a really big jump! Only this one never got a chance to commit on-screen automotive suicide.

Not the General
Unlike the General Lee, the 2011 Charger R/T drives into California Speedway under its own air-conditioned, computer-controlled power, wearing “Toxic Orange” paint that’s about as close to the General Lee’s color as the factory currently offers. It’s not really that close; in fact, it’s more ’60s psychedelic than late ’70s kitsch, but it’s a blistering shade anyhow.

There are substantive mechanical changes to the 2011 Charger, but the most obvious tweaks are stylistic. And most of these tweaks are lifted straight off the 1968-’70 Charger.

In silhouette, the 2011 Charger isn’t much different from the four-door sedan that first wore the name as a 2006 model. After all, the 2011 Charger still rides on the same Mercedes-derived LX platform as the ’06 car, still rides on the 120.2-inch wheelbase and the greenhouse is more or less carryover. It’s details like the twin depressions in the hood, the scallops carved into the doors and the double-sided hockey-stick taillights that come over directly from the General Lee-generation Charger.

“I know all those styling bits come over from the old Charger,” Bob Hartwig noted in seeing his General Lee next to the new Charger. “But these cars don’t look anything alike.”

And he’s right. They don’t.

That, however, doesn’t mean that this latest restyling is unsuccessful. The ’06 car was generic; it could have been an Intrepid, Monaco or Coronet. This one, on the other hand, despite those hideous chrome wheels and that silly rear spoiler, looks more like a Charger should. It’s bolder, more aggressive and polarizing.

If you don’t like how this car looks, give it up and go buy a Taurus.

Got the New Hemi
Under the new Charger’s hood is the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which we’ve been praising for years. Now rated at 370 hp at 5,250 rpm and a chunky 395 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm, it features Chrysler’s fuel-saver technology that shuts down four cylinders for better fuel economy when their power isn’t needed. Um, we wouldn’t be using that fuel saver stuff during this test.

The new Hemi, like the old Hemi, is a pushrod, overhead-valve engine with an iron block, and it has an eager personality thanks to variable cam timing and a stiff 10.5:1 compression ratio. However, with its contemporaries moving on to six-, seven- or eight-speed automatic transmissions, the Charger R/T’s mandatory five-speed box is antiquated.

All-wheel drive is now offered with the R/T package for the first time in 2011, but it makes burnouts and powerslides impossible and should therefore only be purchased by nuns and men named Stacey. Our orange test car, like the General Lee, was driven by its rear wheels, just as Bo, Luke and Cooter would want it.

Orange Peeling
Get past the orange paint and the Confederate battle flag painted on its roof. The essential element in the General Lee’s massive charisma is that it’s a ’69 Charger. And while that second generation of Charger may not be everybody’s favorite muscle car shape, it’s in everyone’s top 10. Make that top five. Even at 42 years old, the old Charger’s perfectly proportioned shape, sweet details, blunt split nose, tunneled rear window and chrome fuel door are timelessly cool. This is America on a 117-inch wheelbase.

Hartwig’s well-aged General Lee, the number registered on its odometer meaningless, did its species proud. The acceleration runs were an exercise in trying to tame wheelspin, but a dab of power braking and a gentle touch had the car ramming its way to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds (5.9 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip). It went on to pummel the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 99.3 mph.

Bud Lindemann’s TV series Car and Track tested the NASCAR-ready 1969 Charger 500 with the 425-hp 426 Hemi and measured its 0-60 time at 6.9 seconds. And the 440 was supposedly down 50 hp from that. So this General’s heart is pumping. We should also give some credit for the additional acceleration to the extra grip of the General Lee’s modern BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires. They measure 225/70R15 out back and 225/70R14 in front, and they’re undoubtedly the only part on the car engineered after Daisy joined the Cougar ranks.

Lindemann’s 1969 mind may have perceived the Charger as a handler, but it really wasn’t. And it still isn’t. The steering is loose, the independent front torsion bar and solid axle on leaf springs rear suspension was outmoded even in 1969. It’s a car built to understeer massively and it does.

On the slalom course the General Lee felt as if it were going to keel over and scrape the numbers off its doors. It managed to barge through the cones at just 56.9 mph. Considering its obstinate behavior during its skid pad orbits, the 0.74g measured there is almost shockingly good.

But the brakes were even worse. Of course there’s no ABS, the front discs are tiny and the General puts 58.7 percent of its 3,699 pounds over its front wheels. So maybe the 181-foot stopping distance shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s still kind of shocking. In everyday driving (and this car will never again be a commuter), the General Lee would be plowing through the front doors of every Starbucks it passed.

Modern Manners
In every measurable dynamic, the new Charger R/T blows away the General Lee — likely to no one’s shock at all. Power brake a bit, let the wheels slip slightly with the traction control system off, and the 2011 Charger R/T gallops to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds (5.1 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip), with the quarter-mile consumed in 13.7 seconds at 102.8 mph. A solid performance by 21st-century standards and impressive in light of the fact that this is a porky 4,315-pound sedan that the EPA rates at 16 mpg in the city and a fine 25 mpg on the highway.

Of course the rack-and-pinion steering has more feel and is much more precise than the General’s. Naturally the new Charger’s all coil-sprung, all-independent suspension is more supple than the General’s. And, naturally, its four 245/45R20 all-season Firestone Firehawk GTV tires produce superior stick.

Yet the new Charger still handles like a Charger. There’s plenty of body lean and loads of understeer through the slalom and on the skid pad. With the stability control off, the 64.1-mph slalom number is sub-middling and the 0.81g generated on the skid pad is modest. An aluminum-block version of the new Hemi could knock a hundred pounds off the nose and improve things.

Both the old Charger and the new one were built to chase the horizon in comfortable cruises, and both do it well. There aren’t many cars at any price that ride better than a new Charger. And there aren’t any cars that look better than a ’69 Charger at cruise.

The Big Jump
The 2011 Charger’s new interior feels high quality from door handle to shifter and steering wheel. It’s a great leap forward for Dodge, and necessary, as every other manufacturer has been improving interior quality. The General Lee’s interior, on the other hand, is dominated by a big roll bar, a lot of beige dye and loads of both wear and tear.

The standards for both comfort and performance have come a long way in 42 years, and even if Bob Hartwig’s General Lee had shown as a pristine, brand-new 1969 Charger R/T 440, the 2011 edition would be the better everyday companion.

But our elevated expectations of comfort and performance have also brought with it a numbing isolation. The new Charger R/T doesn’t have anything even close to the raw mechanical thrills of the General Lee. Get behind the wheel of that massive old orange car and you can feel it rock with the engine’s idle; you can hear the secondaries open on its four-barrel carburetor as you dip into the throttle and your soul jumps even before the exhaust roars. For a few moments you believe the General Lee can fly. And for a few moments there isn’t a better place to be in the world.

Maybe Dodge has already figured out how to engineer that snorting edge into the upcoming 2012 Charger SRT8. But if it hasn’t, it ought to be trying.

Ultimately the faster and better-handling 2011 Dodge Charger R/T is without a doubt the car you want to be in if Roscoe and Enos are on your tail. It’s also more comfortable than the General Lee, safer than the General Lee, more fuel-efficient and it has Bluetooth, satellite navigation and most importantly an iPod hookup so you can listen to your Waylon Jennings collection all day and all night.

But thanks to modern-day safety regulations, emissions regulations, noise regulations, fuel economy standards, focus groups, CAD CAM designs and wind tunnel shapes, the General Lee is just cool in a way the new Charger will never be. And that is why it wins this test.

Yeehaw!  more photos!

21
Feb
11

MONSTER JAM AND STARCARS AT DODGER STADIUM PREMIER!

Thanks to Charger Steve, Star Car Central Los Angeles and San Diego Chapters  have been part of the attraction at Monster Jam shows for the last four years. Most shows we drive  a parade lap inside the stadiums for the fans as part of the pre-show.  This year we appeared at three Monster Jam shows in San Diego, Anaheim Stadium and a first time ever at Dodger stadium with different members of the famous television and motion picture car group at each event.

Back in black! Bandit, KITT and the A-team van! I Pity the fool who don't like black star cars!

In the shadow of the famous Dodger Stadium we eventually lined up our cars, hoping the rain would pass over us and we could drive the infield of Dodger stadium!

Our first stop of the day was to gather in the nearby police academy parking lot, not just because it was close and a big open area to gather but also because it was a movie and TV location used many times. Most notably in the opening sequence of “Charlie’s Angels”

So in another instance of “Cross geeking” (tm nate truman 2003) Here’s a shot of Paul’s Back to the Future delorean under the Academy arch!

"1976 pilot shoot of Charlie's Angels! Where's Farrah?"

So we all parked in the historic lot until everyone arrived!

Then we all drove around the stadium, stopping to admire a few closed gates and lined up for the driver’s area display.

'NEW JURASSIC PARK EXPLORER! LOU, WATCH OUT! IT'S BIGGER THAN IT APPEARS IN YOUR SIDE MIRRORS!

We also welcomed Scott with his Jurassic park Explorer for the first time! Everyone agreed he was an easy addition to the SCC team!   Lou was a trooper and came all the way to the event, and after a call from his wife and a look up at the sky made a wise decision and went home! Little did we know what was in store for us!

Charger Steve led us in and lined us up, then lined us up again, then finally got us where he wanted us!

"Rain? What rain?"

Lou was the first to leave of the 15 cars that made it to the stadium. We lost about three cars in the days leading up to the show, and another three before the main event started! It was going to be 20 cars! Darn Rain!

Magnum P.I. Ferrari and Back to the Future Delorean, with Knight Rider bookends!

Jenn’s SPM Kitt lead the display, Paul’s Delorean, Oscar’s Magnum P.I. 308 GTSi Ferrari followed by Alex’s KITT at the start of the row of movie and TV cars. Before the big show started, Oscar and Alex had headed for cover with their cars due to leaks! Thanks for staying for the fans as long as you did!

Herbie the Love bug, Star wars, and James Bond?

Obishawn and Yoda made a mad dash for cover, but Cliff and Justice in their Nascar Herbie and Brian in his James Bond BMW stayed for the show!  (We did have a nice tent city to keep us dry during the worst of it thanks to Mater Mike!)

Next up was the Blues Brothers 2000 police car, and Tony’s perfect Smokey and the Bandit trans am! He even had the T-Tops off for a while!  Tony’s bandit is spot on, even down to the Coors boxes!

This was the first SCC event for Scott and his dad Norm with their Jurassic park Explorer.  We have to get Ari and his Jurassic park jeep together at a future event!

What's that Orange car next to the A-Team van? It should have a sign.

Down at the far end of the display was Jon’s Bumblebee, some orange car Steve brought ( he’s working on a sign so people know what show it’s from. It was a spin off from Smokey and the bandit I think…) and the A-Team van!

Charger Steve's General Lee, and Mr. T's A-team van! (Mr. Truman, that is!)

Due to the rain, most of the owners and drivers of the Star CarCentral.com cars stayed under cover and enjoyed great food and stories in a near by tent city, but the crowds still flocked to the cars to see their favorite movie and TV cars!

Not even pouring rain could keep the fans away from the famous cars!

Towmater and the A-Team, and some contructobot transformers at Starcarcentral.com HQ!

Bringing up the other end of the display was Mike’s Towmater tribute tow truck and Nate’s A-Team van!  Those darn constructobots always are photobombing . They act more like decepticons than Autobots!

Even though the rain thinned the group throughout the day, hats off to all who came! Otherwise we would never have this cool shot of the rain storm with starcars at dodger stadium!

Next up, KITT turboboosts into the Knight Rider repair truck, and Back to the Future has a run in on the freeway on the way home….




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