Posts Tagged ‘nate truman

09
Jan
20

Rockford Files Pontiac

Rockford Files Screen-Used Firebirds

Rockford Files Screen-Used Firebirds

By Jim Suva

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The first Rockford Files Firebird was a 1974 Gold exterior/tan interior Firebird Esprit, with a 400 cubic inch engine. All the cars used for the show came from Pontiac, a GMC division, through Visa Group, to Cherokee Productions. While filming the first season, it was decided that due to the hard driving and stunts, they needed the Trans Am/Formula suspension. So near the end of the first season, all the 1975 through 1978 Firebirds were Formulas.

In March 2002, I had a conversation with a man named Vinny Imerti who maintained the Firebirds for the TV series, as well as the Rockford movies. He sold his business, Carriage Studio Rentals, which had merged with Cinema Vehicle Services around 2002.

Vinny told me that Pontiac supplied three new Firebirds per year for the TV series. They received Firebird Formulas, and then they would remove the splitter exhaust tips and the rear spoiler. They also changed the hood and rear deck lids, and filled the drill holes from the spoilers. (I believe that Universal Studios decided to paint the Firebirds a Lt Topaz color for the 1975 model year, which was the color used throughout the rest of the TV seasons.)  This was done so that it gave the illusion, Rockford always had the same car

In 1978, James Garner was not fond of the 1979 Firebird styling, plus he knew the series was going to be ending soon.  As a way to save money, he decided to use the 1978 Firebirds for the last two seasons. 

After the last filming in December 1979, Vinny bought two of the Firebirds and James Garner bought the other one. Mr. Garner sold his 1978 Firebird Formula 400 to local TV Station WGGT (Channel 48) in Greensboro, NC. This Firebird was later raffled off by Coca-Cola on March 3, 1982. The car was presented to the winner by NASCAR Driver Richard Petty at a local Circuit City store.

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The winner was a lady named Frances. Unfortunately, she chose to have the car repainted a darker color, and she had the seat covers replaced. Francis owned and drove the Firebird until she sold it in July of 1989.

A gentleman named Lloyd bought the Firebird from Frances. Lloyd was a huge James Garner fan, and he rarely drove the car. In fact, most of the time that he owned the Firebird, it was in storage. Lloyd died in 2003.

Lloyd’s daughter, Kelly, is now the owner of the Firebird. On August 29, 2009 I had the honor of meeting Kelly in person in Iowa. I took great pleasure in photographing and then actually driving the Firebird. The Firebird is all there, including the holes drilled to run recording wiring. Kelly even has a plug-in plate with five jacks for microphones. The car also has a skid plate mounted to the frame to protect the engine and transmission from any damage from stunts. This Firebird is a rig car (sound car) used for close-ups while driving. I believe it is also a stunt car. Kelly has a letter from James Garner that was sent to the Program Manager at Station WGGT. The letter identifies this car as an actual screen-used Firebird Formula 400, and that he drove this car during the filming of the Rockford Files. Unfortunately, the letter does not state the car’s VIN number.

One interesting note is that this car has power windows. The plastic plugs for the power windows in the door panels can be seen in “Material Difference”, “Love is the Word” and the “Big Cheese” episodes. This Firebird was used during the last two seasons. Pat McKinney and I are 99% sure this is an actual Rockford File Firebird.

The documentation on the Firebirds from the TV series were destroyed sometime around 2000. Since there is no longer a written list of VIN numbers for the Firebirds used on the TV series, it is hard to identify with 100% accuracy an actual screen-used Firebird.

Ross Healey located a 1976 Firebird Formula in San Diego in 2008.  After 2 years of trying to talk to the current owner, he purchased the Firebird in March 2010.  This Firebird has a letter signed by James Garner stating the vin number and the fact he drove it on the Rockford Files.  Ross also received a photo copy of an article about the original owner’s history with the Firebird.  This could be the best documented Firebird from the original tv series.  Pat McKinney purchased the 1976 Firebird from Ross a few years ago, along with all the documentation.

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Pat Mc Kinney, who lives in Southern California has been lucky enough to have owned four Rockford Firebirds. He purchased the first one from a couple in the early 1980’s. At that time, Pat managed to get written documentation from Vinny proving he now owned a screen-used car. He also found a prop plate with 853 OKG on it, in the trunk of the car. He kept this Firebird for a while, and then sold to a friend, whose wife had an accident with the car. Sadly the car was totaled, but she was ok. This car and the other three Firebirds that he currently owns all came through Livingston Pontiac in Woodland Hills, CA. All four Firebirds were special-order cars with similar equipment. In fact, the VIN number of Pat’s original 1978 that was destroyed, was only a few numbers off the 1978 Firebird that he owns today.

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Pat currently owns a 1977 Firebird that was a rig car. It is unique in that it was the only car that had holes drilled near the bottom of each of its fenders for sound wiring and microphones. According to a Roy Clark stunt coordinator and stunt double for James Garner, this was the only car that was rigged in this way. When this Firebird was used as a Hero car for filming of the outside of the car, painted plugs were put in to fill the holes. These plugs are clearly visible in several episodes in the 1977 season. “Quickie Nirvana” and “Requiem of a Funny Box” are two of the episodes. The Firebird is currently being restored by Pat. You can see pictures of the restoration on the Rockford Files website. There was a spoiler that was put back on the Firebird after filming. When Pat removed the spoiler, the original Rockford paint was clearly visible. Pat had a paint chip analyzed, which matched the paint on his 1978 Firebird. The color is Lt. Topaz.

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Pat’s 1978 Firebird was purchase from the daughter of a stunt man for the Rockford Files. I believe the stuntman’s name was Create. This car was used in the episode “Rock in Roll will never Die”. Its right-front fender and passenger door were smashed, and sold as-is to Mr. Create. Mr. Create purchased the car for his daughter who had the car painted grey. When Pat purchased the car from her, the paint was peeling and worn off in areas. You could see the Rockford paint coming through. This Firebird will be his next restoration project. The car also has low mileage, making it easier to restore than his 1977.

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Because of the Firebirds that Pat owns, we now have resources to help identify the Firebirds that were used on the TV series.

I asked Vinny about the two Firebirds that he supplied for the Rockford Files movies. He told me that he and his partner tried to sell the cars. He told me that the Firebirds were repainted and made into something completely different. In fact, I saw one of these Firebirds on e-bay in October of 2002. It is painted a bright gold color.

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The three movie Firebirds were a 1977 and two 1978 used cars. They rebuilt them and painted them. In fact, Vinny said they were actually painted the wrong shade, but no one noticed. He said that everyone always remembered the 1978 Firebirds, which is why they were rebuilt that way. These Firebirds had the standard interior with power windows.

Vinny said it was a pleasure working with James Garner. He was really a great guy!

If anyone has any other information about any original screen used Rockford Files Firebirds, please let me know at jimsuva34@aol.com.

I hope that this information will help other Rockford Files fans!

07
Jan
20

Last General Lee build in Georgia!

Last Built General Lee in Georgia

Last Built General Lee in Georgia

Written by Jim Suva

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In 1978, Warner Brothers Studios had a new TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard. It starred John Schneider as Bo Duke and Tom Wopat as Luke Duke. They were cousins who lived with another cousin, Daisy Duke, played by Catherine Bach. They lived in corrupt Hazzard County and were always in trouble with the law for doing the right thing. Another star of the show was their 1969 Dodge Charger they called the General Lee. The show ran for seven seasons, from 1979 to 1985.

The Start of Filming

Warner Brothers in California built three General Lees and sent them to Georgia for filming in November of 1978. The first five episodes of Dukes of Hazzard were filmed in Georgia, from November to December of that year. Don Schisler was hired as the transportation coordinator for the show and H&H Auto Body, owned by Henry Holman, was the shop that kept the cars in good working order. During that time, they rebuilt the three original General Lees over and over, to the point that they needed to acquire more cars. They built and used two more Chargers during filming for the first five episodes, for a total of five General Lees. After the first five episodes, production went on Christmas break; filming was to continue in January. However, during the Christmas break, Warner Brothers decided it would be better to film in California instead of Georgia, and production never returned to Georgia. The Studio had any usable vehicles in Georgia sent to California. This included three General Lees. The rest of Season 1 and all additional seasons were filmed in California, where it has been said anywhere from 250 – 350 General Lees were used. Of the five General Lees from the Georgia filming, Lee #1 and Lee #2 were scrapped, Lees #3, #4 and #5 were sent to California, used, and eventually scrapped. None of the five screen used Georgia cars remains today.

Volo’s History with The General Lee (#6)

In 2007 Volo Museum Director, Brian Grams, ran across a General Lee for sale. The description was vague, but it appeared to be documented with Warner Brothers paperwork. Volo promoted a “real General Lee” which sparked heated debate in the Dukes of Hazzard Fan community. They were told the car was never used, nor was it built by Warner Brothers. Volo was told it was bought as a parts car and was turned into a replica General Lee much later. At that time, Brian was no expert on the Dukes of Hazzard, so he had to rely on what he was told. But Brian also asked a lot of questions!

Investigation into Volo’s General Lee (#6)

The former president of the now defunct General Lee Fan Club, Travis Bell, visited the museum, suspicious of the validity of the car. He looked the car over and was able to confirm with Volo that their car has the main hoop section of the roll bar in it from Lee #1. Travis has the additional pieces of the roll bar from Lee #1 and was able to match them up, using the cuts and some of the chain links. Travis also supplied Volo with a few pictures of the car in pre-General Lee condition, taken at H&H Auto Body. This is where Brian’s investigation truly began.

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Looking at the photos of the car in its original state, it was obvious to him that the car was much too nice to have been a parts car. Brian questioned if they had a car that nice sitting there, then why would they not use it instead of rebuilding the wrecked ones? One thing the photos did prove is that the car was still in its original state after filming had finished in Georgia. Lee #1 was repainted blue and used in the final scene filmed. Lee #1 was sitting next to Volo’s car (gold) in its final state before going to the scrap yard. Brian knew it was not screen used, but still questioned its pedigree based on the fact it was too nice to be a parts car.

He contacted a man by the name of Jon Holland. Jon had written a book called Roads Back to Early Hazzard. He was and still is the devil’s advocate about this car, saying that it is a Warner Brothers owned parts car that was bought by Don Schisler and turned into a General Lee replica years after production. Don gave the car to his son, John Schisler. Jon Holland has talked down the car since day one, which has been one of the greatest resources Brian could have had, because whenever Jon said something about the car, it gave Brian a new direction. For example, Jon said the car was painted several years after production left Georgia. This gave Brian the clue to finding out when the car was painted. If it was painted several years later, then it is a replica, plain and simple. However, if it was painted before Don Schisler bought the car (Dec 1, 1979) then it is a real General Lee and not a replica.

Thus began the quest: when was the car painted orange? No one seemed to know. Jon Holland’s theory is that the car was gold when production left Georgia, as seen in the photos. Brian’s debate on that is that just because the film production went on break, that didn’t mean business at H&H stopped. They had wrecked cars to dispose of, and not knowing at the time that production wouldn’t return, they would have been preparing for the return of production, which was supposed to happen in only a few weeks. Filming stopped, production did not.

The first thing that was proven, thanks to Travis Bell, was that the roll bar was in fact from Lee #1. The next thing discovered was that it was not Larry West who did the graphics on the car. Brian had posted the car to the Volo Auto Museum’s Facebook page which showed a man painting the graphics on it, with the caption “Larry West painting the graphics on our General Lee”. Soon after, someone named Ronnie Edwards left a comment “That’s not Larry West, that’s me”. Brian reached out to Ronnie and asked some questions. Ronnie was hired by Don Schisler to do graphic painting. Ronnie said Don hired him to do two General Lees. Lee #6 was for the show, it was a gold car with a 360 engine, that is Volo’s car. Ronnie said “It’s the real deal and the holy grail of all General Lees out there”. Ronnie could not remember when he did the graphics on the car, but he did supply Brian with more photos of the car when it was at his shop, having the graphics painted. There was an interesting item in one photo, the roof of a General Lee can be seen leaning against his building. This was the roof from Lee #2. They cut it off so Ronnie could copy the graphics.

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Lee #1 and Lee #2 went to the scrap yard on Christmas Eve 1978, which raises the thought in Brian’s mind, if the car was built years later and Lee #1 and #2 went to the scrap yard, what is the probability that they would have, without reason, cut out the roll bar from Lee #1 and the roof of Lee #2, and just have them sitting around for years. Common sense says, they cut those parts off because they had immediate use, which tells Brian the photos were taken closer to the filming dates than the claimed built dates. Common sense isn’t proof though. Brian studied the pictures hard, looking to see if he could find something with a date, like a registration sticker, and then he spotted it. In the background of the General Lee is a sign “Bill Hutson for Sheriff”. Bill Hutson became Sheriff in 1980, his campaign was in 1979. The election was the 2nd Tuesday in November of 1979. Ordinance is a campaign sign must be down no later than 10 days after the election. This was a populated town and not a rural area, the ordinance would likely have been enforced. That means the picture was taken no later than November 23rd 1979, and there the car is, as a General Lee. That means the car was turned into a General Lee sometime between December 24th 1978 and November 23rd 1979. Don didn’t buy the car until December 1st of that year, after it was already a General Lee. This also proves Jon’s “Years later” comment was incorrect. Being fair, there could have been a verbal agreement between Warner Brothers and Don and that’s just the paperwork date. So technically, Don could have built it into a replica, just earlier than thought.

Travis Bell, who confirmed the roll bar, had come across more photos of Volo’s General Lee, this time at H&H Auto Body with H&H employee Danny Hobbs behind the wheel of the car. Those photos place the car at H&H proving H&H were the ones to paint the car. So, Brian questioned how he could get in touch with any of the original builders. Ronnie Edwards was able to give him contact info for Don Schisler’s son, John, who was a helping hand during production, as well as the one the car was supposedly built for. Don had passed away several years prior to Brian’s investigations, so he was unable to speak with him. When Brian asked John about the car and brought up the story about the replica built from a parts car for him, he chuckled and said, “There is nothing further from the truth”. They had a discussion, which he later put in writing, that it was the last car they had built for the show. He said he remembered it well because it was the last one built. He said it is the only surviving Georgia era General Lee.

Brian was able to find Henry Holman, owner of H&H Auto Body and speak to him. Henry said, in writing, it was the last car they had built for the show, Lee #6. He also said he remembered it well, because he was the one who found it. Henry was making a beer run to the gas station, when a woman pulled up in the car, he asked her if she wanted to sell it, put her in touch with Don and they made a deal. He said when it was announced that production was moving to California there were four General Lees on set, three of them went to California, and the fourth was given to Don Schisler, to settle money owned to him by Warner brothers. Warner Brothers gave Don Schisler all the unusable wrecked and scrapped cars as partial payment. This showed the car as being built prior to mid-January 1979, and built for Warner Brothers with intent to be used, NOT as a replica for Don’s son.

Later Brian was able to track down John Blanchette, who purchased the car from Don Schisler in November of 1980. According to him, Don told him the car was screen used for close up shots and was sold to him as the real deal. John, amazingly, kept and still had possession of all his records of the car from work he had done to it, old photos, letter correspondents and best of all the original ad he purchased it from. The ad that Don Schisler himself posted. The ad clearly reads “General Lee as owned and built by Warner Bro. for Dukes of Hazzard series, not a replica, only privately-owned General Lee in existence.” The phone number in the ad corresponds to Don Schisler and is actually still is registered to his family.

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Brian was later able to contact one other person, Danny Hobbs, the man pictured in the car at H&H Auto Body. He too confirmed that they “Got it ready, but didn’t use it” in the Georgia episodes.

Explaining the False Stories

As a summary, the false “known history” of the car was that it was originally bought by Warner Brothers, used as a parts car only, and was sold to Don Schisler, who later restored the car into a replica for his son John. Actually, this was the 6th General Lee ever built, as well as the last General Lee ever prepared by the Georgia crew for screen use. It is also the only surviving Georgia-era General Lee. If filming didn’t move to California, this car would have been used and would not exist today. It is the first General Lee ever to be released to the public. The Volo ad has cool factor of being the first advertisement ever for a General Lee!

So, where did the parts car/replica rumor come from? This is what Don Schisler told people over the years. But why? It’s likely because when production moved to California, Don was given all the scrap and parts cars. Since the car was never screen used, Warner Brothers wouldn’t have known if the car was a parts car or a ready-to-use General Lee. He could easily acquire the car by saying it’s a parts car. The bill of sale shows “$10 and consideration” which supports the car was given to him as part of the “scrap and parts cars agreement”. When questioned, to avoid any backlash, he maintained the story he told Warner Brothers, except when he told the complete opposite, in writing, in his ad! Don basically told two different stories.

Travis Bell and a partner of his, located Lee #1 in the scrap yard and purchased it. That is how Travis was able to confirm the Volo car’s roll bar is from Lee #1. Volo’s #6 car has had only 1,500 miles on it since 1978 and it is all original and unrestored, just as it was built in 1978/79. Original H&H paint, original hand painted graphics, original wheels, push bar, etc., hence the only “Surviving Georgia Lee”.

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Brian believes only 20 TV series General Lees exist. 17 of the California cars were sold off to Wayne Wooten in 1990 – these are the ones that have a contract and are for private use only. There is Volo’s Lee #6, Lee #1, now owned by Bubba Watson, and there is a California TV series car that Warner Brothers painted a different color and used for another TV show after Dukes of Hazzard. It was later discovered to be a General Lee. Volo’s car is the nicest unrestored General Lee in existence.

You can find a video and many of the documents on the Volo Auto Museum website https://www.volocars.com/the-attraction/vehicles/13166/1969-dodge-charger

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30
Dec
15

StarCar phenomonon, dubbed “Carsplay” goes global!

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One last blog for 2015, an end of the year wrap up!  Nate Truman’s StarCarCentral.com was started around the turn of this centurty, and has been growing in leaps and bounds every year.  From a single 66 Adam West Style batmobile, the idea of building, sharing and driving iconic movie and TV vehicles has grown to include StarCarCentral members around the globe.

In the early years of the hobby, people would fall in love with a famous ride, and the lucky few would buy a piece of movie history from the studios.  A few Herbie the Love Bugs, a handful of General Lee’s from Dukes of Hazzard and a Barris replica batmobile were in private hands.  Occasionally a short lived star car museum would open up for a while, then close down a year or two later.  The cars would be put in storage, or scattered around.  George Barris was kean on keeping track of all the famous cars, both the ones he had a hand in building, and anything else that had been on the screen and caught the public’s eye.   A couple of big auctions at his Barris’ Kustoms city and at the Peterson, gathered together for a brief time star cars from all walks of media and entertainment in the 1970’s and 1990’s.

If you didn’t get to the museum in Hollywood, or go to these simi-secret auctions that only movie car guys knew about, you would never have a chance to see more than one famous car together.

A few years down the road, fans started gathering for reunions.  The biggest of these was “Dukesfest” that happened for several years, and rows of repainted Challengers gathered together.  Some other famous cars would show up as well for a group photo.  Then interest waned and the shows stopped.  Now a new “Fanfest” has been reborn.

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Knight Rider fans also banded together and with the help of this new thing “The Internet” started finding other owners of Knight Rider KITT cars.  Rob Louisell, Mark’s Customs, Jay Ohrburg, sold fiberglass parts and the fans constantly improved the interior electronics and helped each other find rare parts to get their dream ride on the road.  A few gatherings of Knight Riders happened as well.  

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With the advent of the world Wide Web, every individual star car fan found a home to swap stories and ideas with other owners and fans.  There is a Herbie page,  lots of Knight Rider pages, 1966batmobile.com, basically there is a fan page for every famous movie and TV car that you can think of!

Even though Nate Truman had been tracking and finding screen used movie and TV cars since the 70’s, it wasn’t until 2003 at Crusin for a Cure that Nate finally decided to make his idea a reality.  “Let’s put them all in a pile, and play with them!” So over the last 12 years Nate has collected, connected, and introduced all the star car fans to each other!  It wasn’t easy, as many owners thought that their special car was cool, but didn’t want to park or do events with lots of “vehicular Unicorns”.    But Nate knew that seeing one amazing rare car out in “the wild” was amazing – seeing a HERD of them was mind blowing!  So out of that little new idea, and lots of detective work, Nate Truman’s StarCarCentral.com has become the hub where all the starcars can play together for good.  Hundreds of charity events, police, fire, Autism, Make-A-Wish, Pediatric Cancer Survivors, etc. have been able to include a display of famous movie and TV cars never seen before in public. The first “Carsplay” panel at Long Beach Comic Con happened this year and Nate and his team outlined the history of the hobby, and where it’s headed.

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So as a cap to 2015, Nate organized his lineup to set a new record.  The most famous movie and TV cars in a single parade.  Over 40 cars appeared in the 2015 Hollywood Christmas parade!  It was a driving, rolling star car museum – brought together for just a few hours, and then disappeared into the night!  A big thanks to all the fans, owners, restorers, historians, and bloggers who have helped the star car hobby grow, and make new friends around the world!   Here’s the Star Car Central video of all the cars on the red carpet in the 2015 Hollywood Christmas Parade!  We have another 20 cars that could have been included, but we were just TOO big!  2015 Nate Truman’s Star Car Central.com Hollywood Christmas parade

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So come join the fun in 2016, bigger and better!  Email Nate@starcarcentral.com or info@starcarcentral.com if you have a famous on screen ride!  With chapters across the United States and around the world, get your toy out and drive it!

 

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25
May
15

“Bearcats” car built by George Barris is in the hands of a superfan!

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. bearcats
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!

18
Nov
13

Nate Truman’s StarCarCentral.com gang at the Long Beach Comic Con Nov. 23 2013!

November 23 (Saturday) – “Long Beach Comic/Horror Con”

Just a quick post to let all the star car fans know that we will have a big group on display this Saturday in Long Beach!

Come on down and get your photos with the star cars, meet the SCC team members and enjoy a great comic-con!

Lots of great places to eat near by, and cool comic fans and creators everywhere you turn! 

 Show starts at 10 am, 
http://www.longbeachcc.com/

What’s the show about? Go to this link
http://www.longbeachcomiccon.com/

 
We will be out in front of the main entrance to the Long Beach Convention Center.  

  • NATE – JURASSIC PARK EXPLORER!
  • EVAN – MACH 5
  • OSCAR-  MAGNUM PI FERRARI
  • JASON – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE VAN
  • MARTIN – CHRISTINE
  • ARI – JURASSIC PARK JEEP
  • GARY G – HIGHWAY PATROL
  • PAUL – BACK TO THE FUTURE DELOREAN
  • BRYAN – ECTO-1! YEAH BABY!
  • ALEX – KITT FROM KNIGHT RIDER
  • OBISHAWN – STAR WARS
  • FLOR – POLICE ISETTA
09
Feb
13

xXx GTO screen used Pontiac has all the gadgets you would want!

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This highly-modified 1967 GTO is readily recognized as Vin Diesel’s hero car from the blockbuster film “xXx.”  It is one of five screen-used Pontiacs that Hollywood star car builder Eddie Paul originally built. 
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To further prepare it for on-screen use, the studio’s Special Effects crew outfitted this particular car with all sorts of unique hardware to perform the various “gags” seen in the movie. Nicknamed the “Flame Car” for its flame-throwing capabilities (notice the scorched hood scoop!), it also features special spy gadgets in the dashboard, functional rocket launchers behind the upper headlights, a patriotic American flag parachute packed into the passenger seat, and a flipping rear seat that reveals a high-powered arsenal for Diesel’s “Xander Cage” secret agent duties.
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The Flame Car began life as a GTO hardtop coupe, but its metal roof is now forever gone.
“The roof was ejected — like a fighter jet’s canopy — during a crucial action sequence near the film’s finale,” says film historian and Pontiac enthusiast Thom Sherwood of Tucson, AZ. He has been the car’s proud owner since 2005, and enjoys sharing all the unique stories he has collected from the film’s crew and craftsmen.
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“I have interviewed over 75 people associated with “xXx” — from the director to the stunt drivers and everyone in-between — to document the cars built for the film and their fascinating stories.”
While he has produced a one-hour slide presentation covering his efforts entitled “Secret Agent GTO: The Pontiacs of xXx,” his ultimate goal is to publish a book which showcases these stories and the amazing behind-the-scenes photography that he has amassed.
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Meanwhile, he welcomes the opportunity to display his roaring, rolling piece of genuine Hollywood wizardry.
“Most people, when they see my car in-person, can’t believe it is the actual car from the movie,” Sherwood continues. “They are mesmerized by all the high-tech dials and switches and blinking lights inside. Unlike K.I.T.T. from “Knight Rider,” or the DeLorean from “Back to the Future,” the dashboard purposely has a haphazard look to it. It was made — according to the film’s storyline — to appear as though it was hastily assembled overnight!”
Triple_X_GTO_NiteLites XXXGTO_VinDieselSmile
Outside, the car is painted a unique color-shifting shade called Indigo Blasberry Prizm. But look closely, and you can tell this GTO has been driven through multiple fireball explosions and has seen some hard action while the cameras rolled. “For the most part, it remains in the exact same condition as it returned stateside from filming in the Czech Republic with scrapes and bumps and all,” according to Sherwood. “It only adds to the car’s provenance.”

XXX_GTO_Flame&MM1 XXXGTO_ThomDemo1

Today, the Flame Car may get “fired-up” occasionally to terrorize the streets of Tucson, but it also makes appearances at out-of-state enthusiast gatherings and promotions. Arrangements to have the Flame Car attend your event can be made through Star Car Central.
 GTO_XXX_DieselHarpoonPoint
19
Oct
11

STREETHAWK STARRING REX SMITH – STARCAR? STARCYCLE! KITT WAS THE CAR, AIRWOLF WAS THE COPTER, STREETHAWK WAS THE MOTORCYCLE!

After bumping into Rex Smith a few weeks back I realized I had not blogged about his “Starcar” show from the 80’s, “STREETHAWK”!

Rex told me he didn’t know where the original motorcycles were, and he wanted to own one, real or replica!  Well as we talked, a fan of the show and the bike showed up and had a piece of the handlebars with him, and we started talking about his project to recreate the Streethawk bike, just as the Batmobile and Knight Rider fans etc. have done!  Finding an old bike as a donor kit may be hard to do, but this is a “from scratch” project!  Hopefully our combined efforts and information will help either find an original screen used bike or come up with a sharp replica for the fans who want one, as well as one for Rex!   So – if you want to get your own starcar, but don’t have the time, money or crazy to build a Back to the Future Delorean or Ghostbuster car, here’s a lower cost quest you can join!

Here are the facts:

Street Hawk’s Specs

MODEL: Top secret government project.
TOP SPEED: 200 MPH, 300 MPH with Hyperthrust
WEAPONRY: Laser Cannon, Machine Guns, Rocket Launcher
OTHER FEATURES: Infrared Cameras, Compressed Air Vertical Lift System, On and off road capability

Street Hawk before it’s conversion

This bike is similar to what Street Hawk looked like before its conversion. There was actually a total of 15 bikes made for the show and there were three different types of bikes that were used:

* A 1983 Honda XL500 was used to make the bike used in the pilot episode.
* 3 1984 Honda XR500’s were used to make the bike during the series.
* 11 1984 Honda CR250’s were used to make the bikes for the stunt scenes during the series.

The making of Street Hawk

Street hawk was originally designed by Andrew Probert. His design was used to create the bike used in the pilot episode of Street Hawk. Below are two of his concept drawings of Street Hawk. On the top is the original concept bike, and on the bottom is the final design after producers revisions.

Below are some pictures of the bike being converted into Street Hawk.

The bikes used in the show
From what I can tell there were four different styles of bikes used during the life of the show.

STYLE 1

The first was only used in the pilot episode and did not contain the missile launcher or machine guns. This was the bike originally designed by Andrew Probert. As an interesting side note, the bike used i the pilot was built by the same team that was involved in building the cars in
Blade Runner and the Last Starfighter.

STYLE 2


The second bike, which was designed by Ron Cobb was quite different from the bike used in the pilot episode. The nose now contains a missile launcher and machine guns. The body of the bike is also very different from the bike in the pilot episode. As you can tell there isn’t nearly as much detail in the exhaust of the bike and the body of the bike is much wider. As far as I can tell this style of bike was only used in the episode “A Second Self”.

STYLE 3


The third bike as you can tell has a much rounder nose than the second, but this is the only notable difference that I can see. This bike, I believe was used in the remaining episodes except “murder is a Novel Idea”.

STYLE 4

The fourth bike is different than any of the others. It is kind of a mix between the pilot bike and the bike used in the rest of the episodes. The main differences are that the front end still has the missile launcher and machine gun but the area where these are contained is very different. The other difference is that the exhaust has no detail. It is just plain silver with no black markings

The bike today

These are pictures of the one of the bikes from when it went up for sale on EBay in September 2000. It sold for $12,000 –

Here is a newspaper clipping from Wales about Chris Bromham, the current owner of one of the original bikes (Thanks go to Jonathan Jones for the scan).

I like this Chris guy, he is ripping it up on the original bike!


One of the bikes is also located at the Cars to the Stars museum in England.

IF YOU OWN, OR KNOW WHERE ANY OF THESE BIKES ARE NOW, WE WANT TO KNOW! WE ARE TRYING TO REUNITE AN ORIGINAL OR REPLICA BIKE WITH THE STAR OF THE SHOW, REX SMITH!
For lots more info on the series, visit the site where this info came from HERE!  Always great to find hardcore fans for each of the famous screen used Movie and TV Vehicles!




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