Posts Tagged ‘Television

27
Aug
11

Rockford Files shooting locations, then and now!

I have to admit I am a sucker for fan stuff like this!  Being able to stand in the very place where movies or shows that I loved actually shot is just a fun “touchstone” to bring me closer to the action that I remember seeing on the big and little screen!  Below is super Rockford fan Jim Suva’s write up on his trip to Rockford Files locations!  The Herbie owners are planning a three day event to do pretty much the same thing for their Sothern California locations next month, so any group of fans can pull this sort of thing off, and if you do, well tell me about it with great info and photos like Jim does!  Enjoy! 
Nate Truman

Rockford Files Locations

 

Written by Jim Suva

In July 2011, Pat McKinney and I went to find the locations that were used on The Rockford Files.  Below are some of the locations we found.

Here is the original location of Jim Rockford’s trailer in the parking lot by the Malibu Pier on Pacific Coast Highway.

The first two pictures are from the show.  Last two are 2011.

Original trailerloc Kirk6    100_1190 100_1189

First picture below is Lankershim Blvd. in 2011.  A number of scenes of Jim driving down this street have been used. The second picture is St Charles Boromeo.  The inside of the church was used while filming “Find Me If You Can”.  The church is located on the corner of Moorpark and Lankershim Blvd.

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“The Real Easy Red Dog”  First picture is from the episode.  It shows the Services entrance to Ruehmanm Pontiac in 1975. The next picture is of the dealership today.  It now sells BMW’s.  The third picture is the house where Stefanie Powers character lived in 1975 and the fourth is 2011.

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Jim entering the house and the side view of 4265 Denny Ave. North Hollywood.

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“The Trees, the Bees, and T.T. Flowers”  The church is located on the corner of Cahuenga and Whipple in Toluca Lake.  The first two picture are from 1976.  The third picture was taken 2011.

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“Beamers Last Case”  This is Tony’s Body Shop located at 4730 Blix Street in North Hollywood.  First picture is from 1977 and the next two are 2011.

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Here is Jack Kelly’s characters home at 4365 Forman, Toluca Lake.  First picture is the gate to the property in 1977.  The next picture is the gate 2011.  Third picture is the driveway 1977.  Fourth is the driveway 2011.

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“Hotel of Fear”  Here is the Mob Bosses Nova’s house located at 4256 Navajo, Toluca Lake.  First two pictures are from 1977 and the last two are 2011.

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“Rosendahl and Gilda Stern are Dead”  The intersection is at Cahuenaga and Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake.  This is where Abe Vigoda and Robert Loggia’s characters met.  The first two pictures are from 1978 and the last two are from 2011.

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This is Rocky’s House located at 3654 Lankershim Blvd., Studio City.  The house has had an addition built on the front of house.  It now has a row of trees in front.

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This is Bob Morse’s Beach Cafe, Paradise Cove.  It use to be called the Sandcastle.  It has changed quite a bit over the last few years.  Jim Rockford’s trailer use to be parked in the parking lot.    That part of the  parking lot is now a sandy beach with tables.  Below are pictures of Paradise Cove, July 13, 2011.

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I hope you enjoyed these pictures.  It is always nice to see what the locations look like today.

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.
25
May
11

Wizard World Comic Convention and Star Car Central.com in Anaheim 3 day eventorama!

Wizard World Conventions are all over the U.S. and Canada and over the last few years I have sent a few area chapter members out to appear with their movie or TV car, mostly on the East Coast and Canada.  But when Adam West and Burt Ward, the original Batman and Robin make a rare appearance here in nearby Anaheim, well the batsignal goes up, and starcars roll out!   More of the original Bat cast was in attendance as well, Lee Meriweather who was catwoman in the Batman Feature film, Malichi Throne who played the villain “False Face” as well as a host of celebrities and artists from all walks of fandom!

Nateman (That’s me!) and my Natemobile were up near the entrance, and right in front of Batman and Robin! Even though I was a bit lonely without my star car pals, it was a fun time meeting all the batfans and helping to raise money for the “Friends of Angels” Autism Camp.  We are in our eighth year and going strong!

Meanwhile, in the back, the rest of the peanut gallery were putting on their own show, and having fun talking to the press and fans!

Paul agreed to a rare interview about his car.... 🙂

When it comes to any comic con, you never know what “crossgeeking” surprises you  will see. (Crossgeeking means a fanatical pursuit or interest in two divergent areas of traditional geekyness, Such as owning a Herbie the Love bug, and also speaking klingon – copyright Nate Truman 2001! Go ahead and google it!) Here is an example that popped up, a Flux Capacitor in a Magnum P.I. Ferrari!

The fans crowded in to see the star cars we had on display, and lots of interviews for various media outlets, both TV and online sites were constantly quizzing the star car owners in front of the cameras.

The crowds were non stop all day long, and everyone had a great time checking out costumes, artists and celebrities that they got to spend time chatting with in person.  Hey, I got to talk with the 80’s Captain America about the release of the new one. Reb Brown is still in great shape and could pick up the shield!

But you can’t see the cars, so here is a shot of the set up before the doors opened up.

Rockin' the 80's... well Herbie spans several decades!

My A-Team van was on display for Friday only, then we swapped out the van for Brian’s James Bond BMW Saturday and Sunday along with three day attenders Oscar and his Ferrari from Magnum P.I. Paul’s BTTF Delorean, Alex’s KITT from Knight Rider and Brian’s Robo-Herbie. (Also there were two classic “Snake and Mongoose” funny cars! )

Being inside with fans who “get” our cars is always a treat. Plus, the fans are a lot more interesting to talk to and people watch at a comic con too!

Even Kermit the Frog came by to do some interviews!

Lots of dinner’s out and buying stuff we just had to have as well as meeting old friends made for a great weekend of fun fandom!

Look for us in November at the Los Angeles Comic Con, Danny’s BTTF Delorean inside at the San Diego Comic Con!  When this many fans line up to see us, well, we are always glad to share our famous movie and TV cars!

11
May
11

Burbank on Parade StarCarCentral.com wins again!

Hey Star Car Fans!

Yes I know I am behind on my blogging! We are having too much fun playing with our toys lately to stop and write about it!  So let’s catch up a bit!  On April 9th, 2011 a BIG group of the ever changing line up of cars at Star Car Central.com showed up to drive in the Burbank Parade!  For the second time in a row, we won our category!  Novelty, Non Commercial!  Not sure if we had any competition, but we won!

We had a few new members, some Burbank locals that rarely come out and a bunch of the “regulars” all lined up once again for a fun parade on a beautiful day!

Our “Banner Girls” lead the way out in front with Sue in Her Get Smart Sunbeam and machine gun!  After a long wait on a beautiful tree lined street we finally got started and the crowd loved seeing all their old “four wheeled friends” from TV and movies from the past!

Here’s a nice shot of Sue with our award banner at the end of the parade!

Paul brought out his “MAD MAX” Interceptor for a rare look at his very rare replicar with right hand drive and meanest looking police car around!

New to our group this year is Stephen and his Jurassic Park Explorer! He is actually more into rock climbing than star cars, but his truck is a crowd pleaser!  We have yet to get Stephen and Ari together, who has a Jurassic park Jeep!

Transformers, assemble!  and then turn off your engines and wait for a bit longer!  John’s BumbleBee Camaro from Transformers is followed by Jason’s “Ratchet” Transformer ambulance from the cartoons! You can also see Tony’s top notch Smokey and the Bandit Trans am and Lou’s Torino from Starsky and Hutch bringing up the rear in the above photo.

Behind Tony is Nate Truman in his new “A-Team” van – this is the last shot of the van before the front push bar and even MORE front lights were added!  “I pity the fool” who doesn’t love Mr. T and his van!

Alex put on his light and sound show with his amazing KITT car from Knight Rider!

Cliff and his son are behind the wheel of their NASCAR inspired Herbie, like in “Herbie, fully loaded”

Oscar’s 308 GTSi Ferrari decked out like in the Magnum P.I. TV show is pretty at any angle!

Charlie brought his Green fastback Mustang like the one Steve McQueen drove in “Bullitt” the dream car of many men in the crowd!

Lou turned on his sirens and police lights and delighted all the “Starsky and Hutch” fans. His “stripped tomato” is a fan favorite!

Paul drove his Back to the Future Delorean with gull wing doors open, and  sounds from the movie blaring! Reba, get that leg back in the car!

Dave and his family tooted out the familiar sounds of “DIXIE” as they displayed their Dukes of Hazzard General Lee Charger!

A few times a year we are always happy to see “the other” batmobile! Tom’s car is sweet and he’s one of the few guys Nate has to chat with about after burners!

You are not seeing double, this is Jason’s “classic” Herbie as the lovable Bug appeared in the early movies! Jason also was running through the cars to get all these photos and did all the paperwork and phone calls so we could all play with our cars down the middle of the street!  Thanks Jason and “Dad” Dave!

Mark with his Adam-12 Cruiser gets extra “good guy” points for coming despite being in terrible pain! His “reward” for his troubles? He started overheating due to the slow speed of the parade! So he switched on his police lights and sirens and tore to the end of the parade to let the car cool down! Thanks for putting yourself through all that!   The crowd loved seeing the car tear down the street and I thought it was the “real” cops behind me – not the “REEL” ones!

I saved Brian’s car for last, as we all were amazed at his latest “upgrade” to his James Bond BMW from Tomorrow Never Dies.  He brought along a pal dressed as Super Spy James Bond, and he pretended to drive the car by remote control, just like in the movie.   No one can accuse Brian of wanting the spotlight, his friend was cool and collected walking down the road while Brian was well, it’s easier to just look at the photo!

Look closely, that seat has HANDS! That’s brian behind his seat disguise driving the car and looking through the headrest!  He truly suffered the heat and uncomfortable ride  to delight the parade goers! Too cool Brian, Aka “Q”!  We never know what gadget he’s going to build next!

True to form, after the parade my “cats” all scrambled off, some went home to get their “meds” others went to “in and out” but most of us made it to dinner to swap stories and catch up on the latest break downs and upgrades to our cars.

Ari couldn’t make it, and a new “mystery” batmobile almost made it in the parade with us but lost his keys to his electrical shut off switch – and by “lost” I mean a fan took the key!  But “G.I. Joe”mobile may be at an event soon!  Thanks to all who came and all the fans who yelled out each theme or show title as they recognized their favorite old car star!

29
Mar
11

Batmobile design contest winner! Batman gets a new set of wheels


Everyone knows the coolest set of batwheels is the original TV style crimes stopping machine featured in the 60’s TV series. (Yes, I am biased, but I am also right!)   But everything eventually needs to be redesigned and updated, right? So a website dedicated to car design put out a contest to see what artist thought the next Batmobile should look like!

As seen in a previous post, the batmobile has had a lot of different looks.  With the third Dark Knight movie in the works there is also a lot of internet chatter about what the next batmobile will look like in the next installment, after the Tumbler was destroyed in the last movie.  Here are a few ideas artists have come up with for the future set of wheels for the worlds greatest detective! These are all submissions to a contest for a new batmobile design. If you want to read more about the contest, you can go HERE but if you just want to see the cool designs, read on!

Let me know which one you want to be Batman’s next Crime stopping transportation! Click on the smaller photos if you want to take  a closer look!

Each design is a unique look at form and function for a man with a quest that requires both elements to be incorporated into his “daily driver”!

There were many submissions but only one could be the winner.  See if you can pick out what was chosen! Here’s a hint, it has design elements from the most famous incarnation of the batmobile!
So you made it to the end, and now you want to know the winner? Well, I did give you two pretty big hints!  First, I said it looked like the most famous batmobile, which of course is the TV series classic!
Then, I also posted the winning design bigger than all the rest  at the top of the blog!  🙂  Hey, you still had fun looking at cool car designs no matter what. TO THE BATMOBILE!!!!
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!

01
Mar
11

Banacek AMX 400 aka Phoenix ESV Experimental Safety Vehicle -George Peppard’s Custom Ride!

Banacek (one of the rotating NBC Mystery Movie series)was a short-lived, light-hearted detective TV series starring George Peppard (of A-Team fame) on NBC from 1972 to 1974. It alternated in its timeslot with several other shows but was the only one to last beyond its first season. It was later rebroadcast on A&E Network.

The show had a mixture of humor combined with rather intricate plots. The show was well received by critics and was picked up for a third season. However, before the third season could start production, Peppard quit the show in order to prevent his ex-wife Elizabeth Ashley from receiving a larger percentage of his earnings as part of their divorce settlement! I am sure Banachek would have an old polish proverb for that situation!

There’s an old Polish Proverb that says:

The regularly featured cars in the series were a 1941 Packard 180 with a Victoria body designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin (license plate number 178344) and a 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine.

But for the subject of star cars, there was a customized 1969 American Motors AMX that was built by George Barris. The car first became known  as the AMX-400 but on Banachek it was the “Phoenix – ESV!”

“The Phoenix, a crash-proof ESV (Experimental Safety Vehicle) worth $5million manufactured by RW company. Totally driver-proof safety vehicle. One of the sensational innovations found in this car is a compensator. It is mounted to a small on-board computer system and it automatically corrects skidding and fishtailing caused by oversteer.”  In ONE episode this special prototype car of the future is stolen off of a moving train, and Banacek is called in to solve the mystery!  Below is how the car appeared on the show, with large cardboard bumpers added and a new temporary paint job!

How the car looked when it was the ESV safety car!

Before it was the Phoenix, it had been around awhile.

Front view of the AMX-400

In the late 1960s, Barris teamed up with the American Motors Corporation to produce a bolt-on customizing kit for the AMX that was marketed through AMC dealers. Through this connection, George got his hands on a factory-fresh 1969 AMX and gave it the full Barris treatment.


WHERE IS IT NOW?

When Barris got the AMX 400 back from the show  the paint was removed, and it was restored to its former look. The car went on the road with the International Show Car Association (ISCA) and appeared at every major show around the country. That’s when it got its reputation as the most photographed AMX in the world.

After the car-show tour, the AMX disappeared for a while before turning up in a museum in Nags Head, North Carolina. It was then sold into Tom Monaghan’s Domino’s Pizza collection. When Monaghan only had a few stores, he had red, white, and blue AMC Javelins for delivery cars. When his pizza franchises took off, he built a 244-car collection. Eventually, he decided to sell everything.

Mike and Lin Geary acquired the car in 2003 in relatively sound condition, with a mere 3300 miles on the odometer, and set about refurbishing it. The car was repainted by Tabz Toys in Lan­caster, New York, and Ron Lasker re-created the original pinstriping.

The biggest modification was the chopped top, which came down 4-1/2 inches. In the process, the windshield posts were raked back two inches, and the rear window was inset between the ­”flying buttress” rear ­pillars.

The nose of the custom car was extended 15 inches and given a wild new look with a radical peaked louver grille. Rectangular headlights were hidden behind three bladelike grille bars, while the hood was revamped with twin scoops and a peaked tip that matched the grille bars’ shape.

All four wheel openings were radiused, and custom front bodyside flares were added to match the enhanced rear body character lines.

The rear of the custom car was extended eight inches and reconfigured with a row of 15 louvers that started at the top of the rear window and continued all the way down the trunklid and rear fascia.

A novel taillight system featured a full-width light that glowed green during acceleration, amber during deceleration, and red during braking.

Body details included a wild set of three-inch-diameter side pipes and a pair of competition-style fuel-filler caps. Both filler caps are just for looks; the actual fuel filler door is at the rear of the car.

A two-tone paint scheme in cream-toned Murano Pearl and Rustic Orange cleverly utilized the car’s body lines as color breaks.

The car was then reunited with its creator in Detroit at the ’05 Autorama.  Interest in the car spread quickly, and Geary received an offer to display the AMX 400 at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum’s Hot Rods and Cool Mods exhibit, where it stayed until late 2006.

Geary’s plans for the future include displaying the AMX 400, his ’69 midengine hybrid AMX, and his stock ’68 AMX in a restored car dealership. With that kind of exposure, I think it’s only a matter of time till we see the AMX 400 on TV again; it might be on Barrett-Jackson.

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22
Feb
11

SCC on TMZ at Comikaze Party! Rain, towtrucks and starcar crashes!

Last Friday night in the worst rain and traffic I have been a part of in years, three intreped StarCarCentral.com members braved the weather and conditions to support GAMERS UNITED.

Harvey Levin’s TMZ TV show had a camera crew at the Beverly Hills event for the first L.A. ComiKaze Comic Con party where three SCC members came to support the cause of the night, giving out comic books and video games to sick kids!  Michele Rodriguez was a celebrity guest and was really sweet to all three of us, she loved the cars!

Nate and Paul caught by TMZ

Jon Bumblebee, Paul BTTF, and Nate Knight Rider all braved the rain and REDONKULOUS traffic but all got there before the party and the rain started.  Various camera crews were on hand to cover the party thrown by Regina Carpinelli CEO Comikaze Expo and was held at her art gallery “The Celebrity Vault”  at 345 North Canon Drive Beverly Hills,Ca 90210 that specializes  in celebrity and rock and roll star limited edition photography.

A donation of comic books or cash and an invitation got you into the party, but there was only room for three stars outside: Bumblebee from the Transformers, Back to the future Delorean and KITT from Kinght Rider were parked out in the elements!   The buzz and photography around the cars was non stop through the night, but after a few turns in front of the camera we went next door and the three of us had a New York Style Pizza and caught up on a few stories!  After some more rain and a few more times lighting up KITT for the cameras I decided it was time to go home, as Monster Jam was the next day.  Kitt had other ideas!  It let out a terrible sound and the starter decided it didn’t want to play any more! So what does every good Knight Rider do in that situation? TURBOBOOST!!!!

"TURBO BOOST? I THOUGHT THAT WAS THE START BUTTON!"

Actually, I just called AAA and they sent out a tow truck to take KITT back to the Knight Industries repair truck.

Paul and Jon stayed a while longer while the paparazzi never stopped taking photos of KITT even while being loaded on the truck!

I got KITT safely home, dropped him in the driveway and got the A-Team van out for Monster Jam the next day.   (see previous blog!)

Sadly it was Paul’s turn next to have some bad star car incident, he made it fine to the Monster jam the next day, but on the drive home hit  a stalled truck in the road and tore up the side of his BTTF car!

When you play with your toys, stuff like this happens!  Luckily the F.L.A.G. mechanic was over on Monday (aka Alex!) and had a new starter in KITT in no time flat and we went out for a nice lunch all before noon!  That man has skills and connections! But I don’t think he can get Delorean stainless panels.

Here’s a look at Pauls car before the accident.   I am not sure I want to see what it looks like now! 😦

Paul vows to be all back together and rolling by our next event!  Many of your favorite star cars will be on display in November at www.comikazeexpo.com

TMZ was also at another SCC event but didn’t get any of the Knights of the West Coast on Camera on Valentines day.  A few fans of the Hoff showed up with Knight Rider stories for a new series where stars trade places with celebrities who have their same name!

David Hasselhoff looks different! (click the link to watch the TMZ video)




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