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Ride of the Week: Mark Truman’s sinister Black Beauty
Yes, another cool car has miraculously appeared on my radar once again. Although you’d never see this one in a dealership, the nostalgic memories of some of you from the ’60s will be well served.
For the last year, I’ve conversed with my friend Mark Truman about his current build that has lasted over 11 years. Why 11 years? Well, because this is not the kind of build that you rush. It requires TV research, and close inspection of details that pop up over time.
What is the car? Green Hornet’s Black Beauty. Or what was originally a 1966 Chrysler Imperial four-door Crown Hardtop. Whoosh!
As a retired telecom special services employee with GTE/Verizon for 35 years, Mark finally has the time to tinker, blinker and build what he loves. His brother, Nate, shares the same passion for movie cars, so Mark decided to build the Black Beauty at his home. But this build needed major research.
He found a Chrysler that was 20.3 feet long, 5480 pounds and with a 440w Edelbrock 4Barrel Motor that would be perfect. The body and interior were good, but would need to be heavily modified to match the TV series’ night cruiser Black Beauty.
“I bought it in 2004,” began Mark. “From a band and drove it home from Monterey, California. The Black Beauty conversion began in my driveway and has lasted for an astounding 11 years.”
But why was this the car for Mark? I’m glad you asked.
“This is the type [of] car used in the 1966 series ‘The Green Hornet,’” he explained. “[The] original build was by Dean Jeffries in Hollywood, and there were two cars created for the show. Both have survived and are in private hands. So if I wanted one, I had to build it myself.”
Mark and I got together several times to shoot the car for my Vlog Show, but every time, the Beauty was stubborn and temperamental. But eventually, Mark got her into Malibu and we cruised from Point Mugu Rock and had a blast. I couldn’t believe I was driving the Green Hornet’s car donning a Kato mask. Yes, I actually wore the mask, although my fighting skills weren’t really what they used to be, so I just smiled a lot instead.
Mark’s favorite part was actually mine, too: the overall length and sinister look of the car. Anyone around would look at it and wonder if their safety was at risk.
I say we build 100 of these and send them to drive in our enemies’ cities. Just their presence would calm things down. And if it didn’t, at least they would think they’re cool long enough to stop causing trouble.
Mark uses the car primarily for shows that support youth and police activities, so although the car is black and sinister, it’s got a good heart just like Mark.
And finally, I asked Mark for his best short story with the car and he gave it to me as we wrapped driving.
“I have a high school age grandson who really enjoys when I pick him up in the Beauty,” Mark said. “All his friends think he is really cool that his grandfather has ‘that cool car.’ When he was questioning why he was going to school, I reminded him that I wouldn’t be able to pick him up in front of his friends if he left. I hope that helped his decision to stay.
“But I also really like watching people spot the car as I pass them. At first, they look confused, then break out into ‘10-year-old’ grins when they recognize it. It’s just cool.”
And what about driving in Malibu?
“Malibu is a unique subculture in SoCal,” he said. “It’s really amazing to drive along the beach and see a high-end car parked alongside the road with a surfboard strapped to it. It is just the same when folks come across my car stopped alongside the road and try to figure out what it is.”
And that was just what they did the whole time we drove for the show. I’d like to offer a big thanks to Mark and his passion for the Beauty. It’s people like him who make me do what I do, and his giving nature made our drive a solid memory.
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