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Ride of the Week: The philosophy of a movie car

Fireball Tim Lawrence is pictured with a restored example of the car driven in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Photo Submitted
Fireball Tim Lawrence
10:39 am PDT March 17, 2017

In the film industry, cars are characters. 

The Batmobile is basically Batman in metal (or plastic) form. James Bond is sophisticated and suave, and so is his amazing Aston Martin DB5. “Jurassic Park” gets tough Jeeps, Transformers get transforming Camaros, “Fast & Furious” gets ... gets ... well, gets pretty much anything and everything that goes fast.

In my career, I’ve had the chance to design a lot of film cars. And as I read each script, I realized that the person driving these cars and the car itself were actually one in the same. Dwayne Johnson in “Faster” drove a Chevy Malibu SS. The Men in Black drove a Ford POS, only it wasn’t. And Malibu’s own funny man Dick Van Dyke drove a crazy, funny, awesome and wonderful version of himself in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” So, this got me to thinking.

What actors in film never got their own sidekick car? Imagine if Lucille Ball got an automotive version of herself and not just a long, long trailer. Keanu Reeves as John Wick would have a blacked out silent Tesla with gun ports every 12 inches. Wonder Woman would have an invisible Corvette with launching lasso and Deadpool would have a red leather wrapped VW Bug with matching Katana off the back. The possibilities boggle the brain.

It’s sad that these heroes have not gotten their official rides yet. They’ve had to take the bus, Uber themselves to their grand battles of destruction or hitched a ride via a moped to their “all is lost” moments. The studios haven’t realized that cars are cool and every lead character needs one. The villains, too. They should all have their own cars. 

Hell, even Ray Donovan at least has a Mercedes! 

So, it’s with a heavy heart that I ask you to join with me to declare our heroes (and some villains) with their own unique rides and put the studios on notice. 

If Austin Powers can get a Shaguar and the A-Team can get a cool van, then why couldn’t Jack Bauer get more than a lame Ford Explorer? C’mon!

And for what it’s worth, maybe directors need cool cars, too? Picture Jim Cameron in a Pontiac Banshee concept car with Navi Bioluminescent gauge cluster, and Ridley Scott with a slimy, skeletal alien tractor that hisses and spits acid exhaust.

But alas, I don’t think these vehicles will be on the drawing boards anytime soon — definitely not mine. But one can, and should, dream. Imagine the possibilities as you visualize Hollywood pulling up the Academy Awards in their cars of choice as opposed to silly limos. Then imagine the Hot Wheels versions and all the fun we’d have!

My two cents and these thoughts will get you a Starbucks Hot Rod complete with Cappuccino Machine Cold Air Intake.

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