By on July 18, 2006

silencer_dirt road2.jpgAs a kid, I instantly "got" James Bond: look cool, kill the bad guys and the girl's yours.  I was a little vague about what you did with her afterwards, but the British secret agent still made perfect sense.  Dean Martin's riff on 007, Matt Helm, was a different story.  As far as my crew was concerned, the American booze hound super spy lech didn't even qualify as a junk Bond.  In fact, I got the same feeling watching Matt Helm movies as I did I seeing local Catholic boys dress up like girls for their "father."  And while Bond's Aston was the business, I didn't know until this morning which wheels Matt Helm graced with his cinematic presence.  Well, here it is: a George Barris modified 1966 Mercury station wagon.  Figures.  A station wagon is about as cool as The Carpenters, maybe, no, definitely, less.  My mom drove a station wagon.  (There's that icky thing again.)  Turns out the Volo museum snagged this formica and plexiglass shag palace for their collection.  Lucky them.  I rang up the museum and spoke to their Director about Dino's Sex Wagon and the museum's more, um, salubrious whips.  

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10 Comments on “Dino’s Sex Wagon (I Kid You Not)...”

  • avatar

    No way. Absolutely no way. Dino did not drive that. Unless he was touring with the rest of the Rat Pack.

    It must be true – everybody loves somebody sometime.

  • avatar

    Volo is about 10-15 minutes from me. It really is a good auto museum.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Well of course, no one thought vans were “sex machines” either in 1966 – save for a few people traveling with heavy doses of cannibis sativa (or hashish) in their VW microbuses. Then, the “van craze” took off in the Seventies and there was that classic bumper sticker: don’t laugh; your daughter may be in here.
    On museums: there is one that may be built around the collection of the late Harold LeMay, whose collection was certified as the world’s largest privately held collection by the Guinness Book of World Records. Harold was the proverbial “self-made man,” a child of the Depression who made his fortune in waste management (and later, recycling also). He used to haunt collector car auctions I went to in the 1980s, buying anything that caught his fancy. He was a total egalitarian about cars. He was known for once having gone to a hamburger take-out place in a Dusenberg. He started collecting cars with his entrance into the Model “T” club, nearest him, in the 1960s. Currently, his wife and grandson have been instrumental in putting together a museum organization that is trying to get funding for a huge museum to be built in the parking lot of the Tacoma Dome, in Tacoma, Washington. I’ll e-mail you with a contact name; might be a good podcast there. Glad you’re back on-line.

  • avatar

    I just saw The Wrecking Crew, the 1969 entry in the Matt Helm series recently on Digital cable. It was just as awful as I remember and took place mostly in Europe. In it, Matt Helm (Dino) drove a 1970 Lincoln Mark III–but I don’t recall seeing this wagon.
    He may have driven it in earlier versions of this series but I do recall thinking what a great looking car that Mark is, and the styling holds up well today.

  • avatar
    Steve C.

    I read this blog for its opinions on cars, not for its opinions on religion. If you feel the need to mention it, at least do your readers the favor of saying something intelligent.

    I’d be happy to have a debate about it elsewhere.

  • avatar

    Don’t dismiss this wagon without checking it out. I have an article in an old magazine chronicling its creation. The Matt Helm Mercury is inspired by the Ford Aurora station wagon concept of 1964. Check out this recent Aurora article :

    The Aurora has many terrific features. It had a cocktail lounge 2nd seat that wrapped around in an “L” shape along the driver’s side of the car. The front passenger bucket could be swiveled to face the 2nd row passengers. The rear facing third seat for the kids had an electric division window (what a great idea!!) The glass panel over the driver could darken with the touch of a button – much like the glass roof on the current Maybach. There was even an early navigation system.

    The Matt Helm Mercury had many features inspired by the Aurora. It was a 3-door vehicle with a similar “L” shape 2nd seat. There was also a division window between 2nd seat and cargo area in the Matt Helm Mercury.

    The Matt Helm movies sucked big time, but this is a cool wagon.

  • avatar

    I disagree. I think that Merc is way cool. I’d love one.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Hey “fr88” thanks much for the link to the Aurora concept station-wagon. That’s interesting stuff; however, ultimately it’s about exterior design – what used to be called simply “styling” in the days of the late Bill Mitchell – as much as interior design. As the saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” People remember the E-type Jaguar because the first glance at it was akin to seeing Ursula Andress in that bikini during “Dr. No.”
    If the Mercury station wagon, looked as good as the Aurora, there’d be more of us willing to stop by the Volo Museum to see it. But as it is, the so-called “celebrity connection” is what it will make people want to stop by and see the Mercury, not any connection to the Aurora.
    The museum’s big draw will likely continue to be the muscle car collection. That Shelby prototype convertible alone will likely continue to be the big draw.

  • avatar
    Nels Nelson


    I was going to post a comment on the 1964 Aurora concept, but you beat me to the punch. In addition to your information, Ford incorporated many of the Matt Helm ???65 Colony Park features in a subsequent concept based on a 1969/70 Country Squire and called it the Aurora II.

    I was 10 years old when I saw ???The Silencers??? and thought his car was cool. In my opinion, the Mike Myers??? Austin Powers movies missed a great opportunity in not picking up on it. What better car can you think of from the secret agent/spy movie genre to ???shag??? in?

    Yeah Baby!

  • avatar

    Dino’s ’66 Merc from The Silencers seems kind of like an incognito limousine more than anything else. Actually, a mundane ’66 Mercury station wagon is much closer to what a real-life spy would drive, since drawing attention to oneself is not exactly keeping with the whole idea of ‘spying’. IOW, a spy in today’s world would much more likely be driving a 3-year old Taurus instead of an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish.

    But what’s really interesting about Matt Helm’s car is the connection many of the car’s features have with the ’64 Aurora concept which, ironically, is described in the Motor Trend article as the first ‘crossover’ SUV.

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