The Truth About Cars » tv http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 29 Jul 2015 21:00:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » tv http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Small Screen, Big Car: The Hawaii Five-O Mercury Marquis and the Supernatural Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083865 Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin. It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn […]

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Impala vs Marquis

Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin.

It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn that, behind the polish, it’s all hat and no cattle. But not with these two beasts. These are the real deal: guts, dents, motor, and chrome. One’s a modern hearthrob, the other’s a lantern-jawed archetype that even today outshines its modern co-stars.

One Ford product, one vehicle cranked out by the General. Black paint, V8 rumble, and more character than the small screen can contain. Here are their stories.
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Supernatural‘s been filming in my hometown for close-on ten years now. The show’s premise is pretty straightforward: the trials and tribulations of a pair of demon-fighting brothers as they wander around America in a 1967 Impala, putting evil back in the ground. Dukes of Hazzard meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer: justa good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm; beats all you ever saw, punched the Devil in the jaw, and gave Death a dead arm.

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Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s goofy, sometimes it’s overdramatic, and sometimes the show’s genuinely funny. The fanbase is large and loyal, and there’s a lot of love for the Impala, which is sort of a third Winchester brother on the show. It’s a constant companion, rumbling into a new town with a trunk filled with salt, crucifixes, and wooden stakes. They call it Baby, as that’s so often what Dean Winchester – played by Jensen Ackles – fondly calls his lead sled.

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As is usual in filming, there are multiple copies of this thing, all suited up identically in shabby black. Of the seven, one’s a buck cut up into movable sections for filming (not used much any more with the compact nature of modern cameras), a couple are stunt cars with extra pedals to lock up the rear brakes, and a couple are stand-ins for positioning shots. And one main one.

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A 1967 Chevrolet Impala hardtop sedan is a pretty rare car in its own right; people preserved more coupes and convertibles than sedans, and over the years many of these things rusted away unloved. It landed the role essentially out of the necessity for a musclecar large enough to have a cameraman riding around in the back seat while filming. The LA-shot pilot used a couple of ex-cop machines and a star was born.

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Part of the Supernatural Impala’s charm is its slightly menacing air and garage-project look. It doesn’t wear huge Chip Foose style rims, nor is it factory-trim prim and proper. The doors creak when you open them. There’s a line-lock strapped to the gearshift stalk. And then there’s what’s under the skin.

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Six of the Impalas are just props. One of them is something else: a fully-built car that’s used for closeups and star work. The work is partially Ackles’ doing – rumor has it he’s hoping to keep the car after the show wraps, so he’s pushed for a few upgrades. More than a few actually.

Under that huge hood is a fully-built big-block Chevy V8, a 502 cubic-inch monster that idles like a bowling ball in an industrial dryer and barks like a Hellhound when you prod the throttle. The suspension is a complete Hotchkiss set up, and the car actually handles and brakes reasonably well. When the crew needed to set up a few establishing shots for a season’s traveling, they strapped cameras to the Impala and spent a week aimlessly roaming around the canyon roads and deserts of BC’s interior. “Most fun two weeks of my life,” says the car’s long-time caretaker.

The Impala is at least as potent in person as it is on screen, even if the demon-fighting apparatus in its trunk is just a prop. Supernatural? No – it’s the real deal.

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In far rougher shape, but no less impressive, is the 1974 Mercury Marquis from Hawaii Five-O. This was Detective Steve McGarrett’s (as played by Jack Lord) car in the original series for six seasons. It continues to feature in the modern remake, functioning as the link between the two shows.

Unlike the Impala, there was only ever one Marquis. While a ’67 coupe was used in the pilot episode, and a ’68 Park Lane sedan filled in for the first six seasons, the black ’74 that saw out Five-O‘s run didn’t have a stunt double to take the punches. Like the original Ectomobile, it was the only car used, and that meant week after week of damage and repair. Often-times the mechanic, Mike Sakamoto, would be welding it back together into the wee hours of the morning.

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The old girl’s in pretty sad condition. That salt-filled Hawaiian air is easy on the skin but rusty murder on old Detroit iron like this. Open the door and a small shower of iron oxide hisses down – it’s a miracle that a forty-year-old unrestored car survives like this.

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Yet survive it does. The owner, John Nordlum, puts the key in the ignition and cranks the engine. The starter whirrs creakily, there’s a weak tuff-tuff-tuff of an old engine coughing to life, and then she fires. The Ford 460ci V8 sets up a beat, and once again McGarrett’s car glides off the set, and out onto patrol on the streets of Honolulu.

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Nordlum was Jack Lord’s body double, and later Tom Selleck’s double on Magnum PI (which mostly used the same crew as Five-O). He was given the Marquis at the end of shooting the series, a gift from Jack Lord. Notoriously a forceful personality, Lord steamrollered any studio objections, and Nordlum got the keys.

The Marquis rumbles around the block without a catch in its step, though the body rolls like an ill-ballasted ship through the corners. There’s creaks and rattles aplenty, and even the shifter is liver-spotted with patina. But she still runs and drives, even after all these years. “We can’t get crew that’s lasted as long as that car,” Nordlum laughs, “It’s got a life of its own.”

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Perhaps either the show or some eager fan will foot the restoration bill for the Marquis. Perhaps the Impala will end up in Ackles’ personal garage, to be trotted out now and then for a blitz around the block.

That’s the hope anyway – sure, both have been immortalized through the lens of a camera already, but each is not just a ephemeral fantasy. There is solidity here, realness beyond the showbiz glitz. It’s something to be honored and preserved.

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Daewoo! The Lost Art of Macho Korean Car-Commercial Voiceovers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/daewoo-the-lost-art-of-macho-korean-car-commercial-voiceovers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/daewoo-the-lost-art-of-macho-korean-car-commercial-voiceovers/#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2013 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478191 Daewoo never had much of a presence in the United States, though I do see the occasional Nubira in the junkyard. That’s too bad, because Korean-market Daewoo ads of the 1970s and 1980s have some of the manliest/cheeziest voiceovers in car-advertising history. Let’s take a look at some examples of the genre. This LeMans GTE […]

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Daewoo never had much of a presence in the United States, though I do see the occasional Nubira in the junkyard. That’s too bad, because Korean-market Daewoo ads of the 1970s and 1980s have some of the manliest/cheeziest voiceovers in car-advertising history. Let’s take a look at some examples of the genre.

This LeMans GTE ad features weedly-weee action-movie guitar, a pleather-clad babe executing a pseudo-J-turn, and an attack helicopter. Let’s compare it to the US-market ad for the same car, which was sold as the Pontiac LeMans.

There’s a babe with product-enhanced hair driving to the beach, but the entire feel of this ad is one of diminished expectations. Clearly, GM should have brought over some of Daewoo’s Korean marketing wizards.

Back in South Korea, the ’86 LeMans showed the way to a hard-hitting, testosterone-pumped future. It’s like a kick in the teeth from Syngman Rhee himself!

Not that Daewoo didn’t get a bit touchy-feely with this “sell stuff to the world” ad, but at least they brought in a deep-voiced hired voice and then added serious echo to it.

The Maepsy was a member of the Opel Kadett/Isuzu Gemini family, which means we’re looking at what amounts to the Korean Chevette. At the 1982 Daewoo board meeting depicted in this ad, the suits are flat awed by this car. Imagine if this ad had been adapted to the American marketplace for the 1982 Chevette. Maepsy!

Instead, here’s how Chevettes were sold that year. Hell, it’s enough to make a man want to buy a Fiat Strada!

If we fast-forward to the late 1990s, the US-market Nubira could have benefited from this approach. Note the badass voice of the yokel mechanic, as mandated by the Daewoo Macho Voice Creed.

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We Deserve A Good Car Movie http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/we-deserve-a-good-car-movie/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/we-deserve-a-good-car-movie/#comments Tue, 22 Jan 2013 14:34:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=474726 As a child with a 1:24 scale model of the first generation Viper constantly adorning my bedroom amongst other automotive related furnishings, my eyes were glued to the Viper television series. It was full of horrible dialogue, campy acting, and a car that transformed (I wonder where they got that idea from?) into a V10 powered, […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

As a child with a 1:24 scale model of the first generation Viper constantly adorning my bedroom amongst other automotive related furnishings, my eyes were glued to the Viper television series. It was full of horrible dialogue, campy acting, and a car that transformed (I wonder where they got that idea from?) into a V10 powered, crime fighting caricature of itself. I was 10 years old when it first appeared on TV, so I didn’t care about the obvious insert of a disabled African American male in a wheelchair to appease focus groups. Nor did I care about stupid weapons which were probably taken straight from the dusty script of a failed Star Trek pilots.

In my lifetime, I have yet to see a good, live action, car themed television show. Just look at the last Knight Rider reboot or The Transporter for proof. Even worse, the movie studios want you to spend big money to watch fantastic failures on the big screen which will make you shout at inaccuracies and pine for a movie exec to get it right for once.

Outside the non-fiction genre of Senna and Ron Howard’s upcoming dramatized Rush which peers into Niki Lauda’s near-fatal accident, why can’t someone make a decent fucking car movie or television show?

In my almost 30 years of life, I have been lucky to enjoy the classics: Vanishing Point (the original), Grand Prix, Gone In 60 Seconds (the original, not the Cagey version), and Bullitt. I wasn’t alive when they first came out, so I have no idea if they were critically acclaimed films or flubs when they were first shone on the silver screen. And, honestly, I don’t care. They’re still better than the ultra-CGI colon polyps of today. Hell, Ford even built a Bullitt-style Mustang in recent years. Can you see Volkswagen resurrecting the “Fast and Furious” Jetta? Even if they did, you’d absolutely hate them for it. I’d give props to Ferrari for building an Eddie Griffin Edition Enzo though, sans nose, even if it was only for a laugh.

But, what makes all recent movies and TV shows with any sort of petrol-fuelled theme suck so much?

Attention to detail.

As soon as I see a car do something that obviously couldn’t be done without the assistance of Industrial Light and Magic waving their digital wand over it, I automatically hate it. The absurd crashes in Driven? The horrid dirt road drag race in Biker Boyz where Laurence Fishburne and Derek Luke are able to have a conversation with each other while riding at full clap? Redline?

Give us the car chase in Ronin. Hell, even Days of Thunder wasn’t too bad. I could go for a rental car smash up derby along Daytona Beach any day over watching Stallone hum to himself on the race radio while lifting dimes off the road with his rear tire. Just give us something correct.

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Chrysler Has A City To Sell To You http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/chrysler-has-a-city-to-sell-to-you/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/chrysler-has-a-city-to-sell-to-you/#comments Mon, 07 Feb 2011 11:54:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=383122 Chrysler is proud of the fact that they did NOT release their Super Bowl ad on YouTube like most of the others. “While many sponsors revealed their advertising plans for Sunday’s Super Bowl, the Chrysler brand remained tight lipped to create a stronger impact for the reveal of their new marketing and advertising campaign featuring […]

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Chrysler is proud of the fact that they did NOT release their Super Bowl ad on YouTube like most of the others. “While many sponsors revealed their advertising plans for Sunday’s Super Bowl, the Chrysler brand remained tight lipped to create a stronger impact for the reveal of their new marketing and advertising campaign featuring famous Detroiter, Eminem,” their press release says.

Their unprecedented 120 second spot (in the advertising world, that counts as feature-length) supposedly sold the new 2011 Chrysler 200, and (we gave you fair warning) introduced the brand’s brand new tagline, “Imported from Detroit.”

Chrysler should apply for funds from Detroit’s city development agency, because the ad is mainly an ad for Detroit, with the Chrysler 200 as a product placement. Why? As the off speaker says, “Because when it comes to luxury it’s as much about where it’s from as who it’s for.”

Chrysler is playing a risky gamble with this ad. The power of the national identity of a brand is overvalued, and often, it turns into a liability. This is why large international brands usually try the utmost to disassociate themselves from where they are from. With everybody knowing that the Italians are calling the shots at Chrysler, the gamble becomes twice as risky.

No wonder that Detroit is ecstatic about the ad. “Detroit had a presence on that very important national stage — and a message,” jubilates the Freep. However, the Detroit paper had to concede: “Don’t know if it will sell cars. But Sunday night, it sold a city.”

Like any audacious gamble, it could be a win or a lose. Give us your odds.

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Anything To Forget You’re In A Chrysler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/10/anything-to-forget-youre-in-a-chrysler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/10/anything-to-forget-youre-in-a-chrysler/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2009 15:50:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=333491 The post Anything To Forget You’re In A Chrysler appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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