Actor Dean Jones died this past week from Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 84. Though he had a long and fairly successful career on both stage (he and Jane Fonda made their Broadway debuts as co-stars) and screen, he found his greatest success as the likeable star of a series of family comedy films made by the Walt Disney studio in the 1960s and 1970s. You’re reading about him at a car site because his best known role was portraying racecar driver Jim Douglas in the 1968 hit movie, “The Love Bug”.
When I saw this 1964 Mercury Park Lane convertible at the Ford and Mercury Restorers Club meet a few weeks ago, I immediately knew what it was. Actually that’s a fib. I didn’t actually realize exactly what car this was until I saw the informational panel laid out in front of the Merc. Then I knew immediately what it was. Earlier this year TTAC ran a post of mine about the car companies’ pavilions at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. The Detroit automakers went all out and Ford, working with Walt Disney’s team, came up with a novel way of exposing fair visitors to Ford and Mercury cars.
Back in 2007, I made my 37th pilgrimage to mouse country. My wife and kids were hardcore Disneyites. Me? I was just there for the company. I deal with enough Goofys in real life and the thought of waiting in line to meet yet another one chafed at me. So I told my wife that I would spend the next day visiting my own wonderland. An auto auction. There was a low mileage Geo Metro I was interested in along with about a half dozen other older vehicles.