MOVIE CARS

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1 FORD FAL­CON HARD­TOP

Mad Max Ford had stopped pro­duc­tion of its low-sell­ing, two-door Fal­con vari­ant by the time Mad Max hit lo­cal screens in 1979, which helped em­pha­sise the movie's theme of so­ci­ety in col­lapse. What self-re­spect­ing so­ci­ety could turn its back on these de­light­ful V8-en­gined mon­sters?

An­other ad­van­tage for Mad Max was the fi lm's low bud­get, which forced its mak­ers to shoot ex­tremely re­al­is­tic chase and col­li­sion scenes. No money for fancy spe­cial ef­fects here. One im­age, of a car's skit­ter­ing, bounc­ing wheels as it slides out of con­trol to­wards the cam­era, was un­planned and added a bril­liant touch of re­al­ist may­hem.

Fans have since built many repli­cas of Max's black coupe, es­pe­cially in the US, where de­mand for old Aus­tralian Fal­cons led to the cre­ation of a small cot­tage in­dus­try. Trivia note: The Fal­con's wedge nose and other fi bre­glass adorn­ments were de­signed by Aus­tralian Peter Ar­cadi­pane, who went on to work for Mercedes.

2 FER­RARI 275GTB (or is it?)

Ren­dezvous Shot dur­ing a Paris dawn in the mid-' 70s, Ren­dezvous sup­pos­edly shows a high-speed drive in a Fer­rari through the French cap­i­tal. In fact, the fi lm is a mas­ter­piece of il­lu­sion. Di­rec­tor Claude Lelouch used a big Mercedes sedan for the fi lm, then dubbed in the Fer­rari en­gine noises and other sound ef­fects.

This might ex­plain why a Fer­rari 275GTB hit­ting high revs in fi fth gear takes so long to over­take mun­dane French hatch­backs.

There are a few other clues in the film that all is not as it seems. The sound of tor­tured tyres con­tin­ues even af­ter one corner has been com­pleted, for ex­am­ple, and mod­ern For­mula One cars would kill for this old car's thresh­old brak­ing abil­ity.

To demon­strate the vi­tal role of sound in au­to­mo­tive movie scenes, watch Ren­dezvous on­line with the sound off. Sud­denly the car is mov­ing only mod­er­ately quickly along un­crowded streets. No big deal.

With sound, how­ever, it's just sen­sa­tional. Trivia note: French F1 driver Jac­ques Laf­fite was ru­moured to have been the driver in this mini-epic, but in re­cent years Lelouch has ad­mit­ted he did the driv­ing him­self.

3 FORD THUN­DER­BIRD

Thelma & Louise The 1966 Ford Thun­der­bird isn't a par­tic­u­larly stun­ning ve­hi­cle, nor is it fea­tured to great ad­van­tage in this 1991 chick-bond­ing road movie. But it does kill Su­san Saran­don and Geena Davis, so se­ri­ous re­spect is due. Trivia note: Lady Gaga and Bey­once du­pli­cate some of the fi nal scenes from Thelma & Louise in a re­cent video clip, but they man­age to avoid any nasty canyons.

4 VW BEETLE

The Cars That Ate Paris Peter Weir's fi rst ma­jor fi lm starred a VW Beetle dec­o­rated with steel spikes, the bet­ter to maim and murder those vis­it­ing Paris, his fic­tional Aus­tralian town.

This Wolfs­burg por­cu­pine kills at least one per­son dur­ing the town's suc­cess­ful “ kill tourists and sell their cars” eco­nomic ini­tia­tive.

Many who lived through the '70s re­mem­ber the VW fea­tured on pro­mo­tional posters but the fi lm it­self tanked. A re­cent on­line re­viewer pro­vided a list of things learned from the fi lm. They in­clude “men­tally re­tarded peo­ple will try to eat hood or­na­ments” and “ fight­ing cars with a chair is a los­ing propo­si­tion”. Trivia note: Peter Weir later di­rected Dead Po­ets So­ci­ety. Seize the Dae­woo!

5 PEU­GEOT 405

Climb Dance Peu­geot com­mis­sioned di­rec­tor Jean Louis Mourey to fi lm Fin­nish rally driver Ari Vata­nen's as­cent of Pikes Peak in Colorado in 1988. The re­sult­ing five-minute doc­u­men­tary is ter­ri­fy­ing.

TWO scenes stick in the mind. At one point, Vata­nen sticks a rear wheel over the Peak's edge. There is noth­ing be­low it ex­cept 4000m of noth­ing.

Later, The Finn takes one hand from the steer­ing wheel to shield his eyes from blind­ing sun­light. He doesn't take his foot off the ac­cel­er­a­tor, how­ever, which is im­pres­sive in some­thing with 600hp.

There is no di­a­logue, no ac­tors and no spe­cial ef­fects. This is how all movies should be made. Trivia note: Vata­nen sub­se­quently be­came a politician in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

6 LO­TUS ESPIRIT

The Spy Who Loved Me One flaw in the logic of James Bond fi lms is his cars are al­ways Bri­tish. Yet they are re­li­able, strong, never break down or get na­tion­alised, and don't get him shot by vil­lains while wait­ing at the road­side for a tow truck.

Even the Lo­tus Espirit in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me is ut­terly de­pend­able. By rights Roger Moore should have drowned when he de­ployed the Lo­tus's un­der­wa­ter ca­pa­bil­ity, but no. He just drove out of the ocean and up that beach as if he was in some­thing Ja­panese. Trivia note: Bond author Ian Flem­ing also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

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