WHERE WERE YOU IN ’73?

NZV8 - - STRAIGHT TALK -

him­self had to switch mo­tel rooms at one point be­cause an­other ac­tor — ap­par­ently, it’s still not widely known who — set fire to the room. Me­chan­i­cal prob­lems also played a part in the movie. As the crew pre­pared to film the cli­mac­tic big race at ‘Par­adise Road’ to­wards the end of the film, the ’55 Chev broke an axle. Ev­ery­one waited around for some hours for a re­place­ment axle to be found and fit­ted, only for the car im­me­di­ately to pro­ceed to break the re­place­ment. In the en­su­ing frus­tra­tion and rush once it was re­paired again, two cam­era­men came per­ilously close to be­ing run over dur­ing the film­ing of the high-speed scene. An­other cam­era­man had been less for­tu­nate ear­lier in the month, fall­ing off the back of a mov­ing cam­era truck and be­ing run over dur­ing the film­ing of a street scene. Three ’55 Chevs were used by Har­ri­son Ford in the mak­ing of the film — kind of funny that Ford drove a Chev, huh? — the hot rod­ded one that was orig­i­nally used in an­other one set up with cam­eras and light­ing in­side for the film­ing of the in-car scenes, and a third one for the roll-over scene, thank­fully sav­ing the hot rod­ded ’55. Talk­ing about the cars, I was told decades ago that the four main cars — the ’55, the ’32 coupe, the ’58 Chev, and the Merc — were put up for sale as a job lot for US$5K via San Fran­cisco news­pa­per ads af­ter the com­ple­tion of film­ing in 1973, and there were no tak­ers. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that the only car that sold at that time was the ’58 Chev Im­pala sports coupe, which went for a few hun­dred dol­lars. It wasn’t un­til al­most a decade later that the ’32 and the ’55 fi­nally sold and were moved from the stu­dio’s stor­age area — per­haps the suc­cess of the film had gen­er­ated in­ter­est in the cars by then. The pur­chaser was some­one from Kansas, who re­stored them to the state in which they ap­peared in the movie. An­other in­ter­est­ing lit­tle car anec­dote is that ap­par­ently the owner of the white T-bird — the one that ‘the blonde young lady’ drove — was a com­plete pain in the arse dur­ing film­ing, con­stantly hov­er­ing about his prized pos­ses­sion and giv­ing Suzanne Somers end­less in­struc­tions on be­ing care­ful with it. As a teenager watch­ing the movie, I thought The Pharaohs were pretty cool and won­dered — in my naivety — whether they were a real club. I learnt in re­cent times that, when Ge­orge Lu­cas was grow­ing up in Modesto dur­ing the ’60s, he was a mem­ber of a car club called the ‘Faros’, which led him to name the boys in the chopped candy-red ’49 Merc ‘ The Pharaohs’. Have you ever won­dered how many cars were used in the back­ground of the var­i­ous scenes to cre­ate the 1962 theme? Around 300 ‘back­ground cars’ were used. When Lu­cas ad­ver­tised for the use of pre-1962 cars, more than 1000 own­ers who re­sponded to the ads were in­ter­viewed. They say the devil is in the de­tail, and those cars are an­other rea­son was so damn good. As far as I’m aware — and un­usu­ally for a pe­riod movie — there isn’t a sin­gle car there that shouldn’t be there be­cause it is too new or it fea­tures non-pe­riod mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Thank you, Ge­orge Lu­cas, for the won­der­ful in­spi­ra­tion you pro­vided me with — or should I be pissed off with you for be­ing a piv­otal fac­tor in my life­long ad­dic­tion to Amer­i­can cars and cool stuff?

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