Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth is one of the greatest custom car designers of all time. He's responsible for countless inspired designs of not only custom cars, but timeless popular culture icons as well. Tales of the Rat Fink is an exciting documentary about the life and times of Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth. Thanks to Shout Factory! and YouTube. We're able to bring you the full length feature embedded into this post. Pull up a chair and learn about the man behind Rat Fink. Note this video is not property of OnScreenCars.com. We take no credit. We simply want you to enjoy it as much as we did. As Ed Roth once said, "Keep the rubber side down and the shinny side up." Be sure to keep your eye out for incredible OnScreenCars! See ya next time.
Update 9/17/2023: The Shout Factory video is long gone. But I have replaced it with the trailer below.
Varsity Blues a movie about football, girls, parties and the glory days of high school. Oh yea and trucks! Good ole Billy Bob drove one of the baddest '73 - '87 Chevrolet Trucks ever featured in a Hollywood movie. The only thing bigger than Billy Bob's character was his 1973 Chevrolet 4x4 Truck. It was big enough to pack half the football team, Billy Bob and his prized pig.
Quote from Billy Bob about his pig: "I sure do love that dog."
The truck is a long wheel base truck. The front end features a factory grill shell with aftermarket grill insert. The bumper is tubular with a integrated push bar and fog lamps. Note the head lights are round. Until 1981 all Chevrolet trucks had round headlights. The fenders have the fender extensions/guards. They're real important when you're running from the law through the bushes. Ya don't wanta get your truck scratched up.
From the side you can get a better view of the big "69" number decal on the side of the doors. Right above the decal on the driver's door is Billy Bob's name hand-brushed. You can also see the crew in the back. There is also a hand-brushed "Coyote Powered" script on the tailgate as well. The tailgate also features the tail-panel band insert. The rear bumper is tubular just as the front. There is also a light bar. You can also see the tubular step-bars in this shot. It's hard to judge the size of the lift kit. But you can tell it is lifted. My guess would be around 4" - 6" inch lift kit was used. The tires are in the neighborhood of 35" - 38" inches.
According to a post on moviemistakes.com the front drive shaft is missing. I haven't seen this for myself, so I'm gonna have to watch it again to verify. But It wouldn't surprise me that a detail like this goes unnoticed in a Hollywood production. I find it kinda funny. But it doesn't take away from the sheer awesomeness of the truck or the movie!
I chose to do this post, because my brother had a 1984 Chevrolet 4x4 Pickup (SWB) in the early '90s. It was a close replica of Billy Bob's truck, long before the movie was made. It had a sweet looking hand-brushed script that said "Summertime Blues" on the tailgate. The color was an exact match. Other than the fact the years and wheelbase were not the same, it could have been the movie truck! Every time I see something about Varsity Blues, it reminds me of the truck my brother had. Till next time, keep on trucking! We'll be working on another On Screen Cars post!
How many movies do you know that the title of the film is the same as the feature car? Unless the film title is completely about the car, it's pretty rare. But Gran Torino is entitled well for the premise of the movie. Because, to main character Walt Kowalski, played by Clint Eastwood, this 1972 Gran Torino Sport is his most prized possession.
After returning from the war in Korea, Walt worked for Ford Motor Company in Detroit, where he built his Gran Torino alongside fellow assembly line workers. As you can see the car is in perfect shape, just as the day it was built. Unfortunately, Walt, now widowed and much older, is not in perfect shape. He is frustrated that his neighborhood is now populated almost entirely with people who remind him of the war. His health is failing and his mind is more troubled than ever. Gangs are causing trouble for the rest of the neighborhood and safety is a major concern.
The Gran Torino is nearly stolen by one of the neighborhood kids, Hmong who is trying to become a member of a gang. Hmong's family insists that he repay for the damage he's caused Walt. After doing chores and helping Walt out, Hmong and Walt become friends. For those who have not seen the movie, I want to stop there. Let's talk about the car a little bit.
As I've pointed out before, the car is 1972 Gran Torino Sport. There were 496,645 Torinos produced by Ford in 1972. However only 92,033 were Gran Torino Sport models, like the one featured in the movie. What makes the Gran Torino Sport special? At first glance, one would notice integrated hood scoop. All of the Sport models had the scoop, however they're only functional with the rare Ram Air Induction package. Some of the Sport models also had the "Magnum 500" wheels as this one does. The laser stripe on the side is an optional piece for the Sport models, and '72 was the first year the stripe ran down the full length of the car.
The base power plant for the Grand Torino Sport is the 302 C.U. Windsor V8 2 barrel. However 351W, 351 Cleveland, 400 and 429 were all available as well. These motors will built for low compression (8.5:1) for better fuel economy, thus reducing horsepower as well. 1972 was the beginning of the end for muscle car era. That's part of what makes it a perfect fit for the movie. Both the car and the main character were part of a time that was challenging and difficult for some people to accept. Frozen in time, the car and character struggle to move on in a new changing world.
When watching featured cars, I often wonder "Where did they get these cars?" Well I did a little research about the '72 Gran Torino in the movie and traced down an article from the Cassville Democrat. The Missouri paper did a special article about the car and it's previous owner, Jim Craig. Jim said the car was a "barn-find," but was in decent shape mechanically. He had the car for about five years before doing a full restoration. The car was kept original as it is in the film. The car was not bought directly from Jim by Warner Brothers, but through a classic car dealer on eBay. Until the film was released, Jim didn't know his car was the car featured in the film.
I really enjoyed the film. However I do have one issue with it. In the movie Walt talks about working on a production line and how he installed the steering column in his car. Being a car buff, I had to look up the production plants that made Gran Torinos. Not to my surprise, '72 Gran Torinos were not made in Detroit. This makes for a little historical inaccuracy in the film. But I don't think it takes away from the over-all quality of the movie. Hollywood does something like this in every production. There are very few perfectly historic films. I think they like to leave things like this for us to talk about.
I think it's a great film. I really enjoyed watching this movie in Blue Ray. I would say it was my first Blue Ray experience. On a 47 inch screen in high def, Clint Eastwood looked about 7 foot tall and appeared to be in the same room. Yea I know, I'm exaggerating. I would recommend buying this film to be part of a car movie collection! As a matter of fact, it's in our gift shop (Gran Torino Section)! Check that out, while we roll out the next On Screen Cars article!
Update: The guys over at GranTorinoSport.org forum have confirmed the engine in the movie car is a 351C 2V with CobraJet Heads. Thanks for all your help guys!
1959 Cadillac Ambulance must be the ideal ghost busting machine! At least that's what Ghostbuster Ray Stantz thought. In this "First Look" post, we'll review the first image of Ecto 1 ever. Above is a snapshot of the Ecto 1 while still in black gray primer. The scene begins with Ray driving Ecto 1 with the lights and sirens on. He parks it at the door in front of the firehouse. Peter Venkman is standing out in the street supervising the guys who are putting the sign on the building. Ray jumps out of the car and proclaims that no one needs to worry, he's found the car. Then he starts a rant of all the attention the car needs.
Dr Ray Stantz: [gets out] Everybody can relax, I found the car.
Needs some suspension work and shocks. Brakes, brake pads,
lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end.
Dr. Peter Venkman: How much?
Dr Ray Stantz: Only $4800.
[Venkman looks shocked]
Dr Ray Stantz: Also new rings, mufflers, a little wiring.
A Little Work?
A little work? I would classify that as a bit more than a "little work." Note that Ray didn't mention any body work, a paint job, a new light bar and all the ghostbusting equipment. Brake Pads? I didn't realize he said that till recently. But most of these cars had drum brakes all around. It may require brake shoes, but not brake pads. Only $4800 bucks? $4800 bucks today is like $9900 today. At the time of the film, the car would have been around 25 years old. How many of you, would pay almost ten grand for a 25 year old car? I guess it would depend on the vehicle.
The primer version of the car used in this scene is a work of art. According to the Ghostbuster Wiki, the black car is the base for the Ecto 1A used in Ghostbusters II. I love how the front and rear tires don't match, there are some missing hub caps, and the big radio antenna whip isn't on the car. As a kid, I thought the tied back antenna was a factory detail for the Miller Meteor Caddy Ambulance. From the research I've done, that is not the case. The warning lights are basic compared to modern emergency vehicles. I haven't seen another ambulance with both red and green lights.
I like the primer version of Ecto 1 almost as much as the finished version. I think a 59' Caddy Ambulance would make a very interesting rat rod, although I haven't seen any as of yet. But, I'm sure, some where out there someone has ratted one out. What are your thoughts about the black primer Ecto 1? Tell us about your first impressions of Ecto 1. Feel free to comment about those things, while we work on the next On Screen Cars post!
Just In: Rumor has it, that the Hot-Wheels Ecto-1 is due out this month! I'll be keeping my eye out for it. Not just a rumor anymore! It's available through our store!
Above is a picture of Bella's truck from the popular book/movie Twilight. Over the last few months, I've seen the same question pop-up all over the net. "What year is Bella's truck?" Well there are two responses to this question. If you've read the book, your answer will be a "1953 Chevrolet Truck." However if you've seen the movie and you know your vintage Chevrolet trucks like I do, your answer would be a "1963 Chevrolet Truck." Both answers are correct in their own right.
I've not read the books. I know, shame on me for posting an article about Twilight without having read the books. But I have seen the first movie. However, I did manage to read a short passage where Stephanie Meyer describes Bella's truck. I think it's a very fitting description for both trucks featured in the book and the movie. Excerpt below.
"There, parked on the street in front of the house that never changed, was my new - well, new to me - truck. It was a faded red color, with big, rounded fenders and a bulbous cab. To my intense surprise, I loved it. I didn't know if it would run, but I could see myself in it. Plus, it was one of those solid iron affairs that never gets damaged - the kind you see at the scene of an accident, paint unscratched, surrounded by the pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed."
I love the part about "...pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed." Both of these trucks are built like a tank. A modern foreign car wouldn't have a chance against either of these monsters.
Can You Spot the Difference?
I know, everyone isn't a car nut like me. But I've seen pictures of the truck from the movie, posted several times by fans with the caption "1953 Chevrolet Truck." I don't expect everyone to know the differences. But side by side, it's easier to see the difference between a 1953 and a 1963 Chevrolet Truck. Do you agree? I could go on and on about the technical differences. But at glance you can see that these trucks are from different time periods.
For example starting with the fenders on the 1953 version. They're big, fat and round like bubble. The hood, grill and bumpers are oversize and over exaggerated with curves. The windshield is two piece glass. There is a wealth of chrome and flare. However on the 1963 truck, things are a little more down to earth and business like. There are more crisp and straight lines. The hood is flat and long. The overall shape is more rectangle like and has more of a wider stance. There is a lot less chrome too. I think both are works of art.
So, Twilight fans, next time someone asks "What year is Bella's truck?" What are you going to say? My advice is to say "It depends on if you're talking about the movie or the book." I'm sure you guys are excited about the next movie. I know I'll end up watching it, even if for nothing else but the On Screen Cars!