The year was 1957. The Soviet Union had just launched Sputnik. The world's first artificial satellite. This event would not only trigger the beginning of the space race. But would also ignite the imagination of a young man in Coalwood, WV, Homer Hickam. According Homer's memoir, Rocket Boys later adapted into the movie classic October Sky. That he and his friends set out to build their own rockets and later enter and win the National Science Fair. All of Homer's crew went to college. Homer went on to become an engineer for NASA. But how did the boys get around? Well according to the movie, they traveled in a 1937 Plymouth DeLuxe owned by one of the boys, Roy Lee.
1937 Plymouth DeLuxe
1937 was a year of firsts and last for Plymouth. It was the first year they offered a pickup truck. But also the last year for vented windshields (that open for ventilation). Plymouth was the 3rd top automaker in the states at the time and was one of the few car companies that faired well during the Great Depression. New for the1937 Plymouth DeLuxe was a redesign of the instrument cluster. Gauges were now situated in front of the driver instead of the sticking out in middle of the dash like on previous models. Several versions of the car were produced. The P3 (2 door) and P4 (4 door) varieties being the most popular. All 1937 Plymouths DeLuxes came with a 201.3 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine making roughly 80 horsepower. Backed by a 3 speed floor shift manual transmission.
Roy Lee's Car
In the book it mentions that Roy Lee inherited the car after his father was killed in the mine. In the 1950s having your own car as a teenager was pretty rare. Even if said car was almost 20 years old in the time the movie takes place. A lot of these cars by then were either abandoned in junkyards are made into hot rods. But I have to note there was one feature of Roy Lee's car that made it unique. It's missing the front grill and bumper. Not sure if it was lost to time or something custom the boys did. Hard to say. But I think it looks kinda neat without the grill. The rear bumper is also not standard. Appears to be custom or make-shift. Some of my favorite dialog from the movie takes place in the car. Including this gem between Quentin and Roy Lee.
* Roy Lee is trying to start the car.
You got a loose choke cable.
You hear that?
The butterfly valve isn't closin' all the way.
Uh, last year I built an internal combustion engine...
and entered it in the science fair.
Roy Lee: Yeah, well, you wouldn't happen to have it on you, would you?
So why did I choose to research and write about Roy Lee's car. Well several reasons. October Sky is one of my favorite movies. I watch it every fall. After this year's viewing I thought I would write about what may be the only hero car in the movie. It's for sure the most pictured car in the film. Roy Lee seemed to have a love/hate relationship with the car itself. In one scene he's seen shooting at it. But the last reason is I love the film is it reminds me some of my own childhood, growing up in coal country. That's all for now. Aim high!
Hot Wheels can be works of art right? Of course, especially when restoration artists like baremetalHW on YouTube get a hold of them. I came across this gem a while back while browsing for tv/movie car models. I just want to share and say he did an excellent job recreating an iconic but yet often overlooked movie car. This video was actually part of a challenge from Diecast Resurrection. Another interesting toy/model car restorer and customizer. Some of the techniques in this build used 3D design to build custom printable aesthetics to give the car the appearance similar to the vehicle in the movie. Then later in the video he applied flocking to give the appearance of fur. I'll stop for now, I don't wanta spoil the video for you. You can watch it below. But till next time, keep your tail wagging!
Love and marriage, love and marriage.. Go together like a Griswolds and Family Truckster. Wait, that's not right. But believe it or not National Lampoon's Vacation and Married With Children share a connection. A scene in fact. In the early episodes of Married With Children, a scene from the movie was reused in the opening credits! Season 1-4 featured an aerial shot of Chicago skyline and interstate system. If you look closely in the Truckster.
It's hard to believe it's already been 10 years since the early years of Roadkill. If you haven't seen Roadkill, it's a must see. In each episode on Motor Trend the dynamic duo, David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan set out to build a cheap classic and take it for fun adventures. During Episode 23 of the YouTube series that would later become the show, we got introduced to a long term friend. The General Mayhem, a gutted 1968 Dodge Charger in need of a heart transplant. The car was missing everything, no engine, no transmission, nothing! Just a ton of mismatched panels and random parts. Freiburger had traded a set of cylinder heads for the barebones car a few years prior. Now it was time for it to come alive.
After some searching on Criagslist, the guys found a big block Mopar 440 plant for only $1000. Only one small problem, it was in a Pace Arrow motorhome. Having no reservations about destroying the tenament on wheels, they set to work ripping the engine and transmission out of the big white beast. They slapped everything into the General Mayhem and borrowed a few parts from a previous project. A star was born. But this was only the beginning for the car.
Later in the series in during Episode 43, the guys got a boost from Dodge with a sponsorship. Which meant a major upgrade for the General Mayhem. When I say major, I mean a 707 hp factory blown Hemi out of a Hellcat. The crew over at Diversified Creations did the conversion, blending in the old with the new. They started with a brand new SRT Hellcat, that had been flagged to be crushed by Dodge. Not much backstory on that vehicle. But everything they could harvest went into General Mayhem. This is included parts of the dash from the new car too! At this point the car also got some major suspension and rear-end upgrades as well.
Third Engine (sorta)
The most recent engine swap occurred earlier this year on Episode 70 of Roadkill Garage. The Hellcat motor came back out of the General Mayhem and the Motorhome 440 returned. So where has this motor been all this time? Well it actually bounced around a bit. After being pulled the first time, it was dropped into a vehicle nicknamed the Crop Duster. Since then its been sitting around. But now it's back and better than ever, making over 500 hp. Steve Dulcich, along with Freiburger rebuilt and drop the motor back into car. But before that, all of the Hellcat stuff had to come out. One of my favorite quotes from Freiburger about the amount of electronics and wiring: "I think we sent people to space with less wiring.."
Just recently, the guys got back together for a 10 year reunion with old General Mayhem. Taking the car for a road with the fresh 440 Motorhome motor rebuild. I won't spoil too much of it for you. But you can find it on the Motor Trend and YouTube. But let's say its back in all it's glory. Till next time, keep the shiny side up!
October 2023 is going to be an exciting month to watch car movies on streaming! Using an awesome post over at ComicBook.com, we were able to filter it down to great films that feature classic iconic cars or car chases. A little bit of something for everyone! Especially if you're a Back To The Future fan or a Bond fan. Some of these may not be just pure car movies. But you will see some awesome cars in all of these movies. So if you're looking for something new, here ya' go!