Just about every good car movie has a jump scene. We here at On Screen Cars are big fans of car acrobatics. Through our series Famous Jumps, we explore some of the best of vehicles going airborne. This week we commemorate another fine display of automotive volley. The bridge jump scene from the first Smokey and the Bandit movie. You know the one! But in case you're unsure or haven't seen it. Warning spoilers ahead.
The scene takes place toward the middle of the movie. While traveling through Arkansas, Bandit runs up on a roadblock setup by the local county sheriff's department. Bandit quickly diverts down a dirt road and the officers jump in their cars and chase after him. Sheriff Branford and his associate lead the chase. The young deputy is excited to say the least. Branford confidently tells the deputy not to worry too much about losing him. Because they're approaching the recently dismantled Mulberry Bridge at the end of the road. They think they have the Bandit right in their grip. There's no escape! But little to their surprise the Bandit doesn't go down easy. The Bandit and Frog leap through the air, clearing the bridge. Frog cheers and can't believe they've made it. Now she's on cloud nine with her Bo, wanting to jump more stuff.
It's unclear how long the jump is. But legendary stunt man Hal Needham setup the shot and made Bandit look so good. If you pay close attention you can see sand or red dirt flying through the air. Even as soft was the red dirt may have been I'm sure the stunt driver was rattled and the stunt car never drove again. In an interview with Motor Trend, Hal talks about how they used a special modified Trans Am for this scene. Hal asked his NASCAR race team to send him a 750+ horsepower motor and stick shift version of the SE Trans Am. As you may have noticed the car lands level. Chances are additional weight (often concrete) must have been added to the rear. Between all that and a well built ramp, Hal's team got the money shot we've all grown know and love.
I would like to sperate the fact from the fiction. According to the scene in the movie, they're in Arkansas. However the scene was actually shot in Jonesboro, Georgia. For those interested, the address is 365 Flint River Road, Jonesboro, GA 30238. This will take you a bridge over the Flint River that may have replaced the bridge jumped in the film. Several YouTubers have made videos about visiting the site. Only a few pillars of the bridge remain. But with a bit of imagination you can piece it together. Near the landing site, appears now be a storage center. Amazing how things change and develop. The road in the film was much wider and seemed longer. Nature sure has taken back the road less traveled. Speaking of the road less traveled, it's time for us to hit the dusty trail. Till then, keep your wheels spinning and your beavers grinning. Whatever that means. *wink*
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!
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!
Are you an All-Star? We know you are! This week we're saluting the car loaded music video "All Star" by Smash Mouth. So you get your game on! This music video came out in 1999 and is based on the B movie Mystery Men. Don't worry, I didn't remember that movie either. But apparently it had a good cast. Was it just too cheesy? Who knows. But anyways, without the movie we wouldn't have this beloved video. So on to the cars.
One of the major stars of All Star is this 1979 Corvette Custom Limo. Digging through blog archives over on Corvette Blogger, I managed to find a few details about the car. Apparently it's a custom build from Cinema Vehicle Services for the movie and later the video. Yes, the same folks who build Eleanor! One of the things I love about this car is the paint scheme. It's the same paint scheme featured on the 1978 Indy Pace cars. According to the post, it was built from a stock 1979 Corvette that was stretched to 23 feet long! Can you imagine driving around in this thing? The article later mentions it being sold on eBay. I haven't been able to find much else about it. Other than this post over on Bang Shift. I can hear Adam Sandler walking up to this thing and saying "Woah.. must be Burt Reynolds or something.."
Believe it or not, this is the villain car of the movie and music video! But what about our heroes? Well they get a 1959 Rambler Rebel Cross Country Custom. The Mystery Men pile in it and later pop out for a fight scene. There's some debate over on IMCDB as to what exactly the car is. I think it could be just a dagwood of a car put together from pieces. It's Hollywood, we can do anything we want right? One interesting note about this classic is, like a lot of classics. They only made this body style two years, 1958 and 1959. You can learn more Rambler Rebel Cross Country over on Hemmings.
This next ride, I honestly don't know much about. It looks straight up out of the 70's. A time when the custom trikes were all the rage. But I thought it was worth a mention. That's the wrap for this post. Check out full video below! Till next time, the articles start coming and they don't stop coming (hopefully). See ya!
Are you getting as excited as I am about Barrett Jackson New Orleans 2023? This will be the first ever Barrett Jackson in New Orleans. The show starts next week on Thursday the 28th and runs through Saturday 30th. As always they'll have a live stream running of all the hot bidding action. If you happen to miss the show, don't worry it will be up on YouTube later in the coming weeks. I just finished going through the docket and we are in for a treat folks. Below are our movie and tv car related picks from the upcoming show.
Our first pick is a very nice example of a 1980 SE Trans Am. Very much like the one Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit Part II. Complete with a 301 turbocharged V8 under the hood. According to the listing, this car has under went a complete comprehensive restoration. The real question is does it come with a Frog? *wink*
Our next pick is a 1967 Shelby GT500 Eleanor Tribute car. Note this car is not an original screen used car. However it is a licensed replica. It features panels built by Cinema Movie Services. If you recall they're the original builders of the screen used cars. Under the hood a beafy Ford FE 429 V8 backed up by a 4-speed toploader transmission. With a 9 inch Ford rear-end sending all that power to the ground. There are several other Eleanor tributes or replicas going on the block this show. This one is our favorite.
Last but certainly not least is a 1967 Cobra Re-Creation. I'm curious to see how this one goes. Factory built Shelby's bring a ton of money. This is a recreation, but built with Shelby parts. It should do well. A lovely looking build. You may remember our article from years ago about the Shelby Cobra body and frame that came up for sale on the Sharks and Cobras episode of Pawn Stars.