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!
This week we're dissecting the trailer for the new sci-fi movie block buster "In Time!" What are we dissecting for? On Screen Cars of course. This trailer is loaded with a number of vehicles from the movie. I took the liberty of snapshoting as many of them as I could. I believe have I identified them well. If there are any corrections let me know! Here's a brief summary of the movie for those of you that haven't seem the film.
"When Will Salas is falsely accused of murder, he must figure out a way, with the help of a beautiful hostage, to bring down a system where time is money -- literally -- enabling the wealthy to live forever while the poor, like Will, have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through another day." -InTimeMovie @ YouTube.
Interesting enough? Check out the full trailer at the bottom of the post.
1972 Dodge Challenger - Enforcement Vehicle - Interesting grill and visor light bar.
Holy Schnikes, On Screen Cars is featuring the Plymouth Belvedere GTX from Tommy Boy! We could only hope that Chris Farley would have reacted that way to this post. We'll do our best to honor his memory. But let's talk about the car! If you've seen the movie Tommy Boy, you would agree that it deserves mention on this site. The two main characters are seen in the car through out most of the film. For the benefit of those who have not seen the film, I will offer a short spoiler-free summary.
Tommy Callahan Jr. (played by Chris Farley) has just finished college and returns home to Ohio to work at his father's automotive parts manufacturing plant, Callahan Auto. Shortly after Tommy returns home his dad Tom Sr. gives some news that he will be getting re-married to a younger lady (who happens to be a gold digger). The wedding takes place with tragedy striking as Big Tom Callahan Sr. dies during the reception. The company is in jeopardy and Tommy Boy decides to hit the road with his buddy Richard (David Spade) in the GTX to see if they can save the company from going under. That's about the extent I can go without spoiling the movie.
Don't forget there's more.
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This is probably the last scene where the Cragar SS wheels are still looking good. In this scene Tommy was trying to get the drivers door shut after bending it backwards.
Early in the movie, Richard says "I dropped in a 440 Magnum with a six-pack." I hate to burst Richard's bubble, but in the clip above you can that the engine has an air-cleaner for a single four barrel, 440 Commando. After looking at a real 440 Six Pack breather you can see the difference. The engine is also a "Commando" and not a "Magnum." Keep in mind that these cars came stock with either a 440 Super Commando or optional 426 Hemi. It's not completely Hollywood's fault. It's possible that multiple cars were used. The un-damaged version of the car could have a non-stock 440 Magnum with a Six Pack.
The missing door was replaced with a child safety gate, like the one seen here.
The door was later replaced by a piece of card board. You can also see that the convertible top has been replaced with a blue tarp.
That over pass reminds of the Blues Brothers.
Tommy Boy is one of the funniest Chris Farley movies of all time. Farley and Spade always come through in every film they're in together. Far as the car factor goes, I'd have to say it's a ten. It's not popular as a car movie. But I think it diffidently qualifies as one. One last interesting fact before we sign off. This isn't the last movie David Spade drives a 1967 Plymouth GTX. Mater of fact, Spade drives one later in Joe Dirt. Don't worry, On Screen Cars will be bringing that car movie as well! See ya next time.