Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Project: "The Car" plans in CAD (pt. 1)

1977's "The Car" was a low-budget lift of "Jaws" (interesting discussion of that at the link). The acting and dialogue are laughable in places--hammy, campy and over-the-top.

It's one of those so-bad-it's-good flicks that's worth watching with friends, but not so bad that you'll need extensive alcohol support. Bring your sarcasm along.

(article at Wikipedia)

(The Drew Review: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

The IMDB page.

A little town in the American Southwest finds itself stalked by a mysterious black car.

First, a pair of teens are run down as they ride their bicycles on a mountain highway.

Then, it's a French horn-playing wiseass who, frankly, had it coming. The Car backs over him, then hits him a few more times for good...measure (heeheehee).

As the bodies rack up, the cops try to confront the bad guy only to get wasted themselves. It's up to newly-minted Sheriff Wade and his remaining men--and the county's wife-beating dynamite expert--to try to trap The Car under tons of rock.

The real star of the movie is The Car itself. It started out as a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III. George "Batmobile" Barris and his guys modified three of them, mostly by adding sheetmetal bodywork over the existing Lincoln panels.

One of them is the "hero car," the main actor if you will, used for the bulk of filming. The other two were stunt cars. There's some disagreement in the various writeups I've seen online, though. Barris' own website says there were four--one hero and three stunt cars. Another source says three, with a fourth "loosely assembled" on a later-model Thunderbird body for the movie's finale, where The Car is tricked into going over a cliff to its doom.

Either way, only one survived filming. It was parked on the Universal back lot for a few years. Supposedly, it was auctioned off in 1984. The auction picture does look like one of the originals, but there are some differences. The hero/shooting car had chrome trim around the windshield; the two stunt cars had black trim and so does the auction car:

The bumper and grille are wrong, too, but the bodywork does look like one of the real articles.

I've scoured the Internet several times looking for source photos, drawings, trivia, the same sort of thing I was doing a year ago working on my build of Revell's 1/96 Saturn V. With that one, I got close to a gig of photos and videos.

With this one...not so much. a little more than 240 pictures and some videos, a dozen conflicting websites.

Guillermo del Toro got his brother to make him one.

This guy's build is much closer, since he started from a Lincoln Mark III. His Facebook page has a ton of build photos and some behind-the-scenes shots of the Barris build and filming.

Ertl made a 1/18-scale die-cast of The Car about a decade ago. I found one of those on Ebay for close to $200. Way out of my price range. I'm not bringing another car home, either, though there are several up for sale...and even more out of my price range.

Tom Zahorsky at Johnny Lightning built a single 1/64 scale Car in preparation for tooling, but the project got axed. The one in his blog writeup is the only complete one.

From here, it gets even more scarce. A poster named "Tom" scratchbuilt one in 1/87 scale. There's a picture of this tiny wonder at 87thscale.proboards.com about a fourth of the way down. He mentioned making copies available in 2008, but hasn't been back to that site since 2009.


I took a lot of screen-captures from my copy of the movie, grabbed pictures of Lincoln Mark III's, and dug around online in search of a cheap Lincoln until I finally found this ugly green creature:

This is a '69 Lincoln Mark III from the Johnny Lightning "demolition derby" line. Here it's clamped to a modeler's miter box to give me a good right-angle reference for accurate measuring. Measure twice, draw once, right?

This is me, so you know there was a snag. Johnny Lightning, Hotwheels, Matchbox and the rest sell their cars as 1/64 scale.

I worked on my first CAD attempt for most of Friday night and well into Saturday morning before I realized that nothing was lining up with the real-world specs for the Mark III. Did a little measuring Saturday night and found that the Lincoln is actually closer to 1/72 scale.

Crap, again, and crap.

Scrapped most of the previous night's work--well, 6 freaking lines and a few guidelines--and started mostly over. Since I started with the real-world specs, I kept my basic guides. About all I had to do once I got restarted yesterday afternoon was to move the wheels back a few scale inches.

Here's where it is now, complete with expanded view guides for front, rear, top and bottom. I decided to work on the top view first this time:

So far, it's just the center section of the hood, the grille, and part of the front bumper, but it's a lot more than I had before. Yeah, this is probably the more complicated way to do it, drawing up the complete Lincoln and then drawing The Car over that, but it seems like the best way to get the right results.

No idea when I'll get done, but for now I'm just enjoying the challenge. CAD fort drawings are much easier--lots of straight lines, simple curves, and repeated details. For all its slab-sided, hard-edged looks, even the Lincoln is more complicated than I'd expected, though Barris' Car is going to be much easier. Lots of those straight lines and simple curves.

Bonus cool: Barris is also responsible for the Beverly Hillbillies' Olds truck.

1 comment:

  1. I watched this film religiously as a kid whenever it played on television and it freaked me it out more than Christine because of the design. You couldn't see into that damn black car. Excellent choice. I always was amazed few people knew about this film.