The Life of a Picture Car

The Life of a Picture Car

The Life of a Picture Car

It is hard to imagine a person not liking car movies. Over the years, many beloved television and movie cars have imprinted viewers' brains with enduring visions of shiny cars appearing in chase scenes or ending up in spectacular car crashes that the hero walks away from unscathed or ends up jumping through the air over various obstacles. For example, one mention of the name Herbie and movie fans immediately think of the old white VW Beetle painted with racing stripes and a mind of its own. Likewise, a simple mention of the A-Team has viewers remembering an image of the black van with a red stripe used as a command center by mercenaries.

Many people often wonder what happens to these television and movie vehicles after filming. Our experts offer this look into the picture car industry to help you understand the process.

Finding picture cars.

Locating cars to use in television shows and movies can sometimes be challenging. Many companies offer services specifically for the television and movie industry. When a television or movie script requires a vehicle, the vehicle is located by reaching out to companies that offer movie vehicles and accessing their available vehicle database. When multiple cars are necessary for background traffic in a television or movie scene, fleets of cars can be found through the same process. The vehicles can be rented for the time needed through companies that service the television and film industry.

In many cases, a movie or television show requires more than one car. In addition, some of these productions require the very same vehicle for many different roles. For example, one version of the vehicle may be used in the role of a hero car, the part of the stock car is filled by an identical-looking vehicle. Then another identical-looking vehicle is used in the role of a prop car.

Renting picture cars is not an option in some production cases. For example, the Dukes of Hazzard television show used around 300 Dodge Chargers for their production. The production company did not rent the fleet of cars it needed because episodes typically involved crashing the car or getting it airborne. Instead of renting, the production purchased the vehicles and then prepared them for the stunts involved in the show. Also, in the movie Bullitt, the production company and Steve McQueen used many Ford Mustangs for racing in the streets of San Francisco. Again, instead of using rentals, the Mustangs were specially prepared for production.

Manufacturer involvement.

There are other resources for acquiring vehicles for filming purposes. Throughout television and movie production history, manufacturers have been known for setting up and giving a production company the cars they need. As a result, vehicle manufacturers can have free advertising exposure to television and film fans watching the episode or movie their vehicles are featured in. For example, the Cadillac Escalade EXT in The Matrix movies and the Chevrolet Camaro supporting cast member in the Transformer movies were both provided by manufacturers.

What happens when the show is over?

Once filming is over, feature cars and hero cars are often sold, gifted, or placed in museums. They have also been raffled off for charity events. Staff members and casts of television and movie productions may pick up the sold or gifted vehicles, while others will go to auctions to be sold. For example, the star of The Fast and Furious movie series, Paul Walker, kept the 2009 Nissan 370Z. Eleanor, the original yellow Mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds, is displayed at the Petersen Museum. The gray Eleanor from the remake starring Nicolas Cage was sold at auction in Indianapolis, Indiana, for one million dollars in 2013.

After television and movie production ends, stunt cars don't get much recognition and fanfare. Instead, they are often used as background props in other shows with minor repairs made or sent to the salvage yard if the damage cannot be repaired.

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