The Chevrolet SS was sold in the U.S. from 2014-2017. This sports sedan is powered by a LS3 V8 engine that is good for 415 hp and 415 ft-lb torque. It was Chevrolet's first rear-wheel drive V8 sedan in eighteen years when it went on sale. This car is actually a Holden Commodore VF from Australia which General Motors rebadged as a Chevy in the U.S. The Chevy SS is kind of rare to see out in the wild, only 12,000 were sold in America, and it is equally rare to see in film and television.
The Chevy SS makes a quick cameo in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! After the Sharknado hits a NASCAR race, a radiant, red Chevy SS pace car brings the stock cars into the pits at 43:05.
In the opening scene of the movie Chips, a beautiful, black Chevy SS, driven by undercover Ponch, is used as a getaway car in a bank heist. We first see the car at 2:15 when Ponch gets in and drives away. The action starts a minute later at 3:14 with a close up of the Chevy SS's spinning wheel as it peels out to start its escape. This is the best use of the Chevy SS I've seen in film, there are several nice powerslides.
Dax Shepard, the director, is a car guy and actually did the driving in this scene even though it was not his character.
Holden Commodore VF
The Holden Commodore VF is used in law enforcement in Australia and New Zealand. I found two shows with dark green police cars that look just like Wilma!
In series 1 ep. 1 of Brokenwood Mysteries, a detective drama TV series from New Zealand, there is a great shot of Kiwi Wilma right at 7:00 minutes. Kiwi Wilma pulls over to inspect a suspicious looking vehicle on the side of the road.
In series 3 ep. 6 of the Australian TV series Janet King, Aussie Wilma turns her lights and siren on at 10:49 as she speeds up to go save the day! She pulls into an underground parking garage at 11:03 with her pretty blue and red lights reflecting off the walls.
LEARNING TO DRIVE
An immigrant cab driver who moonlights as a driving teacher meets a woman facing a midlife crisis who needs to learn to drive. The slice of life story features this unusual duo who help each other overcome life’s roadblocks.
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
A race car driver, a loyal dog companion, and Milo Ventimiglia, what more can you ask for? The dog actually narrates this heartwarming film, with a touching ending.
FORD VS. FERRARI
Here's another movie with a race car driver, but this time it is based on a true story. Fearless driver Ken Miles and visionary car designer Carroll Shelby take on an impossible dream of building a revolutionary race car that pits Ford against reigning Ferrari.
FLASH OF GENIUS
You will never look at your car's windshield wipers the same after watching this film. It’s based on a true story and might have been called Ford vs. the inventor of the intermittent windshield wipers.
The car in this film practically dances to the music of the driver. The fast-paced action and music in this movie make for quite a wild ride, fasten your seat belt! Listen to the soundtrack if you dare.
The call of the open road is a common subject for songwriters. Willie Nelson leads the pack with On the Road Again, which describes his musical life of constant touring and “making music with my friends.”
Robert Earl Keen wrote a great story in song with The Road Goes on Forever, which was covered ably by the American super-group Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.)
Simon and Garfunkel’s America evokes the wandering search for the soul of American via bus and hitch-hiking and Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild heads out on the highway looking for adventure with motorcycle engines gunning.
Speaking of motorcycles, Richard Thompson’s song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning is a perfect miniature novel set to music.
The John Hughes classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles joins the truly odd couple of John Candy and Steve Martin in their attempt to get home for the holidays.
On a more serious note, one of the great American novels by John Steinbeck was made into an American cinema masterpiece. John Ford captured the dust bowl refugee Joad family’s hard road migration from Oklahoma to California in The Grapes of Wrath.
There are so many great American road trip movies, and a few foreign language ones too. Here are four favorites:
Little Miss Sunshine: a comically dysfunctional family goes on a cross-country road trip, determined to help their pudgy, bespectacled young daughter (Abigail Breslin in her breakout role) realize her dream of getting into the finals of a beauty pageant. Toni Colette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin and Greg Kinnear round out the incredible cast. I fell in love with this adorable, quirky family and will never hear the song "Super Freak" in quite the same way. You can hear it on the soundtrack or on Freegal.
Faces Places is a French hybrid road trip/documentary that follows 89 year-old filmmaker Agnes Varda and 33 year-old photographer and muralist JR, as they travel around French villages in JR's truck, meeting the locals and creating huge portraits of them on public surfaces. Along the way the stories and humanity of their subjects reveal themselves, and a friendship develops among these two very different artists. On dvd and bluray and streaming on Kanopy.
The Motorcycle Diaries is a Spanish language film based on the book "The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey" by Ernesto "Che" Guevara, about the life-changing trip he took across South America as a young man about to graduate from medical school, before he became "Che". More than a historical bio, it's a scenic travelogue that takes you on a fascinating journey across different countries and cultures. And you can listen to the soundtrack on a road trip of your own.
The Big Year: Three fanatic birders (Jack Black, Steve Martin, Clive Owen) upend their life to go on a year-long journey across the country to participate in the Big Year (a real thing!), a competition to spot the most bird species. A gentle, simple low-key comedy with a bit too much "heartwarming life lessons learned" at the end, but still fun. Instead of spotting birds, try spotting all the actors that show up in minor roles, including Angelica Huston, Jim Parsons, and Brian Dennehy. If you're a birder, you'll love it and if you're not, you might become one! It's based on the book by Mark Obmascik.
Being on the road can mean different things. From roaring races to quiet contemplative journeys.
Long time readers know I have an enormous affection for Americana influenced children's band, The Okee Dokee Brothers and their three albums chronicling their journeys through the American landscape: Can You Canoe? (Mississippi), Through the Woods (Appalachian Trail) and Saddle Up (the Continental Divide). Each CD comes with a DVD with gorgeously shot footage of their travels. A treat for all ages.
Revving up the engines considerably, check out the Oscar winning split screen wonder of 1966's Grand Prix which follows the competitors in nine races as their personal lives collide with their ambitions of becoming the top racer of the group. The sixties cars are fun to watch as is the star power of the international cast lead by James Garner, Toshiro Mifune and Eva Marie Saint.
Two street racers, who live in their 1955 Chevrolet 150 two door sedan make their way through different towns challenging residents to different street races. Eventually they develop a rivalry with a 1970 GTO driver who starts following and challenging them. Director Monte Hellman's moody and spare Two-Lane Blacktop has become a cult classic for its look at the loneliness of street racing. Popular singer, James Taylor makes for a surprising protagonist!
From the reflectiveness of the 1970's to the hyperkinetic stunner of George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). This movie comes at the viewer with so much energy and somehow sustains the pace throughout its two hour running time. The film is a wild ride with tons of death defying stunts and thrilling special effects all set against an apocalyptic future where people travel around in enhanced vehicles dueling each other. to survive.
My selections don't all inherently have to do with cars or driving, unless you count just being inherently awesome driving music. Here are some of my favorite tunes to cruise down the road to!
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
Of the following car related movies, which one has won the most Academy Awards?
Ford v Ferrari (2019)0
Grad Prix (1966)0
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)0
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)0
Last Week's Trivia Answer: "Yesterday"