July 18, 2006

Dean Martin movie car found after 39 years in storage

Volo, Illinois – A 1966 Mercury station wagon that appeared in the film The Silencer with Dean Martin and Stella Stevens is now on permanent display at the Volo Auto Museum in Illinois, after being stored for 39 years.

In the movie, featuring Martin as secret agent Matt Helm, the Mercury was referred to as the “Sex Wagon”. Built by George Barris, who also produced the Batmobile and other movie cars, the wagon featured two separate bedrooms with leather upholstery, a fully-stocked martini bar, a tailgate modified to lower as a step, and a working television, which was an oddity in 1966.

The museum purchased the wagon from the estate of Lou “Bart” Bartolo, a fan of the three Matt Helms films and a member of the Swing Dance Hall of Fame. Bartolo bought the wagon from a back-lot sale at Columbia Pictures in 1967; it was kept in storage until his recent death.

The museum spent months restoring the vehicle to its original condition, and on July 1, 2006, Barris was reunited with the car during a special event at the museum. Barris had believed the vehicle had been destroyed and was thrilled to see it again.

The Volo Auto Museum is home to the George Barris TV & Movie Car Collection, featuring the original Batmobile, General Lee, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider and almost fifty other famous vehicles. For more information, visit www.volocars.com.

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