Originally published December 24, 2014
It’s not that modern cars are boring, it’s that their stories have yet to be formed. For instance, you’d never assert that either of the Hellcat twins was dull – hoo boy, no sirree Bob – but what’s truly interesting about them besides the pavement-destroying horsepower and the ear-rending exhaust note? The engineering, the team behind the car, the enthusiasts who will buy these things and then maintain them for years, preserving and celebrating this golden age of horsepower just the same way as did those who tucked away late-’60s Hemis did – those stories have just been popped in the barrel, so to speak. They need to age a bit before getting really interesting.
And that’s the thinking behind the Final Drive series, and how it has changed from a look at a departing machine (either with fondness, or a don’t-let-the-door-hit-your-ass-on-the-way-out tone) to a forum to talk about more unique vehicles. It’s a break from the new car world, a pause from cut-and-dried consumer advice, and a chance to explore at all the different ways a car can be part of a bigger story.
At the end of 2014, a look back at some of the more memorable cars and stories I encountered this year, many of which never made it into Final Drive in the first place. Permit me to take one last drive through 2014 with five of my most memorable rides of the year: I’d warrant this is the only sort of place where a Hyundai Pony can rub shoulders with a screen legend.
Imagine, if you will, being allowed to sit in KITT or the General Lee and crank it over. In the modern age, there are fewer hero cars on the silver screen, but there is one that stands out: the big black 1967 Chevrolet Impala hardtop from the made-in-BC TV series Supernatural.
Supernatural is a sort of Dukes of Hazzard meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer kind of show, and the chiseled good looks of its two leading men have attracted a large audience of female admirers. But it’s not just brooding good looks, the show can be funny, it can be melodramatic, there are scrapes and hijinks and demon-spawn to slaughter, and through the whole thing there’s this charismatic lump of Detroit iron, with a big-block rumble and a tendency to get sideways.
The paint’s a bit shabby and the wheels look like Canadian Tire specials, but such fits the character of the car, and the rumpled road-warrior life of our Winchester brother heroes. By dint of simply annoying people as much as possible, I managed to get access to the shed where the cars are stored – there are seven of them, including the stunt extras – and actually get a seat in the on-screen hero car. It’s a monster, with a 502 cubic-inch big block V8 making tire-smoking torque and enormous thrust.
And then there’s the guy that keeps all these machines on the road. Best job ever? He sits with directors and picks out cars to match to characters, and then rustles them up out of a Rolodex of thousands of owners, along with his own collection approaching 300 machines. An amazing car, and part of the cast and crew of a homegrown BC success story.