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Retro Motor Feature – 4×4’s

The closet I’ve got to owning a movie car was driving the Jeep Cherokee XJ.

The closet I’ve got to owning a movie car was driving the Jeep Cherokee XJ. Made famous by the Fratelli family in the 80’s hit The Goonies. Mama Fratelli is not only the getaway driver but a straight up badass too. She casually nibbles on a cracker whilst her son fires shots at the local police force, after having just broken out of jail.

Chunk eventually stumbles on the Jeep later in the movie and notices the bullet holes in the back from the chase. My dad owned one of these wagons and I had a blast around town a few times, enjoying bucket loads of torque and the rumble of the lazy V8. There’s something about the large armchair like seats, the big controls and the abundance of space. When you drive a big Jeep in the UK it feels bigger than it is because our towns and villages are much smaller than the grand United States. You feel powerful, you feel safe.

One thing is clear about these vehicles, they are up for an adventure. Big enough to throw your BMX in the back, your dog or a couple of henchmen perhaps.

This month’s entry is something a little different, the team at NRW had a suggestion made by a diehard fan who stated that some of his favourite cars had already had a mention but what about the coolest retro off roaders?!

Specifically he asked for a mention of the all American Jeep Wrangler YJ body. But whether it is a YJ or a CJ model, you’ll recognise the body style from the many hundreds of appearances in Hollywood movies, even TV series.

”The Wrangler is arguably an indirect progression from the World War II Willys MB through the Willys civilian Jeeps (Jeep CJ) of the mid-1940s through 1980s that were produced by Kaiser-Jeep and by American Motors Corporation (AMC). Neither AMC nor Chrysler (after it purchased AMC in 1987) have claimed that the Wrangler was a direct descendant of the original military model.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger drove a Jeep Wrangler in the opening scenes of Raw Deal in which he chases down a phoney motorcycle cop through the country, eventually stopping said motorcycle by igniting a fuel soaked portion of road with a cigar, briefly setting him on fire before making his arrest.

You may remember the famous Jeep launch from the intro to the A-team, or more famously the Jeep that Marty McFly hooked onto whilst skateboarding in Back to the Future.

Without doubt one of the baddest 4×4’s was Marty’s truck. The Toyota SR5 specifically, commonly known as the Hilux, has become a legend, but not just because it was waxed up by Biff and driven by our favourite time bandit. The trusty pickup is a global phenomenon, not always for the most favourable reasons, as it is a common sight in the hands of terrorists gangs and lawless rebels. Marty’s truck in particular was allegedly stolen from the US of A and wound up being driven by a Mexican drug gang. But before Spielberg caught inspiration and made BTTF 4, sending Doc and Mr McFly to their untimely deaths fighting drug lords, enthusiasts painstakingly (and thankfully!) restored the truck to its former glory.

Speaking of cool black 4×4’s, some of you may remember as far back as the 1980’s Michael Douglas hit, Romancing the stone. Effectively an action film in which Mr Douglas drags his female co-star through perilous jungle settings avoiding torture and execution, whilst simultaneously keeping her shirt wet and at one point taking a life threatening ride in a modified Ford Bronco.

Funnily enough Michael and crew were being shot at by soldiers driving Jeep Wranglers, who end up crashing into a ravine after a pretty death defying stunt. As a kid I guess there was something infinitely cool about a black V8 truck getting down and dirty in an escape from militant rebels.

There is perhaps nothing more American than a two tone monster truck with an eagle painted on the bonnet, just like the one relentlessly destroyed in The Fall Guy. This GMC truck would put KITT to shame and didn’t even need a turbo boost button to do it, just a baseball cap, a ton of testosterone, and a lead foot. Personified in Colt Seavers.

Colt’s truck was a GMC K-2500 Wideside with all the chrome a man needs. Sadly, even with the magical editing studios of Hollywood, it was quite obvious the same truck wasn’t used for some of the ridiculous jumps seen in the show…still, seeing it actually perform the stunts for real was pretty rad.

Lee Majors, perhaps more famously known for his role as the Six Million Dollar man, went on to marry Farrah Fawcett. He is a certified American legend and no doubt has a the Star Spangled Banner as his doorbell.

In the states I imagine some would argue they loved their trucks more than their cars, and looking back through their automotive history it’s easy to see why that would be a strong debate.

Retro 4×4’s of bullbars and chrome certainly appeal to me but I couldn’t justify single figure MPG and wheels from a tractor.

If you really are a car or truck nerd, check out the automotive equivalent of IMDB…quite aptly called IMCDB.

miketek83@gmail.com

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