What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Ten Famous Movie Cars and Their Sporting Equivalents

Fact: Americans love cars.

Fact: Americans love movies.

Since today marks the Indianapolis 500, arguably the world’s most famous automobile race, this seems like the perfect time to take a look at ten famous cars from movies and look at their comparative figures  from the sports world… because that’s what we do here at Dubsism.

10) “Family Truckster,” 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire, National Lampoon’s Vacation

The first movie in a definitive franchise of comedy, Vacation is based on a story written by John Hughes for National Lampoon magazine. After seeing the success of Animal House, the crew decided to cash in, and by way of keeping it in the family tasked Harold Ramis with directing and Chevy Chase to helm the Clark Griswold character. While Chase is the puppetmaster of this lineup of misadventures, the “Wagon Queen Family Truckster,” or a heavily modified Ford LTD Country Squire, played a big role in the film. Who can forget the pea-green paint, faux-wood paneling, and eight headlights used to drive to Walley World, and as a temporary hearse for sweet Aunt Edna?

Shooting for the film let the cast and crew take a real-life road trip, shooting in more than 15 locations across four states. There were reportedly five station wagons made for filming, allowing for each one to be altered in any way the script and stage of the journey called for. It survived vandalism, an amazing jump (and subsequent breakdown) in the desert, and shifty mechanics. A little behind-the-scenes bet was placed to see if stunt coordinator Dick Ziker could jump the Family Truckster more than 50 feet in the desert, and he wound up winning his own bet.

In 2013, Mecum offered one of the film-used cars for $35,000 and it was a no-sale. It later showed up on Hemmings with a $39,900 price tag. As the car salesman said when Clark made this unwanted purchase, “You think you hate it now, wait ’til you drive it.”

The Sporting Equivalent: Bill Romanowski

“You think you hate it now, wait ’til you drive it.”

If you think I hated Bill Romanowski, you would be correct. Even during his days with my beloved Philadelphia Eagles, this nuclear-powered asswipe made by eyeballs spew pure bile. Clark Griswold hated the Family Truckster because it was a goofy-looking piece of shit. Bill Romanowski was just a piece of shit.

This is the guy who defined “dirty player;” this is the guy who bit, spat, and took the cheapest of shots.  The words that could accurately describe how much I hated this ‘roided-up Polish version of “Jethro Clampett” have yet to be defined.

9) 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon, Mad Max

When it comes to cars, Australians are historically just as power-hungry as Americans. So in the 1960s and 1970s, the Australian arms of American car companies created some fairly brutal muscle machines—cars we never saw in the States. One of them was the Ford Falcon. In its third generation, the Falcon XB GT got its power from a 351-cid V-8. But for the movie Mad Max, the filmmakers transformed the already cool Falcon into the “Pursuit Special” or “Interceptor.” The crew plastered a new nose on the front end, emblazoned the body with huge flares, and tucked seriously fat tires underneath them. The centerpiece was under the hood—or, more precisely, sticking out of it. In the movie, the switch-activated supercharger boosts the power of the interceptor any time Max needed to skedaddle. But, alas, it was only a movie and that supercharger was a fake.

The Sporting Equivalent: Luc Longley

At 7’2, 270 pounds, Australian hoopster Luc Longley looked like he should be able to bring plenty of his own “force” to the basketball court.  Minnesota Timberwolves fans often used to chant “Use the ‘Force’ Luc!” as an exhortation for the big guy to dominate the paint.  The problem was much like that goofy, big-engined car, Longley had the power, but he didn’t have the style to be a dominant big man in the National Basketball Association.

Longley spent ten seasons collecting a NBA paycheck; he now patrols the sidelines as the head basketball coach for Scotch College in Perth, Australian. If he was on your team, you usually needed a big dose of scotch to watch him.

8 ) “Greased Lightning”1948 Ford De Luxe Convertible, Grease

It’s automatic, it’s systematic, it’s hydromatic, well it must be Greased Lightning! While there’s many classic cars used throughout the film, this 1948 Ford De Luxe is the car of Danny Zuko’s daydreams, and the one he and Sandy fly away in after the carnival. From the scrapheap that we first see in the shop to the souped-up, Saran-wrapped car we end up with. With chopped front fenders, a Plexiglas hood, and tail fins, it’s clear that the “four speed on the floor” transmission Travolta sings about is nowhere to be seen in the race scene when he uses a column shifter. And it’s definitely not an automatic.

The Sporting Equivalent: Frank Gifford

As the song said “the guys will scream, the girls will cream for Greased Lightning.”  Back in the 1950s, there just wasn’t a better automatic, hydromatic, Brylcreem-ed chick magnet than “Faultless” Frank Gifford. First, Frank was the “golden boy” at the University of Southern California.  Then he took New York by storm with the NY Giants.  His gridiron exploits coupled with his “leading man” good looks had Gifford destined for post-football stardom.

And just like you never see Greased Lightning in that “race” scene, Gifford wasted all that California sun-dried masculo-God-inity on an expired prune like Kathie Lee. That has to be why the real God knew to let Chuck Bednarik damn near kill him.

On a side note, there’s a lot more reasons beyond that hit which make Bednarik one of the most interesting figures not just in sports, but in America in general.  You can find out why here.

7) 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, Back to the Future

Visually, John DeLorean’s DMC-12 was a stainless-steel stunner designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro. Under the hood, though, the DeLorean wasn’t quite the supercar that flashy bodywork promised, carrying a pokey 130-hp 2.9-liter V-6. No matter. Its futuristic looks combined with a bit of movie magic gave the DeLorean legendary status, and because it was a time machine in the film, the real-life specs didn’t really matter, with one exception: Reportedly, the prop staff replaced that sluggish V-6 with a V-8 from the Porsche 928, which went a long way toward helping Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) hit 88 mph, fire up the Flux Capacitor, and shoot back to 1955.

The Sporting Equivalent: Mike Mamula

Once again, this may be a bit biased based on my status as a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, but I’m convinced there’s a language out there in which “Mamula” means “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” For fuck’s sake, this guy sooooo looked like what you would expect if the brainiacs at NASA built a defensive end.  At 6’4,” 250 pounds, and having sick athletic skills, Mamula looked like he was built to be a tackling machine in the National Football League. The only problem was he had no idea how to play this game.

It all fairness, he wasn’t the worst defensive end ever, but once Eagles fans figured out the the draft day trade in 1995 with netted them Mamula ultimately cost them future Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp…well, let’s just say Philadelphia didn’t show him much “brotherly love.”

On a related note, I once had the opportunity to drive a DeLorean.  Calling them under-powered is like calling an anorexic under-nourished. The only way you could get one of those wheeled kitchen sinks up to 88 miles per hour was careening down a mountain with a hurricane-force wind at your back.

6) 1968 Mustang GT 390, Bullitt

Any vehicle driven, ridden, or even stood next to by Steve McQueen was instantly made cooler. But the Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 didn’t need much help. The movie’s chase scenes on the streets of San Francisco, tailing a 1968 Dodge Charger, are some of the best ever recorded on film. And the stripped-down look of the movie Mustangs made them subtly meaner-looking than regular production ‘Stangs. The original magnesium American Racing Torque Thrust wheels give McQueen’s car its aggressive stance.

The Sporting Equivalent: The “Pony Express” Southern Methodist University Mustangs

If you find yourself needing a blue-print for the perfect car chase, go straight to “Bullitt.”  Likewise, if you want the architecture to the perfect rushing attack,  pull out the playbooks from Ron Meyer’s SMU team circa 1981.  Sure, they may have been the best college football team money could buy, and SMU may forever be known as the standard by which corrupt programs are measured, but there was no denying watching that team run away from the competition was simply not like anything before or since. Quaterback Lance McIlhenny and running backs Craig James and future Hall-of-Famer Eric Dickerson ran away from the rest of college football like they were Steve McQueen driving a Mustang and everybody else had one of those chunk-of-junk DeLoreans.

5) “The Gigahorse,” Mad Max: Fury Road

Rabid Mad Max fans eagerly awaited the return of the franchise when Mad Max: Fury Road was announced for a 2015 launch, three decades after the last installment. But few expected the movie to be packed with so many wild and innovative vehicles. It could certainly be argued that this latest movie had more interesting cars and trucks than any Mad Max before it. Perhaps the wildest of them all is the Gigahorse.This beast looks like it should exist entirely in CG. But no, this is a real thing. Double ’59 Cadillac bodies ride atop a massive truck chassis powered by twin Chevy big block V-8s that have both been supercharged. All that power turns massive tractor tires that give this monster the stance of a funny car dragster from the 1970s—on stilts.

Though the Gigahorse doesn’t really do too much in terms of typical movie car stunts, it’s so cool to look at that it’s captivating to watch the thing just driving straight through the desert. The most memorable scene with the ‘horse is in the long final chase of the movie, as the convoy enters a tight canyon, Max (Tom Hardy), Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and their crew finally kill Immortan Joe, the bad guy driving the Gigahorse.

The Sporting Equivalent: “Jacko”

The first thing that comes to mind upon first glance of either “The Gigahorse” or “Jacko” is “What the fuck is that?”  All anybody outside of Australia really understands about their version of football is that is looks less like any other version of the game and more like a prison riot with and over-sized, oddly-shaped ball.  In that vein, even the Aussies don’t truly understand the purpose of that ball, other than to serve as a homing device identifying the recipient of a shit-hammering from the rest of the riot.

In other words, Australian Rules Football looks a lot like a turf-bound, on-foot version of “Mad Max” played on a field roughly the size of Delaware, and it’s participants are connected by the fact they are suspected of being Darwin’s “missing link” and they have the most God-awful way of speaking the Queen’s English to be found anywhere in the Commonwealth.

American had it’s brief introduction to “Footie’s” Mark “Jacko” Jackson during our infatuation with all things “Down Under” in the 1980s, when Men at Work filled our radio waves, “Crocodile” Dundee dominated our movie theaters, and the chromosomal vichysoisse known as “Jacko” was selling  us Energizer batteries and attempting to be a pop star.

Again, the only logical response is “What the fuck was that?” The only answer I can think of this was Australia’s way of warning America about what would become Rob Gronkowski.

4) “The Bluesmobile,” 1974 Dodge Monaco, The Blues Brothers

The Bluesmobile may not be the Batmobile, but this decommissioned Mount Prospect, Illinois, police cruiser is just as recognizable as Jake and Elwood Blues’ outfits. Born from Saturday Night Live veterans Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, the sketch resulted in two movies. The Dodge Monaco version was only used in first film; the sequel saw a 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria as the Bluesmobile’s latest incarnation.

The film utilized 13 different cars as the Bluesmobile, all of which were former California Highway Department patrol cars made up to look like Mount Prospect patrol cars. Some of the cars were modified for speed, others for jumps or high-performance maneuvers, depending on the scene. More than 60 old police cars were purchased and used for the film’s many chase scenes—the volume resulting in a 24-hour body shop on set to perform repairs as needed. A world record 103 cars were wrecked during filming. Legendary custom car designer, fabricator, stuntman, and stunt coordinator—and creator of the Monkeemobile—Dean Jeffries worked on the first movie, saying in Motor Trend, “I worked on ‘The Blues Brothers’—we must’ve smashed a couple hundred cars on that one.” The number of wrecks for Blues Brothers 2000? 104. No better person to surpass you than yourself.

The Sporting Equivalent:  Evel Knievel

Only “The Blues Brothers” had more wrecks than Evel Knievel.  Not only did Knievel do so much mayhem to himself, he plays at the very least an inspirational role in countless trips to the emergency room for kids across America…including three from yours truly, all from attempting to jump various items with homemade ramps and BMX bikes.  That’s a great way to cement yourself in the American pop culture lexicon, which explains why “The Simpsons” created a parody character of Knievel, Captain Lance Murdock.

But what makes Knievel such a sheer bad-ass in that the majority of his career comes after the attempt to jump the fountain at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas…

…which as you can see was a failure which which probably should have killed him.  You can literally see this pulverizing every major bone in his body. Ultimately, all that abuse of his body took it’s toll; eventually Knievel met his end like the Bluesmobile completely falling apart on the steps of Chicago’s City Hall.

Today’s Bit Odd Trivia: Butte, Montana was home to both Evel Knievel and Robert O’Neill, the U.S. Navy Seal who killed Osama bin Laden.  There must be something in the water there because that’s two seriously bad-ass guys to come from a small town in the middle of nowhere.

3) 1964 Aston Martin DB5, Goldfinger

James Bond’s legacy of famous cars and far-out gadgets can be traced back from one car—the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 007 driven in Goldfinger and Thunderball. Without any Bond spy modifications, the Aston Martin DB5 is a work of art. But it’s the special effects that have made this car quite possibly the most beloved movie car of all time. The long list of cool tricks included ram bumper, machine guns, ejector seat, smoke screen, oil-slick sprayer, and more. Looking back on the Aston from today’s perspective, the most interesting feature may be the map screen in Bond’s car, which foreshadowed today’s navigation systems.

The Sporting Equivalent:  Steven Gerrard

Bond…Steven Bond. Fans of the “beautiful game” know what a smooth and classy presence Gerard brought to the football pitch. They also know that Gerrard  wasn’t afraid to do some nasty shit when he had to.  That’s what the original James Bond was all about…elegance and style with not-so-subtle undertones of sheer brutality.  That description not only applies to Bond himself, but his Aston-Martin as well.

Perhaps that why even James Bond himself thought Gerrard would make a good “007.”

2) 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, Smokey and the Bandit

When Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham chose a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am to star in his movie alongside Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, he couldn’t have predicted the impact that car would have on America.

The Trans Am actually looked more or less the same for more than a half decade before the film debuted. But that didn’t matter. When audiences saw that Trans Am slide around corners, leap over broken bridges, and evade Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) for hundreds of miles, they wanted a black and gold T/A in their garage. After the movie debuted, sales leapt by about 30,000 cars from 1977 to 1978 and by another 24,000 for 1979. Americans went nuts for the Starlight Black Special Edition paint job, the T-Top roof, and the fact that the car was quicker and better-handling than the Corvette of the same generation. It was probably a combination of all three—plus a heaping dollop of Burt’s star appeal—that made the Trans Am a legend.

The Sporting Equivalent:  Joe Namath

Despite the fact Joe Namath was from Pennsylvania, and made his football bones in New York, he played his college ball at Alabama, which meant he was Southern-Baptized in bootleg Coors beer, a T-top Trans Am, Paco Rabone cologne…and that awesome fucking mustache. Be warned ladies, do not stare directly at the mustache.  Much like with Burt Reynolds, the mustache alone has been known to be so virile as to cause pregnancy through sheer sight of it.

To fully understand this, just look at this tweet from the most awesome follow on the entire Tweeter-thingy, @Super70sSports.


You know right after this, Joe drove his Trans Am over to the set of “The Brady Bunch,” oiled up Florence Henderson, and gave her a series of chain-thunder orgasms so strong that not only was a team of plastic surgeons armed with the fire department’s “jaws of life” unable to remove that smile from her face, they also vicariously cured Alice of her latent lesbianism.


Could you grow a mustache so powerful it caused a major network sit-com to create “Sam the Butcher” so Alice didn’t come off so “butch?” Yeah…I didn’t think so.

1) “Herbie,”1963 Volkswagen Beetle Model 117 Deluxe Sunroof Sedan, Herbie: The Love Bug

Long before Kit from Knight Rider, we had a sentient car in Herbie. Herbie is never referred to as a Volkswagen in the first film, all branding had to be removed. VW was on board for the second film, Herbie Rides Again.

In each of the five films, Herbie appear slightly different and upward of 100 cars were used in all five. Walt Disney Studios built 11 cars for the first Herbie movie, and of those 11 only three are known to exist today. Normally, the interior of this beetle would have been white but for the film they painted it a gray color so it wouldn’t reflect the studio lights.

One of the VWs in the film was outfitted with a Porsche Super 90 engine for extra performance. Herbie #10 resides at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, if you’re suffering from a different kind of Beetlemania and need a quick fix.

The Sporting Equivalent: Spud Webb

Little cars aren’t supposed to win road races.  Little guys aren’t supposed to win slam dunk contests either.  Much like nobody thought those goofy-looking little Hitler-mobiles would ever sell in America, there was no interest in Spud Webb as a hoopster from his junior high school days onward.  He wouldn’t even have been in the NBA had he played today as he was a 4th-round draft pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 1985 draft; today’s draft is only two rounds.

Hitler commissioned Dr. Porsche to build “The People’s Car” as part of the National Socialist pipe-dream.  Despite that, the Volkswagen Beetle did end up surpassing the Ford Model T as the world’s best-selling car at the time, largely because they remained in production somewhere in the world from 1938 until 2003.  Despite being only 5’7″ in a world of seven-footers, Spud Webb had a solid 13-year NBA career… and could dunk it on your ass.

The descriptions of these movie cars are from Popular Mechanics.

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About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

3 comments on “Ten Famous Movie Cars and Their Sporting Equivalents

  1. Dan Condron
    May 26, 2019

    Wasn’t Romanowski in “Hooper” as a Bouncer?
    GREAT Blog,JW where did you find the Jacko Vid. That was a riot.the 1st Five years of ESPN was 23 Hrs of Ausi rules and the rest was fluff. I nor any other earthlings ever DID figured out the rules.
    Thank God for Chris “BACK…back back back” Berman !

    And great call on Broadway Joe/Trany…(you know,with the LEGGS and all?)


    • J-Dub
      May 26, 2019

      The “Jacko” thing has been burned in my brain since an unfortunate episode of USA’s “Up All Night” back in the day. I always thought Australian Rules Football was the old schoolyard game “Cream the Carrier” excpet every drank a bunch of those giant Foster’s beers.


  2. Pingback: Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 108: “National Lampoon’s Vacation” | Dubsism

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