Cool Cars & Tech
This is the month in which guys have an excuse to grow hair on their upper lips, to raise money for research into prostate cancer. And here at wheels.ca, we pay tribute to those sometimes glorious, sometimes pathetic, Movember lip growths by remembering some of the most memorable moustache-associated vehicles over the years.
1. Tom Selleck’s Ferrari 308 GTS
It has to be the top of any moustache list, but the iconic Ferrari 308 GTS of the ’80s TV show Magnum PI was almost a Porsche – the producers had first asked Porsche for a 928 with an oversized sunroof for aerial shots. The German maker refused to provide a modified car, so the show went with the Italian convertible instead. It’s a small car, though, and it was difficult to accommodate Selleck’s 6-foot-4 frame. Even with the seat bolted as far back from the wheel as possible and its padding removed, his head still pokes above the top of the windshield. Have you ever seen Magnum drive it with the top in place? No – he just couldn’t fit.
2. Burt Reynolds’ 1977 Pontiac Trans Am
Right behind Selleck’s Ferrari is Reynolds’ Trans Am, driven by the stetsoned Bandit in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit. It races in record time from Texas to Georgia to distract the cops from the accompanying truckload of beer that’s not allowed to cross state lines. Three Trans Ams were used in the making of the movie, and all three were basically wrecked by the end of filming. But, no matter: According to IMDB.com, the movie made the Trans Am a superstar. Sales surged from 68,745 in 1977 to 93,341 in 1978 and then to 117,108 in 1979.
3. The Carstache
If you want an actual car with a moustache, you need to buy a “carstache.” They’re made from synthetic faux fur and come in a variety of colours for $39 (US), and can be ordered through carstache.com. “It’s just absurd and funny,” says Ethan Eyler, founder of the San-Francisco-based company. “When people see a Carstache on the streets they freak out! It’s a feel-good thing that cracks people up and makes them smile.” And until Christmas, Eyler says he’ll knock 10 per cent off the price for readers who include the promo code WHEELS with their order.
4. Jack Layton’s bicycle
The leader of the national New Democrats, who died last year, owned an Alpine Sunbeam as a young man but soon shifted his affections to bicycles. Layton became a cycling advocate, always looking dapper despite the fashion challenges of a bicycle helmet or the physical challenges of riding a tandem gracefully with his wife, Toronto city councillor Olivia Chow. “I don’t focus on (British sports cars) anymore,” he once told the Toronto Star. “I’m very attracted to the really amazing bicycles being produced these days – some of them Canadian … I think it’s just very exciting to see how cycling technology is coming along.”
5. Salvador Dali’s 1938 Rainy Taxi
In 1938, the famous twirly-’stached Spanish surrealist created a sculpture for an exhibition in Paris that used a taxi rescued from a breaker’s yard. Two mannequins inside represented the passenger and her shark-headed chauffeur, and then Dali rigged up a system of inside hoses that poured water over them both. Oh, and he filled the taxi with lichen, moss and 200 Burgundy snails. The piece was also known as Mannequin Rotting In A Taxi-Cab, in case observers hadn’t noticed its subtlety. It’s one of the very few auto references in his work that is not focused on Cadillac; though he never drove himself, he only ever owned the luxurious American cars.
6. Che Guevara’s 1939 Norton Single
The scruffy-faced Argentine revolutionary who became the darling of Cuba embarked on a motorcycle journey around South America in 1952 that helped shape his politics. The story of the journey was immortalized in the book and 2004 movie The Motorcycle Diaries. Unfortunately, the bike was crashed and abandoned somewhere in southern Chile not long after the journey began, but that’s just added to its mystique.
7. Winston Wolfe’s Acura NSX
Winston Wolfe, played by Harvey Keitel in the 1994 classic Pulp Fiction, is a man who “solves problems”. He’s memorable for helping hitmen Jules and Vincent (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) dispose of a bloody corpse by taking it in their old and hastily cleaned Chevy Nova to be crushed at Monster Joe’s auto dismantlers. But he’s just as memorable for looking stylish and well-groomed early that morning, and for owning a hot Acura NSX sports car that he tells Vincent to drive behind the Nova to the wrecker’s. “Now I drive real f—ing fast, so keep up,” he warns. “If I get my car back any different than I gave it, Monster Joe’s gonna be disposing of two bodies.”
8. Art Robbins’ 1979 Suzuki GS1000
Robbins was Canadian Superbike Champion in 1982 and 1985 and, according to Wheels’ motorcycle racing journalist Larry Tate, “in all the years I’ve been watching racing, I think he’s been the greatest natural talent I’ve ever seen. An amazing talent, just tossed away.” Always moustached, Robbins has battled drug and alcohol addiction demons all his life. Tate calls him “the Keith Richards of motorcycle racing.” But when he was riding – what a racer he was! He finished second in the first race he ever competed in, and won every amateur race after that before turning pro at the end of the year. But his wild child ways did him in, and he never achieved his true potential. He now lives away from the racing scene in Southern Ontario.
9. Charlie Chaplin’s many film cars
The silent movie star included cars as props in many of his films, including getting in the way of the camera (and the cars) in Kids Auto Races at Venice and slapstick driving in A Jitney Elopement and The Car Cheap. In real life, his own cars were big and ostentatious, from makers like Pierce-Arrow and Rolls-Royce. Model-T Fords were common in his movies, but perhaps the most famous was the Mercedes staff car in which he lampooned Adolf Hitler in his first true “talkie” movie, the 1940 classic The Great Dictator.
10. Borat’s cart
It’s not even 1 horsepower, but it did the job for Sacha Baron Cohen when he was in character as the embarrassing Kazakh journalist Borat in the 2006 movie of the same name. Borat was as memorable for his thick lip growth as he was for his thick-lipped comments, such as this, perhaps explaining why his cart was pulled by women: “In my country we say to let a woman drive a car is like to let a monkey fly a plane, very dangerous yes.”
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