Welcome to the second Vehicle Patrol report! Woo-hoo! In this second report, we’ll cover Season 1 Episodes 9-15 (original airing order).
Note that much of my research utilised Google Images, Wikipedia, the Internet Movie Car Database (IMCDb), and/or various other specific car sites. When possible, I assigned a model year to cars—when not, a generation, a model, or just a make.
Now, sit back and enjoy… To quote Mazda: “Zoom-Zoom”.
In these episodes, Amanda’s car is still the cream and wood colour Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon (Virginia JR4-502):
A little bit more about this car—it’s a Ford LTD Country Squire seventh generation (1979-1991) station wagon. The Country Squire was produced by Ford from 1950 to 1991 and was, essentially, a (top-of-the-line ) trim option on the model of the moment, with the Country Squire wagon over the years being models such as the Fairlane (third gen.), Galaxie (fourth gen.), and the LTD (seventh/final gen.). Originally a full “Woodie”, the Country Squire down-shifted to just simulated wood trim/decals beginning with the Fairlane model in 1955. This LTD generation was actually the last of Ford’s full-size station wagons, with SUVs becoming more popular.
It’s Season 1, so Lee’s still driving the silver Porsche 356 “bathtub on wheels” (Washington DC 9S1-407):
We even get to see it (parked) with the top down (in I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been… A Spy):
More on this car in the third Vehicle Patrol report (Episodes 16-22, or thereabouts)…
Special Edition Lotus Turbo Esprit
In The Mole, baddie agent (mole) David Benson drives a snazzy-looking copper/red car to pick up Amanda for their date: a Lotus Turbo Esprit. Specifically, this is (or is a clone of, but I believe it’s genuine) one—number 39—of only 47 “Investor’s Special Edition”/”Silver Anniversary Edition” Turbo Esprits released to US investors in 1983… one of the identifying features being the removable tinted roof hatch, and—of course—the Special Edition 39 lettering on the driver door. (More information about these Special Edition Lotus Turbo Esprits can be found at http://www.thelotusforums.com/latest-news/our-news/back-in-the-us-of-a/.) The base model colour was silver/grey, but 33 of the 47 were produced in other colour combinations—this being one of them.
(Note: left-hand image lightened for clarity.)
This car appears again in Season 3—a couple of episodes from now on JWWM. In that episode we can see the Turbo Esprit logo relatively clearly on the rear panel, and the Special Edition number is more clear:
More trivia: James Bond drove two Lotus Turbo Esprits in For Your Eyes Only (1981)… a white one and a bronze one—both specially commissioned.
Real license plates on set
I didn’t notice any real Washington DC/Virginia/Maryland/etc. plates in these episodes but, again, we have multiple instances of (real) California license plates on nearby vehicles. A couple of the more prominent/interesting instances occur in Lost And Found. In one of the scenes where Amanda and Angelo are being driven around in the blue Agency van, a white Chevrolet coupe can be seen stopping at the traffic light; the car has an old (yellow on black) California plate. Then, while Lee is driving Eva to Liberty Larry’s in his Porsche, a dark blue Chevrolet with white and red trim can be seen passing, with a California license plate visible through Lee’s grubby driver’s side window. Neither of the plates are legible, but are readily identifiable as Californian. (First pic cropped for clarity.)
(Notes: Yellow lettering on black, with the format lllddd [l = letter, d = digit] for passenger vehicles, was used on California license plates starting in 1963, when all plates were reissued. Following this—in 1970—the yellow on blue style was introduced [lllddd, then rolling over to dlllddd], and the current colour scheme of blue on white [dlllddd] was introduced in 1982 [reflectorized in 1987; baseplate designs varied, e.g., font for California, or sun graphic]. However, during the time of SMK, yellow on blue was still the most prevalent plate style. Information from: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/plates/licenseplthistory.htm. BTW – when I came to California, about 18 years ago , black plates were rare but still to be seen [someone I used to know was a car nut and instilled a fondness for old-plated cars in me…]—now, I can’t remember the last time I saw one. [Edited 6/20 to add: I saw one today!!! On a shockingly bright purple VW Bug! Edited again 7/3 to add: OMG I saw another one today! On a very sweet, drool-worthy, ’65 Mustang!!! And again 8/1: Another ’60s Mustang (ID-able trim removed). Seriously—they’re now ganging up on me; 8/6: 1950’s-ish Chevrolet wagon.])
Sample CA passenger plates: 1963-1970 (left); 1970-1982 (middle); 1982-current (right). Images from Wikimedia Commons; author Happoshu.
More prominent/amusing(?) California plate appearances occur in I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been… A Spy. Funnily enough, both the red Porsche—924 or 944—coupe and the blue/grey Mercury Marquis station wagon that throw out the anchors to avoid hitting Lee in the roadway near Milo’s Daffy Dogs display CA plates. (Crazy Californians… driving around DC, trying to squish Lee. Images cropped for viewing clarity.) Was there maybe a requirement that the stunt-involved cars required valid CA license/registration when filming was done on the streets (off the studio lot)?
(Note: I can’t make out enough of the station wagon to confirm whether it does have faux wood trim [it kinda’ looks like it might]… but, if it does, it’s a Mercury Marquis Colony Park—Colony Park being the Mercury equivalent of the Ford Country Squire. )
Same vehicle—different episodes
Some of the vehicles that appeared in multiple episodes (with the exception of Lee and Amanda’s cars and Agency vehicles)…
Red Porsche – Sudden Death and I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been… A Spy
We see a red Porsche coupe (924 or 944 model) in the District of Columbia Stadium parking lot in SD when Bela runs away to hide in Amanda’s car… we see the same red Porsche in IANNNHIEBAS when Lee is trying to save Amanda from being kidnapped by the baddies:
Brown Chevrolet – Sudden Death and The Mole
The brown Chevrolet Chevette hatchback randomly parked on the street when the baddies kidnap Bela in SD is overtaken by Amanda—when trying to save Lee—in TM:
Blue Ford – The ACM Kid, Saved By The Bells, and Lost And Found
Remember the blue Ford Econoline van that the baddies stole from the Agency back in the first Vehicle Report (the Agency used it in TACMK, then the baddies used it in SBTB)?
Well, I guess the Agency managed to steal it back again, ‘cos they use it for taking Angelo on a tour of Los Angeles—uh, sorry… Washington DC—in LAF:
Black Cadillac – Service Above And Beyond and I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been… A Spy
Maybe some of the baddies share a car service, ‘cos Baddie Delano’s black Cadillac Fleetwood limousine from SAAB (left-hand image) is used by Baddie Polo in IANNNHIEBAS (and the waxing/polishing job looks just as bad in both ):
Note: the four Agency limos used in Dead Ringer are very similar (or, at least, two of them are similar but definitely different, however the other two weren’t seen close enough to confirm)—they’re also Cadillac Fleetwoods, but lack the red striping and the front grille is different (–> different year; Agency limos on left, baddie Polo’s limo on right):
Ambulance – If Thoughts Could Kill and The Mole
Tee hee hee… the ambulance that Amanda “borrowed” in ITCK makes an encore performance—but just a bit part—in TM, when Lee and his team try to take baddie Viktor down at the start of the episode:
Lee uses a fake license plate
Not in these episodes; Lee’s Washington DC license plate 9S1-407 seems to stay firmly attached to his Porsche, but keep watching and waiting…
Amanda’s license plate goes AWOL
It seems that Amanda’s license plate (Virginia JR4-502) has been behaving itself in these episodes—unlike in the first eight—and staying put. Vehicle Patrol will keep watching to see whether they stray again…
Magical moving license plates—same episode
It seems as though vehicles noticeably shared the same plate within the same episode only once in these eps…
Lost and Found
At Liberty Larry’s used car lot/scrap yard we see Virginia EN6-3K8 on the powder blue (Jet Stream Blue?) 1959 Edsel Ranger 4-door hardtop that Lee shoves Eva into the boot (trunk) of, and also on the pale yellow 1955 Cadillac Series 60 or 62 that Lee/Stunt Lee fights with the KGB goon behind:
I also love the way the license plate is just rested against the boot of the Edsel… not properly attached:
Well, that’s it for this installment of Vehicle Patrol Report 2 – Season 1 Episodes 9-15. Coming up next: Magical moving license plates—different episodes, crashed/wrecked vehicles, Agency vehicles, some amusing vehicle moments/trivia, and the blooper reel.
This is Vehicle Patrol signing off for now…
So another school year has begun. Today was our first day of school and I have been away from this blog for too long. If I hadn’t been so busy rearranging my entire classroom and prepping for the year I would have been going through some serious withdrawal.
KC, you are so awesome with your eye for and attention to detail!! I was never too fond of Lee’s Porsche and wasn’t too distraught to see it disappear. I always envision Lee in the Corvette. I am partial to that ‘Vette. But seeing the Porsche makes me cringe and say “Wow, it’s been a while.”
It’s like the shell game with the return vehicles in other episodes and the magical rotating license plates.
LOL–yes, the Porsche. Just say to yourself “bathtub on wheels”, per BB. 😀 (I giggle a little every time I see the long shots of the Porsche with Lee in it–it’s so teeny-tiny… wah hah hah!
Thanks KC for all the detail and your wide range of unexpected source to enhance the car experience; and you managed to fit ‘utilise’ appropriately in a sentence 🙂
So was Amanda’s car quite fancy then? ( along with her evening gown collection) contrasting bizarrely with her frugal lifestyle…ah anything can happen in SMKland.
I’m not a fan of Lee’s Porsche although I like the colour. I think the shape is a bit girly. My husband was horrified (“it’s iconic”) but admitted that it was a “horrible car” (bad clutches apparently). He thinks the red Porsche is a 924 as the 944 had a “more butch look” (?!) but says it’s a near thing.
Saw a police car yesterday in Santa Monica that looked exactly the same as the SMK ones here thirty years ago. I got very excited. Saw Anchorage police car today which is def more 21st century looking. I will keep looking… Thanks KC for adding a, um, new dimension to my travels.
Woo-hoo… appropriate utilisation of utilise! I’ll take it!
No–not fancy, per se, just the fanciest (if you will) of the Ford station wagons… (and I really dig the front seats–see the first VP for a pic).
LOL–don’t let Jule’s husband see your husband’s comment about it being a “horrible car”! (But I think that BB agreed with your husband’s take on it.)
Santa Monica has old-school cop cars? Wow. I wouldn’t have thought so… Blue and white? Gold shield on the side?
😀 You’re welcome. Didn’t want you to potentially be bored on your trip… 😀
I read the comments about the Porsche to my husband 10 minutes ago and he’s still ranting about how superior it was to other sports cars at the time blah blah blah 😉 (I love to push his buttons evil laughter ensues )
My husband is a mech engineer which may explain his (irreverent) comment. And his interest in clutches (I really don’t get it…). I gather it was a common issue at that time but my mind started wandering when the word “clutch” entered the conversation
Lol I’m with you Learjet, I just nod my head and move on in my mind. Oh dear, he’s now explaining about early 911 clutches vs Scarecrow’s car. Help me! Must find chocolate and the rabbit hole! grabs the bottle of wine and scurries in her mind down the rabbit hole
“How can anyone say anything good about a 911’s clutch???” You guessed right, that was his comment, not mind. I’m going to eat to take my mind off the clutches…
Ladies–just think of Lee’s clutches, not his Porsche’s clutch. you’re welcome
Something about SMK just lends itself to puns. Good catch KC (and pleasant thought to dwell on…)
As noted previously, I am not a car guru but I have a confession : while hunting down dinner tonight, I saw what the family expert informs me is a new 911 and my feelings where similar to those I experience on viewing Lee. (Oh no, he’s talking about other Porsches; I’ve set him off…)
Oh my gosh!!! KC you notice the most amazing things!!!!
Alot of the car details go over my head, being from Australia – but the resused number plates are a riot!!! and love the randomly wrong number plates!! just how much time do these posts take to put together KC?!!
Sorry I’ve been so absent.. things should slow down a little in a week’s time – hope you are all well – I MISS YOU GUYS!!!! I MISS MY SMK!!!!
Yeah, I’m really not into the cars themselves–the details like the license plates are what really amuse me. 🙂 (Or hunting down an ID on a car–that appeals to my investigative urges…)
WE MISS YOUR SMK TOO!!!
Amazing that they reuse the Lotus — and that someone was willing to loan it to the studio twice!
“Country Squire” is the right name for Amanda’s car, at least in Virginia. The station wagon still has a bit of reputation as the wealthy, horse-farm-owner vehicle (except it’s usually a Volvo these days). 🙂
Thanks for the post, KC!
Watch for the Lotus in Reach For The Sky. 😉 (Maybe it belonged to one of the studio execs, or someone otherwise affiliated with SMK/Warner Bros?)
There are a few station wagons here in my area of SoCal, but they’re mainly Subarus… occasionally a Ford Taurus or other make. I did see an LTD Country Squire a few months ago in passing, but it wasn’t cream…
Great post KC. Love your attention to detail. I always wondered what make of vehicle David Benson was driving. Agency Field Agent pay must be okay for he and Lee to own such snazzy cars (although I always figured Lee has some funds invested from his parents’ estate).
Or maybe it’s a guy thing Kiwismh. My husband was a teacher in the 60s and owned a Porsche, a little red coupe with a grey interior. He made bupkis in pay back then, 395 big bucks a month, but by god, he was going to have a sports car Lol!
KC, amazing thorough post! You are Detail Woman, which is good because I barely notice if I am on fire 😀 Thanks for the ride!
Jule — yeah, probably a guy thing… or, maybe, (to not be sexist) a “petrol-head” thing (or other moniker).
Thanks for the feedback… putting the ride together was fun. 🙂
(And, BTW, if you barely notice you’re on fire you might want to strap a smoke alarm to your wrist… or something. 😉 😀 )
Thanks, kiwismh! 🙂
Benson’s car was bugging me–I really wanted to ID it and I spent a long time using Google Images and hunches, etc, and finally IDed it. I was so happy! However, at one point I’d thought I’d seen the car in another episode, then when I went back to try to find it I couldn’t and convinced myself I was wrong. –> I cursed myself when I did find it again and it clearly stated that it was a Turbo Esprit. Oh well… that’s life. 😀