Here at The Good Oil we try not to fixate too heavily on Jay Leno’s very, very good web series Jay Leno’s Garage.
Over the past couple of years, the portly, denim-shod funny man has consistently amazed with some absolutely incredible cars on his YouTube show — a smattering from his own immense private collection, with others from enthusiast collectors and talented car builders across the US.
In just the past few months, Leno has devoted episodes to his Lamborghini Espada, a Wankel rotary-powered Volkswagen Beetle, a Ford Model T, Ferrari 275 GTB4 and even a Chinese-built 1978 Hongqi CA770 sedan. But even that last one can’t beat the recently-explored Plymouth Radial Air in terms of rarity.
With the help of his two sons (or should that be “co-pilots”?), auto wrecker Gary Corns from Colorado spent around 18 months rebuilding a 1939 Plymouth pick-up truck. Corns, however, decided to go rather extreme when it came to ensuring the truck had enough power. To that end, he fitted his silver bullet with a Jacobs R-755 radial engine ... taken out of a 1950s-era Cessna seaplane.
The truck runs only on Avgas (of course) and features some incredible — aeronautically themed — detailing inside and out, including two plane-shaped steering wheels, two brake pedals and a central throttle. The cab body is a work of art in itself, featuring exposed rivets, stunt smoke outlets and moon disc hubcaps on the wheels (well, the truck is a Bonneville contender after all). The truck even has a semi-matching tug to tow it into place on the salt flats’ start line.
As the episode of Jay Leno’s Garage shows, she ain’t easy to crank over — and pilot-style headphones are a necessity once the big bruising 757 cubic inch (12.4-litre) Cessna engine explodes into life — but once the Plymouth gets a lungful of air, it brings new meaning to the phrase “fly by”.
Pick a car, any car, and make it force-friendly
Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, it appears police departments in every state of the US could take any civilian four-door sedan and have it specced with force-friendly equipment.
Thanks to that wondrous repository of dog-eared and sun-faded motorcar marketing known as oldcarbrochures.com, we can see some of the glorious two-colour brochures advertising police-issue wares in all their barge-dimensioned, outrageously finned, doughnut-carrying glory.
Some models look like their private-purchase equivalents, save for some “Police” decals and sirens. But delve further into the spec sheet and you’ll discover the Ford Custom four-door hardtop — in sought after “460 Interceptor” package guise anyway — featured a V8 engine with “specially balanced crankshaft, hardened valve exhaust seats and a heavy-duty oil pump”(required equipment for “highway and freeway pursuit”).
For most of the past 20 years the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor dominated US police force fleets across America (until the lumbering beast was put to rest five years ago). But it’salso great that a 1960 Chevrolet Brookwood four-door station wagon was once considered a perfectly acceptable police cruiser. A brochure proves it.
Bond’s bizarre cars
If there’s one section of pop culture reserved for the unashamed car nerd, it has to be the various modes of transport that Walther PPK-toting, Vesper martini-swilling, serial womaniser James Bond — the world’s least convincing spy — has driven, crashed and exploded across 20-plus films.
The topic is equally fascinating, it would seem, for clever artsy-types who love creating infographics detailing the many Bond cars that have graced and raced across the silver screen.
The topic has near-endless trivia attached, and what better way to illustrate that for every famous submersible Lotus Esprit S1, there are a dozen half-forgotten cars that have played a part in the Bond franchise.
Everyone can recognise the Aston Martin DB5 at 30 paces. But do you remember a Mini Moke or a Triumph Stag? Well, vaguely. What about a three-wheeled Honda ATC-90 or Renault 11 TXE? Nope.
Audi 200 Avant? Hmm, yes, possibly (it was in Licence to Kill). Well surely you’ll remember the bizarre convertible Range Rover Rapport Huntsman — a sort of precursor to the Evoque convertible, if you will — from Never Say Never Again.
Regardless, here’s The Good Oil’s top tip for your next boring lunch-at-your-desk workplace break; Google “James Bond cars infographic” and count the wonderfully-drawn ways in which 007’s exotic fleet of user-chooser vehicles can be displayed for your nerdy viewing pleasure.
177.8 HEIGHT Daniel Craig is the shortest actor to have played James Bond
5 OSCARS Skyfall won the most Academy Awards of any film in the Bond franchise
38 AGE Bond is in his middle-age spread by the time he becomes a 00 agent
1 FILM Bond isn’t shown driving a car in only one film, You Only Live Twice