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Fatefully Driven: The1966 Hannibal 8

So… things didn’t go quite as planned yesterday!  We had a full post for you, but the internet gremlins ate half of it, so what you saw was missing text and photos.  So, here’s the full version as we intended it to be seen.  Let’s try this again, shall we?  After all, you don’t want to miss out on our first post that mentions cars AND pie.  Yes, pie.

Ever watch a movie and find yourself paying far more attention to the cars than the plot?  Yep, we do that too.  You know how we feel about movie cars… the more unusual, the better.  Thankfully, the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Hollywood Cars Exhibit appeases our need for our favorite type of star, the cars… or as we like to call them, the “carlets.”

The Great Race movie poster

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Released in 1965, The Great Race is one of our very favorite films.  A plot surrounding a turn-of-the-century auto race across continents?  Check.  A dashing Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie?  Check.  A campy and sinister Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate?  Check.  A charming Natalie Wood as a relentless suffragette?  Check.  And, did we mention the cars?

MPW 65124

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It’s a delight to see this car in person at the Petersen.  It’s even more outlandish than it is on film, and the Petersen provides fun details about its origins.  “Based loosely on the 1908 New York-to-Paris race, The Great Race cost a then-high $8 million to make.  Tony Curtis (Leslie Galant III) drove the Leslie Special against Jack Lemmon (Professor Fate) in the Hannibal 8.”


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“The Leslie Special, four of which were built, was a loose interpretation of the 1907 Thomas Flyer that won the real race.”

Thomas Flyer NY to Paris car edited (2)

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Here’s the original 1907 Thomas Flyer, “winner of the famous 1908 round the world race that started in New York, continued across the U.S., Japan, Siberia, European Russia, Germany, and ended in Paris.”

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William Harrah purchased the 1907 Flyer in the ’60s, and the car is now on display at the National Automotive Museum in Reno, NV.


The Hannibal 8, one of approximately five built, was a “rocket-propelled” elevator car that was powered by a Volkswagen industrial engine.  Painted the requisite black, the Hannibal 8 was driven by the movie’s villain.


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We can’t resist leaving you with a few fun facts, so here goes…

Amongst other things, this movie was billed as the “most pies thrown in a film.”  Who can forget that famous pie fight?  Filmed over five days, the pie fight cost over $200,000 to shoot, $18,000 of which was just to cover the cost of the pastries.  Actors were photographed at the end of the day and made up the next morning with the same pie “makeup” so filming could pick up where it had left off the day before.  At the end of the five-day shoot, the cast and crew all threw pies at Blake Edwards, the film’s director.

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