“The Green Hornet” hits theaters Jan. 14, and classic car lovers are drooling in anticipation of seeing the tricked-out 1965 Chrysler Imperial Crown that hits the bad guys hard. It’s “Black Beauty,” and Popular Mechanics recently spoke with “Green Hornet” automotive coordinator Dennis McCarthy about the process of bringing Black Beauty to the screen.
Black Beauty: A blast from the past
When the script for the Michel Gondry film “The Green Hornet” was being written, co-writers Seth Rogen (who stars as millionaire playboy Britt Reid) and Evan Goldberg thought a futuristic new vehicle would be necessary to wow audiences. However, the classic style of the 1965 Chrysler Imperial Crown – the same year, make and model used in the 1966 television show – beat out all of the modern suggestions. Dennis McCarthy found one and modified it with window tinting, green headlamps and racing wheels, which was enough to convince Gondry that a thing of beauty is a joy forever.
A 28-car convention
McCarthy told Popular Mechanics that in total, 28 Imperial Crowns were needed for “The Green Hornet” production. Model years ranged from 1964 to 1966. Two “hero cars” were kept in pristine condition for close-ups, while the remaineder were used for stunt work. SPOILER ALERT – The final chase sequence in the film required that Black Beauty be sawed in half by an elevator, so the stunt models did take a lot of punishment.
The hunt for the Black Beauties
McCarthy’s search for all 28 mid-1960s Chrysler Imperial Crowns took him from San Diego to eastern Canada. Many of the vehicles had rust damage, so McCarthy’s crew had to strip the cars down to the frame and add new engines (Chevrolet ZZ454 V8), new transmissions (Race Trans Turbo 400), new differentials and four-wheel disc brakes. As the body of the 1965 Imperial Crown is no longer made, McCarthy made a deal with a collector who would only sell him parts, not complete vehicles. McCarthy’s team had to re-create the car bodies from an array of disparate parts — machine guns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers and tire spikes not included.
Since 26 of the 28 cars were wrecked in the making of “The Green Hornet,” the filmmakers will be hard-pressed to make more if audiences buzz for a sequel.
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