“Wow, what make of car is that …?” Difficult to say these days. With a few exceptions. There was a time once when each make of car had its own unique look. And there were (and still are) a number of faces in the crowd that stood out from all the rest – not least because of the design and arrangement of their headlights. For the time being we conclude this series with the car that I feared most as a child: the 1958 Plymouth Fury, known from Stephen King’s film “Christine”. If he (or she …?) looks at you, it makes your blood run cold!
No, you certainly won’t see this car in your rear-view mirror very often in Germany. Neither will you over in North America; the car is too old for that. But if you do … and if you saw the film by John Carpenter in the 80s, then … well, then fear will come crashing down on you, more than with any other car face. The 1983 film adaptation of the novel describes a nerdy teenager’s love for an old Plymouth Fury that was initially badly battered – a sort of cruiser with fins that isn’t quite kosher. During nocturnal sorties, the car named “Christine” little by little gets rid of everyone who has messed with her young owner. The evil car then fixes the resulting damage to herself, and at some point her owner Arnie figures it out. He stands in this dark hall, the completely destroyed wreck of his beloved car in front of him, and whispers: “OK … show me” into the darkness. The headlights flash abruptly, and Christine creaks, cracks and groans back to its original shiny self, with gloomy music playing in the background (composed by Carpenter himself by the way) – to then go on and kill the ones who did this to her.
It’s incredibly creepy to face this car in the flesh, so to speak. I saw the movie several times in the cinema when I was 12, and after that I turned round to every Opel Rekord and VW Passat that would appear behind me and my bike at dusk. That leaves a mark. My buddy Andreas Schmidt who owns the Fury has gotten used to the reactions and is a man with a sense of humor. He keeps Chucky on the back seat. Before he starts the huge golden V8 engine, the lights go out and he mutters something like “oops, what’s just happened …?” Then the engine starts in the dark and the twin headlights shine directly at me. AAAAAAAAHHH! That gives me the creeps. Christine, it’s Christine! Good thing that I didn’t do anything to her or stood between her and Andreas. Jealous women … that rarely goes well.
Andreas drives Christine almost daily in Central Germany, near the Neandertal valley. The young man with the evil car is the star of every vintage car meet-up. The twin headlights were converted to comply with EU regulations as part of the modifications after importing the car. Sealed beams are prohibited in this country, so now the awe-inspiring “eyes” carry bright H4 lamps. That doesn’t make the light less scary though. In times of “evil eyes” created by many vehicle manufacturers, the old Plymouth is very much in fashion again because it also gives you an “evil look”. And for that it doesn’t need comic frowning eyebrows; that’s just what it does, with its eyes, its teeth and its sheer bulk. So beware!