There is a popular saying that goes, “Oh, if these walls could talk…” the stories they would tell, right? Well, that’s good until the one story about the Great Chicken Dinner gets repeated for the tenth time. In other words, homes are generally boring. The better version of the quote would be, “If these wheels could talk.” Imagine the stories of road trips taken, accidents had, street races won.
Take the long, fabled history of the mysterious Hollywood X sedan. You have seen this Hollywood stunt car before, whether you knew it or not. From Star Wars, to Back to the Future, to Transformers, and more, it has played many vehicular roles and seen countless silver screen drama in its time. Doesn’t ring a bell?
Hollywood X isn’t technically a car. In the film industry, it’s a common practice to use the same chassis and drivetrain with different shells on top. With the same base, you can have anything from a Batmobile to a Model T without having to rebuild the complicated innards. It’s basically making costumes for cars.
As a used car, or technically “used chassis,” Hollywood X has a history that is worth sharing. From its humble origins to the present day, the story of Hollywood X is right up there with all the movie greats.
The Origin Story
The legend goes Hollywood X came into existence on a dark night during a thunderstorm. Two bolts of lightning simultaneously struck the same tree, causing a fury of sparks and thunder to explode outwards. In the wake of the chaos, the smoke began to clear and the form of Hollywood X appeared. From that day forward, the world was made a better place.
In reality, the chassis of Hollywood X rolled off of the Ford assembly line in 1950. For the first couple of decades of its life, it remained an empty platform devoid of a shell. No one knows for certain why this was the case. Its chassis itself was in perfect condition. Popular theories say Ford engineers simply forgot about it or knew it was destined for something better than the daily commute.
During this time, it was essentially mothballed before its prime. Living in a supply warehouse near the Ford plant, Hollywood X sat unused, collecting dust until one fateful morning in 1975. On that day, the doors of the warehouse opened up, letting in both daylight and opportunity at the same time. Entering into the dusty space, a young George Lucas began to look around until his eyes fell unto Hollywood X.
“That is the one.” The young director exclaimed.
A Stint As A Landspeeder
Star Wars was Hollywood X’s big break. The director and creator of the movie came into that warehouse looking for the base of a new vehicle the world had never seen before: the landspeeder. If you aren’t familiar with Star Wars lore, the landspeeder is essentially a hovercar, floating above any terrain to remain frictionless while in motion.
You might wonder why a floating car needs a chassis, but that’s just all Hollywood magic. Hollywood X provided the wheels and base of the landspeeder that would be edited out later. Yes, its very first Hollywood project was a movie it would literally be removed from in the final edit. Still, the experience set the tone for Hollywood X’s future career: hard work, little glory, and interesting tales to share.
Rumors of the time suggested Hollywood X had an interesting time for a young Luke Skywalker who had a bad night in front of an all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet. What can possibly go wrong with a young actor’s stomach and a fake interior made of cardboard? Suffice it to say, neither Mark Hamill nor Hollywood X were happy on the set that day.
Dashing Back In Time
Things started to take off for Hollywood X after the unexpected success of Star Wars. Small little B movies came flooding in for the naked chassis. While other big budget films remained elusive, the automotive star found plenty of work donning the shells of classic cars such as Mustangs, Corvettes, and even a VW Bug every now and then.
Unfortunately, the Star Wars gig was a one-time thing. The sequel movies moved on from landspeeders to snowspeeders and speeder bikes. It was also more economical to film gravity-defying vehicles using toy models and fishing wire over true-to-life empty shells. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Hollywood X found another Hollywood blockbuster for its resume.
The 1980s introduced many memorable movies, but some people argue that only one made a true, everlasting mark on pop culture: Back to the Future. The simple story about a young man and his time-traveling DeLorean provided the perfect opportunity for a stunt chassis that was itching to get back to the top of the Hollywood popularity latter. Hollywood X quickly found work putting on the shell of that now classic car everyone was pining for at the time.
To be clear, Hollywood X didn’t play the main attraction you see in most of the movie’s memorable shots. The movie had a few real DeLoreans on hand for the beauty shots. To keep these vehicles in pristine condition, however, Hollywood X took up the challenge of any action sequences the movie needed.
Remember the streak of fire the DeLorean would leave behind while getting up to speed to that magic time-traveling number? Hollywood X certainly does. The shots involved setting its tires on fire to leave the flaming streak. Over the course of several takes, Hollywood X required upwards of 20 new tires just to keep going without running the wheels down to the rims.
Now that is commitment to the craft.
Becoming A Transformer
Things changed over the next few decades into the turn of the millennium. CGI became commonplace and took the jobs of many budding and established stunt workers. Once again, Hollywood X failed to find the mainstream popularity and success other vehicles like the Ghostbuster’s station wagon seemingly fell into automatically. Still, the stunt car persisted.
Hollywood X did manage to change with the times. As more and more car commercials turned to CGI to digitally place new makes and models into real-world shots, the chassis took on more work as the physical platform CG artists could superimpose their digital wizardry onto. The car even did a brief stint as a wagon in the first Lord of the Rings movie, getting the privilege to haul Frodo and Gandalf around before their epic adventure to destroy the One Ring.
In 2007, a new franchise came to the silver screen that seemed tailor-made for Hollywood X’s unique set of talents: Transformers. Cars transforming into robots called to Hollywood X. While eventually getting the role of a lifetime, playing the evil Decepticon Barricade before all the CGI was added, Hollywood X didn’t get the role at first. Several auditions and screen tests went by before the car got the final call.
The rest, as they say, is history. For the first time in its career, Hollywood X found a stable role that got it a little bit closer to worldwide fame. Playing a role in all 324 sequels, prequels, reboots, and reboot-reboots of the franchise, Hollywood X has taken the lead as the top performing car in Hollywood. Unfortunately, almost all of this work is done in a body glove with bright little balls velcroed to its hood.
Hollywood X continues to work as a stunt and CGI car in the industry. While action films have always been it’s bread-and-butter, Hollywood X has recently started to branch out into other genres in the effort to be taken seriously as an actor. Just last year, it played the role of “Used Car from Denver” in the small-yet-popular film, the Room.
The future remains uncertain for this top performing vehicle. One thing that is certain, however, is Hollywood X will go down as one of the most popular actors and stunt workers you’ve rarely actually seen.