My wife and I have recently started binge watching Supernatural. Yes, I know the show has been on the air since 2005, but we’re a little behind on our TV watching, so what can I say.
For those who haven’t seen the show, Supernatural is sort of a cross between Route 66 and The X-Files. In the show, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester travel around the country hunting evil demons and ghosts.
However, the third star of the show is arguably the black 1967 Chevrolet Impala that the Winchester brothers travel around it. The car is always impossibly clean, with never so much as a bug splatter on the windshield, despite all the cross-country driving they do.
This got me thinking: For as long as I can recall, whenever Hollywood needs an archetypical old car, they go to the 1960’s. Whether it is the 1980’s Dukes of Hazzard (where the General Lee would have barely been 10 years old) or Keanu Reeves playing a retired hitman driving a 1969 Mustang 2014’s John Wick, Hollywood always seems to mine the Decade of Love for its old cars.
A second example: In the 2016 movie Deepwater Horizon, mechanic Andrea Fleytas (played by 30-year old Gina Rodriguez) is portrayed as driving her project car: a 1969 Mustang. Not a Mustang II, or even a Fox body Mustang (the earliest examples of which are now nearing 40 years old, and would certainly be more in keeping with a 30-year-old character), but a car that is a good 10+ years older than she is.
There are many possible lines of inquiry that stem from this observation, which I encourage discussion of in the comment section below.
- When will cars from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s be considered “cool old cars” for Hollywood (if ever)? Would Supernatural be the same if Sam and Dean rolled into town in a black 1980’s Pontiac 6000 STE, or Chevy Lumina LTZ (the spiritual successor to the ’67 Impala)?
- Will 1960’s cars ever stop being the goto cool car for Hollywood? Or are we destined forever to have 60’s iron stand in as the visual shorthand for someone who is independent and non-conformist?
- What is it about 1960’s cars that lends themselves to this Hollywood trope in the first place?