A Hot Rod Before Its Time: is it ready for prime time?

There is something wrong with this world. Hold onto your butts and sit down. Up there is a grown man in a little car – Ford’s brand new Model A – on the verge of killing himself. Boy is the air hot. The Model A is a miracle. The technology that it was based on is exactly what Tesla now strives to achieve. Oh it is. It’s just an awful shame the Model A only exists in liquid nitrogen-popping diagrams and on bookshelves, on some late 60s New York girlfriend of Leonard Nimoy’s from Star Trek.

I tell you, the Model A was the car of my unworldly childhood, like The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. My dad’s Subaru station wagon was cute, but no. The Model A was. The fun and punk “celebrity” models, along with the Corvair and Thunderbird, wore leather in the 70s. They had the gas engine, so they were always in second gear. I had a dragster that I loved to drive round the neighbourhood. A big green, R and J with a huge Hello Kitty bumper sticker. It’s also true that my parents never drove me around – my friends and I had a DJ while we were growing up.

Ever since I was a child I have been interested in cars, naturally. Probably because my father got me into them. Oh – and my dad liked to drive them, he was a PT Cruiser fan, right? What’s funny is how this slowly morphed into an obsession. When I got my first car (a Fiesta with a Mercury motor), I fell madly in love. I wanted another. I don’t want to tempt fate, but I might have to wait. Ford recently announced it is producing a Zero Emission Mustang. Hmmm, let’s hope there’s a Fortwo option.

Anyway, all of this is all so boring to my friends. They tell me I should go see Hot Rod. Since when, they ask. Back to my childhood, when I was only able to dream.

A Hot Rod Before Its Time: Ford’s Model A, With a Boost

Colin (Andrew Lawrence) is a car enthusiast, conspiracy theorist and impresario – first encouraging his friend Peter (Jack Thompson) to drive around in a car bought by a Marine during a patrol, and then a dash to Miami (a 1940s-set road movie set inside the E-Class car), where Peter is approached by a top Ford dealer (Kurtwood Smith) looking for a replacement for the Pontiac Sunbird he recently sold. The result is A Hot Rod Before Its Time, a Hollywood-style thriller about a star football player who finds himself out of shape and down on his luck when his dealer puts him on a Ford Model A and deposits him in Detroit. From an anecdote about the 1941 Model A’s ability to shift and accelerate while still moving – the car on the trailer for the film describes the ability as “likely better than a Toyota” – Colin decides to build an electric supercar to match. Colin hires a top Ford electric expert and Raymond Chandler spy Gerald Priestley (Robert Stack), who turns the film into a Jackie Chan-esque caper – it’s turbocharged, punch-up football-style. Like your parents’, yes.

I was enjoying this film when suddenly, I want to move, I want to move, I want to move. I want to move to Phendon to try to stab Colin’s face through his car window. This rather begs the question: why is this film not in 8mm? Like I said, it’s boring. Wait, moving is boring? The whole plot, at the beginning, is more of an excuse to show the car revving and smoke and computer animations? Good grief. The adults that I have spoken to, so far, have seen this movie (so far, three of seven of my friends have), and they have all dismissed it with a mixture of contempt, total disbelief, disgust and sadness. I still find it interesting. I have barely cracked a smile yet, though I am not 100% sure I’m enjoying it anymore.

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