The iconic vehicles in “The Rum Diary” are so fascinating, they almost upstage the actors at times.
The fleet of vehicles, many of which were borrowed from antique car clubs in San Juan, Puerto Rico, recalls a time when American automobiles were the world standard.
Can you accurately name the movie’s most important vehicles? Besides the glorious Austin-Healey 100/6 pictured above, here is another trio of the film’s most notable rides:
1959 Chevrolet Corvette: The 1959-1960 Corvettes are a bit difficult to distinguish between, but the producers confirm a 1959 was used. An interesting post-production footnote: Director Bruce Robinson gifted the 1959 Corvette used in the movie to Johnny Depp, in thanks for Depp’s hard work in getting the film made. Depp was reported to be surprised and delighted. D’oh.
1959 Fiat 500 N: The funny thing about the scene-stealing Fiat 500 beater in the movie…it was the same model year as the immaculate Corvette! Dare I point out that a ’59 Fiat 500 would have, in actual fact, been a nearly new car in 1960 – the year in which the movie was set – not a rusty, ratty relic. A little more research from the movie’s prop department might have been apropos. The Fiat 500 Nuova, as it was called back then, made its debut in 1957 and was continued largely unchanged until 1960. The types of beaters that would have been plying San Juan streets in 1960 would have most likely have been pre-World War II jalopies.
Harley-Davidson Flathead w/Sidecar: The vintage motorcycle that Depp operates while Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Rispoli ride along is a Harley-Davidson W-Series Flathead (equipped with a 739cc twin). That much is known. But what year? If I had to guess, it seems to be about a WWII-vintage military or police model; the W-Series was produced from 1937-1952. The sidecar in the movie is a matching accessory – although it is not necessarily the same year as the motorcycle. Did you notice, in the movie, the sidecar sometimes changes color? In one scene it is red and white, another Army-surplus two-tone tan (this one looks to be an authentic Harley-Davidson sidecar; the red one doesn’t). Harley-Davidson made sidecar models prior to and during WWII (the war year models were for the U.S. military). The Flathead bike in the movie doesn’t look exactly like an military (WLA or WLC) version – those generally sported more reinforcing for combat – but Puerto Rico used to be full of United States military vehicles; as bases were closed, and personnel transferred out, many of the vehicles they no longer needed were sold as surplus.
October 30, 2011