Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Matt Helm's Rat Pack Wheels

My fascination with the early Sixties, before everything around here went to hell in a VW bus, is well documented.  Give me the Space Race, the New Frontier, topless-only Playboy centerfolds, and Dean Martin over the Beatles (let's leave the Stones out of this argument, because it won't help me make my point).

My father loves Dean Martin - Jerry Lewis comedies.  Go figure, he's not French.  If one was being shown saturday afternoon on Channel 9, he and I watched it.  So I was already familiar with the tipsy smoothie bit by the time I discovered Matt Helm.  Dean's secret agent was supposedly America's answer to James Bond, but it seemed more like the answer to Maxwell Smart, and a precursor to a certain International Man of Mystery. With all the busty women, lux interiors, secret compartments, in-car video phones, and gunplay what's not to like for a kid like me.  Dean Martin did four Matt Helm flicks, each a lesser version of its predecessor.  If you are willing to spare only a little time, watch the first film, "The Silencers".

Heck, just watching that trailer gives you a clear idea how much Mike Meyers ripped Helm off with his retro-anachronistic Austin Powers.  And in none of Helm's four films will you hear the words "groovy" or "far out".

In case you were wondering what ol' Dino might've driven when rolling onto the Paramount backlot to get made up for Helm, he probably drove this space age beaut, a 1962 Ghia L6.4, lightly customized by Hollywood car smith George Barris for Mr. Martin.

This was his, or so we're told.  Italian coachwork by Ghia, power train by Chrysler.  Real leather.  Real wood.  All style.  Early sixties style.

It's up for auction here.  I wonder where the secret compartments are.

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