A few days ago, I was too angry at my vehicles to give them any wrenching time, so I plopped myself down on the couch. Before long, I found myself flippin’ through my Netflix account searching for car-related movies. Among TwoLane Blacktop, Ronin, Bullit and Eric Bana’s Love The Beast, sat a movie that I had never heard of before. It was called “Yank Tanks” by David Schendel, and it documented all of the 1940’s and 1950’s cars that are still in daily use in Cuba, along with the people that drive them.
Throughout the movie, dozens of car owners and mechanics are interviewed, along with the unique methods of repairing some of these old American rides. As it turns out, the majority of the replacement parts for these old cars are smuggled into the country, made by amazing Cuban craftsman, or retrofitted from newer Russian cars. From guys who build vehicles from metal scraps, to a shoeless dancing man that makes windshields, to painting cars with sponges, to one guy that makes his own brake pads with a secret formula of asbestos, you see it all. The willingness to make any part of an old car is unlike anything that I have ever seen. If you have a spare hour or so, I’d say it is definitely worth the watch. The video above is the trailer for the movie, check it out!
I’ll admit that about 70% of the “car” movies out there are positively painful to sit through. Don’t give me that look. Fess up! You feel the same way as I do. The only reason we watch these atrocities is to see the cars driving at time-bending speeds, through dark tunnels, being chased, with flames out the exhaust, close ups of gear changes, and atom-bomb style explosions nipping at their rear bumpers. Of course cumulus cloud-esque burnouts everywhere also helps.
Well folks, Two Lane Blacktop is no exception to the 70% rule. It takes place around the same time that the movie debuted (1971) and stars a flat black 1955 Chevy with a mailbox looking hood scoop and jacked up suspension. The car drives around to random little towns street racing locals…… Oh did I forget to mention that James Taylor in his early 20’s is “The driver”, and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys is the sidekick a.k.a “The Mechanic”? What, no character names? No Sir! Throughout the entire movie, you never actually learn any of the main characters names. Bizarre? You bet it is. If that isn’t a movie with “Academy Award” written all over it, I don’t know what is. James Taylor’s quiet voice, and bad attitude make for amazing dialog during this 102 minute saga.
That being said, I 100% believe that as a car enthusiast, you are obligated to watch this movie. So be sure to hop on Netflix before everybody else does and grab this flick. Prepare some popcorn and throw on your favorite automotive t-shirt, this movie will take you on an automotive voyage that will make your brain doubt your eyes.