Hot Sixty 4th: "3.., 2.., 1. Lights on!"
"Gentlemen, what you see in this warehouse are our getaway Minis in what are finally true 1/64." - Charlie Croker (hotsixty4th greenlight movie theme)
Welcome to Hot Sixty 4th where I showcase DLM 1/64 and smaller and sometimes slightly larger. So who is Charlie Croker and why are the 3 Minis his getaway cars? Most of you petro-heads probably know the answers but to those who's been hibernating in the last 51 years then "Getta bloomin' move on" as I present in my 69th post in Drivetribe and 315th total post, the three 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S MK1 from Greenlight Hollywood series.
Before we get into the 1969 movie "The Italian Job", let's talked about the Mini die cast. The Mini has been made in different scales but as far as I know the so called 1/64 by Lesney Matchbox in the 70s isn't exactly 1/64 as most of us know that the Mini is a really small car and doing it in 1/64 will be a bit tiny in comparison with other cars.
Here is the Hot Wheels Mini version compared with Greenlight.
This same casting by Hot Wheels was also used in making "The Italian Job" mini but besides the 3 different colors, I don't recall the casting was modified to mimic the cars used in the movie.
Here I placed it beside a TLV Toyota Corolla.
And how small is it compared to an American square body pickup?
So on with the movie. How did the 3 minis get involved in a heist film located in Italy? It all started with Charlie Croker who after being released from prison was given a plan by the wife of his late friend Roger to steal $4 million in gold in Turin Italy. Charlie recruited the people to help him steal and drive the getaway cars which happens to be, you guess it, the 3 Minis.
So the back story is the producer went with the Minis as it was popular with young people at that time and they hope it would attract them to watch the movie. There was also a rumor that since the heist were done by the British so it was appropriate to use British cars. And you would think the British car maker would jump at the opportunity to promote their cars. But surprisingly they were lukewarm and only supply a token fleet and the film makers had to buy the rest. Fiat however was willing to supply as many cars as they want but the film makers turned it down as that would mean replacing the Minis with Fiats.
After the gold was stolen and loaded inside the Minis, they were pursuit by the Italian police using Alfa Romeo. Since I don't have any of that in police livery I am for now using a Toyota Corolla Japanese police car.
Why I think using the Minis for the heist was a genius:
For one they are small so it was easy to drive in small tight streets during a getaway. Also in the movie it’s fun to watch the Minis go thru stairs and hallways inside the building.
"Just remember this - in this country they drive on the wrong side of the road." - Charlie Croker
"We need to ditch the police. Let's drive on to the sidewalk." - Charlie Croker
"Ok fellas. Slow down till we are next to the big tanker." - Charlie Croker
Another escape route used in the movie was the sewer and the Minis fit in perfectly.
Besides the Minis there were other cars used in the movie like the Land Rover, Miura, Ford Thames. Fiat, Alfa Romeo and even a convertible Aston Martin DB4 driven by Charlie. But the most iconic and unique one is the Bedford coach which played a big part at the end of the film. It was a 1964 Bedford VAL with Harrington Legionnaire Body, distinctive for its twin front steering axles.
Image borrowed from the web
So what significant role did this bus played in the film? All the seats were removed from this bus except for the driver and with a couple of ramps, one by one the Minis drove into the back of the coach and are now hidden from the police.
Image borrowed from the web
Since neither Greenlight nor any other die cast manufacturers I know had ever released this casting I would be substituting it with the Eurohauler.
On their way to Switzerland, they unloaded the gold and dispose of the Minis by pushing them off the mountainside. Mission accomplished. Or so it seems when during their travel on the looping mountain road, the driver suddenly loses control of the vehicle and ended up with the back of the bus left teetering over a cliff and the gold slides towards the rear doors. As Croker attempts to reach the gold, it slips further. As the bus, the gold and the gang ended up in a predicament situation, Croker reassured the gang by announcing: "Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea. Uhh... uhh..". And the film literary ended in a cliffhanger.
In conclusion Greenlight done a wonderful job of creating the classic Minis in true 1/64. Sure there are no opening parts as this casting is really small and might be difficult to replicate. Hopefully Greenlight starts coming up with the rest of the vehicles specially the Bedford coach with the opening back to fit all those minis in. Now that will truly be a great ending.
One more thing. Those tags on the Minis have significant meanings and hopefully I can provide some information about them in future post.
Lastly check out this video on the vehicles from "The Italian Job" on display in Bristol, England.