Meet “Murphy” the Mirthmobile…And the AMC Pacer!

Before Murphy…and the Mirthmobile…

Picture it, 1976…a small-wide car called…THE PACER!

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The First “Wide Small” Car!

The American Motors Corporation (aka “AMC”) Pacer was touted as the first “wide small” car (and nicknamed “The Flying Fishbowl”). The Pacer was produced from 1975 until 1979. Despite its short life, The Pacer became a pop culture icon in 1992, upon the release of the Saturday Night Live-inspired feature film Wayne’s World.

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Iconic!

The beauty part about fans and geekism is that someone is always ready to re-create an icon, right down to the painstaking little details.

I proudly present…

Murphy The Mirthmobile!

Hello Murphy! This is the exact model of Pacer used in the film – the 1976 model! Murphy has New York license plates (mild disappointment!), but the other details are spot on perfect! As a Wayne’s World fan/geek/meticulous observer, details are mas importante!

And for $20 per person (or $10 per person wearing VIP lanyards), visiting Murphy gets you ample photos, choice seating…

You can also play Wayne and Garth…

Guess whose “blonde” hair worked out for Garth?

And sample the Red Rope Licorice!

Did I Mention The Most Excellent Mirth-morabilia?

I have the soundtrack for both movies…on cassette!

Also, I covered the VCR board game in a previous Retroist article!

Most Excellent Mirthmobile (and Murphy!) Related Content

Wizard World Description – Murphy The Mirthmobile

AMC Pacer Information – Wikipedia Article

This Pawn Stars segment…

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That Darn Stairway Dilemma…

If you must know, James did ask. :-)

(Another) Most Excellent Related Wizard World Chicago 2017 Experience Article

Deeds And Dirtbikes: The Vehicles of “Megaforce”! : Convention photos of screen-used vehicles from the 1982 film Megaforce…and my butt sitting pretty on the dirtbike!

On a silly side note, I saw Murphy driving down River Road in Rosemont, Illinois from my hotel room window. Can’t miss that detail!

Perhaps it was headed for…Aurora?

Deeds And Dirtbikes: The Vehicles of “Megaforce”!

Megaforce? You mean that laughable movie about a secret army, starring Barry Bostwick and Persis Khambatta? Megaforce, that movie where the dirtbike flips upside down?

Oh yes, Megaforce!

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Highlights of ComiCon

Think of your ComiCon experiences. What do you like the most? Celebrity encounters (love them), and the vendors that create opportunities to spend way too much money (love that too)? Both sound great!

There’s another thing I love about ComiCon…

Vehicles!

And awesome people posing with me!

It’s true – I love a good pose with a movie-used (or even replicated – I’m not picky!) vehicle!

I especially love it when the vehicles are movie-used AND obscure!

You Mean You’ve Never Heard of Megaforce?

Megaforce is a 1982 “action” film starring Barry Bostwick as Commander Ace Hunter. He’s the leader of a secret army composed of international soldiers. And his services are called upon when the peaceful republic of Sardun is attacked by its aggressive neighbor, Gamibia. The film also stars Persis Khambatta, and was directed by Hal Needham.

Ah yes, Hal Needham. That explains some of the absurd stuff in the movie.

Let this Mentos parody explain that absurdity:

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Yep.

If this doesn’t clue you into the absurdity of the film, nothing will.

Ok, three Golden Raspberry nominations explain everything.

The Vehicles of Megaforce

Behold, the reason you’re reading this!

The dirtbike and dune buggy pictures above are – brace thyself – actual movie-used vehicles. Normally with shows like this, one expects replicas built from scratch. But no, these are the real deal.

For $10, I too could be Barry Bostwick on a tricked out dirtbike, capable of flying through the chroma key skies…

I’m missing spandex, a mullet, and a baby blue headband. But I feel awesome!

The proud displayer of these amazing vehicles was happy to show me everything, including the inside of the dune buggy. He also told me an awesome story from that weekend, when he met Barry Bostwick and asked him to come take a look. Apparently, Mr. Bostwick was so excited to see the vehicles, he stayed there for – again, brace thyself – 45 minutes!

I guess he didn’t care that the movie is watchable only with a Rifftrax commentary.

All Coolness Aside…

The vehicles of Megaforce (unfortunately) have the distinction of making the cut of  The Drive’s August 6, 2017 “listicle,” Top 5 Worst Movie Vehicles of the 1980s. In fact…they’re the #1 worst vehicles.

True story.

Tack on the commercial and critical failure that followed its theatrical release, and you have the ultimate cheese that’s prime for RiffTrax viewing.

Take in this sampling (I actually own this movie in its riffed form):

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Unfortunately, searching the RiffTrax site yielded no results, so I can’t say “hey, go out and buy this!”.

So um…now I’m bummed.

But this is still awesome!

 Silver Lining?

The Olds Connection’s Camcorder Offer…Dude!

That’s right, the “Olds Connection” wants to give you a camcorder so you can be on TV!

We Can All Be On TV!

In the summer of 1991, Oldsmobile (excuse me, the Olds Connection!) aimed to make stars out of its car buyers. So they offered a $1100 camcorder with the purchase of a 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. In August 1991, the promo was so successful, they extended the offer through the end of the month.

The aim of the promo? Being in a commercial, of course!

Regular People Buying Oldsmobiles!

The commercial featured regular people…

Wearing awesome early 1990s Mom Pants…

Liking traction control (optional feature, folks!)

The trunk space, DUDE!

Let’s see that again…via GIPHY MAGIC!

MAGIC…Dude!

And Now That You Know Who Likes the Olds Connection’s Offer…

Why not click play and see these people in action?

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So…Why This Promo?

The 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, Oldsmobile’s full-size premium sedan, was redesigned for its 1992 model. Hence, people talking about what they loved most about the redesign. The promo occurred during the summer of 1991 (this commercial aired during that summer’s telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards), and ran through August 31, 1991.

It’s safe to say people really like their Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, and Oldsmobile kept the model going until 1999. Sadly, Oldsmobile was not much longer for the world, as the close of the decade brought about the final years for the General Motors brand.

We’ll always have Mom Pants, Old Guy Who Likes Traction Control, and…the trunk space, dude!

But if you really wanted an Oldsmobile or a camcorder…I’d love to know if anyone went for this deal. There is nothing on the interwebs about it, but surely someone has a story out there…

That Time When VH-1 Gave Away Every Corvette!

What do you do when you’re the Number Two music video station in the late 1980s, and there are only two contenders to begin with? How do you bump your ratings through the roof? You start the world’s first successful reality TV show…!
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No. Wait. That was the other channel…

You create a call-in giveaway contest on a scale that has never been duplicated…! That’s what you do.

VH-1 came to our televisions on the heels of mega-hit channel MTV more than 35 years ago on New Year’s Day 1985 under the Viacom Media umbrella. The two stations battled back and forth for viewership across several decades before both channels eventually dropped music videos from their lineup and started showing reality shows and reruns of Saved by the Bell.
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But in the mid-1980s, viewership of Top 40 music videos is what brought in the advertisers, and advertisers paid the bills. Even though MTV and VH-1 were owned by the same company, VH-1 was targeted toward a more mature audience, and MTV was relegated to the pop and “bubble-gum pop” crowd.

So, how do you draw in a more-sophisticated audience with a more-mature taste? You give them a chance to win a Corvette.

And how do you blow that idea out of the water, and turn it up to 11…? You offer one lucky winner a Corvette from every year of production.
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And that’s exactly what VH-1’s marketing guru Jim Cahill did. He used almost $1 million of Viacom’s bankroll to track down and purchase one example from all of the 36 years that a Corvette sports car had been made – from the first one in 1953, to the latest model available during the contest – 1988.

[Via] Two By Two 2
Not all the cars were what you’d consider “cherry.” Most were considered “drivers” and not all were completely “collectable.”

Of the 36 models Cahill collected, 14 were convertibles, and only 11 had manual transmissions. Cahill later told an automotive magazine reporter that he drove each of the 36 cars home – one a night for 36 nights – and some of them were “nightmarishly bad.”

But, as we retro collectors sometimes say, “They existed,” and the contest to determine one sole winner was underway.

To enter, a person had to call a 900 number at a charge of $2 per entry. For each call, VH-1 pocketed $1.49.

More than 190,000 people called the number on the first day with more than 1.3 million folks registering altogether. I’ll save you from doing the math. In the first two weeks of the promotion, VH-1 almost doubled their $1 million investment.

The winner of the contest didn’t have to try very hard. Dennis Amadeo only made one call to the contest, and the New York carpenter became the poster-boy of every teen male in the country.

Amadeo flew out to California to take ownership of all his sports cars, and when presented with all the keys by ex-Beach Boy Mike Love, the bag weighed five pounds.

[Via] Jim Cahill
And that’s the end of the story, right? Amado kept all the cars and still has a garage full of vintage and highly-collectable sports cars in his Long Island garage?

Of course not. And that’s where the story takes a drastic left-turn into Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and things get crazy.

Shortly after taking possession of the Corvettes, Amadeo sold them all to a psychedelic artist of the 1960s, Peter Max. The sale price was $250,000 in cash, $250,000 in artwork and a portion of the proceeds should the cars be sold again.
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Max had a vision to turn all 36 Corvettes into a work of colorful art, but life events got in the way of beginning the project, and the cars were stored in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building.
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And time took its toll on the Corvettes. None of the cars were prepped for long-term storage, and soon became non-functional.
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In 2005, a group of Corvette enthusiasts searched for the cars and found them, and lost them again after Max refused to listen to their pleas to let the cars be saved and restored.
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Now, more than 28 years after the cars were given away, Max wanted to purchase additional cars to use for his “project,” but eventually agreed to sell the lot to a family who intend to restore and sell the cars. Many have already been brought back beyond their condition when given away in 1988.
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Have you seen Paul Newman in “Once Upon a Wheel”?

When I worked in a video store, I never knew what people might request from day-to-day. Often what they wanted would surprise me in that they were things I had never heard of. A title that was often requested, but that we never had, was the Paul Newman narrated 1971 television documentary about auto racing, “Once Upon a Wheel”.

The documentary was released on ABC TV here in american, but had a theatrical release overseas. While I never saw it on TV, I was impressed with the impression it made on its viewers who would seek it our decades later. Eventually I would get my hands on a copy of the film on home video and it is a pretty enjoyable hour-long piece that is a great snapshot of its time featuring in addition to Newman, Mario Andretti, Kirk Douglas, Hugh Downs, Dean Martin, Cesar Romero and Dick Smothers.

As you might guess, this video has been posted online, so if you are interested in the history of auto racing or just like retro TV, it is worth checking out.

The ad above was very common leading up to the release of the film. I want all these prizes!