How picture cars get from garage to set to screen


The tone of a movie, commercial, or TV show is all about the details. And when a filmmaker is getting everything from the clothes, to the music, to the actors’ accents dialed in, the scenery needs to match that same tone and style. Making sure the right cars are on set is essential—it’s one of the first things you notice about an environment that communicates what time period you’re watching. We spoke with two “picture car” suppliers, one on each coast, to find out what it takes to get these cars in shape and ready for the spotlight.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/01/25/movie-cars-from-garage-to-set-to-screen


Very interesting article, thank you.


I’ve always had questions about the appropriate period cars in movies and look to see if there are correct era vehicles for movies and shows. Great article!


Glad to find great article on these movie cars.
I’m lucky to own one from the movie The Punisher filmed 2003 in Tampa.
the movie cars for me are part of American History and education.
will be nice to see movie articles on these matter.


My wife and I are fans of the Mrs. Maisel series. Love the detail that’s evident in everything. I’m looking at the cars and Linda is commenting on the dress and make up. Only gotcha for the Mrs. Maisel series was some of the Checker cabs had the 68 and up side marker lights. Not a big deal, since the sheetmetal is the same. Loved Susie’s Mother’s Model A, and the sack of license plates to choose from that Jackie drags out. Utah? Great, they will think we are Mormons and avoid talking to us. Montana? Yeah, that one has a picture of a horse!

The Mad Men series is also a lot of fun for the car anorack.


Great article about the pro lots for picture cars. Fortunately, there are a lot of us amateur collectors who occasionally get an opportunity to use our car(s) in locally shot shows or movies. Word usually may go out through club contacts or on social media looking for era vehicles to be used in a local production. I’ve had 10 vehicles used in various movies or TV productions over the years. Always interesting if you ever get the opportunity.


@jfreeh9999 - I too enjoy the cars in Marvelous Ms. Maisel. I really thought they would screw up the Model A scenes somehow but I was impressed by their accuracy.


As a fan of the muscle car era the old Jack Webb cop show Adam 12 is a favorite for “car spotting” Set in the late 60s and early 70s LA there were muscle cars in the background of nearly every episode. Even the Adam 12 patrol car had a,383 as noted in several episides. Several episodes dwelt on the dangers of street racing. Officer Reed had a drag racing vintage Chevy in his garage he worked on time to time and ran once at a fictional drag strip.owned by American Bandstands Duck Clark. That same episode featured a Dodge Daytona wing car. In watching the episodes time after time I noticed one 67 Mustang that appeared parked curbside. In countless episodes. Gold with a white vinyl roof it was easy to pick out. I finally talked to someone who worked on the show as a tech. That Mustang was owned by actor Marty Milner who played officer Pete Malloy. When they were going to shoot street footage for the show he’d meet them in the area, park his Mustang, then jump in the shows Plymouth patrol car. As a curious footnote the show always had a dispatcher sending out calls like "1 Adam 12 see a woman at 8th and Pine about a stolen car,: Because of technical limitations of that era the actor who voiced the dispatcher rode around laying in the back seat of the patrol car to deliver his lines.


My favorite tv shows are from the 50s/60s and it seemed like the auto companies must have supplied the show with new vehicles as a sort of free promotion and all the other cars whether new or old would be the same brand.