The Chevy Impala may not be on many impressive lists concerning unique design, economical considerations, or racetrack records, but it does have a few claims to fame: it’s the best-selling vehicle in the United States, and it’s the car made famous by the longest running science fiction television series in America, “Supernatural”. (Amy Ratcliffe at Nerdist has a fun rundown of her visit to set and seeing the car in person, which you can read about here)
Impalas started rolling off the production line in 1957, and apart from a few hiccups here and there, has maintained a steady output, and in 2014, it was ranked as the most affordable large car in the U.S.
While the Chevy Impala has gone through several changes over the years (both redesigns and parts), ten generations later it still manages to garner recognition, like in 2012 when it became the first American sedan in twenty years to earn a top score (95/100) from Consumer Reports.
Despite its main use as a full-size car for the average consumer, the Chevy Impala has worn plenty of different hats during its entire career, including a brief time on the NASCAR track (mid-2000’s), several appearances on the small screen (most notably on “Supernatural” of course but it can also be seen on “The Following”, “X-Men: Apocalypse”, “Imperium”, “Longmire”, and “Psych”), and as a staple in government fleets.
In 2015, the Chevy Impala became the only full-sized vehicle manufactured in North America that runs on CNG and gasoline, and one of two such bi-fuel vehicles (with the Honda Civic) to be offered to both fleet and retail consumers by a major automaker. It placed as one of the top five finalists in the 2015 Green Car of the Year Awards at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Spanning over eleven generations and almost fifty years, the Ford Thunderbird is responsible for carrying thousands of people over hundreds of miles in both comfort and style. Often credited with the creation of the “personal luxury car” niche, the Thunderbird has undergone several changes throughout the years but retained its original purpose as the perfect road trip vehicle.
Almost four and a half million vehicles later, the Ford Thunderbird is still beloved by many Americans who want a less pretentious (and less expensive) convertible or hard top for Sunday afternoon drives, weekend car trips, and the occasional jaunt across country. It has also done well in racing, particularly for NASCAR drivers Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott and Davey Allison, and Alan Kulwicki. The Thunderbird even set a record – during a 1980’s qualifying session at the Talladega Speedway, the vehicle created a new record for the fastest lap in stock car history (over 200 mph), a record which still stands today.
Unfortunately for the Ford Thunderbird, nothing lives forever, no matter how classic and beloved. As time goes by and people live at faster and faster paces, the vehicle simply can’t keep up with the need for more seats, more space, and more economical choices. In 2005, the last Ford Thunderbird rolled off the line.
The good news is that with almost five million Thunderbirds made, there are vehicles available for those who still dream of seeing American in one of these beauties. And who knows? The Thunderbird has been put on hiatus before and been brought back to life. With all the interest in a return to the past for a glimpse into a simpler time, there may yet be another iteration of the Thunderbird for future car lovers. At the very least, it will continue to inspire designers for many years to come.
While the Plymouth Prowler may have been marked a failure in one sense (the choice to utilize a V6 instead of a V8 engine has been touted as the main culprit for the vehicle’s low sales numbers and production output), it’s one of the most interesting, unique vehicles from a design perspective, and might in fact deserve another look.
In an interview with Road & Track’s Bob Sorokanich (which is a recommended read that you can find here), Tom Gale, former Chrysler design head, talked about the importance of the Plymouth Prowler as a concept car and an experimental vehicle that was twenty years ahead of its time. The heavy use of aluminum was far rarer in those days, and the Prowler was a chance to incorporate more of the metal to create a lightweight transportation option – it was built using techniques that were mostly geared toward smaller, lighter vehicles such as the Lotus Elise. This helps explain the decision to use a V6 instead of a V8 engine. The concept was for a more responsible vehicle made to look irresponsible, not the other way around.
Twenty years later, of course, aluminum cars were standard procedure, but it was too late for the Prowler. Manufactured for only a few years (1997, 1999-2002) and split between two companies (it later became the Chrysler Prowler), there are under 12,000 of the two-door roadsters in existence. It did, however, usher in an era of retro-inspired vehicles, such as the PT Cruiser, the SSR and HHR, Ford’s 2002 Thunderbird and 2005 Mustang.
We haven’t seen the last of the Plymouth Prowler, though – one pristine specimen has been sealed in a time capsule in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until the year 2048, at which time it will be returned to Chrysler. Perhaps it will inspire another return to vintage inspiration for the next generation of vehicles.
This travel trailer for camping is special because of its method of transforming from little box trailing behind your vehicle into sizable camp dwelling: it inflates. They use air to put the tent up.
And it looks very comfortable inside, with all the amenities people need for a cozy camp stay, anywhere they can drive their vehicle into, whether it be lakes, rivers, mountains, the ocean, fields or roads.
The tent inflation system and camper are the work of Opus. This one’s called the “Air Opus” travel trailer, and it can be set up in about one third of the time it took to set up their original travel trailer, which also got attention for its style and comfort.
It has versatile gear hauling, a good layout and lots of camping/living needs like (standard and options mixed here):
– wraparound couch
– movie system (entertainment system)
– portable latrine
– kitchen with stove
So how fast is set up? Well, they park it, open it (it unfolds from the center), and press inflate. They spend a few more seconds securing the outer perimeter of the inflatable around the travel trailer, and it’s done in about 1 and a half minutes. The whole process everything included takes about 5 minutes. NOTE: with the air inflation system, there are no more tent frames. It’s now Air Poles (that inflate for structure). It’s powered by a 12 volt leisure battery.
This huge luxury motorcoach might stand out among the others at any RV park or moving down the highway. It’s a 45 footer with multiple slide-outs and a slick dark-colored theme paintjob.
It made an appearance at the 2016 Tampa Supershow and was shared by Travel bloggers Chris & G.
Not only does this luxury RV have the look, it has a ton of storage underneath, with in-house batteries, hands-free sewage/plumbing, big white grey and black tanks with filling system attachment,
The look, with those stripes, have a blend of carbon fiber (rather than chrome) for the finish, and matching black paint wheels and it has Michelin 22.5 tires on it.
And according to Chris & G Travels:
“While exploring the 2016 Tampa Supershow we knew we had to try and get a video of this rig!” according to the blogger/vloggers. “Mitch and Mike were nice enough to walk me through the exterior portion of the rig. Then, Jeff discussed some of the benefits of the super C motorhome. I am not certain this is the package we would get if we ever purchase a Super C, but it was a beautiful rig!”
Check out the gallery of photos below (all images on our site are expandable, even the featured image at the top).
Find more from Chris & G Travels, and to see more from Haulmark RVs, we’ve indexed them in our Trucking and RVing Directory. You can search a company’s name and look for companies near your area. And to see more RVs, click here.
Music to the ears of Truckers
When it comes to music about truck drivers, there is nothing like the “Road Hammers.” It’s said all their songs always about truck drivers.
So much so that “AllMusic Review” critic Rick Anderson wrote:
“When you cultivate a sort of Motörhead-meets-Charlie Daniels visual image but all of your songs have to do with the joys and sorrows of driving a truck, then you’re shooting for a pretty narrow demographic ‘
But he adds… so what?
There’s an eager audience for it but also for other groups as well who sing about the often lonesome roads traveled by truckers.
Their songs often speak of being away from homes and families. Coffee and cops are common themes. Tragedy as well.
Some of the earliest songs date back to the 1950s.
You can find all kinds of top 50 lists but the ten named here are probably the best known for the widest audiences that include not only drivers but anyone else who romanticizes the road.
No. 1: “Keep on Truckin” has entered the general American vocabulary to mean many things since former Temptations and Motown singer Eddie Kendricks released it in 1973. It reached several No. 1 lists and was almost as popular in the UK charts.
Kendricks did not leave out his old Temptations singing group:
In old Temptations’ rain, I’m duckin’
For your love through sleet or snow, I’m truckin’
Kendricks died of lung cancer in 1992 at the age of 52.
A park in his native Birmingham was named after him and Rapper Kendrick Lamar was said to have been named after him.
No. 2: Another No. 1 hit was ”Me and Bobby McGee.” Written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, it’s the melancholy story of two drifters. They hitch a ride from a truck driver. When they part ways, the singer is best described as having the blues.
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, that’s all that Bobby left me, yeah
But, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
Hey, feelin’ good was good enough for me, mm-hmm
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGhee
The song was first sung by Roger Miller. It later went through many versions and became best-known for Janis Joplin. It was not only associated with her but was the only one of her top ten records during her short life.
No. 3: “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler).”
Written by Dave Loggins and recorded by country music band Alabama, it was a No. 1 single. It was the group’s 12th straight single No. 1 single on Billboard Magazine’s list.
It’s the somewhat sad story of a truck driver working to support his wife and three children.
“Daddy” tells his children that while he is gone, all they need to do is remember the song he taught them:
Roll on highway, roll on along, roll on Daddy ’til you get back home, roll on family, roll on crew, roll on mama like I asked you to do
This one has a happy ending, however. The family thinks “daddy” may have had an accident and goes through a tense night until hearing from him that “the man upstairs” listened to the song and the driver was found safe and sound.
No. 4: “East Bound and Down.” This is from the highly popular movie “Smokey and the Bandit.” It spent several months on the Billboard charts at No. 2 and became a television series of the same name.
Jerry Reed sang:
East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ Bandit run
No. 5: “White Line Fever.” A popular song with many versions though never a No. 1 hit. Merle Haggard did the best-known version.
White line fever, a sickness born
Down deep within my soul
White line fever, the years keep flyin’ by
Like the highline poles
It’s generally believed the song was inspired by auto creator John DeLorean who was entrapped in a scheme to sell drug money to finance his company.
The upshot was a film of the same name.
And In 1988, the song was used in an anti-heroin public information film in the United Kingdom.
No.6. “On the Road Again.” It was written and made famous by Willie Nelson and became one of his biggest hits.
Many others copied it, including Alvin and the Chipmunks in a 1981 version where Alvin sings about his reluctance to do a road trip while he misses his home.
On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
No. 7: Rubber Ducky.” First sung by Muppet character Ernie on Sesame Street named after his favorite toy. It became a surprise hit in 1970 and was nominated for the “Best Children’s Grammy.”
Little Richard performed a rock n’ roll version of it as a guest of the TV program.
Rubber Duckie you’re the one
You make bath time lots of fun
Rubber Duckie I’m awfully fond of you
No.8: “Convoy.” Best described as a 1975 novelty song performed by C. W. McCall. It became a number-one song on both the country and pop charts in the U.S. It was No. 1 in Canada as well. First heard in the Sam Peckinpah film “Convoy.”
Cause we got a mighty convoy
Rockin’ through the night.
Yeah, we got a mighty convoy,
Ain’t she a beautiful sight?
Come on and join our convoy
Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way.
We gonna roll this truckin’ convoy
‘Cross the U-S-A.
Convoy! Convoy! Convoy! Convoy!
No. 9: “Six Days on the Road.” This hit song goes back to 1963 and is sometimes credited with launching the truck driver song craze in modern times. It is also hailed as the definitive celebration of American truck drivers.
Dave Dudley sang it:
Well it seems like a month since I kissed my baby goodbye
I could have a lot of woman but I’m not like some of the guys
I could find one to hold me me tight,
But I could not make believe it’s right
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight
No. 10: “Forty Miles of Bad Road.” Another song phrase that was so popular it become commonplace in the English language. Where did it come from?
Best guess is a record producer who heard a Texan say:
“Your girl has a face like forty miles of bad road.”
Duane Eddy recorded it as an instrumental.
No lyrics needed.
The title says it all.
Hollywood film producers are not known for taking chances. So an R-rated film about a drug dealer taking his RV to Mexico might seem on the surface a bad gamble.
But the 2013 movie “We’re the Millers” was definitely a winning bet.
And a distinct departure from the usual family rated G-comedies produced by movie-makers.
Aided undoubtedly by stars such as Jennifer Aniston (as a stripper) and Jason Sudeikis (the drug dealer), the film cost a relatively small budget of $37 million. But it earned a whopping return of $270 million.
It was not only a departure from usual Hollywood “safe” movies, it did well at the box office despite tepid reviews by critics.
It apparently had no trouble finding an audience of more mature movie-fans who appreciated its comedy despite its adult rating.
As one patron put it:
“This was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend it, but it is not for kids or for anybody who is easily offended. It had a lot of raunchy things and foul language, but they work a lot of funny things into it.”
The plot is perhaps an unlikely one: a veteran pot dealer creates a fake family.
Fake wife, fake kids.
They are used to disguise his effort to use his RV to move a huge shipment of weed into the US from Mexico.
“The ‘Millers are headed south of the border for a Fourth of July weekend that is sure to end with a bang,” is a summation,
The RV, which plays a prominent role, is also unusual.
It’s one of the Encounter line of Coachmen motorhomes.
The film was a showcase for the Coachmen division of Elkhart, Indiana-based Forest River Inc. It showed off what is known as Ford’s durable and dependable 22,000-lb, F-53 stripped chassis upon which the “Encounter” line of Coachmen motorhomes is based
News reports say that two Coachmen Encounter RV units were used during filming, as well as a 1991 Foretravel Grand Villa Class A unihome. The later was on a Chevrolet chassis. The Triton V-10 engine was also a prominent feature (distinct with noise and a V-10 emblem on the hood).
What made this movie a success may have been partly its R rating, which is given for “crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity.”
All of which may have been factors for ticket-buyers.
But the motorhome itself may also have contributed to its success.
Motorhomes in movies have long been a prominent feature of films since the 1950s when Lucy and Desi Arnaz ventured out in disastrous fashion in “The Long, Long Trailer.”
And there’s been continuing debate on which were the best and worst.
Without entering that route, the Winnebago may deserve the academy award for “best” RV.
At least when it comes to not doing very much, but in number of appearances.
Movie-dom fascination with RV’s might be traced to the 1950s,
That was when a 40-foot-long, 1953 New Moon was the star trailer in the Lucy-Desi film of 1953 which started the RV movement. Memorable scenes included Lucy’s (unsuccessful) efforts to cook a dinner. The most dramatic moment may have been when the trailer almost fell off a cliff, a moment many other RV riders may have sympathized with if not always experienced.
But we soon see the Winnebago in movies such as “Lost in America,” and “About Schmidt,” and even “Spaceballs” and “Independence Day.” The latter is best described as serious “science fiction.”
A Winnebago was also the unsung character in the highly successful “Independence Day” film about aliens trying to take over earth. Not really a starring part for the RV since it was mostly seen as crop duster and alien abductee Randy Quaid took his children with him to fight the aliens.
In the science fiction category…or at least comedy fiction…the film “Spaceballs” also had the mad creative genius of Mel Brooks in another Winnebago.
“Schmidt” in a Winnebago Adventurer is all about a recently-widowed man’s efforts to find himself during a solo road trip (which may help explain why it was not a major hit)
“Lost” starred well-known comedy writer Albert Brooks and Julie Haggerty as a corporate couple who abandon their lives to travel easy-rider style across the country.
A much bigger box office hit was “RV,” which featured a bus from Forest River Georgetown RV.
Bob (Robin Williams) convinces his family into taking a business trip disguised as an RV adventure. Many scenes of mayhem such as running over cars and shopping carts and an RV sinking in a lake. The family endures and wins in the end.
Also a hit: “Meet the Fockers,” which featured not only great actor Robert DeNiro but also a 2007 Pace Arrow. A tale of the difficulties of soon-to-be in-laws.
In the lesser known film category, there was also the 2006 “Motorhome Massacre,” which featured an Argosy “Woody.”
Good times in the RV till the machete-throwing crazy arrives to spoil the fun.
The portrayal of movie truckers is not unlike how American Indians were seen during the heyday of the American cowboy west. They have not always been seen favorably in the flicks.
In other words…the way movies show truckers is a mixed bag.
Think of it like the well-known Sergio Leone western “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
The latter two categories, “bad and ugly,” are not always strictly defined.
The “Good,” however (at least in the movies) is easier to define. It is none other than Clint Eastwood. In the so-called Italian-made Sergio Leone westerns.
And of course, we see him later as the good guy again in another trucker movie.
In “Every Which Way But Loose,” he stars with ape-like Clyde as an amateur boxer.
Since that movie was mostly forgettable, let’s look harder at the bad trucker.
The really bad, and ugly, too, is J. D. Walsh. He was well-known for his amazingly diverse character roles.
And we see him at his best (or worst) as the scariest trucker ever seen in the movies: “Red Barr. “
The film is “Breakdown.”
Trucker Red graciously stops to help hero Kurt Russell when our hero’s own Cherokee Jeep vehicle breaks down.
But don’t let this fool you.
As the plot unfolds, Russell loses his wife to the kidnapping (or we should say wife-napping) trucker Red.
There are chases, fights, and bad characters you first thought were good such as a crooked sheriff.
The plot twists continue till Russell is reunited with his wife.
The trucker comes to a bad end when his semi-truck falls off a bridge and he is crushed to death.
The opposite of Red is “Smokey,” of course.
Who’s played by the world’s best “good ole boy” Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit.”
He and memorable Jerry Reed are two truckers on a wild ride hauling beer from Texas to Georgia.
They are chased by another memorable character played by Jackie Gleason. He is sheriff Buford T. Justice.
Just about everyone’s seen it because it was the second highest grossing movie of 1977, behind only “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.”
For anyone who doubted its popularity, the beer brand being hauled was Coors. At the time, it was sold only in areas east of Oklahoma. The movie was like a free ad for Coors.
Also of note in the movie: Burt Reynolds played the part with his real-life girlfriend of the time: Sally Field.
The trucks used in the film were Kenworth W-900 models.
PS: If you were too young to have seen the movie at the time, there were two other sequels.
Since we’re still talking about good guys, perhaps the world’s second most famous movie trucker is Martin Penwald, or Kris Krisfofferson.
Known in the film “Convoy” as “Rubber Duck.”
Kristofferson before the film was better known as a songwriter with perhaps his best known “Me and Bobby McGee.”
A Mack truck was used in the film. The hood ornament of a Rubber Duck gained immortality by being sold as a separate item.
They are routinely still offered for sale via the Internet.
Another good guy in the movies was Chuck Norris.
He is a former karate teacher whose films include “Good Guys Wear Black.” He does some of his fighting aboard an 18-wheeler in “Breaker! Breaker!”
One reviewer said:
“It’s 1977 and everyone wants to be a trucker. That was the craze. So someone figured to put some Karate and some trucks together.”
Lots of vehicle chases and crashes, and some kung fu as well.
Another good guy trucker largely forgotten today is Jan-Michael Vincent, a former “pretty boy” actor whose short-lived film credits included “White Line Fever.”
It’s the story of an Air Force veteran who decides to enter the trucking business to earn a good living for his family.
Unfortunately, the business has been overtaken by organized crime.
The hero and his 1974 Ford 1974 Ford WT9000 cab over rig with a Cummins turbo diesel engine nicknamed “Blue Mule!” fights back.
This film, if nothing else, added the phrase of “White Line Fever” to most vocabularies (meaning addicted to trucking).
“Black Dog,” which in trucker terms means the visions’ drivers get when terribly tired, also added to movie-goers’ vocabulary.
Patrick Swayze plays Jack Crews who is a good guy tricked into hauling a load of illegal firearms. Swayze actually drove an 18-wheeler truck in the film.
One of the best and most famous trucking movies ever had both a really good guy and a really, really bad one.
It was made for TV.
In fact, it’s often described as the best ever made-for-tv movie.
“Duel” was also famous for its director: Steven Spielberg’ first movie.
Dennis Hopper of television’s “Gunsmoke” fame is a motorist driving around in a red Plymouth Valiant (those who remember the world’s longest running television western remember him as good-natured “Chester”).
Chester in this film makes the mistake of passing a dirty truck tanker.
The truck driver, who is never seen, for some reason gets angry.
Very, very angry.
The trucker gives chase, via on the road.
Hopper barely escapes with his life.
In one harrowing scene, he thinks he is safe in a glass telephone booth (no longer found anywhere) when the truck driver plows right through the glass in his 1955 Peterbilt 281 tanker.
There are a lot of unforgettable-looking trucks in the “Road Warrior” movies. The vehicles of the future are unforgettable because of their heavy fortifications built around them like miniature castle-and-moat-protected cities in the middle ages.
Actor Mel Gibson famously drives a semi-truck supposedly full of ultra-valuable fuel to escape the heavily muscled bad guys.
Who could forget his famous line:
“Two days ago, I saw a vehicle that would haul that tanker. You want to get out of here? You talk to me.” Gibson jabs his finger at his chest.
There have also been some famous movie films about trucks that these days just a distant memory.
The best-known may be “They Drive By Night.”
It starred Humphrey Bogart and George Raft as down-on-their-luck independent truckers in a black and white movie.
Unlikely to be seen today except on old movie channels.
Of course, most movie portrayals of truckers which were most prevalent and popular during the 1970s are not very realistic for modern movie-goers
During the 1970s, other trucker movies included “Moonfire,” a film about truckers fighting villains in Mexico described breathlessly as “the most authentic trucking movie ever made.”
Or “Big Rig,” a documentary about real life truck drivers starring actual truck drivers, not actors.
It’s all about the “real people who drive the country,” according to advertising.
Which is just fine…if you believe what they tell you in Hollywood. ###
Spanning over eleven generations and almost fifty years, the Ford Thunderbird is responsible for carrying thousands of people over hundreds of miles in both comfort and style. Often credited with the creation of the “personal luxury car” niche, the Thunderbird has undergone several changes throughout the years but retained its original purpose as the perfect […]
The Chevy Impala may not be on many impressive lists concerning unique design, economical considerations, or racetrack records, but it does have a few claims to fame: it’s the best-selling vehicle in the United States, and it’s the car made famous by the longest running science fiction television series in America, “Supernatural”. (Amy Ratcliffe at […]
While the Plymouth Prowler may have been marked a failure in one sense (the choice to utilize a V6 instead of a V8 engine has been touted as the main culprit for the vehicle’s low sales numbers and production output), it’s one of the most interesting, unique vehicles from a design perspective, and might in […]