The story behind our Pixar ’Cars’ characters
Dear Car Talk: Is there a story behind the cars Tom and Ray were depicted as in the "Cars" movies? I own a Dodge A100 and it's cool to see one in such a big movie series. Thanks for any information. — Kolby
Dear Kolby: There is a story behind those cars. In the early 2000s, when Pixar was making the original "Cars" movie, they called and asked us to be in it. Director John Lasseter was very into cars and wanted to know about meaningful cars we've had in our lives.
So my brother, Tom, chose his then-current car, which was a 1963 Dodge Dart convertible with rust up to the windows and a family of racoons that lived in the back seat. It was not a great car, but the top went down and that was all he really cared about.
And he drove that car happily until his teenage son drove it into the back of an ambulance one day (all parties escaped injury, except the Dodge Dart).
I had fond memories of my 1967 Dodge A100 window van. And if you own a Dodge A100, you know it was also a lousy car. Mine was plagued by overheating. Every time I drove it, the heat gauge on the dashboard would go into the red zone. It drove me nuts. Despite every attempt I made to fix it (including replacing the entire engine), the needle would creep up to "hot" everyday.
I got so frustrated with it that, one day, at a red light, I picked up a hammer that was sitting on the floor of my van, smashed the glass that covered the gauge cluster and physically bent the temperature needle back to "normal," where it stayed forevermore. And I drove the van blissfully after that.
When I first got the van, it was snot green and white. But it rusted like crazy.
And back in the mid-70s, there was a company called Earl Scheib that would paint a car for $49.95. And for $59.95, I think, they'd even roll down the windows first.
Anyway, they wanted a whopping $75 to paint my van, and I sprang for it and had the van painted gas-company-orange. My wife hated the color. So the next time a fender rusted out, I had it painted lemon yellow. I guess I must have been subconsciously obsessed with getting scurvy back then.
Anyway, we were featured, along with our cars, as Dusty and Rusty, the Rust-Eez Brothers in the original "Cars" and in "Cars 3." So those two heaps have, despite Dodge's best efforts, managed to obtain immortality.
Ray Magliozzi was the co-host of NPR's Peabody award-winning "Car Talk." Questions can be sent to Ray Magliossi c/o King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or at CarTalk.com.