Grease is one of those films that truly needs no introduction. So I won’t. The smash-hit ’70s film features a couple of key cars that beautifully represent the hot rod car culture of the mid-late ’50s. Hell’s Chariot, if you recall, is the sled preferred by Danny Zuko’s (John Travolta) rival, Leo “Crater-Face” Balmudo. Unlike the boys in the T Birds, you don’t have to race Hell’s Chariot for pinks if you want it; you can just buy it.
What were the cars in Grease?
As noted by Silodrome, the script for Grease needed many custom cars to be made. However, the only two that ultimately matter were “Greased Lightnin’,” which was driven by Travolta, and Hell’s Chariot, driven by his rival.
According to Hagerty, Travolta’s Greased Lightnin’ started life as a 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible. Of course, this car eventually turned into the flying dream machine dripping in hot red paint and slashed with silver lightning bolts. But before that, it’s the crusty hot rod that races Hell’s Chariot in the famous LA river race scene.
Hell’s Chariot is a 1949 Mercury Custom Coupe, obviously modified. Eddie Paul of Customs by Eddie Paul is the man behind the classic hot rods.
Hell’s Chariot is an iconic hot rod
Silodrome says that Paul had to chop the roof off to turn the car into a convertible; he also added flames front and back over the black paintwork and those famous hubcaps with blades on them that spun as the wheel turned.
The Mercury had a 255 cubic-inch flathead V8 sending all 100 horses to the rear end. Yep. Only 100 hp.
Interestingly, the Mercury would continue its film career with movies like Used Cars (1980) and Streets of Fire (1984). However, it finally left the Hollywood lots to move into a private garage. It sold for $478,000 in a Julien’s Hollywood Auction three years ago.
How much does the car from Grease cost?
Hell’s Chariot already sold for nearly half a million dollars three years ago. A lot has happened since then. The car from Grease is set to cross Mecum’s auction block in Monterey the weekend of August 18-20.
The car comes autographed on the dash by Olivia Newton-John, who played Sandy in the film, as well as the film’s director, Randal Kleiser. It also comes with a notarized letter signed by Eddie Paul identifying this car as the “Hell’s Chariot” built for Paramount Studios and used in Grease.
The best part is that the “razor hubcaps” are still on the car. If you recall, these little suckers make a bit of a problem for our heroes in the film.
There are plenty of Iconic cars from film and TV, but it’s probably fair to say that some ride a little higher than others. Doc’s DeLorean, Bandit One, Bullit’s Mustang, and so on exist in a separate category from many other picture cars. I think the cars from Grease could easily hang in that same circle of movie cars.