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The Truth Behind Quentin Tarantino Car Scandals

Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino has made some of the most critically acclaimed movies, won seven Academy Awards, seven BAFTA Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, two Directors Guild of America Awards, and sixteen Saturn Awards. He has become an icon of independent movie making and is a master of storytelling. There have been many reports of how demanding he is to work for, but he makes excellent movies as long as you ignore the film Four Rooms. 

To his credit, he has written 29 movies, produced 22, directed 21, and was the script doctor for the 1995 film Crimson Tide. You may be wondering, why is the writer and director of the movie Reservoir Dogs in an automotive article? I am glad you asked. While many fans are aware of his movie-making prowess, not much has been publicized about Quentin Tarantino’s car scandals.

The Truth Behind Quentin Tarantino Car Scandals

One common thread that ties many Tarantino movies together, other than Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Kahuna Burger, is his love for cars. It’s not uncommon to find movie enthusiasts and gearheads sharing a cinema. Plenty of movies have been written surrounding automotive passion. One car, in particular, made headlines for all the wrong reasons, and it had nothing to do with a movie.

The Stolen 1964 Chevrolet Malibu

In 1994 Quentin was living large. The movie Pulp Fiction had just come out, and thanks to Tarantino, John Travolta had officially made a comeback. Not since Welcome Back Kotter and Vinnie Barbarino saying “up your nose with a rubber hose” had Travolta captured the screen. 

Much like a Tarantino movie, this isn’t about the main character. It’s about something that most people wouldn’t have even noticed, a 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu cherry-red convertible driven by Vega in the movie. The real story here is about what happened to that car. 

It belonged to Tarantino and was stolen in 1994. It was lost entirely until 2013 when Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Arrieta saw two men stripping a cherry red Chevrolet Malibu. When Deputy Arrieta questioned the two men, one of them claimed that he had owned the car since 1970. Deputy Arrieta then double-checked the VIN. This is where things didn’t add up. This car had the identical VIN as another car from Oakland that hadn’t been registered with the DMV for several decades. 

In a plot twist, the current owner Bill Hemenez of San Leandro, Calif., who had spent over $40,000 to restore it and drive it to multiple shows, was simultaneously learning this same Malibu had been stolen from Mr. Tarantino all those years ago. Hemenez didn’t even know it had once belonged to one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and he was considered a fraud victim.

Uma Thurman’s on-set car crash 

This isn’t the only Quentin Tarantino car-related scandal. The most public story involves Uma Thurman and a brush with disaster while filming Kill Bill vol. 2. Near the end of shooting in Mexico, Uma had expressed her reluctance to drive a blue Karmann Ghia down a sandy road. After being assured of its safety, Thurman lost control on the sandy road and crashed into a palm tree. 

According to an interview in the  NYT  she said, “The steering wheel was at my belly, and my legs were jammed under me. I felt this searing pain and thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to walk again. When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion, I wanted to see the car, and I was very upset.”

Tarantino and Thurman have since made up, realizing that neither intended this situation to happen. Thurman posted the video from the crash to her Instagram page with the caption:

“Quentin Tarantino, was deeply regretful and remains remorseful about this sorry event, and gave me the footage years later so I could expose it and let it see the light of day, regardless of it most likely being an event for which justice will never be possible. He also did so with full knowledge, it could cause him personal harm, and I am proud of him for doing the right thing and for his courage.”  

Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman during 2004 Cannes Film Festival – “Kill Bill Vol. 2” – Photocall at Palais Du Festival in Cannes, France. | George Pimentel/WireImage

Since then, they have become friends again. “We’ve had our fights over the years,” Thurman said. “When you know someone for as long as I’ve known him, 25 years of creative collaboration, yes, did we have some tragedies take place? Sure. But you can’t reduce that type of history and legacy. It would have been reduced to my car accident if I died.