Vanishing Point: The Car Movie You Might Have Forgotten
Car movies have been around almost as long as the cars we love. From “Gone in 60 Seconds” to “Gran Turismo” to the “Fast” franchise, new car films hit the screen every year. However, there are a few classics out there you may have missed. And of those classics, nothing says rebellion behind the wheel quite like actor Barry Newman behind the wheel of a white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T in “Vanishing Point.”
‘Vanishing Point’ pitted outlaw Kowalski against motorcycle cops and bad guys as he barrels toward San Francisco
Actor Barry Newman plays Kowalski, a lives-by-his-own-compass car delivery driver in the 1971 film “Vanishing Point.” However, Kowalski bit off more than he could chew with his latest assignment: deliver a then-new white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T from Colorado to the Bay Area in Southern California.
Seems easy enough, right? Well, things go sideways for the Vietnam veteran rather quickly. Throughout “Vanishing Point,” the wager that Kowalski places about how long it will take him to deliver the classic Mopar puts him on the wrong radar. At one point, Kowalski is attacked by a man driving, get this, a Jaguar E-Type (XKE for the U.S. market).
It seems like a poor choice to battle with the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. The Challenger’s 440 cubic-inch V8 produced 390 horsepower in the Six Pack configuration. That’s quite a bit more than the 240 British ponies under the Jag’s bonnet. Of course, the dialog and the movie-magic soundscape in “Vanishing Point” suggest that the Challenger was supercharged. It’s anyone’s guess what the fictitious forced induction setup produced in terms of power.
What’s more, the E-Type doesn’t have the heft to throw against the Challenger. A 1970 Jaguar XKE has a curb weight of around 2,910 lbs, a staggering 739 fewer lbs than the hulking muscle car.
However, Kowalski’s greatest nemesis (besides himself), lies in the highway patrol. He gets harassed by highway patrol and motorcycle cops in a chase that will have you on the edge of your seat right up until the film’s explosive end.
So, if you’re looking for a car movie for the enthusiast in your life, be sure to check out “Vanishing Point.”