Inside the Movie Car Biz
Buying, building, and hunting for project cars is the hot rodder's way of life. The big difference is that Ted Moser gets paid to do it. "My wife told me that I had to figure out a way to support my habit, which is why I started my picture car business," he says. That's not exactly how Picture Car Warehouse came to be, but Ted didn't always have dreams of wrecking cars on camera for a living. By age 3, he was already a bona fide car nut who had the unique ability to identify the make and model of every car he saw on the road. He started working at his dad's gas station at 9 years old, which gave him plenty of exposure to the muscle cars of the '60s and '70s. "The quality of the cars back then wasn't that great, so I got plenty of hands-on experience working on them."
Like many car-crazy kids growing up in the '60s, Ted's fascination with cars hit another gear after watching a dark green '68 Mustang fastback tear up the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt. He hadn't figured out how to turn his love of cars into a living just yet, so he went to work for both attorneys and lawyers after finishing school. "I didn't like either of those jobs, so I went back to work at my dad's gas station and eventually opened up my own repair shop," he says. "I got a call from a Denver-based production company one day that wanted me to help build some cars for Die Hard 2. I ended up becoming the transportation coordinator. Then after working on 2 Fast 2 Furious, I opened up my own company. We started with just 25 cars, but now we have over 700 in our rental fleet."
In addition to renting out everything from ice cream trucks and tractors, to exotics and muscle cars, Ted's duties include building stunt cars and rigging them up for high-speed action sequences. To this day, he draws inspiration from Steve McQueen's airborne Mustang fastback. "The movie Bullitt started my career. How we build our stunt cars and rig cameras to them were all inspired by that movie. A lot of the newer films use CGI, but it just isn't the same," he says. While director edicts often call for wrecking cars, rest assured that Ted's on our side. "I love muscle cars, so I always do what I can to save them. During 2 Fast 2 Furious, they wanted to launch a Camaro into a boat, so I bought a car that was nothing but rust and put a quickie paintjob on it. The director had his doubts, but I insisted that it would work. The plan panned out, and we didn't have to ruin a good car. Another example that comes to mind is when we were told to wreck some '64 Corvettes. I wasn't about to destroy a bunch of midyear Vettes, so I had molds made out of the '64 Corvette bodies and put them on '84 Corvette chassis. I love wrecking BMWs and Mercedes, but I hate wrecking muscle cars." -Stephen Kim