When the main hero car of...
When the main hero car of The Defenders TV show—an ultrarare ’66 Hemi Satellite convertible—was supposed to be blown up, Moser figured he could cut the roof off a four-door Belvedere, bondo the door gaps, paint over it, reposition the door handle, add a fake door gap and convertible top, then blow that one up instead.
What’s the most demanding movie you ever had to provide cars for?
Moser: All The Pretty Horses. It took place in 1952 in a rural Texas town. You had the war where they didn’t produce vehicles, so we were having to get trucks that were 15 years old for the period, so they had to be ’35 to ’41. And normally vehicles like that—especially in Texas—were run into the ground. They were work vehicles. Funny story: I was walking through this guy’s junkyard looking for some trucks and found this four-car hauler—a Budell from 1944. A tree was growing up through it. This guy named Shorty was about 90 years old, and he had to sell everything in the yard so he could raise money for an attorney for his grandson’s defense in a murder trial. I paid $1,000 for it. It was edited out of the movie. That’s one of the big disappointments. You work hard on something and then they cut it.
PHR: When you’re done with a movie car, what happens to it?
Moser: We’ll sell some of them—put them on eBay. Like the movie Faster, which we built ’67 GTOs for and one of them is on eBay. For The Bucket List we had the yellow Challengers. We built four of them, and I sold three of them. Normally what will happen is that we build them, they go on our website, movie companies rent them, music videos will rent them, we’ll repaint them, then commercials and television shows will use them over and over again.
The real Hemi convertible...
The real Hemi convertible is still safe in one of PCW’s storage facilities!
Destroying cars—sometimes classics—is commonplace in Hollywood. How do you get around it?
Moser: In The Defenders TV show, Jim Belushi’s character drives a ’66 Hemi Satellite convertible, and what they did was blow it up in the show. So I took a four-door Belvedere—an old rusty piece of crap—cut the top off of it, and rigged it to blow up so it looked like the real deal.
Another example is Seven Pounds with Will Smith. You know the ’64 Corvette? I made a mold of the body and put fake bodies on a couple of ’81 Corvette chassis. We wrecked those instead of real Corvettes. Sometimes you can’t prevent the wrecking of a numbers-matching car, like in the music video “What Comes Around Goes Around” with Justin Timberlake and Scarlett Johansson. They originally wanted two ’64 Corvettes, so I found one out of San Francisco, and a numbers-matching car in Big Bear. [Editor’s note: Ironically, the numbers-matching ’64 used in the video was disguised as a ’67 big-block car with a stinger hood and 427 badges.] In their usual swiftness in making a decision in three or four days, they decided they could only afford one car, so I had to buy the close one in Big Bear—the number’s matching car. It goes to special effects, and I never even saw the car. Then three days later, they call me and say we need another car. I told them “Stop! I’ll trade that one out for a non-numbers-matching car,” but it was already too late. They’d put the rollcage in it. They ended up flipping the numbers-matching car. I’m now fixing the car they flipped.
Nothing is wasted at PCW....
Nothing is wasted at PCW. If a car is wrecked, it’s drivetrain and suspension pieces are saved for future use. If it’s known a car is going to be wrecked ahead of time, valuable pieces are taken off and saved. Everything at PCW is recycled for future use.
Are producers and directors receptive to your pro-hobby stance?
Moser: Usually, no. They don’t always recognize muscle cars and hot rods for their value and their art. So I’ve had many arguments about wrecking a car. Seventy-five percent of the time I can convince them to do something different. In 2 Fast 2 Furious, there was a ’69 Camaro they launched onto a boat. Knowing that I was totaling that car, I went out and looked for something that was not restorable. The Florida salt had eaten the car alive. There were so many holes in it; I just injected it with foam. The special effects guy says the car would never hold together, so he brought the producer in, and we debated it. I won, and it made it into the scene. Funny story: We sat in this big production meeting, and they had no end to the movie. I didn’t say anything. They adjourned the meeting. I went down to the second unit director and said, “I know I’m just a dumb transport guy, but I kind of see it as Tyrese looks at Paul Walker and Paul Walker looks back and says ‘Oh no, not this Dukes Of Hazzard shit!’ They race off through the brush and launch onto the boat. The second unit director says, ‘That’s brilliant,’ and that’s what they did.