PCW is located in an old Cadillac dealership in Northridge, California. The showroom is ho
Unlike some of his Hollywood colleagues, Moser is clearly conflicted about his role in facilitating the destruction of muscle cars. Often to his detriment, Moser is a car guy first and a Hollywood insider second. Not afraid to stand toe-to-toe with a director, Moser is emboldened by his love of Detroit iron, and will usually suggest a less-expensive option that saves an irreplaceable car. When all else fails, Moser will restore the car himself on his own dime.
At the end of the day, all this Hollywood business is merely the means to an end. The assembly line process Moser uses to make movie magic means he has access to hundreds of cars, buildings full of parts, a huge staff of mechanics and bodyshop men, a state-of-the-art paint booth, and a garage most of us would die for. This has allowed Moser to develop his business as a car builder to the stars—and to anyone who wants to take the ride. The sheer size of PCW and the fact that Hollywood is already paying the “rent” means Moser can build hot rods and muscle cars for a reasonable price for regular dudes. Moser has even built cars from carcasses used up in film and TV production, meaning a regular guy can end up with both a cool car and a piece of history. (Interested parties can check out Picture Car Warehouse at www.PictureCarWarehouse.net.)
PCW’s latest project is a group of cars that will appear in the third Men In Black movie
We met with Moser at his headquarters in Northridge for an interview and a tour of his facilities. Around every turn, inside every nook, and under every tarp there were incredible cars and amazing stories to go with them. Here are some of them!
PHR: How did you get into the Hollywood car business?
Moser: I started as a mechanic for the movie industry in Denver. It was Die Hard II. They were doing the one where the mother-in-law’s car gets towed from the airport. They bought a bunch of Caprices and told me to tune ’em up and get ’em ready. It was really cold, like in January, and the coordinator told me to fix them. I ordered a bunch of parts, and he told me he didn’t want them—take them back to the parts store. Then the car broke down and the producer was going to fire him on the spot. I hadn’t returned the parts, and fixed the car on the spot. I ended up getting into the Hollywood Teamsters union 399.
That was in 1990, so once I got into the union I started going up the ladder. I went from being a mechanic to being a transportation captain, to being a coordinator. The coordinator does the travelling carnival —the trailers, makeup, wardrobe, but I also do the picture cars.
This red ’76 Plymouth Duster appeared in the Showtime series Dexter , in which the script
PHR: Tell us about your “field of dreams” at the Agua Dulce film ranch?
Moser: My wife told me at one point I had to find a way to pay for my habit. After doing 2 Fast 2 Furious, I had 25 cars and was paying to store ’em. I was trying to figure out how to pay for them and wanted to recoup some of the storage costs by renting them out. A production company will contact me, or I’ll get a script and break it down to find out how many multiples of a vehicle will be required to shoot the movie. We may need 50 cars, and we can’t store them all at one facility. We also recycle, and we need a place to put ’em to use for future projects. The yard at Agua Dulce is a great place to do that.
PHR: People see one hero car on the screen, but there are often several. Why so many?
Moser: On a movie like 2 Fast 2 Furious, we might need two cars for the first unit, two cars for the second unit, and a buck, which is for interior shots with our actors. We shoot out of continuity—we may shoot the end of the movie on the first day. The average movie is 55 days long, and it’s dictated by location. We may go to a location and it may represent the beginning of the movie, the middle of the movie, and the end of the movie, but we’re there for just three days and we need to get all our shots. Several cars need to be in several different conditions for that.