Liz Taylor, a Sunbeam Alpine and an Oscar

Before Paris Hilton, hell, before Gloria Steinem, there was Liz Taylor as Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8, a model-slash-call-girl whose personal shame was the shot heard round the world for the women's movement. She also drove a sweet Sunbeam Alpine.

Taylor, who won an Academy Award for her role in the 1960 film, died today at 79, after a six-week battle with congestive heart failure.


As celebrated as Butterfield 8 is, it's been said Taylor ultimately hated the film. Having recently scooped up co-star Eddie Fisher from his then-wife Debbie Reynolds, Taylor was at the time being chastised in the press as a "slut" and a "homewrecker," which directly mirrored her B8 character. Then there were the overtones of victimization by an exploitative, disapproving patriarchy, which struck a spark for what would become the full-blown womens' movement later in the 1960s.

Oh yes, the car. Director Daniel Mann cast a red Sunbeam Alpine Series I as Gloria's ride of choice, which helped in her "racy" characterization and ultimately served as a prop for her self-destruction, in the scene above.


Launched in 1959, the Alpine Series I borrowed heavily from the Hillman Husky. It was powered by a 1.5-liter four that could get the lil' roadster from 0-60 in 13.6 seconds, and on to a top speed of 99 mph.

And as Gloria found out, it can't fly.

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