This Crown Vic's ready for the Zombie Apocalypse

Illustration for article titled This Crown Vics ready for the Zombie Apocalypse

Creative, bored, love cars and living in Rhode Island? Why not weld metal armor onto a Crown Vic cop car, then shoot a movie about post-apocalypse police forces trying to stem a tide of crazies? That's exactly what Jalopnik reader Josh Oakhurst did. Meet Chimera.

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Chimera is the star of a short film of the same name, created by Josh and his buddies in and around the seedier parts of Providence, Rhode Island. It turns out that a Police Interceptor with a half ton of metal plating and a cow catcher makes a pretty solid lead character.

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The whole thing actually got started as a photography project about abandoned buildings in the city. How'd it turn into a movie about a car? We'll let Josh explain:

People kept saying our photos of Providence looked like an apocalyptic movie set, and I thought they were right. The ridiculous, media hoopla surrounding Swine Flu was going on, though walking around PVD it visually seemed like the collapse of humanity was already among us. I didn't bother to get a flu shot, but I projected out six months to imagine what a real, threatening virus (like Avian Flu) would do to our cities and started from there.

At the time, I was also learning how to weld and really enjoyed banging metal around on Saturdays. Then when I found the P71 on Craigslist for $200 up in New Hampshire, it was pretty obvious what I had to do next.

How do you go from bog standard cop car to Chimera?

I wanted to have the cop car look like it was homemade-armored. As in the, combined police force/armored guard/private security just found whatever scrap they had and put it on whatever car they could keep running. Even with a million dollar budget, I'd still would have made the Crown Vic look very similar.

The car ran like a top. Fired right up every time I needed to move it. The reason I snagged it for so cheap was that it needed an all new brake system. Every brakeline on the car was rusted through. So I took a running car that couldn't stop and loaded it with almost a 1/2 ton of scrap metal plating.

I started with the cow-catcher up front, then boxed in the wheels using what I think was an old, steel bedframe. Then more plating for the windshield and roof. Last I divided the rear interior into two sides with a tunnel in the middle. So no two perps would sit together-they'd each have their own booth.

The battering ram also served as a connection point for a flat-tow dolly. That way I could tug the car around with my truck. Believe it or not, I did have course to drive it around every now and then. I puttered down a few side streets here or there riding the parking brake. Some guys asked me to bring it over to a hotrod show at the shop where I did most of the work. So of course I had to drive it in and surprise everyone.

The front suspension, as you might have guessed, was totally bottomed out. The plating up front acted like a snowplow, so driveways were taken gingerly. Other than that, it towed great and did exactly what I asked it to, even at the end of its life.

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After the film, with a move to Charlotte, NC imminent, Josh had no choice but to depart with his project:

I fended off the crushers for a month, hoping it would make a LeMons donor for someone else. With no bites, I let it go to the scrappers for exactly what I paid for it. Though, I did keep and resold most of the plating.

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So was the effort worth it?

The film's more esoteric than I imagined and barely scratches the surface of some ideas I was trying to get at. If I'm honest, I think I've got about $7K in those six minutes including learning to weld and tooling up a modest shop. I'm far from an effects whiz even though I have a small background in post-production, but hopefully the finished short shows off that I have a really nice eye, I can create tension, I'm good editor, and I have some messed up ideas that are both commercial and artistic.

I've got some other ideas that take advantage of my new surroundings. Stuff that I really could shoot, alone, with like three people. Or maybe I could be that guy building weird, custom cars for funded independent productions. Or I might keep the camera off and work on a purpose built trackcar.

In any case, I'll be in the garage.

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DISCUSSION

cesariojpn
cesariojpn

"Why not weld metal armor onto a Crown Vic cop car, then shoot a movie about post-apocalypse police forces trying to stem a tide of crazies?"

Yeah, someone needs to stop reading Highschool of the Dead.