As a kid I used to love those old cop films, shot in Italy or Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, where cops with the mandatory mustache, brown shirts and bell-bottomed trousers fought crime and terrorism (or both at the same time). Much of these films was made up of car chases of the preposterous kind where the interiors are shot in a cabin nailed to the floor while a screen, behind, projects the route the actors are driving along.
Whatever their shortcomings, they were brilliant films which cemented my belief that car chases ought to be made with small saloons or with cheap cars that you wouldn’t mind crashing a lot and that will crash a lot. With the exception of the Bourne trilogy, though, it seems that no one else in Hollywood thinks like me for, if you look around, all you’ll be able to see is Daniel Craig shooting missiles out of his Aston Martin.
Part of the issue is, I guess, due to the fact that we don’t make small saloons anymore, or cheap, square boxes. I remember looking down a car park, when I was a kid, only to see a plethora of straight lines, a theory of unobstructed angles and sober, unimaginative rectangular shapes. Today, instead, it’s a free-for-all feast of odd, rounded shapes, big wheel arches and funky metal twists and turns.
You can imagine my happiness, then, when in Tbilisi, amongst the medley of used cars from Germany and Japan, some with right-hand drive, I found a thriving colony of old Russian-made cars and trucks, all featuring the looks that I remember from many years ago. Here’s my tribute to them, to these old rust buckets that, sneered by safety enthusiasts and snubbed by performance fans, still plod on against everything the environment has to throw at them, even when the new toys break down.