Hollywood Classic Cars – Thelma and Louise: 1966 Thunderbird
Classic Cars form Movies and TV continues. Recently we profiled such iconic classic cars such as the Bluesmobile from the movie “The Blues Brothers” and the General Lee from the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard”. Today we feature the 1966 Thunderbird from the movie “Thelma and Louise”.
Part chick flick, part outlaw movie and part road movie, “Thelma and Louise” follows two women as their trip to a fishing camp turns into a run from the law after Louise shoots a man who is trying to rape Thelma. Callie Khouri won the Oscar for “Best Screenplay,” while Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon, Ridley Scott, Thom Noble and Adrian Biddle were nominated for their contributions to the film which contains one of the most memorable car scenes put to celluloid.
Usually, iconic car scenes involve carefully choreographed high speed chases, but in “Thelma and Louise,” the climactic scene isn’t famous for its technical prowess but for what it represents: the lead character’s refusal to give up. Surrounded by cops at the edge of the Grand Canyon, the pair decide they’d rather die than give themselves up. They “keep going,” as Thelma puts it, driving their ’66 Thunderbird off the edge of the canyon. The movie ends abruptly with the car mid-air. No explosion. No reaction from the police. All that is left is the pair’s defiance and a series of flashbacks as the credits roll.
The 1966 Thunderbird
The Thunderbird was chosen mostly as a matter of practicality. Convertibles are popular for shows and movies because it’s easy to shoot the actors, and while the Thunderbird has the classic cruising aura perfect for a road trip, it also has a back seat, allowing Thelma and Louise to travel with other characters like J.D, the thief.
A total of 5 cars were used in the movie: one “hero” car used for exterior shots, one camera car, two stunt cars and a back-up car. The original cut of the final scene shows the car’s entire plummet, crashing into the Colorado River.
The cars in the film didn’t receive any customizing, remaining the same as they would have been from the showroom. In 2008, one of these cars was sold by Barrett-Jackson. The armrest had been signed by Brad Pitt (J.D.) and the visor by Geena Davis (Thelma,) which was enough for this otherwise ordinary original car to sell for $71,500, about triple the price of a less famous Thunderbird in similar condition.