Be sure to check out Case #4 of The Suva Files. We talk about "The Rockford Files", "Reunions, Re-enactments and Rockford Remembrances". All in the October issue of The Smoke Signals magazine. Special thanks to Thom Sherwood for his Graphics and editing! The online version is now up on the clubs page for members only.
Hawaii Five-O: McGarrett’s 1968 Mercury
Written by Michael Timothy and Jim Suva
On a recent Saturday morning, it was my pleasure to meet up with my Hawaii Five-O counterpart, Michael Timothy. Michael is the proud owner of the 1968 McGarrett screen used Mercury. He is as passionate about Hawaii Five-O as I am about The Rockford Files. Sometimes when we own a star car, we forget the excitement it brings to fans, when they first see it. Seeing McGarrett’s Mercury for the first time in person, reminded me of that.
Hawaii Five-O was CBS number one rated show. It was on the air from September, 1968 to April 1980. For at least six years Michael’s car was the only car McGarrett drove on the show. It was also was used to pick up and drop off Jack Lord on days of filming. It had a trailer hitch that was used to haul equipment, and saved money on production. They only had one 1968 Mercury to be used on the show.
Michael fell in love with the show and this car half way through the first season. He took a trip to Hawaii in March of 1986 and subsequently returned with Steve McGarrett’s undercover car, thus filfilling a burning desire to acquire this special Mercury, and make it part of his collection. Here is as much of the story as he can disclose.
In his own words, (Originally printed in Quicksilver Magazine, a monthly publication of International Mercury Owners Association):
For many years I was impressed with the big, black hardtop—a 1968 Mercury Parklane Brougham 4-door. This car was used from the series premiere on September 26, 1968, to its partial destruction during the 1978 season. This car is perhaps the most photographed Mercury in existence, having appeared in approximately 130 Five-O episodes. Three black Mercurys were used by McGarrett during the life of the series; the least frequently seen was a '67 Marquis, black, red interior [a 2-door car]. This vehicle was used in filming the pilot and for stock footage. My Brougham took over once the series began and was in use by McGarrett through the 1973 season. In '74, McGarrett got his last Mercury, a triple black '74 Marquis Brougham 4-door hardtop. Someone go out and find this one. [This is the one owned by John Boley Nordium, Jack Lord's stunt double.]
Eventually, my desire for this car led me to acquire a '68 Parklane convertible which I still have, and which is currently undergoing restoration. The convertible was fun but did not satisfy my desire to get a Hawaii Five-O car. As the years passed, and as I learned more about the show, I became determined to track the car down and determine its fate.
Through a mutual acquaintance, I was put in touch with the show's star and part owner, Jack Lord. At that time, March, 1986, he was essentially retired from public life. From studying each of the show's episodes I knew that the car was partially destroyed in a 1978 episode entitled "Number One With a Bullet." It was now eight years later and there was virtually no assurance that any trace of the car could be found. Regardless, I set off for Honolulu International Airport.
CBS had long shut down Five-O production. However, to amortize production costs, a new series, Magnum, P.I. took over. Magnum used most of the Five-O production facilities. I knew that CBS maintained a production warehouse at Fort Ruger, and that's where I headed. If the car still existed, it likely was in that warehouse, broken and battered. Some small talk, a little quick thinking on my part, and a generous bribe got me into the warehouse. I told the security guard why I was there and what I was looking for. In his best pidgin English he told me I was crazy—what did I want with that old heap? But he took me directly to the remains of the once proud ca—it still existed! But not by much, for it truly had become a sad sight. Every panel was dented or missing; moderate front end damage from the altercation with the Kumu (Hawaiian Mafia) in its last TV appearance; many trim parts were missing; interior ripped, partially burned and ravaged by a mongoose who made a home in the trunk. A few minutes later I left with only a record of what was left of the VIN number. Then the real work began.
Upon my return to Chicago, the untold story unfolded. Numerous phone calls to CBS-TV public relations and legal departments were made. CBS personnel disavowed all knowledge of ownership of the car. I also knew that Ford Motor Co. supplied many shows, including Five-O with cars to feature. Neither Ford Motor nor Lincoln-Mercury public relations departments had any records going back to 1968, though certain employees knew from "old-timers" that corporate-owned, or "program" cars, would frequently be donated to producers and the networks for production use only. Still, I knew the car existed but could not get anyone to claim ownership, much less desire to sell the hulk.
I eventually wore down CBS to the point that they were pleased to get that corner of the warehouse cleared out and me out of their hair. I did not get a bill of sale, but what legally amounted to a "quit-claim" of any interest that CBS, as a bailee of the car, might assert. A check with the Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicles showed no evidence of the car ever being titled or plated on the Island. Several months, countless long distance phone calls later, the hulk was crated up and transferred by Sea-Land Transport to Long Beach, California. From there, train or truck got the remains into Chicago.
Is this, in fact, the actual car used in the show? I do not know and cannot confirm with hard facts. But circumstances strongly suggest this is the car. When I got it, damage was consistent with the car's last appearance in "Number One With a Bullet." The roof was drilled for a dummy antenna, as seen on the car in the series. The car was in Hawaii in a warehouse owned, leased, or rented by the producers of Magnum, P.I. This series was part of the CBS Television Network in 1986. And, much to my delight, there was a series of 10 photos in an envelope which was tucked away in the glove compartment. The pictures showed several shots of the car interior, exterior, and many of Jack Lord entering his on-location motor home. The pictures were all taken in downtown Honolulu in mid-1972. From the location it appears that the episode “'V' For Vashon" was being filmed. With these pictures in hand (actually, in the glove compartment), I was reasonably satisfied that this was the car.
About the car itself: It's a '68 Parklane Brougham 4-door hardtop. The car is fairly well equipped, with a 428-4V(345 hp), C-6 automatic, power steering, power front disc brakes, power windows, power seat, A/C, AM/FM, and cruise control. The car is all black and must have been terrible to sit in for six years in the hot Hawaiian sun.
The restoration effort took three years, and involved approximately nine parts cars. Little is original from the car as it existed in Hawaii. I have made a few minor modifications from the car's original configuration, such as bumper trailer hitch was purposely left off. However, the engine is untouched, unrebuilt, and at 92,000 miles is more than capable of pursuing criminals to swift justice. All exterior sheet metal was replaced. The original Brougham interior was thrown out, as after the mongoose was through with it, it had become a health hazard. The vinyl top was replaced, most chrome redone, and the car treated to multiple coats of PPG two-stage urethane enamel. Now we were ready to cruise Diamond Head once again.
Michael also shared this story:
Ford Motor Company Demands Return of
McGarrett's 1968 Mercury Park Lane Brougham!
I was approached by the Ford Motor Company and asked to bring McGarrett's 1968 Mercury Park Lane Brougham to a private, internal show on company property for the benefit of employees and management. The Product Planning group at Ford Motor annually puts on a show that showcases a specific group of past product to provide perspective and inspiration for designers and product planners. This year the selected theme was the cars of Lincoln and Mercury.
Of approximately 500 cars invited for one day only, Friday, July 17, 2015, only 20 or so were selected for the "featured vehicle" exhibition which featured a variety of otherwise significant vehicles. I am unsure why the Five-O Park Lane was selected as significant but did not feel that I should question the invite. Despite an early morning downpour, I enjoyed the privilege of showing off the carJames McArthur and am certain that it was enjoyed by many.
~ Michael Timothy
James MacArthur – Danny Williams (Danno)
In April 2005, Michael’s friend Debbie Smolenski, arranged for James MacArthur to meet Michael. Debbie ran the James.MacArthur.com, web page. James autographed the visor from the 68 Mercury. Over the year Michael and James became acquaintances. Then James was reunited with the Mercury and even drove Michael around in it. How cool was that!
Michael told me some great stories that James MacArthur told him. Here are two of those stories that involved this car.
Jack Lord is sitting in the driver seat and James MacArthur on the passenger front seat. In the back seat an actor Zulu playing Kono, behind Jack. The Mercury running. Kam Fong, the actor who played Chin Ho Kelly, comes running down a hill and is suppose deliver his line about where the bad guys are, and get in the back seat and they drive off. So Kam comes running downhill, delivers his line and can’t open the door. This happens 3 times in a row. You may not know this but, James MacArthur loved playing practical jokes. What he was doing was moving his right arm back and locking the door just before Kono tries to opening it.
In another story, Jack Lord and James MacArthur decided to drive the Mercury to lunch. As they were driving they saw a lady riding a bicycle on the road. Her bicycle tire slipped on some dirt and went down sliding on the roads surface. Jack Lord stopped the car quickly and both men ran to assist the lady. The lady was injured and had blood trickling down her face from scraping the road. As she looked up she saw McGarrett and Danno. She was so surprised and in awe of them, she was moving her lips, but couldn’t speak.
I must say that Michael’s car is a 30 year old restoration, and still looks good. He and a friend did the restoration themselves.
Michael was fortunate enough to win an auction for this screen used Motorola Police radio. This is the radio that Jack Lord used on the show.
Special thanks to Michael for a wonderful time talking all things Hawaii Five-O and letting me share his story on my blog.
If you are a member of the Pontiac-Oakland International Car Club, look for the April issue of the Smoke Signals. I will be writing a series of articles called: The Suva Files. They will appear every other month for a series of three articles. I hope everyone will enjoy them. Special thanks to Thom Sherwood for his Graphics and editing! The online version is now up on the clubs page for members only.
Rockford's Joe Santos Passes Away
It is with great sadness that Joe Santos has passed away this Friday morning 3/18/16, at the age of 84. He was best known as Dennis Becker on The Rockford Files. Mr. Santos suffered a heart attack at his Santa Monica home on Wednesday. He was rushed to the hospital and put on life support, but never regained consciousness.
Mr. Santos had a 40 year career and was nominated for an Emmy in 1979 for his work on The Rockford Files. He also appeared on Hard Castle And McCormick, Magnum PI and other TV shows, as well as appearing as Frank Sinatra's father in the mini series Sinatra.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Santos daughter and two sons.
Star Cars - Where Are Now?
Written by Jim Suva
A couple of years ago I came up with this idea for a TV show. I think it would work, on several different cable channels. I believe it could be a good fit for Velocity, History, Discovery to name a few.
Below is my concept for the show.
I actually have a Facebook page, James - Where Are They Now : https://www.facebook.com/
Let me know what you think of it!