CAR

Mar 27 2020

Connors motor cars #Connors #motor #cars



Connors motor cars


I have always been a sucker for a good detective show on television. One of my favorites from my youth is a show that seemed to never show up in reruns. But recently, Mrs. JPC located Mannix on one of the obscure retro channels and added it to our DVR’s recording schedule. The happy result is that we have been reliving a part of our childhood – only this time, in full color! And as you might guess, the cars featured in the show’s long run are some of my favorite parts.

Photo source IMCDb.org

Mike Connors starred as Joe Mannix, in a classic depiction of the old-school private eye. The show had a very long run for its era, eight seasons that spanned 1967-75. A veteran of the Korean conflict, Mannix was an honest tough guy. The first season (1967-68) of the show had him working in a high price, high tech detective agency. A high priced detective needed a car to go along with his station in life, so the natural choice would be a car that was unavailable to anyone else in the whole world: a 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado roadster.

Photo source IMCDb.org

The Toro was the creation of George Barris who was well known for custom TV cars in the ’60s. As an American high-tech riff on James Bond’s iconic Aston-Martin, the Toronado had a hidden gun compartment, a telephone, a short wave tranceiver and a tape recorder. After all, a private eye in Los Angeles has little need for missile launchers or oil slicks.

Photo source IMCDb.org

The first season of the show featured Joseph Campanella as Joe’s boss, Lou Wickersham. As the owner of the high priced detective agency, his cars were a little more conservative. He began the season with a beautiful dark green ’67 Continental . . .

Photo source IMCDb.org

and ended it in a ’67 Imperial of the same color. Many of the cars in the first part of the original season were ’67 FoMoCo products, but that would soon change.

Photo source: Hemmings Daily

The show didn’t get a lot of traction that first season. One reason might be that Joe Mannix made a better everyman than high-tech-hero. At the end of the first season the exclusive agency and the gray Toronado went away. There is not a lot of info on this car. Cars, actually, as it appears that Barris built one for close-ups and a second, less well equipped car for stunts. One or both of these cars seem to still exist in some form. According to Hemmings Daily one of the cars has lived in a couple of small museums devoted to TV cars and was scheduled for auction in September. It is unclear which of the two cars this is.

Photo source IMCDb.org

The second season (1968-69) found Joe self-employed as a private eye, housed in an exotic (at least to this midwestern kid) spanish-style building that combined home and office. His car was downsized too, to the one that may be most closely associated with him: a 1968 Dodge Dart GTS convertible. Although not as noticeably as the Toro, the Dart was also a Barris custom. Though the basic 340/Torqueflite-powered car was not significantly altered, the car had two small hood scoops formed from the hood bulges of the stock car and a spoiler made for the rear. Also added were Lucas Flamethrower headlights and a custom taillight panel. Two small Barris Kustoms nameplates were affixed to the front fenders.

Photo source IMCDb.org

While the car was pained red from the factory, the show’s producer preferred a non-stock variation of British racing green that was a semi-gloss so as to film better. The car was also fitted with custom Rader wheels. And Joe, having gotten accustomed to a telephone in his Toronado, was apparently unwilling to do without that very expensive convenience in his Dart. The car-phone would be a fixture for the duration of the show.

Photo source IMCDb.org

The third season (1969-70) brought a 1969 Dart that was made up to (mostly) copy the ’68, which continued to be used as the main workhorse car. The wheels on the ’68 where changed to Cragers and both cars were seen in filming. The side marker lights were unaltered on both cars so it is fairly easy to notice the round ones (on the ’68) and the rectangular ones (’69). At the end of Season 3 the Dart convertibles went away. The ’69 was sold but accidentally destroyed in transport while the ’68 was evidently sold to a secretary employed by the production company. The ’68 was re-discovered years later and was restored. Hemmings did a very good article on the Mannix Darts.

Photo source IMCDb.org

Mannix continued to enjoy high ratings and Chrysler Corporation began to supply the show with Plymouth ‘Cuda convertibles beginning in season 4 (1970-71). Just as with the Dart, the story with the ‘Cudas is a little more complicated than most realize.

Photo source IMCDb.org

The initial 1970 car was a 340/Torqueflite unit painted in a similar dark green to the earlier Darts. Season 5 (1971-72) saw three 1971 ‘Cudas (at least according to Wiki), a 340, 440 and 383.

Photo source IMCDb.org

It got interesting when the next season (season 6, 1972-73) saw Joe in a ’72 ‘Cuda convertible – that’s right, the ‘Cuda convertible that Chrysler discontinued at the end of the 1971 model year. The convertible must have been pretty important to the Mannix persona because Chrysler modified one of the earlier cars with a grille and taillights from a ’72 to create the illusion.

Photo source IMCDb.org

It seems that about 1970 GM got a little product placement action in the show as well, as new Chevrolets began to crop up as cars driven by clients or as rentals when Joe was out of town. This ’70 Monte Carlo is an example.

Photo source IMCDb.org

Season 7 (1973-74) finally had Joe join the world that the rest of us were living in – a world where a guy could not drive into his local Mopar dealer and drive out in a new ragtop. Mannix compensated by moving up to a ’74 Dodge Challenger hardtop that was quite well equipped, including a 360 V8 and the rare factory sunroof. I noticed the sunroof in quite a few scenes, but it was always closed. I suspect that filming with an open sunroof made for difficult lighting conditions, but this is just a guess. I never saw a scene with the sunroof open.

The Challenger was also a Barris mild custom and are said to have included Cragar SS fifteen inch wheels and an upper body pinstripe. However, the wheels on the pictured car appear to be stock Mopar. There is little information on this car and I suspect that part of the Barris treatment was a custom shade of gray, which looks a bit more brown than the dark metallic gray that Chrysler offered at the time. Or it could be an optical illusion cause by forty-something year old film.

The final season (Season 8 of 1974-75) saw Joe do what so many others did in those years – trade his Challenger in for a Chevrolet. Although Joe seems to have been a bit indecisive. The first couple of episodes showed Joe in a red Caprice convertible. There is no picture of the Mannix Caprice online, but it was much like this one. I wondered if the Mannix Caprice was one of the ones used on the Brady Bunch. Robert Reed had a recurring role on Mannix as LAPD Detective Adam Tobias during the Brady Bunch run, and more than one Mannix episode featured the interior of the Brady Bunch house. It seems that both shows were Paramount Television Productions, so the sharing of vehicles could have been possible.

Photo source IMCDb.org

But Mannix just wasn’t a Caprice convertible guy. A blue ’74 Camaro LT, turned out to be more his style. Why Mannix defected changed from Chrysler to Chevrolet is not clear. We know that Chrysler was in a bad way at the time and may well have opted out of providing the promotional cars for financial reasons, particularly since the series was getting old. I believe that The Brady Bunch switched to Chevrolets around the same time. Or perhaps the writers just couldn’t see Mannix in a ’75 Small Fury or Cordoba. He could have gotten the jump on the future stars of Burn Notice by snagging one of the last of the Richard Petty-approved ’74 Chargers, but that didn’t happen for whatever reason. But it is clear from the credits that vehicles were provided by Chevrolet in most of that final season, so the sponsorship undoubtedly dictated the change.

There is scant information on the Camaro, other than that it was evidently equipped with Z-28 wheels. As to what might have happened to it (or to the Challenger, for that matter), your guess is as good as mine. Did it slip anonymously back into Chevrolet’s promo fleet? Is it sitting in an outbuilding somewhere in Oregon? For whatever reason the poor Camaro seems to get no respect from fans of the show, who focus on the Mopar convertibles that Joe drove for so long.

Season 8 has brought out one other real oddity for someone who pays attention to the cars featured in TV shows. At least two episodes of Season 8 (numbers 2 and 10) feature an automotive cast that is all Ford. In both cases Joe is traveling. His rental (in both shows) is a metallic lime ’74 Gran Torino. There seems to be no shot of it online, but imagine the above car in . . .

. . . this delightful shade of Ford Light Atomic Bile Green. There are Thunderbirds, Country Squires, Mustangs and F-series trucks prominently featured throughout the two shows but nary a Chevrolet to be seen in any scene of significance. Yet Episode 2 credits vehicles to Chrysler and Episode 10 credits them to Chevrolet. I cannot think of another show that did wholesale switches of vehicle suppliers during a season. Was there some kind of backstage auction going on? Did Chevrolet rent a batch of cars from Hertz? Or maybe the producers borrowed a fleet from Quinn Martin? Perhaps someone else knows more about this little bit of trivia that most normal people could not care less about.

Photo source IMCDb.org

As a whole, the series is a delight for spotters of old cars. Joe’s secretary Peggy (Gail Fisher, in one of the earliest long-running African-American characters on network TV) went through an interesting series including a Simca,

Photo source IMCDb.org

a Valiant and a 1971 or 72 Plymouth Cricket.

Photo source IMCDb.org

And the Mrs. and I discoverd one virtually ironclad rule of Mannix car casting – whenever you saw someone in a big Imperial (which was often) he (or she) was almost always the bad guy. Although some of the later shows let the important baddies be seen in a Mercedes 600 or in a Roller.

Photo source IMCDb.org

The street and parking lot scenes were always a delight with lots of great stuff on display from that period of California’s streetscape. The 1970 Dodge Coronet got a lot of exposure in the earlier seasons (driven by cops and low-level baddies). These shows depict that era of in-use vehicles as well as any I have seen.

Photo source IMCDb.org

Did you notice the car in the background of the prior picture? After watching so many episodes, there was one car that became like the famous Alfred Hitchcock cameo shot in his movies. This silver 1965 Pontiac GTO may have photobombed more Mannix street and parking lot scenes than any other. Notable for its unusual color combination, this silver and black beauty stood out, proving to our younger readers that once upon a time a silver car was something unusual. It may have appeared in every season of the show.

Photo source IMCDb.org

Here it is again. There are many, many more cars from the show on the Internet Movie Cars Database which can be viewed here. For those of us here the show can almost be watched just for the street scenes.

Photo source IMCDb.org

We started recording somewhere in the middle of Season 2 and watched through to the end. We got lucky and the show started over with Season 1, allowing us to catch up on those we missed the first time through. We are down to probably three or four that we have not yet seen. We got doubly lucky when a DVR issue which resulted in the loss of several hours of recordings (thank you, Comcast) spared our Mannix lineup. I am going to be sorry when we have watched the last episode. Even after so many episodes watched, it remains a favorite of mine. If you are into detective shows or into vintage car spotting, you will surely agree that Mannix is one of the great shows of its era.

75 Comments

I remember seeing the Mannix Toronado on TV as a young teenager, but I never knew that the show lasted for eight seasons!

Initial ratings were so bad, it was almost cancelled after one season. It was only after a revamping when they got rid of the somewhat acid Joseph Campanella character, added a secretary for Mannix, Peggy (Gail Fisher), and had Mannix operate much more independently that the show took off.

There would seem to be a subtle irony compared with today’s world in how, in the first season, Mannix was pitted against the high-tech computer firm he worked for. It was a gimmick that didn’t pan out. When they got rid of that premise and turned Mannix into a much more conventional private-eye show, it suddenly did okay.

According to Wikipedia Desilu Production head Lucille Ball made the change because she thought the 1st season was to high techy for the audience and they didn’t understand it.
I had never seen the first season until this past year because I was too young and it was my bedtime when it came on.
Bob

The irony is that Lucille Ball was also behind a couple of very high-tech (and successful) Desilu productions: Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. But she had good instincts and, even with championing those other tech-heavy programs, she understood that, for the private eye genre, Mannix needed to be ‘less’ high-tech and more conventional and character-oriented (although Mannix did get to keep his car phone). Considering the length of time Mannix managed to stay on the air, I’d say her instincts were right.

Funny how those mobile phones worked so well without antennas.
(I’m looking at you too, Frank Cannon.)

I don’t remember the first couple of seasons either since I was born in 1964 and would only have been 3-5 when they aired. However from about 1971 onwards I do remember watching this show although being a little kid a lot of it I didn’t really understand.

An interesting write-up, but I believe in the very first few episodes Mannix drove “pool” cars, cars from the company fleet. The first episode he drives a Mercury Comet, a 2 door hardtop. In another pre-Toronado episode he switches to a slightly newer Fairlane 4 door sedan…as a sort of undercover or surveillance vehicle.

I always thought that the Toronado was an odd choice, of all the cars to chop a top off of, but then I guess that was the point: an offbeat car for an offbeat /rebel private investigator.

Yes, there were also a few 67 Galaxie 500 sedans in the InterTect fleet. The Ford presence seemed to go away after about the halfway point in the season when the Mopars start to take over.

I agree that the Toro was an odd choice for detective work where (I would presume) you wouldn’t always want to broadcast your location to the entire world.

I watched both Mannix and Cannon as a kid.I DVR Mannix and Cannon episodes daily on METV and have about 30 to watch so far.I enjoy both series.
The Frank Cannon character was unique.Heavyset and not good looking but he had a hell of a karate chop.LOL!

Cannon had his Lincoln Mark IV or so.Blue with red velour interior so far in the episodes I’ve watched.

I remember he Cannon Lincolns as being silver – a very unusual color for a car when that series began in 1971. Lincoln offered a “Silver Luxury Group” on the 73 Mark IV, and I always wondered if that had anything to do with the silver Mark’s exposure on the Cannon show. I could see where with old film or maybe some color enhancement in digitizing the cars might appear blue, but I believe that they were silver.

Regarding the connection to the cars of The Brady Bunch – I believe that the Bradys also drove a “1972” Barracuda convertible, too. Perhaps the shows shared this car? It was featured in the episode where Bobby goes with Greg on a date to a drive-in, and Bobby pokes an umbrella through the car’s roof.

Even if not the same car, I would imagine that once Chrysler modified one of them for TV another one would have been pretty simple.

IIRC, the Brady Barracuda convertible was a light metallic blue with a blue (?) interior, so not likely both shows “shared” a car.

The Toronado is interesting, other than the square headlights the Barris custom previews the 1970 design perfectly

Barris made another custom Toronado in 1967 called the 70-X. I don’t know whether it came before or after the Mannix car.

Oops, looked closer at the picture – it’s called the 67-X.

These cars were commissioned by Esso Canada as promotional prizes
in conjunction with Expo 67. I remember in Spring ’67 they toured one across the country on a haulaway truck, and standing in line for an eternity
at an Esso station lot to see it.

Good eyes. I owned a ’70 GT for a year. Nicknamed the car “snowplow,” since I used it primarily as a ski bus. Drank gas like no tomorrow, but seemed unstoppable when the white stuff came down. Twin of the one below- Gray with Black Interior, no Vinyl Top.

It is hard to imagine GM Design approving the exposed headlights on the ’70 Toro. Maybe someone on this forum knows what really happened. I have to wonder if Engineering and Finance forced it on them, perhaps after the theme was frozen, leaving no good options. Whatever the case, I think the car would have looked much better with the headlights hidden per work-up.

I’m guessing that from 1970 in GM would only allow the Corvette to have hidden headlights. Although the 3rd generation Firebird had them again at some later point. I think the Riviera and Eldorado lost them about this same time.
Bob

Great read! Glad I’m not the only one who pays attention to such things.

I too have been recently watching re-runs of Mannix. I’ve noticed that ‘65 GTO, but missed most of the last season’s brief Ford takeover. In Adam 12 (1968-1975) there is a ‘67 or ‘68 gold Mustang in nearly every episode of the first few seasons.

Another long running Bruce Geller creation, Mission: Impossible (1966-1973) used Barracuda & Challenger Convertibles with ‘72 clips.

Someone elsewhere mentioned that the Adam-12 ‘Stang “extra” belonged to one of the crew. Maybe it simplified logistics.

On an ‘Adam-12’ group I belong to on FB, we refer to the Mustang as ‘Stalker Mustang’. It, like the silver 1965 GTO in ‘Mannix”, seemed to appear everywhere in the show.

OOOOH that Dart again. Fueled my bucket list as a kid watching that show. It was only many years later that I learned it was a customized job. No wonder I never saw another with that blacked-out grille treatment.

Pretty sure the convertible in the Brady Bunch Drive-In episode was a ‘72 Impala.

I did notice the Brady Bunch Living Room in at least one Mannix episode. It is slightly odd that Robert Reed was on both shows at the same time.

Robert Reed appeared to be having a lot more fun portraying LT. Adam Tobias rather than Mike Brady….

I grew up in Burbank, California and had an early morning paper route when this show was on the air. More times than not, I’d see the “Mannix” custom Toronado driving down Olive Avenue towards the studios – someone obviously drove it home at night and then to the studio during the day! I wonder if it was Connors himself, anyone know?

I’m relatively certain the Challenger got a repaint because it has the ‘Rallye’ front fender scoops, and I believe those came standard from the factory with strobe stripes. Likewise, I think the stripes only came in black, and I can’t imagine a Rallye Challenger with the sort of mundane color that was Mannix’ car (it also has white-wall tires) having black stripes (but it would have came with the Rally wheels).

Similarly, it makes sense that the sunroof was never open. A lot of the car shots got reused between shows and it would have been too obvious for the sunroof to alternate between being open and closed on the same show. This happened with the Dart as it was all-too-common for the car to alternate between the ’68 and ’69 where you could tell by the round and rectangular side marker lights. Another tip is that the ’69 got front turn signals that were the stock signals turned vertically and moved inward (I don’t think the ’68 had front turn signals). And those Dart tallights always confused me. They look like stock ’67 units, but they actually seem to be just cut sheets of clear red plastic that were slapped over the stock bezels. This was actually a clever move since it would have been even more obvious and easy to tell a ’68 or ’69 Dart if they kept the stock units, which were noticably different.

It’s actually kind of strange that a well-to-do guy like Mannix drove a Dart, albeit customized, at all. From what I can gather, it had to do with cost-cutting as the show was very nearly cancelled after low ratings for the first season. I guess they wanted Mannix to have a custom car, but figured it didn’t matter if it started out as a compact. Still, you would have thought they’d have used a Barracuda convertible instead of a lowly Dart.

It’s interesting to compare Joe Mannix and Jim Rockford. In fact, I suspect that the producers of The Rockford Files decided to take a guy like Joe Mannix and put him in situations (like every show) where, unlike the successful Mannix who had a nice house, cars, and secretary, Rockford was a streetwise ex-con that would solve the case, but invariably lose money, could only afford to live in a trailer, and drive a low-trim, stock Firebird.

I think Mannix followed a formula used by many PI shows and many more PI shows came after following the same formula just tweaking the PI’s personality, showing PI’s as rich, successful and seemingly admired by the police. Stephen Cannell and James Garner sought out to make Jim Rockford the opposite of the other PI’s. He even mentioned his fee ($200 a day plus expenses). No other PI show made mention of their fees. Of course he often didn’t get paid or lost money anyway.
Rockford files even satired the “rich successful PI” by having Tom Selleck play one on an episode.

I saw the Tom Selleck episode of Rockford. Ironic, considering Selleck would later achieve fame as the Ferrari 308-driving Magnum, PI. In Rockford, he dressed well and drove a new Eldorado convertible, as well as being respected by the cops (unlike Rockford). As one might expect, Rockford was amazed he’d survived as long as he had and saved his skin in the end, but got nothing out of it, while the Selleck character ended up marrying the daughter of some old wealthy dude.

Not all earlier movie/TV/radio detectives were affluent, though, and some were pretty upfront about fees. Philip Marlowe famously got $25 a day plus expenses (around $350/day in current dollars), although the weird Robert Montgomery adaptation of The Lady in the Lake cut that to $10 a day (around $115 now) — since that Marlowe was trying his hand at writing detective stories, he was apparently hard up.

An interesting variation was the Nero Wolfe radio show, on which Wolfe charged clients different and sometimes extravagant fees depending on how much they annoyed him, but where he was frequently hard up for cash because he spent money lavishly. (A lot of episodes are predicated on Archie convincing Wolfe to take a client he doesn’t really want to because they’re skint.)

What’s strange about the Mannix 74 Camaro is the chrome side window trim extending passed the window and stopping halfway through the sail panel. This possibly could of been a very early design that never made it to production. Very odd.

JP, there Is just too much eye candy here in all these beautiful cars! Great writeup, I remember watching that show myself as a kid, I’ll have to watch for it on reruns here. I’ve been PVR’ing Batman, and salivating over the Batmobile again recently. Right after Batman, Bewitched is on, but we only see Darrin’s Chevelle, at least in the seasons that they have shown so far.
Of all of Mannix’s cars you showed us today, I’d like the Challenger the most. To me the 74 was the best designed of all the Challengers. Too bad Mannix did not try out the Corinthian leather of a Cordoba. It’s surprising he went to Chevy, when he could have had a Cutlass Supreme in 74-75.

BTW, it’s worth noting that Mike Conners just died last January. He was 91 and, by all accounts, a pretty decent guy in real life.

Read somewhere that Mike Conners got the Mannix job because Desi Arnaz noticed him in a classic car and started up a conversation – thought he would be perfect for the job. Mannix started as a DesiLu Production.

As a former owner of a ‘68 Toronado, I’ve always thought it interesting that the Barris custom did look so much like the 1970 Toronado.

I always wondered why this show never popped up in reruns in the past like the Rockford Files did. ME TV is great for car spotting they do rotate their line up but shows like Adam-12, Dragnet, Chips, Emergency, are ripe with street scenes of the cars of the times.

The studios do have fleets of cars for back grounds and the like.

Many years ago we happened to stay in a motel in southern CA that the producers of the TV show Angel had rented for a parking lot “fight” scene. We got there and they had 1/2 of the parking lot roped off and told us to park out of that area. A little later the production company started rolling in and they brought in 5 or 6 cars that they put in the area they were filming.

I wonder if it had something to do with Mike Conners, himself. It seems like an odd coincidence that not long after he dies, not long after, Mannix reruns appear. Maybe he had some kind of controlling interest in the show and, now, his heirs have sold/released it.

Or it could just be whomever owns the rights figured to cash in on the notoriety of his passing.

A syndicated column (1968) called “Ask Them Yourself.” No special details, alas:

“whenever you saw someone in a big Imperial (which was often) he (or she) was almost always the bad guy. Although some of the later shows let the important baddies be seen in a Mercedes 600 or in a Roller.”

It was ever thus.

Columbo – surely the greatest TV Detective of them all – almost always had the baddie in a high end European car. Rollers, Jaguars, or particularly, Mercedes. If they’d been who-dunnits, you’d know who purely by their car.

Bruce Wayne had an Imperial in some of the Batman episodes and in the 1966 feature.

Great writeup and pictures

Mannix was one of my must watch TV shows. The Dart was my favorite of all of his cars. I noticed at the time that it was mildly customized. I figured they just were trying to lightly disguise what make it was.
I never liked the Toronado. I felt like it was way too much over the top. In fact it reminds me of an early Rockford episode, possibly the pilot. Rockford is being tailed by a bad guy ( William Smith) in a red Eldorado convertible with the top down. Rockford can’t believe that someone would be so stupid as to be trying to tail someone in such a high profile vehicle.
Speaking of Rockford, just like the GTO in Mannix and the green VW in Bullitt, there is a silver Vega that appears in virtually every episode. It is even driven by a character ( Victor Jory) in one episode.

On eBay just now (otherwise, I don’t know a thing about this):

Great find George

The other (same eBay source):

Didn’t wanna take the image, and didn’t let me “Edit.” I’ll try again:

Never seen this show, although I did have the soundtrack for a while. Lalo Schifrin, but not at his best.

Cars of the Stars’ by Barris and Jack Scagnetti has a little bit of info on the ‘Nado.

Barris ‘reformed the back section into a two-passenger roadster, installing a complete new X-frame member to re-conform the unitised body. The rear section had a removable leather tonneau, which covered a storage space for all crime-fighting and survival equipment, along with a roll bar.

‘A full horizontal air spoiler and unitsway speed control level-load bars aided roadibility. Adjustable air bars and coils to raise and lower the car, depending on road conditions, added to the car’s maneuvrability.

‘A slip down armrest offered a quick-draw secret pocket, form-fitted for Mannix’ automatic revolver (sic). Hidden in the armrest was complete full-circuited push-button telephone system, plus a short-wave radio. A Muntz cartridge stereo tape system recorded all conversations.

‘At the turn of a handle, a reflective mesh covering over the taillight area could deflect increased light rays back toward a chasing vehicle, blinding an enemy driver.

‘The exterior was finished in a semi-gloss acrylic lacquer with 30 coats of platinum star pearl by Metalflake. A two-tone silhouette was created along the center belt in black star pearl.’

Connors with his personal drive, a Bentley painted burgundy and silver

The more detailed information on Mannix’ custom Toronado actually goes a very long way in explaining the impetus in its creation. Working for the hi-tech detective agency, Intertect, meant he got a hi-tech ride to contain all kinds of sleuthing toys, sort of like a domestic version of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5. Unfortunately, as another user commented, audiences were confused about what was going on, so they lost the Toronado in the second season for something substantionally less exotic.

The James Bond parallel is apt. The first few episodes seemed to present Mannix as a sort of LA-based 007 (without, of course, the license to kill.) As Season 1 progressed the character became less like Bond and more like an old-school PI out of classic Hollywood.

A very timely posting-I am almost done binge-watching the entire series on DVD (picked up the complete ‘Mannix’ collection from the ‘A’ word), partway through season 8 right now.
A few observations:
-the black Doge Coronet (1968-1974). I call it the “Ubiquitous Black Dodge”-it could be used by the Bad-Guy-of-the-Week to run over Mannix one week and be Lt. Art Malcomb’s unmarked cruiser the next week.
-The Toronado, Darts, and Barracudas (Barracudi?) are well documented, but there is nothing much about the 1973 Challenger or the 1974 Camaro Type LT.
-Part way through season 7, the Challenger started to sport slotted mag wheels (still with whitewalls) in place of the Rallye wheels. Also-if you look closely at various interior shots of the Challenger, you’ll see that the high back seat’s backrests were cut down to a lowback style.. I’m guessing that it may have been done to provide a better filming sightline should they ever use a camera person in the back seat for driving shots?
-The 1974 Camaro LT appears to be bone stock (aside from the Z-28 wheels). From what I can tell on the episodes it appears in, it has black cloth seats and manual windows. Nice looking Camaro, but I think Jim Rockford’s 1974 Firebird Esprit with the 400 would have the advantage in a race down the PCH.
-There were a couple of continuity goofs-Mannix parks in an alley with the Dart (during the Barracuda years) in an episode-never mind he leaves and comes back out to the 1971 Barracuda when he leaves. Also, In season 8, the challenger is back for a scene-he pulls up into is parking space, parks the Challenger, and walks into his office. Later on, he is in the Camaro. So much for continuity…
-More often or not, whenever a character on the show (rich playboy boyfriend/arm-candy girlfriend)would be driving a Jaguar XKE, the Jag would end up as a smoldering heap at the bottom of a cliff after plunging off of Mullholland Drive and bursting into flames after impact.
Mannix was a great show-Mike Connors did a great job portraying Mannix as a likeable guy (with a lot of flesh wounds on his shoulder…). The show holds up after all of these years-decent production values (for the time) great writers, directors, and casting made this show enjoyable to watch. Extra bonus points for the various car sightings..

Thanks for a fun entry. I’ve recently discovered the show on MeTV.

I don’t think any other TV detective got hit over the head and knocked out as much as Mannix did. I remember thinking the first time I saw that Toronado’s front end, “Wow, is that ugly!”. Time has not changed that opinion at all.

A Toronado with Ami 6 headlights, as a kid I knew there was something fishy about that car!
His gorgeous secretary drove a Simca 1000 in the first series where they changed to Chrysler car. That woman did make an impression on me, a tall dark very elegant lady who appeared very friendly in the series.

I’ve wondered how often those quite-illegal-for-the-times headlights got the CHP’s attention whenever Mannix’ Toronado was driven on public roads.

found on James Lilek’s tumblr “LINT”

The bad-guy car is always fairly consistent. Several late-50s shows used the horrible 58-60 Lincolns for gangsters. Appropriate and realistic.

In the early 50s the bad guys mostly drove Nashes, which didn’t make any sense. Not big enough, not fast enough.

Was it a case of product anti-placement? GM or Ford paying the producers to place criminals in Nashes?

There was one season 8 Mannix show where a “syndicate” hit man drove an AMC Ambassador.

for completists, the 1st DVD box set has a fair number of special features. connors and campanella recorded intros to each episode with some of their observations recollections relevant to the show in the 2000s. also has special features about connors injury filming the palm springs golf course/helicopter scene that appeared in the opening credits for years. Breaking his hand in a filmed fight with with actor wearing a metal strapped lower back brace that forced him to hide the hand for rest of the seasons filming etc. maybe later season sets have sp features on the livery.

A rather ambitious project that has been in the back of my mind for several years has been an article with a title like “The Cars of Universal Studios”, or something along that line.
Example 1: That silver Vega wasn’t only on Rockford. It was in a few episodes of
Police Story too.
Example 2: Friday and Gannon’s Fairlane has turned up in other shows too, notably
Ironside, where it was usually a background car. It was sometimes, though driven by
the Lieutenant Reece character.
Example 3: The Two Lane Blacktop GTO can be spotted in the following shows-
Adam-12 and the opening credits of Beretta. Also, on the Rockford Files, Season
3, Episode 3, where the factory Orbit Orange had been painted over with a poor
quality red and a Starsky stripe. The interior and the Keystone mags are a dead
giveway, though.
Example 4: Speaking of Two Lane Blacktop, the 55 Chevy also appears in at least
one episode of Adam-12, still in it’s primered street racer trim. This obviously
would have been just prior to it’s being cleaned up and painted black for it’s
starring role in American Graffiti.
Example 5: I’ve seen Columbo’s 404 Cabrio in other productions, memory of which
escapes me.
Example 6: Speaking of Adam-12, the aforementioned Bronze ’67 Mustang, in
addition to all the background shots, is sometimes Malloy’s private car. There are
continuity issues here because in Season 1, EP 20, he took delivery of a new
Nightmist Blue ’68 Mustang convert that was promptly vandalized by angry
hippies in a college riot where Malloy was going to night school. That was the last
time that car was ever seen, though the script called for it being repaired
off-screen. The hippies who did it were driving it a light green ’69 Ford XL convert,
a miscasting if there was one. This very same Ford was driven by Robert Stack
in an episode of “The Name of the Game” (who remembers that one?)
It stood out like a sore thumb because that was predominantly a Mopar universe.
Then in Adam-12,Season 2, Ep 1, Malloy’s car was a blue ’69 Mustang convert.
There is a scene where Malloy is lowering it’s manual top. Then, inexplicably,
it was never seen again, Malloy’s personal car role being filled by the
aforementioned brass ’67 Mustang for several years until he took delivery
of a yellow ’74 Matador in Season 6. Ep 18. This one was also promptly damaged
in the same episode. Other recurrent background bombers I recall were a Bronze
’66 Ambassador or Rebel, and a ’69 Fairlane 2-door hardtop with dog dishes,also
bronze. The latter served as Reed’s personal car at least once, and was used in
a handful of action sequences.
The deeper you dig, the more my head explodes.

The Barris Toronado roadster showed up at Hershey this year offered for sale by Dragone. They were in serious negotiation with a potential buyer when we were there, so I kept my comments about it out of hearing range. It looks for the most part like an amateurish customizing job in terms of styling and particularly craftsmanship execution. The prefect car for the wealth man-child to brag to his aging Mannix enthusiast contemporaries that he now has in his stable. Really have to hand it to George Barris, parlayed his meager design talent and schlock workmanship into national fame and major wealth.

I think that’s pretty much endemic of just about all movie/television vehicles. It’s very rare that any modifications are of the caliber that stand up to close scrutiny. It’s not always the modifier’s fault, either; studios tend to give them very short notice and time frames to complete the modifications.

But, yeah, Barris’ vehicles seem to be crap. He rode the fame of his biggest hit, the Batmobile, for a long time. He was also not shy about taking credit for other customizer’s work, too. I think he used to claim he did the Green Hornet’s Imperial on occasion.

What he would do was make a fiberglass mold of someone else’s creation
(in the Green Hornet’s case, Dean Jeffries) and lie by omission( i.e. not mentioning it wasn’t his and letting observers form their own (wrong) conclusions.

Then, if someone did the same thing to him (like those Batmobile replicas that were the rage for a while), wasn’t Barris known for taking legal action against the replica makers?

Never heard of Mannix, or got to see the gorgeous Anne Francis as Honey West, but those 60’s cars ooze style and optimism, the high point of American cars for my taste, they have lost it though, cannot think of any American car past the 78 Chevrolet Caprice I would actually want to own.

The 60sToronado is a stunning original design, possibly second only to the 62 Lincoln, and just pips the Buick Riviera , chopping the roof off spoils it completely for me

Of course I remember The Name of the Game – with that great title music by Dave Grusin (in 7/4 meter!). But the only car I recall from any episode is the Chrysler 300 in “L.A. 2017” from the final season, 1970-71, in which the Gene Barry character is lost in the desert in his new Chrysler and soon finds himself “visiting” the underground society of future Los Angeles. It might have been young Steven Spielberg’s first science-fictional directing job.

Yes, one of my favorite shoes back in the day, as a kid. And I still like it. Always liked the cars, which were mostly Mopars, coming from a Mopar family. Greatly appreciate the write-up, JPC.

The Toro never made sense to me, because what PI wants to be conspicuous?

As far as the phone is concerned, Richard Diamond had one in his DeSoto long before Joe Mannix came along. Richard Diamond’s secretary, whose legs (IIRC) were the only part of her that appeared on camera, was Mary Tyler Moore.

I remember the Mannix show particularly for the fact that the lead character carried his piece in the small of his back. My dad did that long before Mannix did. The show didn’t go into the obvious disadvantage of it: My dad’s off-duty revolver ate a hole in the seatback of his Olds, on the driver’s side.

Kudos on a great write up of one of the great car shows of the late 60s / early 70s & a great show overall.

And special props for nailing the various Brady Bunch/Mannix crossovers – never thought about that red Caprice convertible, but it makes sense. I know they used the Brady House interior in “Who is Sylvia”, guest-starring Jessica Walter, but there was another episode?

One additional car that popped up a couple of times was the Armbruster-Stageway Imperial limousine, in both ’67-’68 and ’69-’70 variations – probably a Paramount fleet car.

The town scene, including the Paseo where Mannix lived/worked, was a small set, now largely demolished, at the front corner of the Paramount lot next to the former Desilu/RKO studios. Pretty convincing as long as the shots were tight. There’s lots of great on-scene architecture in the series, mostly residential, but Richard Neutra’s Holiday House motel in Malibu makes it into at least one episode.

IIRC Paul Drake had his car phone before Perry got his. Can anyone confirm this?


SOURCE: http://www.curbsideclassic.com/uncategorized/curbside-tv-the-cars-of-mannix/

USA News. American News.

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