Scream Gems #1 - Movie Cars That Go Bump in the Night


Here's a featured  repost about The Scariest Roads in America. In keeping with tradition, this year's edition is about a few "Cars That Go Bump in the Night". Two of the most memorable would have to be the Munster's Coach and Drag-U-La.  Memorable, yes, but few people know how they came to be, how many there were or what happened to them after the show ended. We'll start things out with the second car built for the series, Drag-U-La. 

There are far more legends than facts about both of these cars, so we need to say we've done out best to separate fact from fiction, but there's a chance we're wrong. It's still pretty amazing that the Munsters remained so popular as the TV show was only on the air for two seasons.
DETAILS If you have a keen eye for details, there are numerous items in the above photo you will see changed in the ones below.
The original car featured a distinctive set of wheels and tires which were changed later on, a lantern push bar at the rear and a second removable "landau" bar for the stuntman playing Herman Munster to hold onto the car as he was "stopping" it. 

These pictures show the parachute was removed about the same time There are leather straps used to hold down the engine cover, but they were not there originally. The first hold-down system was a pin-type with purple tassels, followed by chains before the leather straps were installed.

Based on the most accurate information we could find, yes the car was built at the Barris shop in 1966. Construction of the car was under the guidance of Dick Dean. The Drag-U-La and the Koach were both designed by Tom Daniels. There was only one official Drag-U-La ever built, but there were numerous copies of both cars made over time. Dick Dean himself has built several exact replicas over the years.

The coffin used to build the car is an actual fiberglass coffin. There are conflicting stories regarding where and how it was obtained. Dick Dean has stated the original was a prop from another movie, "Some Like it Hot" and that subsequent coffins were purchased in Mexico as a coffin purchase in the US requires a death certificate. 

We have no idea if that is fact or fiction at the time we are writing this, but if factual, we do wonder where all the coffins came from to build the "unofficial replicas". 

George Barris told the story of acquiring the first coffin very differently "We paid for in cash, then told the parlor to leave it outside after dark for my crew to pick up". 
Click to enlarge
Not to be too morbid, but speaking of coffins, it's pretty easy to tell a fake car as they supposedly don't make fiberglass coffins with rounded corners anymore. Almost all the fakes have square corners and the wrong wheels, but a few don't. Photos from Dean's "repli-cars" all show the square corners having been cut out and reformed with rounded corners. It appears the lid and intricate trim had to be created from forms of the original. 
During the filming of the episode when the Drag-U-La was introduced, a stuntman attempted a "wheelie" damaging the front axle. It was repaired and reinforced. The car was driven by stuntmen during all of the race scenes.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
After the TV series ended, the Drag-U-La was modified for the film "Munster Go Home". Most noticeable are the front axle and tires, the addition of a roll bar, removal of the plexiglass passenger hood, "lantern" push bar and parachute and the changed headlights (originally smaller with brass finials on top, now much larger with spiders mounted atop.) If you look closely you will see the front axle had additional reinforcements added.

After all the hoopla died down the Drag-U-La must have went into storage. There were no facts until it showed up at the Planet Hollywood in Atlantic City, where it was suspended from the ceiling. You will notice the various changes made for the Munster film and a completely different set of slicks. A close-up revealed it's a bit worse for wear, the front wheels rusted, the casket cracked and the trim deteriorated. After Planet Hollywood closed in 2011, it was purchased by the Volo Museum and restored.
Drag-U-La at the Volo Museum
There are actually two Drag-U-La's at the Volo, the original and a copy. 

More Ghoulish rides coming up...Stay Tuned