Get French Connected: 1971 Pontiac LeMans

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Almost always near the top of many top-ten lists of all-time greatest movie car chase scenes is The French Connection, released in 1971. Right up there with Bullitt, The Blues Brothers, Ronin and many others. Right up there where it belongs. The movie cleaned up at the 1972 Academy Awards, winning numerous awards and nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Gene Hackman. In spite of what a good movie it is, it’s often remembered only for the awesome chase scene, featuring a car vs. an elevated train. Here is the sequence below, for our younger readers who may not know of it, and for our older viewers who maybe haven’t seen it in a few years. Like a crash-course in car chases. Oh man, I did not just say that!

Years after the film’s release, the director has gone on record stating that the scene was shot with no clearance and no street closures by New York City authorities. Permission was granted for use of the train, but apparently the street traffic below was wide open to cars, pedestrians, and everybody.

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This creates a unique opportunity that otherwise might not be possible. If you’re one of those monkey see-monkey do types, you might want to purchase this car, have it painted brown, and then use it to re-enact the famous film sequence. Since no permission was granted to drive a hundred miles an hour through traffic then, it only seems fitting, and would be historically accurate to do it that way again now. If you sought permission, well, it just wouldn’t be the same.

Always worth noting, is that you didn’t get this idea from me. If anyone asks me later, I’m going to say that I didn’t say it. I only said that you could, not that you should. I think it’s the way Popeye Doyle would have wanted it. If you’re interested in re-creating the police pursuit bliss that was The French Connection, or if you just want to buy a nice four door hardtop 1971 Pontiac LeMans, this one can be found for sale for $1,650 here on craigslist in Morris, Illinois.

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Comments

  1. Fred

    If they remade this movie today , half the vehicles in NYC would have been destroyed in large explosions and other assorted ways, and the train would have plunged off the bridge, then exploded.

  2. JW

    I agree with Fred computer generated crashes would replace real stunt driving which really hurts the films of today. If they actually tried doing a chase scene like the one in the French Connection without permission the director / producer / studio would face so many lawsuits they may never make another movie. The French Connection was just on Encore channel about a month ago with another good car chase movie the 7 Ups where the early 70’s Nova runs under the back end of a semi trailer while chasing the bad guys.

  3. John

    The very same car (and year) that was driven by Harry Dean Stanton in Paris Texas (Wim Wenders – 1984):
    http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_69051-Ford-Ranchero-1959.html

  4. Charles

    That’s a cool movie chase seen. It is difficult to imagine that the movie company made the decision to film that in city traffic without permission from the city. One miss-calculation with injuries and there would have been a civil suit, even in those days.

    I expect that this car will eventually end up as a parts for a similar two door model. The cost of restoration will be the same as a two door model, however the car will never command the same price when sold.

    At the Pontiac shows we see four door cars, however they are usually a clean original car that seen limited duties as a Grandma/Grandpa cruiser and were sold in an estate sale after the original owners have passed away. Nice four doors are a lot cheaper and easier to find than nice two door cars.

  5. piper62j

    I remember it well… Great movie, great scene and great find..
    Thanks for the memories.

  6. Donnie

    Make a 4 door GTO.

    Like 1
  7. John

    I must say that posting the particulars of a scene and that saying it should be re enacted does make you liable if bad things happen.

  8. '59FORDfan

    I appreciate the ‘post’, of the chase, as it’s one of my favourites but, no-not a well thought-out comment, with regard to re-enactment.

  9. Douglas Andrew Willinger

    Make it a 4 door GTO. Add a 455 HO, etc.

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