The Bluesmobile is a 1974 Dodge Monaco sedan that was prominently featured in the 1980 film, The Blues Brothers. In the film, it is described as a used Mount Prospect, Illinois police car that replaced a Cadillac, which Elwood Blues traded for a microphone. The Bluesmobile was equipped with the "440 Magnum" squad car package that was offered by Dodge for the Monaco. Its license plate was an Illinois plate reading, "BDR 529".
In describing the car to his brother, Jake, Elwood said, "It's got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters so it'll run good on regular gas." The Bluesmobile has the ability to perform seemingly impossible stunts, such as jumping over an open drawbridge, flipping backwards in midair and even "flying" for very brief periods of time.
After the extended chase from their concert gig, which was a 106-mile (171 km) trip to Chicago and an unspecified total distance through the streets of city being pursued by the police and Neo-Nazis, the Bluesmobile collapsed seconds after its arrival at the Richard J. Daley Center.
Landis also claimed that the chase scene beneath the elevated train tracks, which briefly showed the car's speedometer with a reading of 120 miles per hour (nearly 200 km/h) was actually filmed at that speed, a testament to the Monaco's police car heritage. Landis says he actually re-shot some of the scenes with pedestrians on the sidewalks, so viewers could see that the film had not been sped up to create the effect of speed.
Cars used in the film production
The film used 13 different cars to depict the Bluesmobile, all of which were former police cars purchased from the California Highway Patrol, and were mocked up to look like ex-Mount Prospect, Illinois patrol cars. Some were formatted for speed, and others in jumps or high-performance maneuvers, depending on the scene. One was designed to simply fall apart upon its arrival at the Daley Center. A mechanic took several months to rig the car for that scene. The production kept a 24-hour body shop open for repairing the multiple cars used in the film.
Many replicas of the Bluesmobile have been built by collectors around the world and recently, some of the original vehicles used in the film have surfaced for sale on the web.
Extended DVD version
In the extended version of the film, Elwood parks the Bluesmobile in an electric substation that was used to power Chicago's elevated trains. In the documentary "Stories Behind the Making of the Blues Brothers", Dan Aykroyd (Elwood) stated that the Bluesmobile would get charged from the substation, which would explain how it would be able to do impressive stunts. In the original theatrical release, director John Landis had cut that scene to shorten the length of the film and said there was no need to explain the car's powers. To him, it was simply "a magic car".
In the film sequel
The name "Bluesmobile" was also given to another former police car, a 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, used in the 1998 sequel, Blues Brothers 2000. The model was equipped with a 351 cubic inch engine, 190 hp, 4-speed automatic transmission and full optional Police Package including front push bar, canine cage insert and spotlights. Livery is a classic "Black & White" common to many American police departments, in this case, very similar to California Highway Patrol's, K9 unit, with "safety and service" motto on the mudguards.
According to Dan Aykroyd and John Landis intention, the new Bluesmobile should have been even more exaggerated than the first one, also able to challenge police officers with the same weapons. If in the first movie it was a '74 Dodge Monaco sedan, "the hottest police car in America at the time", in the second movie it had to be a Ford Crown Victoria, the 90's most available car in American police departments, after departures of GM's Chevrolet Caprice (the last Crown Vic's big "full size" rival). Also, Crown Victoria was pretty similar to Dodge Monaco, creating a certain "familiary look" with her ancestor.
Elwood bought this car from Malvern Gasperon's cars yard in Chicago, for 500 $ (stolen to his "brother" Cabel Chamberlain). With this new vehicle, Elwood shows some exaggerated and unreal maneuvers haven't even seen in the first movie, such as car's spinning top (without any logical explanation), driving the car as a submarine deep through Mississippi water, moving it as a radio control car and finally jumping about 300 ft crossing a road construction site. In the same sequence, it's been registered the Guinness World's Records for highest number of cars destroyed, first belonged to "The Blues Brothers". In the scene, about 60 of Ford Crown Victoria, Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Lumina and Chevrolet Caprice were totally destroyed in a sort of "car pastiche".
Not appreciated as the first Bluesmobile, the car has been accused of being a bad copy of the original one. Also, contrary to the first one, which has been released in many die-cast versions, there is only one available in model market, a 1:64 scale (the smallest) Ford LTD Crown Victoria marketing by Johnny Lightning. Regardless, many Movie Car museums remember her affectionately with pretty detailed replicas, and lots of people in the web research for a LTD Crown Victoria to customize as Elwood's one, being the Crown Vic one of the most appreciated police vehicle in the USA and all over the world.
- "Chicago Sun-Times". Incredible stunt driving: "That was all real". http://web.archive.org/web/20050728125722/http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-bbcarchase23.html. Retrieved on December 16.