You may have noticed earlier today that a strange hashtag, “Disney’s Joker,” was trending on Twitter. It’s confusing until you realise it’s related to the release of the trailer for the movie Cruella, about the skeletal-yet-fashionable villain of the animated classic 101 Dalmatians, and more obvious when you watch the oddly dark trailer. But really, I don’t care that much about any of that — what matters to me is that the trailer is crammed so full of 1950s to 1970s British cars that it must be leaking like an SU carb.
So we’re all on the same page, here’s the trailer:
Lots of great old British iron, right? And, it looks like Cruella amassed her fortune via some kind of attack on a wealthy, possibly aristocratic family, ending in a massive act of arson? I’m not clear, exactly, but it is clear that shit is going down.
We get the good cars right from the get-go in the trailer, with this one I think helping to establish the general era:
That brown, likely manual station wagon back there appears to be a Mk 1 Ford Granada Estate, meaning the earliest this can take place is 1972; I’d guess we’re supposed to be around that era here, maybe 1975 or so. Those were handsome cars, especially in estate form.
Right after the Granada. we’re treated to this pigeon’s-eye view of a London street. I think that key lime-coloured fella with the black vinyl roof in the lower left is a Ford Capri, and the slate grey car northeast of it is a Jaguar Mk2, and in front of those are a pair of Austin FX4 black cabs. Then there are double-decker buses.
Next up we have that staple of posh Brits, what I’m pretty sure is a Jaguar Mk X — these look like the Jag 420s but have that extra crease midway down there. Very classy ride.
I’ll devote a bit more focus on this next car, because it’s kind of the hero/anti-hero car of the movie, I’d guess. It’s an interesting car, too.
Yes, we’re finally at the car that will be associated with Cruella DeVil, because she drives the hell out of it in the original animated movie, where it has angry-looking headlight-eyes that sort of suggest a bit of malevolent sentience, as well as a surprising agility in snow for a RWD beast with such a massive inline engine. Here, check out that original car chase:
Man, Cruella, I’m impressed with your determination, but, yeesh, take it easy.
So what is this thing? The original animation was clearly based on a Bugatti Royale, but the model used in the animation was, interestingly, a cardboard model built by the animators to help them with a then-novel Xerox-based rotoscoping technique:
During the production of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the studio came up with an idea on how to animate Cruella’s Car, the animators built an actual white model of her car out of cardboard with bold black lines on the edges.
To make the wheels articulate, the animators took a long piece of cloth, taped little pieces of wooden dowling underneath it and then put the car on top of the cloth suspended from a kite string, and then they would pull this long piece of fabric with all these pieces of wooden dowling underneath the wheels and they would shoot a take of that. To give it the look that the car had suspension they put in springs so it would have this little bouncy effect. The footage would then be run through the same Xerox process that was being used to transfer pencil line work onto cels and then painted to what was seen in the final film.
Huh! I had no idea! Now, the actual car used here is the same kind used for DeVil in the 1996 live-action 101 Dalmatians movie: A Panther De Ville.
The Panther DeVille was an interesting car, part of the 1970s retro revival that brought us other ostentatious, glamorous brutes like the Excalibur. Panthers used Jaguar V8 or V12 engines and were largely hand-built.
At one point these were one of the most expensive cars you could buy in the UK, in or beyond Rolls-Royce territory, and only 60 De Villes were actually built, so this is a pretty rare car. Panther also once made a six-wheel, Cadillac-engined monster, too, but that’s after the era of the movie.
That Panther is impressive, but this may be my favourite vehicle in the trailer: a Commer FC van. Look at that wonderfully goofy little box! The all-skirted wheels look is kind of perfect for this thing, and made possible because that narrow-track front axle setup is from an old Humber design.
I really like how the grille is pretty obviously exaggerating the actual size of the air intake, the way it makes a friendly and bemused face there with the round headlamps. These were in wide use all over the UK, especially in fleets like British Telecom.
You really can’t have a villain origin movie without some sort of cop chase, and we have a great one here, with Rover P6 police cars, I think Mk 2 versions. These are amazing cars, and were in many ways Britain’s answer to the Citroën DS, with somewhat related styling and similarly advanced technical design.
There’s a few other good car cameos in the trailer, but I think these are the main standouts; if you see any good ones I missed, tell me in the comments.
I’m not sure how I feel about the potential glorification of a serial dog-murderer (attempted, at least) but if there are this many good cars, I guess I can deal.