5

Whenever I watch a movie or TV show set in an earlier era, all the cars look brand new. In fact, better than brand new; the paint is rich and deep, highly polished. They all look as though they completed a full restoration yesterday. Streets full of cars like this look ridiculous to my eye. Why don't the moviemakers throw a little dust on some of them? Or use some old cars that have not been perfectly restored. Using these perfect cars detracts from the movie, IMHO.

Is this deliberate un-realism or just sloppiness? Other aspects of set-in-the-past movies and TV also tend to look brand new or "better" than they actually did: Paint on buildings, wallpapers, shop signage, etc. I even saw this phenomenon in a scene set in a black section of town in the south before WW2. It was totally implausible that everybody would have had a brand new car.

  • 2
    Possibly some filmmakers like to make everything look good, so that film goers can spend a little time in a world where everything looks good instead of in a world where everything looks used. – M. A. Golding Aug 15 at 21:10
  • 1
    @M. A. Golding I agree some movies are intended as an escape into a world that never actually existed, but many of these movies are intended to be realistic and are not intended to make the viewer feel good. – Flynn Aug 15 at 21:29
  • 1
    I live in LA and used to sometimes park in a garage where a studio kept their movie cars. It was really weird to see a brand-new looking Chevette from the late 70s/ early 80s sitting next to a classic sports car or my relatively modern but beat up Toyota. – user1118321 Aug 16 at 1:45
  • 2
    Depends on their goals. Doing a decent paint job that makes it look "better than new" is cheaper than trying to make them look used and weathered. Budget would get eaten up real quick. – DustinDavis Aug 16 at 1:53
  • 2
    Many cars are actually borrowed from local or non local owners of people who restored the vehicles. As such they are just...new – morbo Aug 16 at 6:59
8

Because the owners of the cars keep them like that. I will base my answer on three sources:

  • Barn Find Hunter series by Hagerty on Youtube. In on of the episodes Tom Cotter visits a collector who have acres of old cars. Because he lives close to LA he have a stash of that he take care of because he rent them. For movies, music videos, events. So I assume that, like any rental, the cars need to be returned in exactly the same state. So it make no sense to try to "wear" them for movies if that wear could result in real damage. Why they rent? There is a channel called Tavarish where he bought Lamborghini Murcielago form "Fate of the Furious". And it was really, really, really, beaten. Painted, beaten, Painted. Glued, Painted. (which lead to second source) And so on. And they had three of them acting. Botched two of them. Sold remaining one at loss.
  • Mighty Car Mods (also youtube channel) visited shop that created some of the cars for Fast and Furious. The reason for why the cars were always brand new is that they are "new". Body is created just for the movie (if the car need to act in movie, if not they usually rent those background ones). They are painted to order.
  • Third source - movie continuity. Some scenes can take days, weeks or even months to film. And they are not filmed in "movie chronological order". So there is much more things to put attention to if the car is beaten. Are the dust in the same spot? Are the rust marks the same? With brand new looking car you only care is the look is always "Pristine".

Also personal opinion. The only "beaten" car culture (especially in USA) is the rat rod which (if the movie is not about that particular culture) make it useless to fake typical look of a street. So it would be unreasonable time consuming to find cars that are period specific but are not too good looking. Bill Burr said same thing in one of his interview with Conan O'Brian. That in "F is for Family" he wanted to avoid this fake look that if the time is 1971 everyone have brand new cars that came out in 1971.

  • 1
    The continuity argument makes a lot of sense. It would take time and effort to ensure the dust and dirt on a car looked the same in every shot. It's easier just to wash and polish the car regularly. – Flynn Aug 16 at 19:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .