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The Bluesmobile is a 1974 Dodge Monaco sedan that was prominently featured in the 1980 Universal Pictures film The Blues Brothers. The term "Bluesmobile" is never used in the film; instead the car is described as a decommissioned Mount Prospect police car, purchased by Elwood Blues at an auction after he had traded a previous car (a Cadillac) for a microphone. The Bluesmobile is equipped with a "440 Magnum" engine and squad car package, an option offered by Dodge for the Monaco in 1974. It bears an Illinois license plate reading "BDR 529," a tribute to the Black Diamond Riders motorcycle club of Toronto, Canada at 529 Jarvis Street. Dan Aykroyd, co-writer of the film, stated that he chose the 440 Dodge Monaco because he considered it to be the hottest car used by police during the 1970s.
In describing the car to his brother Jake Blues, Elwood says, "It's got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It's got cop tires, cop suspension, 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. However, its cigarette lighter does not work; when "Joliet" Jake Blues discovers this early in the film, he throws it out the window.
The Blues Brothers use the Bluesmobile to evade pursuers in a number of high-speed chases throughout the film, culminating in a police pursuit / race to Chicago after the band's performance north of the city. Even though the car throws a rod during this pursuit, they are still able to outrun both the police and a group of Neo-Nazis in a pair of Ford Pinto station wagons. After they crash through the Richard J. Daley Center and arrive at the Cook County Building to pay the property taxes on the orphanage where they grew up, the car falls to pieces on the sidewalk.
Director John Landis has claimed that the portion of the final chase sequence beneath the elevated train tracks, which briefly showed a reading of 118 miles per hour (190 km/h) on the car's speedometer, was actually filmed at that speed, a testament to the Monaco's police car heritage. He has also stated that he 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.
The vehicle's model is never referred to in the original film by Elwood, who purchased the car, or the various police officers and dispatch operators coordinating the manhunt. It is only referred to as a "1974 Dodge sedan" over the CB, and as "that shitbox Dodge" by one of the state troopers pursuing Jake and Elwood throughout the film.
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 former 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 simply to fall apart upon its arrival at the Cook County Building. A mechanic took several months to rig the car for that scene. Over 60 old police cars were purchased for the film's chase scenes, and the production kept a 24-hour body shop open to perform repairs as needed.
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" and of course, they were on a mission from God. A power station was visible in the background of the film's poster.
Blues Brothers 2000
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 190 hp 351 cubic inch engine, 4-speed automatic transmission and full optional Police Package including front push bar, canine cage insert, and Appleton spotlights. Livery is a classic "Black & White" common to many American police departments; in this case, very similar to the California Highway Patrol's K9 unit, with "safety and service" motto on the fenders.
According to Dan Aykroyd's and John Landis's intention, the new Bluesmobile was to be even more exaggerated than the first one. If in the first movie it was a 1974 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 1990s' most widely used car in American police departments, after the departure of GM's Chevrolet Caprice (the Crown Vic's last big "full size" rival).
Elwood bought this car from Malvern Gasperon's yard in Chicago for $500 (stolen from his "brother" Cabel Chamberlain). This new vehicle had new abilities such as being driven as a submarine in deep Mississippi water, moving as a radio control car, and finally jumping about 300 feet over a road construction site. This same sequence claimed the world record for the highest number of cars destroyed, beating the record set by The Blues Brothers. In the scene, about 60 (obviously driverless) Ford Crown Victorias, Ford Tauruses, Chevrolet Luminas, and Chevrolet Caprices were destroyed in a sort of "car pastiche".
Unlike the first Bluesmobile, which has been released in many die-cast versions, there is only one version of the second Bluesmobile available in model market, a 1:64 scale (the smallest) Ford LTD Crown Victoria marketed by Johnny Lightning.