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FILM OVERVIEW

Muscle cars didn’t just change Detroit automotive culture; they reimagined it. The ability to control raw power on an open road without checkered flags or pace cars, with distant frontiers beckoning, came to symbolize the unbridled freedom of the American spirit. Now that those frontiers are all but subdued and the future appears to be the domain of cleaner and tamer electric vehicles, it is worth a look in our review mirror to an era where big-block engines roared and guzzled leaded gasoline, where chrome glittered and a car’s worth was determined by the number of horses that powered it.

In 2022, Director / Producer Keith Famie and his team at Visionalist Entertainment Productions will dive beneath the hood of Detroit’s muscle car tradition, tracking down the original enthusiasts, the first shade tree mechanics and car collectors who came back from World War II with a different view of themselves and their place in the world. How active is that group of gearheads today, and who—if anyone—will carry forward their torch? How active have Vietnam veterans been in this Motor City subculture; who has the best local collections, and who has remained true to the hotrod ideal: that the best performance vehicle is one that you have styled and souped up yourself? These are the questions we will answer while exploring the many faces of enthusiasts.

Most often associated with the rock and rebellion of the ‘60s and ‘70’s, the original muscle car was actually produced by Oldsmobile in 1949; the Rocket 88 featured a lightweight body and a high-compression overhead valve engine, a paradigm that performance vehicle manufacturers have followed ever since. The Chevrolet Chevelle SS, the Pontiac GTO, the Ford Torino and the Plymouth Road Runner all packed as much power as they could into the lightest frame that would contain it. Designers like Harley Earl, John Najjar and Larry Shinoda saw a niche in the post-war automobile industry where cars would symbolize more than a family vehicle—they would become vehicles not just for transportation, but for selfidentity. There is no doubt that the film industry, with classics like ‘Bullitt’, ‘Smokey and the Bandit’, and more recently, the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, made their own vital contribution to Muscle Car Mystique. It’s impossible to imagine the Bandit outrunning Smokey if he’d been behind the wheel of a ’68 Gremlin.

The original muscle car aficionados, mostly Baby Boomers, may have slowed bit on the open road, but their culture lives on in countless rallies, classic car shows, and of course, the iconic Woodward Dream Cruise. The love of steel and speed transcends generations and it also defies the constraints of gender and background. ‘Detroit: A City of Hot Rods and Muscle Car’ will explore the diversity that has seeded the hobby since the glory days, with countless fans of color and women who love to work with their hands, then climb into the left seat and put the pedal to the metal. The documentary is a celebration of the unique Detroit muscle car community and how Motor City iron has circumnavigated the globe and shaped world culture.

Executive Producers:

Keith Famie
John & Carole Kulhavi

Community Leaders:

Timothy Hartge
Carl & Carol Schiller
Tom & Sue Rau
Tony & Mary Schimizzi
RJ King
Rex Roy
Peter Toundas
Butch Patrico
Perry Smith
Paul & Mary Glantz
Diane Flis-Schneider
Harold Sullivan
Rick Browning
Larry Smith
Bob & Gina Adams
Mike & Lora Wagner

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