I’m probably wrong about this one, but there is very little information on the Internet (can you imagine?) to help formulate my scattered memories about this movie. From what I could find, I think I found my match.
Why I would want to find the match, I cannot say. It wasn’t as if Supercar was that good a movie to warrant recollection. For starters, it was a bonkers knockoff of Disney’s Herbie The Love Bug. It was a foreign film that was dubbed for the American audience, and not particularly well. It might be the 1972 Brazil production O Supercareta, or roughly translated, The Supercar but without proper photographic evidence or a decent synopsis attached, IMDB gives nothing and Wikipedia gives even less to corroborate that O Supercareta is my Supercar.
In short order, a mechanic is in posession of an amazing car that seems to have a soul of it’s own. They are engaged in a race. The main antagonists are a pair of dandies that want to win the race and take the Supercar as their own. They set ridiculous traps in the way of our heros that crumble into oil-spewing slapstick. They have a catchphrase: “Hello! We’re the fellows with the go-go!” That’s what I remember, at least. I also remember the movie looking very harsh; somewhere between some other country’s high budget production and a sugar-crash of a ’70s TV commercial over here.
The convention of the car with a soul was fairly rampant in the late ’60s. With Herbie you also had My Mother The Car on television, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the children’s lit creation from the mind of the man that gave us the British agent with a license to kill, Ian Fleming (there’s an entirely different post right there, folks!). Car culture was not just synonymous with America, it was America. The suburbs made it necessary for every family to have at least one car in the garage, maybe two. Teenagers used the car as a part of their mating ritual — the courting dance that was “cruising.” So it was no surprise that young adult interests would trickle down into the adolescent zeitgeist, at least a little bit.
It is something that has stuck with us ever since, reverberating in the cult success of the ’80s TV show Knight Rider and, later, Pixar’s series of animated films.
But that doesn’t say anything about the experience of seeing Supercar on television in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Back then the local TV stations didn’t have judge-and-talk-shows running all day long, so they would fill the afternoon with the most entertainment they could get for the lowest price. Sometimes it was great. My love for Tex Avery’s MGM cartoons stems from such contact. Sometimes it was good but hardly high art, primarily where the Japanese giant monster movie marathons stand. Withholding the original Godzilla which was played as a serious sci-fi social commentary, most of these were highly campy, alternated between ambitious and hideously cheap, and were badly dubbed into English acros the board. I loved them all, but cannot vouch for the artistic integrity of most of them. They were just Kaiju smashing up scale replicas of Tokyo, and that’s all they needed to be.
But Supercar, or O Supercareta, or whatever the hell this thing I’m remembering was, was just a goofy, international mess that attempted to tap into what the world thought America wanted at that time. Who knows? Maybe that’s what the whole world wanted at that time and we were just so bloated with ego to see past ourselves to recognize it. Maybe a decade of extremely poor worldwide relations could have been avoided if we just believed a little harder in the car that was trying to tell us something. Or maybe this was all about drugs. Yeah, this was probably about drugs.
P.S. “Hello, we’re the fellows with the go-go!”