To build the futuristic autos of Ridleyville, Ridley Scott turned to car customizer
Gene Winfield perhaps best known for building the full-size Galileo
shuttlecraft for the STAR TREK television series.
With a crew of 35 Winfield created more than two dozen full-size vehicles The cars featured fiberglass
bodies and a VW chassis except for the larger vehicles, which were built
on the frame of Dodge vans.
Originally they suggested that I use the engine and frame of a Camaro," said Wrinfield "But I recommended
Volkswagons because they re air cooled – you don t have to worry about a radiator – and because they’re rear-engine. It would be a tremendous
problem getting the Camaro’s largs engine within the needed body shapes."
Winfield's greatest challenge involved the building of four full-scale Spinners including two that could
be driven like regular cars, and one that could to appear to take off.
Although Winfield’s Spinners didn't really have to fly, their odd shape
and mechanical requirements – including hydraulically-operated doors that
lifted up and away – required a sizeable portion of his $800,000 budget.
Construction began with blueprints
(top), which had been prepared for the miniature
makers From the plans,a full-scale wooden mock-up was assembled from which
molds were taken to create the fiberglass body pieces.
It took about four weeks
to completeiy assemble each car, including the installation of the necessary
hydraulics The "street’ Spinners used a standard VW engine and rear suspension,
with a custom tubular steel chassis up front.
The ‘flying" Spinner was
built from scratch over an all-aluminum frame to save weight. Designed
to be picked up by a crane to simulate flight extra hydraulics were installed
to match the capabilities of the miniatures: the front wheels folded into
the car, flaps dropped into place and moveable body sections channeled
out jets of steam and carbon-dioxide.
"We also heavily detailed
the bottom with tubes hoes and other paraphernalia so it would be interesting
to look at," Winfield said.
All of Winfield's cars were
freshly painted and (except for the fiying Spinner) ready to drive when
they left his Canoga Park workshop. They looked so good, in fact, that
the art department often had to ' dirty down’ the cars, adding dents, grime
and rust to make them appear older.
"You hate to see that sort
of thing happen," Winfield said, "but I understood. They just wanted them
to look as realistic as possible."
The Flying Spinner featured
a custom made aluminum frame (top right) and
sophisticated hydraulic controls. Based on blueprints originally prepared
for the miniature crew, a full-size wooden mock-up was built (center
right), from which the finished fiberglass pieces were molded Body
panels were then Individually bolted onto the chassis (bottom
Len Hokel, finishes up the detailing in the cockpit of a Police Spinner
Two wooden boards prop open the hydraulic doors.
The completed Spinner as it looked when it left Gene Wlnfield’s workshop
Art department crews"later covered the vehicle with decals, extra hardware
and dirt (see photo, page 35)