Volo shows importance of cars in pop culture
As much as we love our cars, what we love more is seeing them in our favorite movies. And after the credits roll and the curtains close, not all of these four-wheeled stars end up on some dusty Hollywood back lot. Many have found a home right here in the Chicago suburbs at the Volo Auto Museum in Lake County.
Nostalgia like this is what's made the massive grounds in Volo a top-tier destination for spectators and guests.
"Years ago, we noticed the growing trend and challenge for car museums, struggling to stay relevant," says Brian Grams, who oversees the museum's operations with his brother and dad. "That's why we expanded into other, big areas of pop culture."
One way the Grams family has found to light that fire is to constantly add four-wheeled stars that appeal to younger ones who've seen them in their favorite big-screen blockbusters.
Some of the recent star-studded finds include one of the baddest, crime-fighting machines to ever rumble through the 35-millimeter frame: the Tumbler. The half-tank, half-monster truck was the ride of choice for Batman in Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight." Several were built to crash through Gotham and this one was one of the stunt cars that ended up wrecked on set.
"One of the crew members literally pulled all the pieces out of a dumpster," Brian says. "It came to us in a U-Haul truck, full of boxes of smashed up parts."
Brian commissioned a local builder to reassemble Tumbler back together, making sure to use as much of the original on-screen pieces as possible. "Some of the fiberglass pieces were cracked. It would have been way easier to remake them, but they wouldn't have been authentic," Brian says.
Another unique aspect of the vehicle is its interior -- and the fact that it has one. "It's the only example that has a cockpit," says Brian. "The stunt cars in the movie were equipped with just a roll cage inside. The close-ups of the actors inside the beast were done in separate pods." The hired builder went to great lengths to create and fabricate an appropriate interior to match.
Another camera-ready ride from the darker, seedier side of life is a black 1934 Buick. It was used in the Jonny Depp "Public Enemies" film. The car came through the museum as a "simple, old car for sale" prior to the film's production.
When the studio reached out to the Grams in need of period wheels, Brian knew it would fit the part for the sinister gangster flick, which was shot right here in the Windy City. Depp, who played John Dillinger, used the vintage coupe for some high-speed escapades.
Another hot ride is a 1963 Corvette Grand Sport, featured in "Fast Five." The low-slung, custom sportster appeared in the high-speed heist scene, in which Paul Walker and Vin Diesel boost a collection of high-end sports cars onboard a moving train. A total of twelve of these special 'Vettes were built for the movie. Only three survived.
The one in Volo's collection was used for the heavy greenscreen work, selling the illusion of Paul and Vin driving it off a cliff and jumping from the open cockpit into a raging river.
Visitors of all ages can relive these and many more special and over-the-top movie magic moments while strolling the many museum buildings. Brian and the gang have many more rolling stars to add to their walking drive of fame, along with a whole host of other planned expansions and additions.
By combining the love for cool cars and contemporary cinema, it's a surefire way to keep interest high, not just in the museum but in transportation in general, for years to come.
Spooky ridesWith the Halloween season upon us, it's the perfect time to check out some of Volo's spookier four-wheeled screen stars, including Christine, a 1958 Plymouth Fury from the movie of the same name; the Cadillac hearse driven by Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator 3"; and the Drag U La coffin dragster from "The Munsters" TV series.
Volo Auto Museum27582 Volo Village Road, Volo