A gold 1974 Pontiac Firebird is the car you immediately think of when you think of the Rockford Files. Watching the series now, in 2012, what stands out to me isn’t the Firebird, but the vehicles in the background. It is great entertainment to watch the “extras” and try to identify them.
Click the Wayback Machine to take a ride to 1974.
Unlike the General Lee and KITT, the Firebird played a heavy role in the show, but was not the star. It was just Jim’s transport. Stylish and sporty but not overpowering, it was perfectly cast in its supporting role.
Click any photo for an extra-large view of the ’70s. (Chromjuwelen viewers click here to see the original post with large photos.)
The show featured a ton of outdoor – and particularly driving – footage. My eye is constantly drawn away from the subject of the scene and to the cars parked or driving in the background. It provides an interesting glimpse into what the average city street looked like in 1974. (All of these stills are from the first season.)
To be fair, Los Angeles, where the show was set, probably wasn’t the average city. It’s likely that there were more foreign and economy cars there than in average cities. Of those, it seems 75% were VW Bugs. It was a veritable infestation.
Small cars, like Vegas, Pintos, Celicas (black one in the above photo), 510s, and Mavericks were everywhere. Also, there was a dearth of pickup trucks, and those you see are plain Jane work trucks. It is so very different from pickups of today.
Interestingly, as I tried to capture images, I noticed that many of the street shots are repeated several times, with the same car driving by the same intersection three or four times. They are also repeated from one episode to the next. For example, when Jim pulls into the parking lot where he keeps his trailer home, it is always the same shot with the same vehicles in the background.
That small detail is easily forgiven. The show itself is quite entertaining. Watch for more street shots from Jim Rockford’s neighborhood. Perhaps we’ll play Need That Car – Name That Car with them.