2019 sees the 50th anniversary of one of Britain’s most iconic films to have been produced and starred Michael Cain and a red, white and blue mini. If you haven’t guessed by now that famous film is the Italian Job. The film was released on the 5th June and was an instant success here in the UK. There was a lot for petrol heads to enjoy, from chases through Turin, Police car crashes, and a dash in a Bedford Val 6 wheeled coach through the Alps. Steve looks at a small selection of cars from the film, predominately the four survivors.
Various exotic or unusual cars were used for filming of the Italian Job including a Lamborghini Miura, three mini Coopers, Aston Martin DB4, two Jaguar E Types, a Harrington Legionaire bodied Bedford Val, Land Rover Series 2a and a Ford Thames dormobile to name but a few. Despite an iconic line-up of vehicles only four remain in existence which is not only a crying shame, but these four survivors are the focus of this article. Readers will be disappointed to know that not one of the Minis used for filming survived but that may not come as a surprise as they had crucial roles throughout the film. Another scrapped vehicle is the Bedford Val coach used to transport the Minis and the gold. After filming of the Italian Job, the coach went back to coach duties and remained in service until 1994 when it was scrapped.
For some of the vehicles their whereabouts are not known, and this is certainly the case for the Land Rover series 2a but this is believed to have been scrapped in 1992 but this cannot be substantiated. It is also the same story for the Ford Thames dormobile.
The Miura only had a short but important part of the Italian Job but despite is brief appearance it helped set the scene for what was to come. It may come as a surprise for readers that the Miura survived, as the wreckage of a Miura was pushed into the river by the Caterpillar bulldozer. The wrecked Miura that was pushed into the river was actually a car that had been crashed by its owner some months previously and had been sent back to Lamborghini. Lamborghini were very kind in letting the wreckage to be used in the film as well as Paramount Pictures hiring a new identical orange Miura.
Jaguar E Type convertible
The red E type convertible is fitted with the 3.8 engine and was bought by the film crew to use in the film. In the Italian Job the car was badly damaged by a digger by the Mafia. The car had other claim to fame as it had been used previously as a racing car by Robin Sturgess in the early 1960s. The car is now owned by the Jaguar historian and author Phillip Porter.
Jaguar E Type coupe
It was probably luck that saved the blue Jaguar E Type from being scrapped after filming, as the digger did a very good job of damaging the roof. However, after filming the car sat in storage until 1989 mostly forgotten. Thankfully the cars history was realised and was restored by Tester Engineering.
Aston Martin DB4
Another surprising survivor is the Aston Martin DB4 which apparently was pushed off the side of a cliff by the digger. However, the observant amongst you that have seen the film have probably realised that it wasn’t a DB4 that went off the cliff but rather a Lancia Flaminia.
I hope you have enjoyed looking back at the car survivors that starred in this cult film and despite none of the Minis or other unusual vehicles surviving, it’s nice to think their legacies will live on within the film. And lets not forget that despite the Italian Job being half a century old, the love for the film doesn't appear to be waning. May its popularity continue for another 50 years.
Edited by Steve Q