26 March 2015

Mr. Spock and automobiles

Leonard Nimoy passed away last month at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 83. His most rabid fans are no doubt disappointed that he wasn’t with us for a more Vulcan-appropriate lifespan of 120-plus years, but he certainly did leave fans wanting for little in terms of the characters he created onscreen. They were of course defined by the logic-driven half-human Mr. Spock and also included a turn as “Paris” on “Mission Impossible.” And Nimoy inspired the brilliant Alan Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus character in the “Star Trek” sendup “Galaxy Quest.”

Truth be told, Nimoy’s automotive legacy wasn’t exactly in the Steve McQueen territory and being the King of Logic isn’t the same as being the King of Cool. But what there was, was quite fascinating. One of the most frequently circulated period images of Nimoy was shot in front of his 1963 Buick Riviera. It was a particularly amusing photo since it was taken in full costume and makeup on either the Desilu or Paramount lots during the shooting of the first season of “Star Trek” in 1966. The then-3-year-old Riv sported a license plate frame from Lauesen Buick, which was on Sepulveda in West L.A. It was parked next to a 1963 or 1964 Corvette that may well have belonged to William Shatner — Logic and Passion parked side-by-side.

Then there was also the rather amusing turn in the “Star Trek” spacemen vs. gangsters episode “A Piece of the Action,” where Nimoy attempts to instruct Shatner as Captain Kirk on the operation of the manual gearbox in a 1931 Cadillac. “Gears, captain, gears.”

But perhaps Nimoy’s best turn in any automobile occurred in an ad shot for Audi last year with “New Spock” Zachary Quinto. Filled with self-deprecating wit and wry in-jokes, it has been called the best automobile commercial of all time.

8 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Steve Gerber Georgia March 31, 2015 at 13:08
    Whats interesting about this, is that right around when Nimoy died, I was googling some 80's songs, and one with him in it came up! "Going down to Liverpool" by The Bangles is a pretty cool song about doing a lot of nothing. Driving the ladies in the group is... Spock himself! -Steve
  • 2
    Sarah Vancouver April 1, 2015 at 13:13
    My dad owned a coral coloured Riviera. It was his pride and joy for over 15 years until he sold it due to frame rot. He made it to 82, and now my Austin-Healey sits in that parking space.
  • 3
    Herb Hall California April 1, 2015 at 11:37
    Leonard was a customer of Sierra Boat for many years. He owned a 1968 Century Coronado. we did some custom work on it which included a full wood deck and green leather upholstery.
  • 4
    Brian Laurance United States April 1, 2015 at 12:00
    I once had an opportunity to see Leonard Nimoy in person, and the image is forever etched in mind. He rode in a magnificent, new 1967 Buick Electra 225 convertible in the 1967 Portland Rose Festival parade. Whenever I see one of those '67 225's, I'll think of Spock.
  • 5
    chris United States April 1, 2015 at 12:13
    Thanks Steve - ........ Rivieras were too cool for sure...
  • 6
    RegularGuy Chicago April 1, 2015 at 12:50
    In the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action", Spock identifies the Cadillac as a 'flivver'. He could be forgiven, since he was NOT from our planet.
  • 7
    Bill Krzastek Waynesboro, Va July 9, 2015 at 15:50
    I believe that the Riviera in the photo is a 1964 not a 1963 as described by Mr. Sass. The 1964's had the standing hood ornament as displayed on the car in the photo. (Building all of those AMT model kits in the 60's helps the memory).
  • 8
    Bill Krzastek Waynesboro, Va July 9, 2015 at 12:09
    I believe that the Riviera in the photo is a 1964 not a 1963 as described by Mr. Sass. The 1964's had the standing hood ornament as displayed on the car in the photo. (Building all of those AMT model kits in the 60's helps the memory).

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