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Star Trek Cars -- the Jupiter 8

The one thing missing from our recent series on cars and Star Trek (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) was any mention of cars that actually appeared in Star Trek. There's a pretty good reason for this: there weren't a whole lot of science fictional ground vehicles in the original Trek series or the movies. The original series was produced on an impossibly tight budget which did not allow for the construction of full-sized vehicles or the special effects necessary to, say, show us Vulcan freeways or the monorail system on Tarsus IV. That was the whole reason for the transporter--get the characters from scene to scene quickly, and inexpensively.

The few vehicles that Trek did show us were mostly plain old Earth automobiles. The time travel stories which had the Enterprise crew visiting "present-day" Earth ("Tomorrow is Yesterday," "Assignment: Earth," The Search for Spock) had street scenes and stock footage, and vintage vehicles appeared in "City on the Edge of Forever" (time travel to New York in the 1930s) and "A Piece of the Action" (a planet where the locals had recreated Chicago, circa 1925). "A Piece of the Action" is also notable as the only instance where we see a member of the Enterprise crew operating a ground vehicle.

Despite the budget limitations, we did see one example of an alien automobile: the Jupiter 8 sports car produced on Planet 892-IV.

Planet 892-IV was the setting for the episode "Bread and Circuses," in which the crew of the Enterprise encountered a parallel Earth where the Roman empire had stayed in business long enough to develop 20th-century technology. (Not the greatest Trek episode by a longshot, but it was fun to see Dr. McCoy's "I'm a doctor, not a gladiator!" routine.) Captain Kirk saw the ad for the Jupiter 8 in a magazine; we also glimpsed one parked on a street in a "Roman TV" news clip.

The "Jupiter 8" was actually the "Reactor Mach II," an aluminum-bodied show car built by Gene Winfield on a Citroen DS chassis and powered by a hotted-up Corvair motor.

The Reactor had roles in several other 1960s TV shows. Its most famous part was in a 1967 episode of Bewitched, "Super Car." Festooned with a ridiculous pair of ears and a tail, it played Catwoman's "Kitty Car" in the 1966 Batman TV series. It also made a cameo appearance on a magazine cover in The Flying Nun, and showed up in the 1968 Mission: Impossible episode "The Freeze" as part of an elaborate hoax to make a bank robber think he'd been in suspended animation for fourteen years.

As for Mr. Winfield, the Jupiter 8 wasn't his only encounter with Star Trek. He worked for model company AMT, and while there helped design the Klingon "D7" battlecruiser.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner


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I had forgotten that "Star Trek" liked to make episodes about gladiators.

"If I push these impulse engines too hard in the condition they're in they'll blow apart!"

"456 horsepower out of a Corvair engine? I can't chnge the laws of physics, Cap'n!"

Ah yes... the Planet of Hats.

ST:TOS was terrible about abusing that trope. Absolutely terrible. Similarly, TVTropes is an absolutely terrible time sink that will almost certainly get me fired some day.


"456 horsepower out of a Corvair engine? Umma semple Scootish enginair, Cap'n, not Donal bluidy Yenko."

star trek fight song sound bite

@Scotty - who says those are horsepower? Weights and measures on alien worlds have got to be different than Earth.

The Jupiter 8 makes the Kessel run in *less* than three parsecs.

For more about the car, there is an excellent 2008 book about Winfield..."The Legendary Cars and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield" by David Grant.

In the section about the car, there is an outstanding period color photo of William Shatner, in costume, with the car. And if its TV history as recounted above isn't enough, there are shots of a very young Bill Cosby and the late Michael Landon with the car.
There is even a color shot of the initial artwork for the Reactor.

One more Star Trek item, Winfield was hired to make the full scale model of the Enterprise shuttlecraft "Galileo". Winfield met Gene Roddenberry and the two remainded friends until Roddenberry's passing.

As I said, it's a great book, with lots of super photos. Winfield comes across as a nice guy. This is my favorite book about Hollywood customizers...I even learned something new about my Barris-built 1914 Stutz Bearcat replica.

If I am not wrong that car was also seen in Bewitched

At the bottom of the Jupiter 8 print ad, it says “AND 456 ROARING DAN . . .” and cuts off. Does anyone know what the word was?

Gene Winfield’s shop built the full-size Galileo shuttlecraft, but he didn’t design it. It was designed by William Kellogg, who was also principally responsible for the design of the Studebaker Avanti. Star Trek art director Matt Jefferies designed the shuttle’s interior and added the external engine pods, echoing the look of the Enterprise’s warp nacelles.

CORRECTION: The Avanti was designed by a three-man team under the supervision of Raymond Loewy. One member of that team, Thomas W. Kellogg, designed the Galileo shuttlecraft.

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