The Black Beauty Rides Again

Tourists and commuters traversing the famed Los Angeles intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue may notice something different hanging in the air lately, and though it is black in color, I’m not referring to a smog alert or the pungent fumes that often waft from the nearby La Brea Tar Pits.  On the contrary, the new presence is a highly modified mid-60s Chrysler Imperial that is precipitously hanging 30 feet up the side of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Comic book buffs and vintage television aficionados will no doubt quickly recognize the car as the Black Beauty, the fictional gadget-laden car driven by the Green Hornet, a classic superhero who has enjoyed multiple incarnations in comics books, serial radio broadcasts, and television programs over the last 70 years.  Though TV trivia nuts will also surely remember the 1966-67 Green Hornet television show starring Van Williams and future martial arts star Bruce Lee, the 1966 Imperial that those men drove is not the one dramatically hanging from the museum’s wall.  Though owned by the Petersen Museum, that particular car has rested comfortably and safely inside the museum’s preservative environs for the better part of a decade.

The impossibly posed wall car is actually one of roughly 30 modern versions of the Black Beauty that were constructed for the new Green Hornet 3-D action comedy starring Seth Rogen (pictured below), set to premiere on January 14.  Never one to miss a pr opportunity, Sony Pictures has arranged a collaborative Black Beauty exhibit with the Petersen that is as much the subject of the cliffhanging promotion as the film itself.  Scheduled to run in the museum’s Hollywood Gallery through the end of February, the planned exhibit will feature a replication of protagonist millionaire Britt Reid’s garage, which in the film contains a Maserati, Ferrari 275 GTB, Shelby Cobra and a first generation Corvette.

The other side of the gallery will offer a closer look at the movie magic behind the Beauty’s scenes, including several of the modified vintage Chrysler Imperials used in the film, each shown in various states of build.  Wall graphics and labels will explain how the cars were prepared and used in The Green Hornet, information that will be cemented by a projected loop of some of the car’s finer moments in the movie.

The back of the exhibit, of course, will be reserved for senior seating…that is, the original 1966 Imperial Black Beauty (pictured below) driven by Williams and Lee, long a Petersen collection holding, will sit in its traditional location.

Below, Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) and Kato (Jay Chou) test one of the safety features of the Black Beauty.  A similar rolling chassis version is expected to be on display at the Petersen Museum’s upcoming exhibit.

Talk about a tough commute!  The Black Beauty, a little worse for wear, after a long day at the office.