Because every possible movie car chase must happen: Toyota Corona versus Dodge A100!

Toyota Corona and Dodge A100 in The Late Show

Yes, there is a movie that pits these two unlikely car-chase protagonists against each other.

There are classic Hollywood movies with great chase scenes featuring sporty Detroit cars with big V8s, or just ordinary sedans, but why should these chases be limited to vehicles that can accelerate, corner, or brake well? The 1977 film “The Late Show,” starring Art Carney and Lily Tomlin, features a murderous, gold-chain-wearing baddie in a late-1960s Toyota Corona sedan engaging in a running gun battle with Lily Tomlin behind the wheel of a Dodge A100 van, on the streets (and lawns) of a Los Angeles neighborhood.

Carney’s character is supposed to be an elderly retired private eye, while Tomlin’s character is supposed to be a flighty, weed-dealing young wannabe actress. However, Carney was 59 and Tomlin was 38 at the time of filming, so their May-December relationship comes off as more of a July-October deal. Hey, that’s what being in the audience is all about— suspension of disbelief! And you’ll need a healthy serving of that while watching the Corona and A100 duking it out in a tire-squealing, engine-roaring, guns-blazing car chase.

Toyota Corona versus Dodge A100 chase

As it happens, I own an A100 and a ’69 Corona, and both are among the most ill-handling motor vehicles I have ever driven. The A100 has leaf springs at all four corners and a kingpin solid-beam front axle, the Corona has a primitive, hoppy ’54 Ford-style suspension setup, both have an alarming tendency to dig in rather than skid, and both have laughably inadequate four-wheel-drum brakes.

Toyota Corona versus Dodge A100 chase

The A100 doesn’t weigh much, and so it’s a surprisingly— maybe even frighteningly— quick vehicle with the V8 engine. Even with a Slant-6 engine, it’s not terribly slow. Try to turn at any speed over delivery-driver-backing-up-to-loading-dock page, though, and it’s eager to flip over. That’s the likely explanation for both the van’s distinctive yellow-with-red-stripe paint job and Tomlin’s outfit with red hood; the film’s producers could get a dozen cheap A100 Sportsman vans sprayed with matching paint and not worry about losing eight or nine to rollover crashes during stunts, and a fresh stunt driver could be dressed up in a red hood every time one had to be rushed off to the hospital after eating the van’s windshield and/or steering wheel in one of those rollovers. The Corona wasn’t quite as likely to flip over during a 25mph stunt, but it’s likely that several were bashed into parked cars due to crappy handling.

Toyota Corona and baddie

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