Sleeping On The Job

1977 Pontiac Firebird Esprit - The Driver

1977 Pontiac Firebird Esprit – The Driver

In the world of crime, getaway cars are more important than the heat you are packing, for a whilst a BB gun would fool the general public and the entire staff of a bank, a useless engine will have you worrying about showers and soap before you’ve shouted, “Drive!”

Kray Twins Ronald and Reginald

Kray Twins Ronald and Reginald

If I think “getaway car” my mind always goes to the days of 60s London, the Kray Twins, “Mad” Frankie Frazer and the other real life gangsters who paired Savile Row suits with brass knuckle dusters. British cars of the era weren’t particularly fast, including those of the Police, so when gangsters starting using the power and might from the 3.8-L Jaguar Mk 2, the Old Bill didn’t stand a chance… until they started using them as motorway cars.

Jaguar Mk2

Jaguar Mk2

The Mk 2 gained a reputation as a fast car among criminals and the police because of its 220-bhp straight-six engine. In its day, 0-60-mph in 8.5-seconds was pretty impressive for a big car, another reason criminals used them – along with the getaway driver and four gunmen, you still had room for the all-important SWAG and perhaps a few body parts. Although it wasn’t entirely inconspicuous because of its grandeur, it was a sleeper in its own right because you wouldn’t exactly expect it to burn rubber.

’67 Shelby GT500 “Eleanor”

In the movies we’ve seen all types of getaway car, from the Pontic Firebird in The Driver (1977) to the Minis from the Italian Job. A lot of movies show the bank job getaway cars as monstrous black muscle cars or vehicles like the Ford GT500 Mustang, Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds… which is cool in fantasy but…

Whilst these fantasy cars look great on film, I suspect in real life they’d get you caught pretty quick – not only would you stick out like a sore thumb, modern police cars wouldn’t struggle too much to keep up.

This leads me onto wolf in sheep’s clothing cars, Q cars, and the 2011 movie, Drive. In this brilliant crime movie (derived from the James Sallis novel of the same name), a stuntman (Ryan Gosling) uses a bland and boring silver Chevrolet Impala (the most popular car purchased in California at the time) as a getaway car. The Impala looks like any other car on the street, only under it harnesses extra power (300-bhp).

In the clip below, a mechanic tells the driver, “Plain Jane and boring; just like you asked for,” exactly what makes a sleeper so cool. Inconspicuous and fast without anything giving the game away – these assets are what the ultimate sleeper and getaway car are all about.

Check out the opening movie scene below, probably my favourite intro into any film – in fact, this clip almost plays out like a mini-movie in its own right.

If you like the concept of the sleeper car, check out our sister Sleeper Cars site on G+.

Fugly Yet Fast Sleeper

What you see above is a typical elderly person’s car, or a hand-me-down any teenager would secretly appreciate as a key to freedom . It’s a rather bland Ford Festiva, a late eighties box of delights. By ‘delights’ I mean the installation of a beautiful mid-mounted V8 – this is taking the creation of the Sleeper to the highest level. 

In many ways this is complete insanity; not in the concept of transforming this car into a stealth whip, but the fact the gorgeous V8 and its set-up must cost around twenty times the price of the vehicle. Whilst it can obviously pump out some serious BHP, it can only find the tarmac through the Ford’s silly little 13″ wheels.

The engine may be mid-mounted but it’s still a front wheel drive car, which equals mental under/torque steer. Another factor that may/will kill its driver is the decision to overlook the addition of bigger brakes… the builder “might get around to those” – let’s hope he stays alive long enough.

Now take these exhausts into consideration – I’ve seen a picture with them hidden beneath those black flaps (Maybe they only pop out when on the move?) but they are a pretty original looking, very Mad Max. If you dig this sleeper, there are more pictures on Autoblog.


Cute Super Turbo Sleeper

Damn I love a sleeper. You all know Gargling Gas loves a good sleeper but the cute little ones boasting big BHP are the greatest. Not since the little super and turbocharged Nissan March have I seen such a cool car.

It comes from the company once ridiculed for its skip-like image and performance. Anyone into cars knows very well Skoda produce some amazing cars, especial their diesel turbos. They’ve managed to overcome their poor image and create rally cars, really showing the world what they were now capable of.

A decade or so on and they’ve taken their technology a few steps on with the Fabia vRS 1.4TSi –  smart and good-looking hatchback boasting 180-bhp from a 1.4-L super and turbo charged engine. The other stats also look promising: 184lb ft of torque means 62mph in just 7.3sec (remember this is only a 1.4-L) and a 139mph top speed. Not lightening fast but it does manage to return an impressive 45.6mpg and a 148g/km CO2 figure.

Neat, cool, fast and capable of frightening a few bigger cars… perfect.