Rounding out our coverage of this month’s 1st Cult Film Club movie pick, The Wraith, I thought it would be fun to share some of the background research we used when putting the show together, as well as taking one more look at the badass Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor…
Inspired by the Porsche 962, this 1.5 million dollar Dodge concept car was created in 1983 to be a PPG Pace car and was the project of Bob Ackerman (who worked in the Chrysler Product Design Office.) Once finished, the Interceptor was clocked at 194.8mph on an open track, just 5.2mph shy of its estimated 200mph top speed. Unlike most concept cars which are more or less reduced to mere footnotes in automotive history, the M4S was immortalized on the silver screen with its inclusion as the otherworldly vehicle of Jake Kesey’s vengeance in The Wraith.
The actual car was too expensive to risk damaging, so it was only used for close-ups in the film. Instead the production built 6 replicas of the sleek wonder, 2 working units that you see in the final race sequences, and 4 shells meant only for the crash/explosion sequences. There’s a fun article written by Don Fuller from the September 1986 issue of Motor Trend (featured below) that details a lot of information on the stunt drivers and how the crashes and explosions were managed on set.
You can see one of the M4S shells being prepped for destruction in a couple of these behind the scenes photos below (photos from the collection of Steve Maki, the M4S Technician that worked on the film…)
So what became of this obscure yet awesome piece of machinery? Well, the original Pace car resides in the Walter P. Chrysler museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan. But what about the working movie replicas? Well, the legacy of the M4S Wraith resides with Lyle Shur, who acquired one of the working models (in very bad shape) some time in the last decade. He’s undertaken a complete restoration of the car (finished in 2010), and is now looking to sell it to fund the manufacturing of street legal Wraith kit cars. Shur has a wonderful gallery up on Flickr that includes many shots of his in-progress restoration as well as some other Wraith tidbits (like some great photos of the surviving exo-suit!)
In addition to the above article on the car, in the podcast we also reference this short bit written by Karen E. Bender in 1986 (from Fangoria Magazine issue number 57.)
We also want to extend thanks to the folks over at the Wraith Message Boards for keeping the interest in this film alive!
We also delved into the content included on the special edition DVD of The Wraith, including the director commentary and the three behind the scenes short features, as well as a recent interview Marvin did with Dread Central.)
Last but not least, here’s a look at one of the behind the scenes publicity stills from the flick featuring Director Mike Marvin, Charlie Sheen and Sherilyn Fenn…