Unless you’re a child of the 70s, odds are you’ve never heard of the Rockford Files. It was a TV program featuring the adventures of private investigator Jim Rockford, as played by James Garner. In the show, Garner can be seen performing one of the all-time classic stunt driving maneuvers. It starts with a pinned throttle in reverse, followed by a swing of the nose to orient the car forward, then a grab of a forward gear and the conservation of momentum into glory. Some call it the J-turn, some call it a bootlegger’s turn, but really, it should be called the Rockford.
James Garner is remembered as one of the all-time greatest Hollywood “car guys,” and not just for this one trick of automotive hooliganry. The man was also an avid racer, including several off-road stints in this 1972 Cutlass Banshee.
The car is a 2/3-scale model of the production vehicle, with a shorter wheelbase, tube chassis, and fiberglass body. You could call it a predecessor to the modern-day trophy truck. The engine is mounted where the passenger seat should be for better weight distribution during the occasional flight. According to the owner, you can literally tune the carburetor as you drive down the road. The transmission is an upgraded version of the original Turbo 400. The tachometer is mounted externally on the hood, like the Pontiac GTO.
It’s a unique slice of history, one that’s still raced today. Thankfully, Jay gives it a proper moment in the sun, with a romp on public roads and even some dusty donuts.