Along time ago, in a galaxy far far away, cars were cool, men had dirt under their fingernails and all policemen looked and talked like Jack Webb. Although a time machine hasn’t been invented yet, we bring you the next best thing with “The Examination of Stolen Cars,” a fantastic FBI agent instructional film from The National Archives and Records Administration. Produced and directed by one Werner Schumann of Norwood Studios out of Washington, DC, this stolen car recovery and procedural training film from 1970 (which feels almost like 1870,) is GREAT for vintage street scene oogling and old car bird dogging. YouTube brings us the clip and it’s well worth the nearly 20 minute running time.
We tag along with a “gang” of car thieves that heist a red ’67 Impala 4-door in broad daylight from a very cool, mid-sixties suburban sub-division. The thug breaks into the car with a coat hanger, removes the key bezel from dash and swaps the pot metal ignition switch with one he’s brought along and drives off. This is good vintage knuckle draggin’ stuff. No protective gloves needed here, just big bare Cro-Magnon hands greasy enough to cover at least 10 cars with fingerprints.
After the Chevy sedan is brought back to the lair, they swap the VIN tag on the body by cutting in a new A-pillar from a wrecked donor car and paint the thing blue. The plot thickens as the smartest dude in the “gang” runs a red light (of course,) and after a chase by the cops, bails out and they impound the car.
The forensic fine tooth comb this car is put through has to be seen to be believed. With modern day anti-theft advances standard on the lowliest of econo-boxes, the procedure seems positively primitive.
The film plays like an old film noir piece with a blowsy,wood wind heavy soundtrack and a voice over that’s strictly business. It’s kinda a little bittersweet too as so much has changed since this film was made. There’s no hitting rewind or putting “The genie back in the bottle.”
We don’t have to worry about all that now as a fleet of fifties and sixties beauties await your identification skills. Be sure and check out the 1960 Olds Convertible 98 (88?) in the impound lot toward the end of the film. Cool.