Movie Stars: The Adams Probe 16
I’m certainly not breaking any new ground by beginning a series spotlighting famous movie cars. I do hope at least to give the upcoming posts the “Spannerhead take” on cars in cinema. By way of background, it’s interesting that in many movies and TV shows the cars are almost better known than the actors that drove them, certainly in many cases more familiar than the supporting cast. In fact, you could argue that cars occupy the same level as animals when it comes to non-human movie elements we recognize and care about. There’s something about the best ones that makes them feel alive, almost sentient, qualities that have an echo in our everyday transportation, no matter how seemingly mundane.
In any case, today’s featured car is one of the least tall ever made, its roof rising just 34 inches off the ground (beating the Ford GT40, so-named for its 40″ height, by a full 6 inches). It’s the Adams Probe 16, and it starred in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 dystopian vision A Clockwork Orange. The car, called the “Durango 95” in the film, didn’t have a large part, featured only on sound stages transporting the lead character and his sidekicks to and from their various escapades. It’s known, then, as much for its role in the movie as for its futuristic look, and probably more of the latter.
The Adams Brothers concern only built 3 examples, all of which have been floating from owner to owner, in various states of decay and restoration, in the years following their employ in the film. Fiberglass-bodied and front-wheel-drive, powered by a 1.9l 4-cylinder mounted fully behind the front axle line, access to the cockpit was provided by the sliding glass roof. The low height of the car meant one literally stepped down into the car through the roof, and adopted a fully recumbent position while driving. Performance was never a high priority; the purpose of the car was a futuristic styling exercise, in which respect it excelled—the car is still forward- and exotic-looking today, even if the day-glo orange color is a bit ’70s.
Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing cars which featured prominently on film or television. Read the other installments here:
- McLaren P1 (The Weeknd’s “Starboy” music video)
- Ferrari 328 (Sleigh Bells’ “Infinity Guitars” music video)
- Maserati Biturbo 425i (Licence to Kill)
- The cars of Back to the Future Part II
- Aston Martin DB5 (James Bond franchise)
- Sunbeam Alpine Mark I (To Catch a Thief)
- Adams Probe 16 (A Clockwork Orange)