“Push the button, Max!” That was the line repeatedly uttered by Jack Lemmon playing Professor Fate to his hapless assistant, played by Peter Falk, in the 1965 film “The Great Race.” Although actually based on a real life, New York to Paris race, the ’65 movie was a farcical comedy, as you can plainly see by the car shown here. The car in question is Professor Fate’s Hannibal 8, and for a mere $350,000, it could Be Yours.
The car popped up on Hemmings (the font of all collector car goodness, it seems) and is being sold by an outfit called Volo. Yes, this is the actual car used in the movie by Jack Lemon/Professor Fate, and it seems to be in pretty fantastic shape for a movie car. Usually they’re treated like dirt, and by the time the production company is through with them, they’re looking pretty ragged.
This is the first time in nearly 4 decades that the car has seen the light of day, and it’s actually not one, but three vehicles from the Warner Bros. movie will be available. And none of the three have been outside of California since their construction in 1964.
Warner’s sold them after completion of the film, and the cars were one of the prime attractions at the Movie World museum, in Burbank, where they were displayed until Movie World closed its doors in the late 1970s. Professor Fate’s cars were kept locked up for nearly 3 decades, until 1993 when a portion of the Movie World collection was offered for sale at auction and were snapped up by a Beverly Hills movie car collector for his private collection.
And here we are, sixteen years later, and the three cars are on hand for anybody with the cash and the desire, it would seem. The Hannibal 8 was custom built by Warner Bros from the ground up at a cost of $150,000 in 1965 money, which was about three times what a house went for back then. It’s powered by a Corvair flat 6 and 3 speed manual gearbox and all four of the rear wheels are powered by a chain drive.
It has a cannon that pops out and retracts from the cars hood and a functional smoke screen generator. The Hannibal 8 remains in its original and un-restored condition just as it was last used on the movie set. It is still fully operational, and it actually runs and drives. It even has a 1965 assigned a VIN and could be titled, registered and driven over the road.
You also get all the original documentation and full history from Warner Bros. and the 1964 title. You’ll also get Professor Fate’s Rocket Car this also, terrifyingly, functional. It has all the special effects gadgets like gas nozzles in rockets ends to provide flames for propulsion effects. The thing rides on rails and it to is powered by a Corvair flat 6 and an automatic transmission.
But wait! There’s more! You also get The Torpedo, complete with its screen used trailer. This torpedo is fitted with an electric motor and still floats.
Weird, true, but you’d never see yourself coming the other way if you were to buy this thing, now would you?