View Full Version : RIP Jim Garner :(

July 20th, 2014, 11:28 AM


HOT ROD was saddened this morning to hear of the death of actor Jim Garner at 86 years old, lost to “natural causes,” according to CNN. Why would HOT ROD be interested in Garner? Because he was a hot rodder and a friend to our founder, Robert E. Petersen. Of course Garner is known to car guys for the movie Grand Prix (1966), and for the gold Firebirds he thrashed in every episode of The Rockford Files TV show (1974-1980). Few characters have a stunt move named for ’em, but many gearheads know the reverse 180 as a “Rockford.”

Off camera, Garner saw lots of action at the wheel. He was most seen in HOT ROD during his days at the Baja 1000, where he campaigned a series of “Grabber” Oldsmobile 442s modified for off-road racing. Several were hopped-up stockers, and one was the wild tube-chassis Banshee. In 1969, Garner’s shop prepped the team of AMC Ramblers that raced Baja. The shop in question was co-owned by Garner, and called American International Racers. It prepped Corvettes for competition at Sebring, Daytona, and beyond, circa 1967-1969. Much of this racing history is covered in a Garner documentary, The Racing Scene, released in 1970. It includes Baja, Daytona, and Sebring.

In later years, Garner maintained a car-promoting relationship with Pontiac and GMC. The August ’80 HOT ROD and July ’79 Motor Trend includes the “Diable Del Calle” GMC Caballo (El Camino) built for the actor. The October ’80 HOT ROD has a story on his GMC shortbed with a turbocharged 302 that was said to hit 140 mph at Indy. Perhaps the forerunner to the GMC Syclone?


July 20th, 2014, 12:34 PM
I loved him as Rockford.

Alan P
July 20th, 2014, 01:12 PM
Watching Grand Prix now.

July 20th, 2014, 02:31 PM
Sad to see him go, but 86 years is a very good run. I think I'll go watch Maverick. Always liked him in that movie.

July 20th, 2014, 03:39 PM
Grand Prix has always been one of my favorites.

July 20th, 2014, 04:33 PM
Great advocate of motorsports. Sad to see him go but he did lead a full life and an awesome one at that.

July 20th, 2014, 07:40 PM
He was a good old American actor, there was something reassuring about him. Also he was a rock on 8 Simple Rules when John Ritter died unexpectedly, I won't forget that either. RIP James, thanks for your performances.

July 21st, 2014, 01:15 AM
RIP Jim. Loved him as Jim Rockford. :(

July 21st, 2014, 05:49 AM
Was it he who also crunched the can?

July 21st, 2014, 10:02 AM
Don't know what crunched the can means but I always liked him. I've passed his autobiography at the library. Maybe the next time I'm there I'll pick it up - sounds like the guy had an interesting life for sure. From wikipedia:

He then went to Korea for 14 months in the Regular Army, serving in the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Korean War. He was wounded twice, first in the face and hand from shrapnel fire from a mortar round, and second on April 23, 1951, in the buttocks from friendly fire from U.S. fighter jets as he dove headfirst into a foxhole. Garner was awarded the Purple Heart in Korea for the first injury. For the second wound, he received a second Purple Heart (eligibility requirement: "As the result of friendly fire while actively engaging the enemy"), although Garner received the medal in 1983, 32 years after his injury. Garner was a self-described "scrounger" for his company in Korea, a role he later played in The Great Escape and The Americanization of Emily.

July 22nd, 2014, 11:29 AM
Someone today reminded me of James Garner and Mariette Hartley doing Polaroid commercials in the '70s/'80s. There are some on YouTube if anyone is interested.

I also found this, which is pretty awesome. Dig that car!


July 22nd, 2014, 04:36 PM
He ran the Baja 1000 in that car. :hard:

June 16th, 2017, 01:50 PM
Just keeping up an old tradition 'round these parts. :D