At Demaras Racing, we’re all about cars. Even pre-historic cars. Over the past two weeks, we’ve reviewed episodes about Fred’s Second Car and of course the Indianrockolis 500. The following article delves deeper into the amazing vehicles of Bedrock from the original cartoon series which ran from 1960 to 1966..
Fred’s Family Car
Fred’s car is The Flintstone’s main automotive star. In a lot of ways the simplest of all, being just a ‘roller.’ For carmakers to get buyers to pay hard cash for feet-propelled-vehicles shows those were much simpler times. Yet, we can assume that to offer a seat and a canopy was an enticing enough sales pitch. On the other hand, the technology used on those ancient wheel bearings has never been surpassed; once in motion, that boy rolled nonstop! Miles and miles of kinetic energy used in the most efficient of ways.
There were additional pluses to Fred’s basic machine; as episodes progressed, a novel ‘modular’ capability was revealed. There’s no mention ever as to how complex these conversions were, but Fred’s car could switch from two to four seater, and to roadster as well. The dashboard would also switch from wood to stone, but it’s hard to tell if they were replaced due to wear, or were updates.
Barney Rubble’s car kept shifting in shape ever so slightly throughout the show. There was never any explanation for this, and one can only speculate: Was wood poorly sealed and rotted quickly? Or did Barney carved and chopped it to keep it up to date with styling fashions? Were log-mobiles just very low cost and purchased at a moment’s whim? In either case, this early version’s poorly-proportioned front overhang is our best cue it was a front-wheeler. Not a great looker, but if Subaru and Saab had trouble getting proportions right thousands of years later, we can cut some slack to this little log-mobile.
This version of Barney’s car is also bestowed with really tiny wheels. Pundits contend its dynamics must have been awfully poor, with a dangerous propensity to rollover. Good thing Barney was a prudent driver! How come this model never made it into Ralph Nader’s book? Rollover tendencies, fire proclivities, pedestrian-impaling front end; the vehicle was nothing but a rolling menace.
Betty & Wilma Wagons
Betty and Wilma’s cars kept switching throughout the show’s entire run. Car leases must have been rather accessible, not to mention Bedrock was enjoying its ‘exceptional age’ too, while assembly and materials were probably not long lasting either. Swapping must have been rather common.
In any case, in this shot Betty is driving a nifty little number, in most likeliness a European import. Don’t deny it, this rock-mobile carries an elegant dowdiness that exudes Britishness through every pore. No idea why the need for a fake radiator, as combustion engines didn’t exist and no cooling was necessary. Either it was a water deposit for a thirsty lizard serving as ‘propulsion,’ or a ‘radiator’ shape just happens to be an ‘inevitable’ idea in car styling.
Wilma also drove a variety of cars throughout the seasons. This one looks pretty spiffy, more sophisticate than most of Bedrock’s vehicles. How did she get stingy Fred to plow down cash for it? That was never addressed in the episode, but we can safely assume Fred ‘owed it’ to her after one of his many failed dimwitted schemes.
As Betty’s car showed earlier, Bedrock’s landscape wasn’t just filled with American makes. Yes, the ‘import invasion’ menace is an ancient one, being as misunderstood then as it was centuries later. Import influences created some unusual results at the time, just as they did centuries later in the US industry. Here’s an example: the weird overhangs, the opera windows, the ungainly proportions; obviously an older platform dressed up to look ‘European.’ Most likely with questionable white-marble accents to project an ‘Italian’ look.
Here’s an infamous one, another American trying the ‘Euro’ thing. No mere log-mobile, but a chiseled chunk of redwood aping the best works of ancient Modena. Indeed, it looked fast just by standing still. Meanwhile, the unusual ‘opposite-angles’ suspension is thought to be of French inspiration.