A screenplay by Rudolph Wurlitzer
and Will Corry
From a story by Will Corry

Where the road is and where it's going:
the first movie worth reading.


Interior of the Car on Sunset Strip at night. The camera picks up the profile of the Mechanic as he sits in the passenger seat staring at the trip. He is twenty-three years old. His features are soft, yet ruggedly defined. He occupies space with great assurance and poise; his gestures are fluid and coordinated. Whenever he approaches a machine or any problem requiring digital expertise he is totally focused.

There are two phone booths on the edge of thee sidewalk. The Driver is in one, his back returned to the Car as he talks on the phone. The Driver hangs up and returns to his seat. He, too, is twenty-three years old. His face is lean and angular. There is a perplexed and detached look to his eyes. His movements are graceful, yet tense, nervous. When he is driving he is at one with the Car; when out of the Car he seems slightly lost, as if away from the center himself. He fires up and the Car glides slowly to the flow of traffic. For the first time, the Car is completely visible. It is a '55 Chevy two-door. It is several shades of primer grey. There are wide M.&H. Racemaster tires. The front end is molded into one piece of fiber glass that tilts forward. When opened the engine is totally revealed. The engine is a 454 cubic-inch high-performance Chevy with aluminum heads. From the outside one can see the roll bar behind the two fiber-glass bucket seats. Inside, the dashboard is bare except for Stewart-Warner gauges, Sun Tach, Water Temp, Oil Press and Amp Meter. There is a 4-speed Transmission, Hurst Linkage and Covico Steering Wheel. The back-seat area is filled with a tool kit, spare parts and two small, tightly rolled sleeping bags.

DRIVER (speaking softly but with an edge of tension to his voice): Broadway Parking Lot Crenshaw.

Credits come on as the Car slowly glides into the parking lot. There are two thousand cars in the lot. Most are parked but a small number of the more impressive Street Racers and fast Detroit cars move in a slow parade. The occupants of the parked cars mingle with other. There is an air of secrecy and complicated naneuvering about the whole scene. There are lots of chicks and there is a certain amount of hustling and sounding going on, but mostly the talk is about other cars and side side bets. The crowd is predominantly black. The buildings around the parking lot are the new sterile shops of a mammoth shopping center. There are no lights on in the buildings. On top of the tallest building there are three plain-clothes cops. One cop talks on a walkie-talkie. A helicopter hovers overhead, casting an ominous pool of slowly moving light over the crowd. The Car coasts slowly over to a man with a megaphone who talks constantly in a low, hushed voice to the passing drivers. The Car stops. The man is huge and pronouncedly black. He wears a faded blue denim jacket with gold lettering on the back: L.A. Street Racers Assoc.

MECHANIC (leaning out the window): You got anything fast?

MAN (quietly, not using the megaphone): '68 Dodge Charger. Says he'll race anything. Hold on. . . .

He is distracted by an aide.

MAN (using the megaphone, addressing himself to three men with L.A. Street Racers Assoc. on their backs) : Slim, tell Motorhead to be cool. The man is all over the place tonight.

He turns back to the Mechanic.

MAN: In ten minutes go out the far end. It's at Forty-second and Third Avenue.

MECHANIC: Where's the Dodge?

MAN (distracted as another aide comes up): Over by the gate.

The Mechanic gets back in the Car. They drive slowly toward the Entrance Gate. The Car drives through the gate and parks alongside a Dodge Charger. The Driver of the Dodge is black. He is neatly dressed in fancy leather jacket, white shirt and blue and white ascot. He looks at the Driver and then slowly at the Car, shaking his head in painful depreciation.

MECHANIC (out the window to the Driver of the Dodge): Man says you want action.

DODGE DRIVER: Could be. But I don't see nothin' around.

MECHANIC: That's true. All I see is a pile of Detroit shit.

DODGE DRIVER (smiling slightly): That might have to cost you.

MECHANIC: What do you have in mind.

DODGE DRIVER: A yard would be worth my time.

MECHANIC: Make it a deuce.

Forty-second Street and Third Avenue. The quiet residential street has been sealed off. Two men with flashlights stand at the far end of the street. At the starting line three men with flashlights direct the lineup of cars. The Car is directed in line behind two Plymouth Road Runners. The Dodge Charger pulls up alongside the Car. Two Plymouth Road Runners squeal off into their race.

Lights go on in two houses. The Mechanic reaches into his wallet and withdraws four fifty-dollar bills. The Dodge Driver withdraws two hundred-dollar bills. A man with a flashlight wearing a blue denim jacket with L.A. Street Racers Assoc. on the back moves in between the two cars and pockets the bet. The starter moves to the side and raises his flashlight to start the race as the credits end. He brings his flashlight quickly down and the cars burst from the line.

The Car wins by two feet. As the Car slows, the overhead revolving red light of a squad car flashes a block away. The Driver executes a 180' spin-out and roars back down the street where the other cars are scattering. The Car takes the first left and then the first right and then the first left.

Series of shots of the Car leaving L.A. The Car on the Freeway. The Driver keeping to the speed limit. The Mechanic sleeps in the back area.

The Car circling a ramp and moving onto another Freeway.

The Car on the Freeway. The Mechanic still asleep. Fewer lights and cars. The Driver turns on the radio. We hear the intimate and frenetic voice of an early-morning disc jockey.

The Car leaving the Freeway. Moving through small, completely silent towns. First light of dawn. The Mechanic wakes and sits up. Then moves into the passenger seat. He turns off the radio.

MECHANIC: Loose valve making noise. We might have lost a rocker arm.

An orange grove, dawn. The sun is beginning to rise over an immense field of orange trees. The Mechanic and Driver get out of the Car. The Mechanic takes his tool kit from the back area and opens the hood. The Driver leans against a tree and closes his eyes. The road is empty. The only sounds are birds chirping and the light tapping of the Mechanic's tools.

DRIVER: That Dodge had a Hemi with a torque flight. He got me good out of the gate. I pulled on him in second. Pulled right up to the door in third. That was when he stopped and I finally pulled him in fourth. I believe we sawed that cat off even if we did lose two hundred.

The Mechanic never talks when he's working, as the Driver never talks when he's driving. The Driver closes his eyes. The Mechanic works on.

A gas station, Needles, later that morning. The Car stops in front of the pump. Inside the garage the feet of a mechanic are visible as he works underneath a car. Outside, an old man in coveralls works on a tractor. A boy, fifteen, comes out of the office. The Mechanic and Driver get out of the Car. The Mechanic opens the hood and starts to work. The Driver stretches and looks around. The boy looks for the filler cap but can't find it. The Mechanic comes over and opens the trunk. The filler cap is enormous, the tank holding thirty-eight gallons. The boy starts to pump gas. He looks over the Car in awe as the gas pump dings.

BOY: Chevy block?



Boy (looking in the window as be pumps the gas) : See you got a roll cage.


The garage mechanic comes out from underneath the car and walks toward them, wiping his hands on his jeans. He is middle-aged and openly curious about the Car.




BOY: Is it a 396?


DRIVER: 454.


Boy: No shit.

GARAGE MECHANIC: What kind of transmission?

DRIVER: Four-speed.


GARAGE MECHANIC: You build the headers?




The old man in coveralls walks over to the Car and looks on.

Boy: How fast does she go?


DRIVER (vaguely): Depends on who's around.


OLD MAN (looking at the pump): Never heard so much bell ringin'. Thirty gallons and she's still goin'.


GARAGE MECHANIC: I don't believe we got a machine to properly shut you boys down. Nossir. Old Perky Sams might have done it but he done got his leg smashed.

The Mechanic lowers the hood and walks back to the pump. He looks at the pump and takes out his wallet. He gives the boy a twentydollar bill. The boy gives the Mechanic his change in coins. They get in the Car and the Driver fires up.

Series of shots of the Car crossing the desert. The Car going flat-out at 140 m.p.h. The Car driving through small towns at the edge of the desert and beginning to climb into the mountains.

The Car, dusk. A small, middle-class Arizona town. The houses are new split-level homes. The Car driving slowly down a street at the edge of town. The Driver looks in the mirror as a Patrol Car slowly passes. There are two Troopers in the Patrol Car. The one on the passenger side looks at the Car suspiciously. He says something to the driver. Then the Patrol Car pulls in front of the Car and slows down to 20 m.p.h. The Car sputters.

MECHANIC: You got to pass or foul the plugs.

DRIVER (under his breath): Son of a bitch.

The Car sputters around the Patrol Car. When the Driver pulls back into the right lane, the Patrol Car's red light goes on. The Driver and Mechanic automatically buckle their seat belts and roll up the windows. The Driver accelerates. The Car fishtails briefly and then straightens out as the m.p.h. goes over a hundred. A puff of blue smoke comes off the rear wheels bitting fourth gear.

The two cars race through residential streets, out into the country and then back again as the Car spins out and doubles back on itself. The distance between the Patrol Car and the Car grows. Street and house lights go on as darkness settles swiftly over the town. The Car makes a hard right and then a hard left, momentarily losing the Patrol Car. The Driver cuts the engine and the Car glides into a driveway.

It is night. The Driver and Mechanic climb quietly out of the Car. The house is a comfortable ranch house, the kind one might see advertised for a young executive in Home and Gardens. Warm light spills out of the windows onto the lawn and paved driveway. The Driver and Mechanic look in a window. The window frames a living room-dining area. The furnishings are comfortable Grand Rapids. A man sits on a leather chair watching color television. The news is on. The Driver and Mechanic can barely hear the words. A pretty woman in a skirt and blouse walks back and forth from table, occasionally stopping to look at a baby lying in a crib near the couch or to watch a moment of the news. The couple are in their late twenties. The atmosphere is serene and ritualized. The Driver and Mechanic watch without comment. The man turns the television off and sits down at the table. The woman places roast beef and vegetables on the table and sits down. They eat. The Driver and Mechanic walk back to the Car. The Driver fires up and they glide quietly out of the driveway and into the night.

A field. The Driver and Mechanic are rolled up in their sleeping bags next to a dirt road. The Car is parked a few feet from them.

The Car, driving across Arizona, day. The Driver sees a Pontiac GTO in the mirror. The GTO drives parallel to the Car. There are two men in the GTO. They both look at the Car. The man in the passenger seat is an old farmer. He looks scared and uneasy. The driver of the GTO is in his early thirties. His light-blue sweater looks expensive and yet there is a disheveled almost maniacal look to him. He grimaces, then smiles, then waves as the GTO blasts past the Car. The Driver and Mechanic keep their eyes focused on the road.

A luncheonette. The Car pulls up to a country hamburger stand marked EATS. There are two other parked cars and a 1948 brown van. The van has a peace sign on the front door and a water can attached to a fender. Window shades cover the rear window. The Driver and Mechanic enter, sit at the counter. There is one other man eating. Through the window the van is visible. As the Driver and the Mechanic eat their hamburgers a Girl gets out of the rear door of the van. She slams the door. She is crying. She is dressed in old Levi's and an Army fatigue shirt that is much too big for her. The name tag on the fatigue shirt reads Higgens. She stares at the Car, drying her eyes on the sleeves of the shirt. She walks over and looks inside the Car. Then she returns to the van, goes inside and comes back with a small laundry bag. She walks to the Car and climbs into the back area. The Driver and Mechanic finish eating and go outside.

The Mechanic gets into the passenger seat. He glances briefly at the Girl but his expression remains passive and cool. His eyes are focused straight ahead when the Driver gets in and fires up.

The Car, traveling. The Girl speaks from the back area. She has a young whispery voice. It is slightly hysterical.

GIRL: It's really bumpy back here. What kind of car is this, anyway? You guys aren't the Zodiac killers or anything like that, are you?

MECHANIC (in a broad imitation of a cowboy): Jest passin' through.

GIRL: L.P.'s truck was worse. He wouldn't even be awake yet when he would want to smoke up a joint. We were supposed to go to the Grand Canyon but he kept getting stoned and pulling off the side of the road.

They ride in silence.

GIRL: Say, which way are we going?


GIRL: That's cool. I never been east.

The Car goes past a gas station as the GTO pulls out. The GTO pulls up alongside the Car. The driver of the GTO has another colored sweater. Every time we see him his sweater is different. There is another passenger in the GTO. As the GTO pulls ahead of the Car, the driver sticks his hand out the window and gives the Car the finger.

The Car, traveling, afternoon. The Girl massages the neck and shoulders of the Mechanic while looking at the Driver.

MECHANIC: She don't seem to be breathing just right. It might be the jets-possibly too lean. You hear that, just a little flat spot there. The centrifugal advance mechanism in the distributor might be fucked up. Yeah, well, she needs a little attention.

GIRL: I'm really hungry.

The Car turns down a dirt road and parks near a river. The Mechanic starts to work on the engine. The Girl sheds her Levi's and fatigue jacket and runs into the river. The Driver walks slowly to the riverbank and sits
down, watching her. She splashes and swims around in small awkward circles.

GIRL (excited as she ducks in and out of the water): It's really beautiful.

The Driver rolls a cigarette. The Mechanic joins him and sits down. They watch the Girl.

GIRL: Come in. Oh please come in. It isn't cold at all.

MECHANIC (to the Driver): You recall that Ford with the 427 that we totaled out by Johnson City? I sorely miss the feel of that automobile. I polished that crankshaft so fine the cylinders whispered my name. That was more r.p.m. without bursting than any machine I ever knew, excepting, of course, old Top Gas back yonder. I stroked that 427 crank. It slipped right in and increased the stroke from 3.78 to 3.98. We used to cut the tree with that Drive King.

GIRL: It isn't cold at all.... It's really groovy.

She floats on her back and then swims out into the river.

DRIVER (watching her): Yeah, that was a machine. But I got as many kicks from that VW we put the 911 engine into. That was a -nice little body made for surprises. I got more satisfaction out of cracking off 13 second E.T.'s than most elevens. Webers, Mondello heads, Vertex-that was a radical little trip.

They watch the Girl. It is evening and the light is soft and fading.

DRIVER: Yeah ... Space cushions.

The Mechanic stands up.

MECHANIC: Yeah, well, it's not a bad thing to really bomb off the line.

The Mechanic goes back to the Car. The Driver continues to watch the Girl as she comes out of the river.

A campfire, night. They sit around a fire drinking coffee and eating cheese and apples. The shadow and presence of the Car looms just behind them. The Girl wraps her arms around her legs and slowly rocks herself. She hums softly. The Mechanic climbs into his sleeping bag. His hands folded underneath his head, he stares at the stars. The Girl puts the cooking utensils into the Car. Then she takes off her clothes and gets into the Driver's sleeping bag. The Driver sits for a long moment, staring into the darkness. Then he slowly takes off his clothes and gets into the sleeping bag with The Girl. They make love.

The Car, traveling, New Mexico, day. The Girl is lying in the back area. The Mechanic is nodding off in the passenger seat. The Driver concentrates on the road.

GIRL (singing softly to herself): Put your arms around me/ Like the circle round the sun / I want a little lovin' / Like my easy rider done . . ..

The Driver sees a yellow Porsche in the mirror. The Porsche screams past the Car on the inside and gets on it. The Porsche comes in and out of view in the twisting road ahead. The Car's r.p.m.'s remain steady. The Girl sits up in the back area and looks at the Porsche.

GIRL: Don't you want to race him? Isn't that what you guys do? I mean, didn't a car just come up and challenge you? Aren't there always Super Cars coming up and beeping and growling and exposing themselves so you guys can set your lips in thin lines and blast off?

MECHANIC: It's too heavy to do in a Porsche just for kicks. We'd take him in a quarter mile but he'd probably lose us in long time.

GIRL: Well, I don't know. It gets cramped sitting in an engine with a bunch of car freaks.

She sinks down into the back area, sticking her legs over the seat.

GIRL (singing in a load, faltering presexual voice): Oh let me be your sidetrack / till your main line comes, / I'll do more switchin' than / your main line ever done.

The Driver accelerates to 130 miles an hour, throwing the Girl's legs back against the rear window. He suddenly slows down and continues to cruise at 60 m.p.h.

Girl: For Christ's sake. I didn't ---mean any kind of action. Just a little race, to break the monotony.

The outskirts of Santa Fe, afternoon. The Girl hangs her bead outside the window on the Mechanic's side. The mountains around Santa Fe are brilliantly shaded in purple and red as the sun sets. The Driver drives into the center of town and parks near the small elegant plaza. A Mexican and] Indian teen-age rock-and-roll band are playing on a bandstand in the small park in the middle of the plaza. A crowd watches the musicians and a Saturday night promenade walks casually around and through the plaza.

GIRL (excited): Listen, I really like it here and I want to stay in a motel. I've hardly ever done that.

DRIVER (distracted, watching the band): Okay.... Let's do it. (To the Mechanic:) How much bread we got?

MECHANIC (looking through his wallet): Two hundred racing bread. Twenty to spend.

Girl: I don't need a handout. I don't dig that. I can pay my own way.

DRIVER: I just thought you didn't have any bread.

GIRL: I'll get some. Take a walk or something. Go over and listen to the sounds.

They watch her as she walks down the street. She stops a middle-aged couple, obviously tourists. The man is dressed in a blue jacket, black string tie and sombrero. The woman, just as obviously his wife, is dressed in a gray suit and brown oxford walking shoes.

Girl: Excuse me, sir, but could you lend me some change to help me get the bus home? I'm on my way to San Francisco, but I got sick and had to use up the allowance my parents gave me.

The woman looks away, embarrassed. The man reaches into his pocket. Without looking, he puts a handful of change into her hand.

GIRL: Thank you, sir.

She stops a man getting out of a pickup truck. He is obviously a rancher, He's middle aged with a stern, weather-beaten face. He's dressed in cowboy boots, jeans and a red hunting jacket.

GIRL, (looking at him mournfully): Excuse me, sir, but could you lend me some change to help me get the bus home? I'm on my way to San Francisco, but I got sick and had to use up the allowance my parents gave me.

MAN (frowning with disapproval): Why don't you young people work for a change? I'm sick and tired of all this freeloading.

He walks away. The Girl stops an old couple coming out of a restaurant.

GIRL (looking at them mournfully): Excuse me, but could you lend me some change to help me get the bus home? I'm on my way to San Francisco' but I got sick and had to use up the allowance my parents gave me.

OLD WOMAN: I think you're disgraceful being out on the street like this. Why don't you work for a living?

GIRL (moving away): I just heard that rap, lady.

The Mechanic and Driver walk toward the bandstand while the Girl works the street.

Santa Fe, night. They drive through the streets.

GIRL: Twelve dollars and twenty cents. That's more than you guys got today.

The Driver takes a sharp turn to the left and follows a '34 coupe street runner. They follow the coupe as it makes a left turn and then cruises down a main street. The coupe is a beautiful car with '40 Ford axle assembly with spindles, a '56 Chevy rear end with Buick brakes, and standard five windows. They follow the coupe until it turns into an A & W Root Beer Stand. They circle the stand, looking at the parked cars.

MECHANIC: Check that '67 'Cuda . . . . That's nice, a '57 Chevy . . . . Hmm, a 442 Olds. There's a little muscle around tonight. What we got over there? . . . A Ford 429. An Anglia panel . . . . Look at that Anglia panel. Beautiful. An AMX. Okay . . . . Listen, we got to just rope one out . . . . I believe I got her spotted. Look at that '67 Plymouth Road Runner and that dude in those sharp threads eatin' a chiliburger. That's a score. A Hemi, two four-barrel Holley carbs. Chrome rims. Goodyear slicks. Headers. Probably a torque flight transmission. Yeah, well let's get it on.

The Car parks next to the Plymouth. The Driver gets out and walks up to the driver of the Plymouth. He is in his middle twenties, expensively dressed in leather jacket, slacks and black cowboy boots. He coolly looks over the crowd of assembled street runners. The crowd is mostly young kids, eating hamburgers and drinking root beer; girls coming on to boys and vice versa. Inside a loud jukebox plays The Rolling Stones' Honky Tonk Women.

A Cop and GTO

DRIVER (obviously polite and soft-spoken): That's a clean machine.

The driver of the Plymouth looks at the Driver. He seems bored

PLYMOUTH DRIVER: It's good work.

DRIVER: Not bad for a factory machine.

The Plymouth driver looks over the Driver and the Car for the first time.

PLYMOUTH DRIVER: It's not exactly a factory machine.

DRIVER (putting him on): You mean you've got some extras in there? Is it fast? Gee, mister, I'll bet it's pretty fast.

PLYMOUTH DRIVER (testy): You want to find out?

DRIVER: Well, sure, I'd be grateful to find out. Only thing is (his tone changes, becoming more defined, firmer) I'm not exactly in the habit of seeing the Chevy work against some two-bit piece of junk.

PLYMOUTH DRIVER (angry): Make it fifty.

DRIVER (completing the deal, his tone hard and matter-of-fact): Add a yard and a half and you got a deal.

A crowd has gathered around the scene. Kids are checking out the Car and making appropriate sounds.

BOY: Two hundred. Hey, Chuck, this guy just bet Steve two hundred dollars.

SECOND Boy: Look at the headers. What is it, a 396?

THIRD BOY: Might be bored out to 406. Probably got Crane rockers on her. Oh man, it's got a Weiand manifold.

FIRST Boy: It probably runs on the elevens.

DRIVER (not paying attention to the crowd around the car): Where to?

PLYMOUTH DRIVER: Las Palmas Road. You can follow me.

The crowd reacts by pouring into their cars and blasting off to Las Palmas Road. The Driver gets slowly into the Car, fires up. They follow the Plymouth out of the A & W Root Beer Stand.

Las Palmas Road. A poor residential street on the edge of Santa Fe. Beyond the low, squalid adobe houses are the desert. The sky is immense, seeming to burst with stars. There is only one streetlight on Las Palmas Road and only a few of the houses have lights on. A crowd has gathered at the selected start line. The Car and the Plymouth pull up. The Girl gets out. The Mechanic hands $200 to the boy who is acting as starter. Then the Mechanic crawls underneath the Car and unbolts the headers from the rest of the exhaust system. The boy walks over to the Plymouth and the driver gives him his $200. The two drivers look at each other. The starter feathers his finger, moving the cars slowly forward. The crowd pulls back. The engines rev. The boy chops his hand down for the start. They blast off together.