May 3

The Iconic Cars of The Blues Brothers: A Tribute to the Bluesmobile

Last Updated on May 8, 2024

With their music, style, and unforgettable adventures, the Blues Brothers, portrayed by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, have left an indelible mark on pop culture. However, one aspect of the legendary comedy duo often goes unsung. It’s the iconic Bluesmobile! Let’s explore the impact this ride had on automotive history along with all the other cars that played a crucial role in the Blues Brothers’ movies.

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

Elwood Blues

“Hit it.”

Jake Blues

The Bluesmobile: Monaco’s Police Car Heritage

When Jake Blues (John Belushi) is released from prison, his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) picks him up in a decommissioned 1974 Dodge Monaco police car. This car, dubbed the “Bluesmobile,” becomes their trusted companion throughout the movie as the guys attempt to save the orphanage where they grew up.

The iconic Bluesmobile. Credit: hotcars.com

“It’s an old Mount Prospect police car.”

Elwood Blues

“The day I get out of prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car.”

Jake Blues

The Dodge Monaco was a popular choice for cop cars in the 1970s due to its sturdy construction and powerful engine options. And just like those vehicles, the Bluesmobile was equipped with a 440 cubic inch (7.2L) V8 engine, which produced around 220 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. That provided ample power for Jake and Elwood Blues in their high-speed pursuits, daring escapes, and it helped them perform seemingly impossible stunts.

The Fate of the Original Bluesmobile

Despite its seemingly indestructible nature in the movie, the original Bluesmobile actually met a tragic end. In the film’s climactic chase scene, the car is driven through the Daley Center in Chicago, and after all is said done, falls apart piece by piece until only the frame remains. 

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The Bluesmobile falls apart. Credit: Universal Pictures

The original Bluesmobile used in the movie was scrapped after production wrapped. However, replicas and tribute cars have been built by fans and collectors, ensuring that at least the spirit of the Bluesmobile lives on.

The Bluesmobile 2.0: The Sequel’s Upgraded Ride

In the 1998 sequel, Blues Brothers 2000, Elwood Blues returns with a new partner, Mighty Mack (John Goodman), and a replacement for the previous Bluesmobile. This time, the car of choice is a 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria. If you know a little something about cop cars, you know that the Crown Victoria was another popular police vehicle of the time. It was powered by a 4.6L V8 engine that generated around 190 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

The Bluesmobile makes a comeback as the Bluesmobile 2.0. Credit: imcdc.org

The new Bluesmobile maintains the spirit of the original, with its police-inspired appearance and modifications. However, the newer model brings a more modern touch to the brothers’ adventures.

Behind-the-scenes stories about the cars

The Blues Brothers movies may be known for their incredible car chases and the iconic Bluesmobile, but the stories behind these vehicles are just as fascinating as what we see on screen. The production team faced numerous challenges while filming, particularly during those intense chase scenes.

In the original 1980 film, due to the rigorous demands of the stunts and the damage inflicted during filming, multiple Dodge Monacos were needed. 

“There were lots of different Bluesmobiles. There were Bluesmobiles that were specifically for high-performance driving, stunt driving,” said producer Robert K. Weiss.

The Making of the Blues Brothers Credit: Universal Pictures

“In the principle Bluesmobile driven by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s stunt doubles, Tommy Huff and Eddie Donno, all four wheels had individually controlled brakes to allow the sharp twists and turns the car performed,” director John Landis shared in an interview with Hagerty.

One of the most memorable moments in the film is when the Bluesmobile performs a daring backflip over an open drawbridge. To achieve this shot, filmmakers used a specially-modified car with a reinforced chassis and powerful engine.

The Bluesmobile does a back flip! Credit: Universal Pictures

The Bluesmobile was also able to perform seemingly impossible feats like driving through a mall and leaping over a pile of crashed police cars. These scenes were achieved through a combination of skilled driving and some movie magic editing. For example, in the mall scene, the filmmakers used the abandoned Dixie Square Mall where they recreated a retail space and choreographed where the vehicles would enter and exit.

“The whole concept of the Bluesmobile and why it was an old police car was basically Elwood’s concept, it was sort of living inside the character,” said Dan Aykroyd, who also co-wrote the film. He even helped decorate the vehicle to bring it to life. “At that time, the hottest police car in America was the Dodge Monaco with the 440 cubic inch engine and that became the Bluesmobile because Elwood knew that he had to stay at least, if not one ahead step of the lot, at least on the same technological footing with them.”

“It’s got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters, so it’ll run good on regular gas.”

Elwood Blues

Interesting Facts about the Bluesmobile

Here are some interesting facts about the Bluesmobile that even fans may have missed:

The license plates on the Bluesmobile read “Illinois BDR 529,” which reportedly stood for “Black Diamond Rider.” The Black Diamond Riders are a Canadian motorcycle club.

The iconic megaphone on the Bluesmobile’s roof was a functional prop, used by Elwood to address the crowd during their performances.

According to Forbes, there were 104 cars destroyed in the first film and 105 cars destroyed in the second.

The Bluesmobile comes from the fourth generation of the Dodge Monaco.

Before the Dodge Monaco would become popular in The Blues Brothers, by the year 1970, Chrysler produced over 80% of American police vehicles.

The Other Police Cars of The Blues Brothers

Throughout both films, the Blues Brothers find themselves in countless high-speed chases with law enforcement. In the original, the primary police vehicles were 70s Dodge Monacos, similar to the Bluesmobile itself. These cars were marked by their distinctive bullhorn-shaped hood ornaments and “City of Chicago Police” markings. The sequel Blues Brothers 2000 featured an updated fleet of police cars, including 90s Ford Crown Victoria and 90s Chevrolet Caprice models. These newer vehicles showcased the evolution of police car design while still adding to the high-octane pursuits.

The Bluesmobile causes quite the police presence. Credit: Screen Rant

The Blues Brothers’ influence on car culture

The Bluesmobile and the cop cars featured in The Blues Brothers movies have had a significant impact on car culture and the popularity of certain vehicle models and styles. One of the most notable examples is the popularity of buying ex-police vehicles. After the release of the first film, many car enthusiasts sought out decommissioned police cars, particularly Dodge Monacos, to create their own versions of the Bluesmobile. This trend has continued over the years, with fans also showing interest in the Ford Crown Victoria and Chevrolet Caprice models featured in the sequel.

Today, there’s still a thriving community of fans who celebrate the films’ legacy through various events. These occasions often feature a parade of Bluesmobile replicas and other classic cars, along with live music performances, and costume contests. If you live in Chicago or nearby and are interested in renting out the iconic vehicle, The Chicago Bluesmobile is an official company that can help you spruce up your event with the classic ride and matching costume props.

A Bluesmobile replica at a public function. Credit: Graham Woodward (Flickr)

The Blues Brothers’ influence can also be seen in the broader context of movie and TV car culture. The Bluesmobile has become a beloved addition to the pantheon of iconic screen vehicles, alongside the likes of the Batmobile, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and the Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard. The car’s popularity has led to its inclusion in various pop culture references, video games, and merchandise.

The Bluesmobile in Grand Theft Auto. Credit: GTA Gaming Archive

FAQs

What kind of car do the Blues Brothers drive?

The Blues Brothers drive a decommissioned 1974 Dodge Monaco police car, dubbed the “Bluesmobile,” in the original 1980 film. In the 1998 sequel, they drive a 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria.

Where is the original Bluesmobile?

Unfortunately, the original Bluesmobile was scrapped after production wrapped. However, replicas and tribute cars have been built by fans and collectors to keep the spirit of the Bluesmobile alive.

How many cars were used in the making of The Blues Brothers?

The exact number of vehicles used for both films is not known, but there were several used as the Bluesmobile and about 104 cars destroyed in the first film and 105 cars destroyed in the second.

What police cars were used in The Blues Brothers?

In the 1980 film, the primary police vehicles were 70s Dodge Monacos. The 1998 sequel featured an updated fleet of police cars, including 90s Ford Crown Victoria and Chevrolet Caprice models.

The Legacy of the Blues Brothers’ Cars

As we remember the enduring impact of The Blues Brothers on popular culture, it’s essential to recognize the role that their cars had on the automotive market and how they popularized owning a police car. From the original 1974 Dodge Monaco to the updated 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, the Bluesmobile will forever remain a beloved fixture in the hearts of fans and a testament to the timeless appeal of a classic film.


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