Outtakes Online: Jack Lord’s ride back in action

Oct. 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

BY MIKE GORDON / mgordon@staradvertiser.com

The producers of the rebooted “Hawaii Five-0” have always paid homage to the original version, which ran from 1968-1980. They’ve brought back villains, plots and locations, usually with pre-episode fanfare from CBS to let viewers know the connection.

The episode airing tonight, Oct. 4, features the most tangible link to the old “Five-0” but there’s no way for the show to spell it out for viewers.

It’s the black 1974 Mercury Marquis that Steve McGarrett inherited from his late father in the series pilot — the same exact car driven in the original series by Jack Lord when the actor played the famous detective.

John Nordlum and the 1974 Mercury Marquis used in the original "Hawaii Five-0."

John Nordlum and the 1974 Mercury Marquis used in the original “Hawaii Five-0.” (Star-Advertiser photo by Mike Gordon)

The Mercury has been in a few episodes of the new series, but it’s been a while. It was there last week, though, in the season four premiere, but so underplayed you would have missed it if you blinked. McGarrett and his sidekick Danno Williams needed a new ride after their silver Camaro was blown up by a terrorist.

The car is scheduled to return in the fifth episode, too.

The Mercury is a beast with a big, loud, 460-cubic-inch V8 engine. It’s as subtle as a McGarrett interrogation. It has enormous tires and the original police radio and mic Lord used.

It wasn’t the first car used by Lord, who drove a 1968 Mercury Parklane Brougham through the 1973 season. Then he got the keys to the Marquis. (And trivia buffs will note as well that Danno’s Camaro wasn’t in the pilot. That was a Ford Mustang.)

The owner of the Mercury Marquis, veteran stuntman John Nordlum, is another bona fide link to the original series. He was Lord’s stunt double and the man behind the wheel of the Mercury when it chased bad guys through the streets of Honolulu. Lord gave Nordlum the car when the series ended in 1980.

Nordlum used to drive the car everywhere. Sometimes people recognized it and Nordlum let them pose for photographs. His neighbors in Nanakuli all know the Mercury. They call it the “Five-0 Car.”

It hasn’t been at his house since early summer, however. The “Five-0” crew took it to the show’s Diamond Head studio for some bodywork and maintenance. Nordlum hasn’t seen it since but was delighted to learn it would be on tonight.

When I first met Nordlum in 2010 and took a ride in the Mercury, he told me he always wondered why his friend gave him the car. In the end, he concluded that Lord was a part of the car.

“Jack’s spirit is in that car and he is going to live again in this show through that car,” Nordlum said. “That’s why he gave me that car.”

The way Nordlum sees it, the car will always be a running, rumbling tribute to Lord.

“His spirit is in this car,” he said. “That thing doesn’t quit. Nearly 200,000 miles and there is no stopping that car. It’s like McGarrett. It goes on and on like the character.”

It would be fun to somehow link the car to its original owner. Maybe Danno could ask McGarrett where his father would get such an outdated car that seemed more suited for scrap.

And McGarrett could respond with something like: He got it from an old detective, a real by-the-book guy named Jack Lord.
Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at mgordon@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.

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