26 March 2015

Mr. Spock and automobiles

Leonard Nimoy passed away last month at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 83. His most rabid fans are no doubt disappointed that he wasn’t with us for a more Vulcan-appropriate lifespan of 120-plus years, but he certainly did leave fans wanting for little in terms of the characters he created onscreen. They were of course defined by the logic-driven half-human Mr. Spock and also included a turn as “Paris” on “Mission Impossible.” And Nimoy inspired the brilliant Alan Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus character in the “Star Trek” sendup “Galaxy Quest.”

Truth be told, Nimoy’s automotive legacy wasn’t exactly in the Steve McQueen territory and being the King of Logic isn’t the same as being the King of Cool. But what there was, was quite fascinating. One of the most frequently circulated period images of Nimoy was shot in front of his 1963 Buick Riviera. It was a particularly amusing photo since it was taken in full costume and makeup on either the Desilu or Paramount lots during the shooting of the first season of “Star Trek” in 1966. The then-3-year-old Riv sported a license plate frame from Lauesen Buick, which was on Sepulveda in West L.A. It was parked next to a 1963 or 1964 Corvette that may well have belonged to William Shatner — Logic and Passion parked side-by-side.

Then there was also the rather amusing turn in the “Star Trek” spacemen vs. gangsters episode “A Piece of the Action,” where Nimoy attempts to instruct Shatner as Captain Kirk on the operation of the manual gearbox in a 1931 Cadillac. “Gears, captain, gears.”

But perhaps Nimoy’s best turn in any automobile occurred in an ad shot for Audi last year with “New Spock” Zachary Quinto. Filled with self-deprecating wit and wry in-jokes, it has been called the best automobile commercial of all time.

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