British films DVD update #1

At Torq-O we use our vast, underground, low-humidity, former salt mine to store The Torq-O Media Archive.

Over the past 11 years, we’ve acquired a lot of American orphan car media. Some of the interesting material includes a Graham-Paige film called Four Speeds Forward as well as a copy of the Graham-Paige Legion March. (We had a chance to bid on Arthur Pryor’s personal copy, but, alas, we were focused on some other shiny object.)

We’ve also carted home tons of AMC and Studebaker media as well as a sprinkling of Packard, Hudson, and Kaiser-Frazer films and radio commercials. And let’s not forget the Nash dealer training materials.

Recently, however, we “strayed” from our American roots and bought three 1959 British orphan car films from the poor man’s Sotheby’s. They are:

Alpine Challenge: a 23-minute film promoting the success of the Sunbeam Rapier in European rally competitions.

Sunbeam Alpine
The New Sunbeam Alpine: a nine-minute promotional film about the Alpine that everyone loves - the one with fins that Maxwell Smart drove.

The New Hillman Minx: a seven-minute promotional ode to a British granny car best remembered by humorist/heckler Dave Barry (We love the that article, but we also would love to have a Hillman Minx. It’s very anti-sexy chic.)

Usually, when we buy these films, there are always one or two people who want a copy on DVD. You’d think that would be an easy way to make a buck and help recoup the cost of buying the film.

Not so, Grasshopper. When we transfer these films, we use a service that does a fantastic job. But it doesn’t come cheap. If the film is in great shape, it costs $175/hour, for example.

So we were doubtful when a few members of the Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club of America wanted DVD copies of these Rootes Group films. We said, “Okay, but we need a firm commitment from at least 10 people, and we need payment up front, and we need a list of names and addresses.” Our demands were like a hastily composed ransom note.

To our surprise, the SAOCA members made it happen! The money’s in the bank, the list of investors is in our hands, and the project is moving forward!

I’m happy to report that the films are safely in the hands of our film transfer service. They’ll be converted to 10-bit, uncompressed, 720x486 Quicktime movies ready to transfer to a DVD. (Eat that, wrench jockeys who try to confuse me with terms like “gudgeon pin” and “rear brake proportioning valve”!)

We’re not done yet. There are still several production steps we have to take to finish the DVD. But we’re moving forward.

If you’re interested in joining the ranks of these Alpine owners who put their money where their passion is, send me an email. Once these DVDs have been burned, there won’t be any additional copies.

Stay tuned for more updates!