1989 TOYOTA MASTER ACE SURF SPECIAL
We decided very early in the long process that was the making of DRIVE, that the camera must be in the driver’s position. This necessitated a right-hand drive vehicle. After an extensive search, an imported-from-Japan 1989 Toyota Master Ace Surf Special was located – the ideal van for DRIVE.
Sculptor and DRIVE-team member Kris Perry then designed and built a custom camera mount; the front-left passenger seat was removed; and the mount bolted in its stead.
By law, a right-hand drive vehicle has to be at least 25 years old. The Surf Special met that requirement, but taking a vintage van 3,000 miles across the country – and through the desert – on a non-stop drive in the middle of the summer was both a risk and a challenge.
As we descended from Flagstaff and started across the Mojave, the temperature was pushing 115 degrees. Our comprehensive pre-shoot testing and trials determined that we would not be able to use the van’s AC – it pushed the ancient and unreliable radiator beyond its limits; thus the entire drive was done with no AC and all the windows rolled down.
The Surf Special’s engine is located directly under the front seats; there is no engine compartment, or hood, extending out in front of the van . . .giving us the clean, unobstructed shot that we needed. But that design also added to the extreme heat both in the engine, and in the van itself – the Surf Special, the equipment, and the filmmakers barely made it.