Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia
Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: The Lotus Esprit wasn’t the the filmmakers’ first choice for Pretty Woman’s iconic meet cute car, what two famous companies were approached before Lotus, and why did they turn the product placement down? Bonus question, what’s the famous false-fact related to the final decision?
If you think you know the answers make the jump and see if you’re correct.
Pretty Woman is a Cinderella tale told not with an unfortunate stepdaughter, but with a hooker. It’s a Hollywood fantasy about money actually buying happiness, and Julia Roberts looking uncomfortable – albeit hot – playing the title role of a prostitute. It’s also pretty much one of the most iconic films of the ’90s, and, with its brick cell phones and wedgy hero car, it’s additionally ironically ’90s.
prettywoman7vt3.4492That hero car was a silver Lotus Esprit which is given to star Richard Gere by his friend, played by Jason Alexander, when Gere’s limo is blocked in at a party and he simply needs some alone time. Unfortunately, Gere proves unfamiliar with both the Beverly Hills streets and working the Lotus’ manual gearbox so he enlists the help of a hooker with a heart of gold – and legs for miles – who turns out to be Julia Roberts with all her fabulous teeth.
The film’s producers didn’t want the Lotus from the get-go, but they were turned down by other auto makers for a pretty obvious reason.
From IMBD (emphasis added) :

Filming commenced on July 24, 1989, but was immediately plagued by countless problems, including issues with space and time. This included Ferrari and Porsche, who had declined the product placement opportunity of the car Edward (Richard Gere) drove, because they did not want to be associated with soliciting prostitutes. Lotus Cars UK saw the placement value with such a major feature film.

The Esprit was also the car of choice for the female lead in another ’90s film about a woman of questionable values, that being Sharon Stone in the relationship from hell thriller Basic Instinct. Did Lotus benefit from all these risky movie product placements? Well, here’s the thing, both that IMDB article and Wikipedia claim that Esprit sales tripled between 1990 and 1991, however, that does not appear to be the case.
In fact, according to LotusEspritWorld Esprit production figures from ’91 to ’92 increased by only 53 from 125 to 178. And that was after having built a heady 778 in 1990. That’s far from tripling, and makes these models very rare today. Perhaps not as rare however, as a hooker who looks like Julia Roberts and has all her own teeth.
Image: IMCDb

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  1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    A strange juxtaposition as in Hollywood when it comes to character development it's "Complicate and remove plightness"
    Yeah sure,Julia's teeth are all hers…

  2. engineerd™ Avatar

    Fascinating…
    Not the part about the car, but the fact that Ferrari turned down the opportunity. They had no problem promoting blind people driving in Scent of a Woman

    1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
      PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

      …who ultimately picks up an "escort."

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        Scent of a Mondial.

      2. Rover_1 Avatar
        Rover_1

        Little known 'fact' :
        The idea that someone who drove the oddly proportioned Mondial and liked it, and could then fancy an Escort, showed everyone how devalued the brand name had become and led to Ford changing the name of the next model to Focus.
        Sounds believable: The film showed someone liking a Mondial BECAUSE they couldn't see it.
        <img src="http://media.automotiveinvestor.com/model-generations/Ferrari_Mondial_Spider_1981-1985_369.jpg"width="300"&gt;
        <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0d/Ford_Escort_MK4_front_20081215.jpg/1024px-Ford_Escort_MK4_front_20081215.jpg"width="300"&gt;

        1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
          PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

          "Scent of a Mondial" wouldn't have worked.

  3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Sorry, but all Esprits after '87 are dead to me. IMHO, Stevens defaced a Giugiaro masterpiece.
    <img src="http://www.lotusespritworld.com/images/owners/Owners_ChrisWeeden_01.jpg"&gt;

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Cool Fiero, bro.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        I'm pretty sure it's a Lambo, dude.

        1. NotJustDucky Avatar
          NotJustDucky

          Nah man, that's definitely a Pantera.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar
            Sjalabais

            Has anyone seen my TR7? Lost it around here somewhere.