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: What significance is there in the license plate number – 853 OKG – on Jim Rockford’s (The Rockford Files) Firebird?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
rockford_firebirdA lot of iconic TV characters have had equally iconic cars – Maxwell Smart and his series of sports cars, the Ferraris of Magnum PI and Miami Vice’s James Crockett – but few of those have included fourth-wall breaking ‘easter eggs’ as did Jim Rockford’s Pontiac.
The Rockford Files not only offered film actor James Garner a respectable segue into TV it also embedded a term into the auto enthusiast’s lexicon with the “Rockford Turn” a move taken from the bootlegging days in which a car is driven in reverse and then spun 180° and continues traveling in the same direction only forward.
That’s not the only auto related factoid we have from the iconic ’70s TV show, there’s also the matter of the license plate carried Jim Rockford’s Firebird – 853 OKG, which has significance in Garner’s real life.
From IMDB:

James Garner explained in an interview that Jim Rockford’s license plate number, 853-OKG, was created by his agent, Meta Rosenberg (who was a producer and sometime director of the series), at the start of the show and stands for August, 1953, when Garner got his first acting job, and OKG which stands for Oklahoma, his home state, and his own last name, Garner, thereby making “August 1953 Oklahoma Garner” the full meaning of the Firebird license plate.

So there you go. The Rockford Files is now streaming on Netflix and having watched a few of the first season episodes (I never have actually seen the show before) it’s clear that Jim Rockford isn’t the nicest guy, and that his Firebird looks pretty cool against the background of ’70s LA.
Image: IMDB

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  1. dukeisduke Avatar
    dukeisduke

    I never knew that about the license plate, but the “OK” part made sense to me, before I made the jump. The show premiered in the fall of 1974 (I was fourteen then), and from the first episode, I was hooked. I made sure that I was in front of the TV (this was a couple of years before the VCR age began, and we didn’t have one for years) on Friday nights at 8pm.
    Besides being on Netflix, the show is also on during the day on Me TV. I don’t record it (I’m already recording enough old TV shows), but I try to catch it when I have a day off from work.

  2. stigshift Avatar
    stigshift

    August 1953 was James Garner’s first professional acting gig. He is from Oklahoma, and the “G” is for Garner. Hence the plate. That show has aged so very well.

  3. mike england Avatar
    mike england

    I loved The Rockford files for many reasons.
    For some reason it was one of the few shows my Dad and I liked watching together.
    That’s the biggest reason I loved it, I’m sure.
    My wife and I live in Rockford IL now; we moved here about six months ago. . . OK, there’s no connection between those two facts.
    When that show 1st aired, I remember the concept was if the police give up on a case, maybe Jim would give it a shot. I think they abandoned that concept really quick.
    Rockford drove a car that quickly became a favorite of people my age; those a couple years older apparently bought more than a few.
    Every time Rockford had to get a rental it was a chevy Nova; a Nova was a perfect car for those who could not afford the more-expensive firebird. I actually bought a wrecked 74 Nova for a couple hundred dollars – Dad helped me put it back together. it was gold just like the rental Jim always used.
    I think I’ve watched every episode but thanks for the suggestion about Netflix; I can watch every episode again; as soon as I’m done with the original Star Trek and Longmire and Weeds (2nd time).