Grease (1978) – ripper car movies

Grease is the word...


The 1978 flick Grease has become such a cultural touchstone over the past 45 years that reviewing it in 2023 seems a little redundant. That said, modern-day critics haven’t been too kind to the film in recent years, with many declaring it all kinds of inappropriate based on current mores and attitudes that didn’t exist when it hit the big screens back in ’78. Because of this, I fear there’s a whole generation of younger movie fans who might miss out on the simple pleasures of this box-office smash, so let’s try to redress the balance.

The film’s premise is simple – two high school kids from completely different walks of life fall in love during summer break and fear they’ll never meet again, only to later find themselves reunited and having to navigate the trials and tribulations of 1950s high school life.

Danny (John Travolta) leads the local cool gang of misfits, the T-Birds, with his best mate Kenickie (Jeff Conaway), while new girl Sandy (the late, great Olivia Newton-John) clings to the skirt strings of Frenchie (Didi Conn), who rolls with the Pink Ladies, headed by the abrasive Rizzo (Stockard Channing).

As the worlds of Danny and Sandy collide, the pair try to adapt to each other’s lives, and, along with their friends, belt out various musical numbers in an attempt to help guide them all towards answers.

The film offers a fun mix of harmless innuendo, simple comic elements, teen coming-of-age issues and great tunes. However, we’re here for the cars, and they are very cool – most notably the flame-throwing black ‘Hell’s Chariot’ ’49 Mercury of rival Scorpion gang leader Leo (Dennis Stewart) – while the road-race between Leo and Danny in the white version of Kenickie’s ‘Greased Lightning’ ’48 Ford sees some tricky wheelwork as they traverse the concrete walls of the Los Angeles river.

The rides created for the film by customiser Eddie Paul have become legendary and since immortalised as diecast models and the like; they hark back to an era of movies where the cars oozed as much star quality as the performers.


Ignore the recent negativity; Grease is a fun and energetic film with plenty of sass and an obvious connection to its stage-play roots. It’s full of cracking songs, many of which have since embedded themselves in popular culture, and any possible ‘problematic’ connotations will likely fly straight over the heads of younger viewers, just as they did when we were kids.


  • Custom 1946 Ford Super De Luxe
  • 1949 Mercury convertible
  • 1948 Ford Super De Luxe
  • 1948 Studebaker Commander Regal
  • 1956 Buick Special
  • 1949 Dodge Wayfarer
  • 1956 Plymouth Savoy


  • John Travolta
  • Olivia Newton-John
  • Stockard Channing
  • Jeff Conaway
  • Didi Conn
  • Jamie Donnelly
  • Dennis Stewart
  • Sid Caeser
  • Alice Ghostley
  • Dody Goodman
  • Eve Arden
  • Frankie Avalon

Randal Kleiser

Some panel-chewing road racing for pink slips pushes 1940s handling characteristics to the limit

Two 1950s teenagers who fall in love during a summer beach vacation unexpectedly meet again and try to establish a relationship

DVD, streaming

‘Those’ skin-tight pants and leather jacket worn by Olivia Newton-John in the film fetched $405,000 when auctioned off in 2019