How funny’s the look?” asks Merrick Watts, his eyes childishly enthusiastic as he struts around with his hips thrust forward and his shoulders back in the seriously daggy get-up he’s worn for the photoshoot. “I’m going to start dressing like this all the time.”
First published in the December 2004 issue of Street Machine
The gathering crowd cracks up at the clownish antics of the top-rating Sydney DJ from NOVA FM. He plants his arse on the bonnet of his new car — yep, it’s the genuine article from the brilliant Aussie movie Two Hands — and does his best impression of the gangsters in the film. Those blokes were bogans who loved their cars and beer. Merrick has no trouble.
He loves the Ford. “It’s the shit,” he says. “It’s an Aussie muscle car, a legend one. And I feel f***ing tough in it.”
Toughness is absolutely the point of the Ford. Gregor Jordan, director of Two Hands and the bloke who cast the car, knows how tough it comes across and says it’s a central part of the movie.
“The make and model of the car was carefully scripted,” he says. “I thought it was the meanest-looking Aussie car ever made. Perfect for the character of Acko, the psychotic hit-man.
“Not many people noticed this but in Two Hands all the good guys drive Holdens and all the bad guys drive Fords,” Gregor confides.
“This was very difficult for the actors because Heath Ledger is from a Ford family and Bryan Brown drives a ’76 Statesman. It is a good example of casting against type.”
Gregor had fun getting the XA coupe perfected for its role and liked it so much that he bought it from the production company when filming was complete.
“We found an old, shabby XA, lime green in colour, and did it up. It was great having guys from the art department showing me colour charts, types of mag wheels, etc, and me saying: ‘I’ll have those wheels, that spoiler, that colour.’
“It was the same with the actors, too: ‘I’ll have that actor, in those shorts, with a mullet haircut’.”
The car was carefully scripted. I thought it was the meanest looking Aussie car ever made
The coupe, an XA GS with 351, received a make-over for the movie and is still almost exactly as it appeared on film.
“I want to keep it as true to the film as possible,” Merrick says. “This car has changed so much from when it was actually built it’s not funny. Gregor did so much to it — stripped it back to bare metal for a re-spray, put a stereo in it, a boot stacker, he’s done heaps of shit to it. I’ll keep it original to the film. It’s not factory standard, it’s film standard.”
Davo re-focuses the camera as Merrick strikes a standing pose, thonged feet wide apart, footy shorts pulled high, T-shirt tucked in, slack-jawed jowls chewing gum, standing tough in front of his Ford. Tourists, locals, workers all giggle and point.
“That’s the cover shot,” he says emphatically. “That’s a cover, isn’t it?”
It’s a steal
Not even Gregor Jordan could’ve scripted it better. He has to sell his Two Hands Ford because he’s moving to LA again and can’t keep it professionally stored any longer. Two blokes from Lakemba are steaming him, whittling away at his price and resolve.
They’re umming and ahhing when Merrick and Rosso cruise past, quite by chance, in Merrick’s HSV Monaro GTO. Merrick recognises his friend Gregor and the infamous movie car, jams on the brakes and susses out the situation. The DJs jump into the Ford and rip down the street in a cloud of tyre smoke and dust.
Gregor knows Merrick’s a petrolhead and serious. He turns to the Lakemba blokes knowing he’s now got the upper hand: “If you want it you’d better be f***ing quick.”
It’s already too late. As soon as the big Ford skewed sideways on the gas, Merrick fell for it. Within two minutes he’s back, shaking Gregor’s hand to seal the sale and promising money on Monday. Done deal. “Too late, boys,” Merrick says to the Lakemba blokes who can’t believe what’s happened.
Just as Acko’s car outsmarts the inept thief in the movie, in real life it eludes these two guys.