Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Reactor by Gene Winfield

Fans of the TV sitcom "Bewitched" are celebrating the show's 50th anniversary this week, so  we are honoring Gene Winfield’s Reactor. Built in 1965, the aluminum show car is really as 1956 Citroen DS with a hydraulic liquid on air fully independent self leveling suspension that allowed the car to be raised from ground clearance of 4” up to 9 ½ inches.  A 425 hp flat 6 engine from a Corvair gave it that low engine, low hood look. The completely handbuilt car featured electronically operated doors, hood and flip top roof, a radar screen, and retractable fins. The first version was painted green over lime gold  metalflake, the second version copper orange.

The Reactor appeared in several television series. In 1967, it appeared as the Reactor Mach II in a Bewitched episode called "Supercar,” where Endora sees Darrin admiring an exotic car in a magazine, and proceeds to zap it into his driveway as a gift. He's thrilled, but it turns out she appropriated the wild ride from a car manufacturer's development lab. In that episode you can see how the Reactor rises off the ground when you start the engine, just like the DS. It was also featured in an episode of Star Trek as the "Jupiter 8", a two-seat sports car marketed to the inhabitants of the planet 892-IV. In 1968, it made an appearance in the Mission: Impossible episode "The Freeze." In Batman, it appeared as the "Catmobile", and it was driven by actress, Eartha Kitt. She picked up Cesar  Romero playing the Joker, in the car, and they drove away together.

The car still exists today and can be seen at Winfield’s shop in Mojave, CA. A similar car styled car named the XR-6 (August 1963 Cover of HotRod Magazine and an AMBR winner)  resides at the Petersen Automotive Museum. ZOOM!

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