Jurassic Park Trucks and SUVs are Collector Items

Jurassic Park Trucks and SUVs are Collector Items

By John Gunnell

This started out as an attempt to put together a feature story about a clone of the Jurassic Park movie Jeep that we saw at the 2017 Iola Car Show (www.IolaOldCarShow.com). It turned into a larger, more interesting research project about Jurassic Park vehicles in general.

The Jurassic Park Jeep at the Iola show belonged to a member of a statewide group called Wisconsin Star Cars (see side-bar) that is made up of people who own replicas of TV and movie cars.“ Jurassic Park” was a 1993 movie about a dinosaur theme park where regenerated dinosaurs escaped and terrorized park visitors.

Based on a book by the late Michael Crichton, “Jurassic Park” became a successful media franchise that led to the creation of four film sequels, video games, toys (including toy trucks), games, T-shirts and other clothing, posters, McDonald’s cups, amusement park rides and other products and services.

After photographing the copycat Jurassic Park Jeep at Iola 2017, two things happened. First, we ran into Wisconsin Star Cars members at another show and learned more about their group. Second, the organizers of the Iola show selected “Lights, Camera, Action” (TV and movie cars) as their 2018 theme. So, naturally we thought we’d be able to find the movie Jeep at the show and pull it aside for photos.

Unfortunately, the Jeep didn’t come to the 2018 event, but another Jurassic Park vehicle did. However, instead of being a Jeep Wrangler done up like the “employee cars” in the film (see below), it was an older Toyota Land Cruiser with an entirely different paint scheme and different graphics. This got us interested in looking beyond the Jeep and digging up research on all of the Sport Utility Vehicles used in both the Jurassic Park books and movies.

In the novel, California-based “International Genetic Technologies, Inc.” (INGen) discovers a way to clone dinosaurs. Most of InGen’s research takes place on the fictional islands of Isla Sorna and Isla Nublar near Costa Rica. As might be expected, SUVs were needed to traverse the jungles of Isla Nublar. Two basic types of vehicles were used. Utility Jeeps were used by the employees and park personnel, while sport utility wagons carried park visitors to what were supposed to be safe rendezvous with the cloned dinosaurs.

In Crichton’s novel, the SUV used was the Toyota Land Cruiser. The book specified that they were manufactured in Osaka, Japan, and were custom-made for use in Jurassic Park. They were special lightweight Land Cruisers with electric engines. They also had a spare tire on back. a special antenna on the roof, night vision goggles in the glove box and walkie-talkies for communication. A CD-ROM drive in the main console used a computer monitor coordinated with a motion-sensor system to update dinosaur information. In the garage at the Visitor Center were two lanes of Land Cruisers that could transport all the visitors in an endless loop throughout the park, running on tracks buried in the roadway.

During the Isla Nublar incident in the book, the BB4 and BB5 Land Cruisers got involved. They passed safely by several dinosaurs and then turned around. After the park’s security system was shut down by a character named Nedry, the two Land Cruisers stopped near the T. Rex paddock and BB4 was attacked by the Tyrannosaurus Rex. BB5 was later attacked as well and thrown to the side. It landed in a tree and then crashed to the ground.

By the time the movie version of “Jurassic Park” was released, a product placement deal had been inked with Ford and the visitor or “Tour” vehicles in the movie became 1992 Explorer XLTs. Other things changed as well. There were no longer 24 vehicles (only two) and only one was destroyed by the T. Rex. The other was found abandoned.

The Tour Vehicles in the film had a self-navigation system. They had leather interiors, night-vision goggles under the seats and a drinking tap that supplied visitors with water. Road flares, flashlights and brochures were stored in the trunk. They were electrically-powered and had a top speed of 12-20 mph. When EXP 5 was upended by the dinosaur, the headlights continued to function even though the supposedly electrified Explorer was off the track.

Several Explorer “prop” vehicles were created and some of them were props for damaged ones. After the filming of the first movie, EXP 5 went to a Universal Studio location in Florida and EXP 4 was put on display at Universal Studios in California. Two additional Explorers – EXP 6 and EXP 7 – were seen on a computer program for the tour. An EXP 3 replica was also seen at Universal Studios in Japan. Toyota Land Cruisers were seen in “Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis” and this may have been due to licensing and trademark issues.

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