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You oughta be in pictures, you oughta be a [car?]

Ok, so this isn't going to get you a supporting role with Julia Roberts or Harrison Ford, but it might get a cameo for you car. Scott R. Bosés is a familiar presence on collector car auction blocks, wound up and striding purposefully. Looking directly at the auctioneers. Speculating carefully before bidding, then taking home his prize… or walking off to leave the block to bidders with a more retail approach. Scott isn't a dealer in the conventional sense. He runs Hollywood Picture Cars, leasing automobiles for movies, videos, TV commercials and print advertising. Scott grew up in Brooklyn, on the Coney Island boardwalk. His parents didn't give him windup toys, "I loved cars and mechanical things. I took them to pieces to see how they worked." He had, however, the proper Sixties upbringing. "I went to college, got my degree in English, and eventually a Masters in Social Work." But along the way Scott Bosés (pronounced "Bozay") went wrong.
"In the early Seventies a friend from Britain came to Southern California with a Bentley he'd brought over from England. He sold it for 'real money,' at least by the standards of the time. I thought I'd do something like that, so I took all my capital, a whole $3,000, and went to England. "I couldn't find a car, but I noticed everyone in England was mad for American fashions: dungarees, overalls, cowboy boots, vests and the like. I figured if it worked that way it should work the other direction, so I bought 17,000 'singlets', basically British Army surplus undershirts, and brought them back to L.A.
"My friends and I dyed them in our bathtubs (a lot of porous bathtubs turned odd colors as a result) and we peddled them all over Southern California. It was the beginning of the 'tank top.' I took my profits and went back to England with a deal to sell U.S.-made dungarees. We started a store called 'The Pant House' in a time when England was in the throes of its American fad. In three years we had 43 stores doing business as 'The Jean Machine'. I was 26 and it seemed like work, so I cashed out, came home to L.A. and bought Nicolaus von Rosenberg Company, a Porsche/VW shop where I'd worked as a mechanic in college." Still and all, it is a long way from picture cars, but the twists and turns of fate go on. Von Rosenberg was making a bundle selling accessories for Porsches and VeeDubs. Scott took the original shop and turned it into Image Makers, a restoration shop, which he ran from 1976-1983. "I even threw Steve McQueen out of the shop. He'd put on 50 pounds for a movie and grown a scruffy beard. He looked like a bum. In fact, my employees later told me who I'd just thrown out!"

"I had a few cars I owned at the shop, and a rolling assortment of customers' cars. Guys would come by from the studios and ask to rent them for movies." It wasn't really a business, but a chance for Scott to have fun with his cars. He agreed to rent his (let's note, not his customers') cars on one condition, "I would take care of them on the set and drive them in the movies." It was the start of a career providing cars, casting cars, and even working as a stunt driver. The late Seventies were the days of great car flicks, and Scott Bosés was there in the thick of them. His list of some little known car flicks includes, "I worked on a film called 'Hollywood Knights'. It was the first film for Tony Danza, Michelle Pfeiffer and several other of today's stars. We provided 60 cars for it, and it was just plain fun. Then I did a Mulholland Drive racing flick with Dennis Hopper called 'King of the Hill'.
"Eventually I changed the company name to 'The Bosés Collection', located in the basement parking garage of the building that's now The Standard hotel on Sunset. It was a retirement home and the residents were too old to drive so the garage was empty. The space cost practically nothing. We worked on 'Back to the Future I and II', 'La Bamba', 'The Buddy Holly Story', 'Bird-The Charlie Parker Story' and even a Blake Edwards film called 'A Fine Mess'. A reviewer said of 'A Fine Mess', 'The best thing in the movie was the cars.'" Scott retired in 1995 and had a retirement auction of over 100 cars and about 100 lots of automobilia at the Petersen Museum but a few years later a tragic accident to one of the employees who'd bought into the business brought him back to keep things going, "and I'm still here."
No fossil, Scott and Hollywood Picture Cars has changed with the times. With the advent of the Internet, "Originally the cars were 75% our own and 25% supplied from our database of privately owned vehicles. Today that ration is reversed, and we have over 5,000 enthusiasts' cars in our database available for movies, TV, commercials and other applications all over the U.S. "The distinction we make is that all [the verbal emphasis is Scott's] the cars we send to work are flatbedded to the job and have our own minders with them. We invite the owners to go with their cars, even if they don't drive them in the shots. They know the cars better than anyone else and can make sure they're ready when the crew needs them. The bonus is that the owners get to be on the set and meet, work and eat with the cast and crew."
Scott's insights reveal a largely unappreciated aspect of the cars used in film and television. "The cars date the scene more than any other single aspect," Scott observed. "The studio can use the same set, say, a small town street, for multiple time periods. The houses and stores don't change. Only the cars on the street and the actors' costumes tell the audience it's 1935 or 1955." The movie car business is, however, not without its risks. "The movie crews don't necessarily treat a car on set as an owner's pride-and-joy. They hammer them around, mount cameras on them, remove windows and other things to meet their primary goal of making great film. This is why every car we send out has a "minder", or babysitter, who goes to work with it. For 'Pink Cadillac' we built nine pink Cadillacs. They got blown up, crashed, whatever. In 'Fifty-Two Pickup' we built four E-type roadsters. One was a show-quality car for close-ups. One was a rusty coupe chopped to look like a roadster - they blew it up. Another was cut in half to tow behind a camera truck for driving close-ups, and the last one was a backup."
Scott is on the auction block both for his own enjoyment (usually funky little cars like Renaults, Fiats, Isettas, Citroens and obscure vehicles like Skodas) and to meet upcoming movie requirements. He offers this advice for sellers. "Before you go to the auction, bend down and look under your car. You probably haven't done it for years and will see things you didn't know existed. Pay attention to the chrome, to the whitewalls and the wheels and the hubcaps. "Then buy a new battery and a five gallon can of fresh gas. It's the best way to avoid auction jitters about the car starting and running well on it's last, and most important one hundred feet across the block after an hour in the lineup. It's the best $75 you can spend." For buyers, the advice is different: "A smattering of ignorance is dangerous. Don't buy at auction if you don't know what a good car is. There's a reason for different prices of similar cars. "Set a limit. Decide on the last bid you'll make. Then do what all the rest of us do and bid 10% over it." In Scott's shop on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood recently there were any number of cars.
The two Cadillac convertibles where Scott is pictured aren't what they appear to be. They're cut coupes, each with about eight repaints and a dozen productions to their credit. But down in the workshop was a very original and never-hit Porsche 912 getting a makeover. For a movie? Not even. A one-owner L.A. car, Scott proudly opened up its owner's file of service invoices. Midway through the pile were several from Nicolaus von Rosenberg Company. They were written by the mechanic who worked on the car, a college student named Scott Bosés. www.hollywoodpicturecars.com is Scott's website. It has a thoughtful presentation of making cars available throughout the U.S., Europe and the Far East for movie, television, video and print advertisement productions. There's also an on-line sign-up form for individual collectors' to register their cars. You may not meet Nick Cage or Halle Berry, but there are worse things than being parked on the street as they go by.

Source: Car Collector September 2003 - by Rick Carey
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