CINCINNATI (AP) — No trophies? No problem!
Eric Hansford won't be disappointed if his 1949 Packard Super 8 Deluxe never wins a car show award.
"I don't really care. I think it's kind of funny that I had it only six months, and it was in a movie," said Hansford, 38, of Loveland.
Not just any movie.
Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett drove his brown '49 Packard as "her car" all over Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky filming "Carol" in March and April.
Blanchett and "Carol" put more miles on it than Hansford has. The speedometer read 73,000 when he bought his prized Packard last August from the Volo Auto Museum in suburban Chicago.
Hansford, who does phone IT support, was one of many classic car owners who responded to a February appeal for early 1950s cars, cabs, trucks and buses by the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission. "Carol," a lesbian love story about a wealthy mother (Blanchett) and a store clerk (Rooney Mara, "The Social Network"), was set in 1952 New York.
"I figured my car would be sitting along the side of the road, and I'd squint to see it with a magnifying glass," he said.
His 1949 luxury car — he named it "Ethel" — zoomed to the front of the lot, leaving the other period cars in the background.
Director Todd Haynes, producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, and Oscar-nominated production designer Judy Becker ("American Hustle") fell in love with Ethel instantly, he said.
"They pretty well told me at the audition that it was a done deal," he said. Cinematographer Edward Lachman "strapped a camera on the hood, and they shot me driving around Cincinnati for two hours. I was basically the stand-in for Cate."
Car buffs will want to know that the Super Deluxe 8 has a 327-cubic-inch Straight 8 Flathead engine. The hood opens either from the left or right side. The "Egyptian" hood ornament, one of four options, "is very rare, to the point of being called scarce," Hansford said Packard experts told him.
It's a "three on the tree" manual transmission, a three-speed gear shift on the steering column. He taught a production staffer how to drive it when he dropped it off in March at the Hyde Park Grandin Road house used as Carol's home.
"I don't know if they had to teach Cate how to drive a stick, but I do know they had to instruct her on how to drive a three-speed on the column," he said.
Filmmakers were so pleased with the responses from vintage car owners that Kristen Erwin Schlotman, film commission director, has issued another appeal for vehicles for Don Cheadle's Miles Davis movie filming here next month.
"There were so many collectors with classic cars (for "Carol"). Most of the people who owned the cars wanted to be in the movie too, so they were the drivers mostly" in the film, Schlotman said.
With Blanchett behind the wheel, Hansford had no opportunity to drive his car in the movie. When he leased the car to the production company, Hansford asked to be photographed with the actress and his car. That never happened.
Hansford, who works nights, did see her driving the car while filming in the Lytle Tunnel overnight, and at Lebanon's Shaker Inn motel.
Producers also have sent him the car's 1952 New Jersey license plate from the film, which he'll display at car shows with photos of Blanchett. He has no idea how much Ethel's value may increase after "Carol" premieres next year.
"I had no plan to put it in a movie when I bought it. I just wanted a nice collectable car to enjoy and drive on Sunday afternoons," he said.
Will he rename her Carol? Or Cate?
"Nope! Nope! I haven't even thought of that," he said. "I figured (Ethel) was a name of respect, it shows a little age. I thought it was a good, fitting name for her. She's going to stay at Ethel."
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com