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The Herkimer Battle Jitney From the Movie Mystery Men Is Making a Comeback

Though you'll find a whole subculture of people claiming that the Herkimer Battle Jitney was an actual military vehicle, Kinka Usher, the movie director in which the strange rig starred, says it was actually made specifically for Mystery Men.
Herkimer Battle Jitney 10 photos
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So who actually constructed the fabulously weird vehicle? Richard Iniestra and his father, both of KPK, built this machine from a 1979 Ford C-900 cab-over truck and parts from a disused Airstream travel trailer.

Director Usher provided the pair sketches on which to base the Jitney; the pair took it from there. According to the script, the Herkimer Battle Jitney was spec'ed as "a heavily armored, windowless, soundproof, personnel carrier (designed by the Pentagon in the fifties to take congressmen on battlefield fact finding tours)," it was in fact never an actual vehicle outside of a movie context.

While it appeared for a grand total of under five minutes in the film, The Herkimer Battle Jitney and the movie essentially ‘tanked’ at the box office, the vehicle seemed to take on a life of its own despite disappearing from the public radar for 20 years.

And it’s a bit difficult to understand why the truck lived on and the movie augered into the pavement. With a cast featuring luminaries such as Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Paul 'PeeWee Herman' Reubens, Hank Azaria, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, and Tom Waits, on might have expected to film to at least make back its budget. But no dice there as it pulled in well under half of its $68 million budget.

Some people actually think Mystery Men was a great movie. Most don't.

But enter Mark Zoran.

Zoran specializes in resurrecting movie and television props. The owner of Razorfly Studios in Sylva, North Carolina, Zoran relaxes after work by searching for interesting projects - and the Herkimer Battle Jitney was irresistable.

"When I saw it had come up for sale, I emailed them, I texted them, I called them, I direct messaged them, I even posted online that I wanted to buy it," Zoran says. "And I was still third in line."

Zoran now hopes to use 3D printing, hand-sculpting and casting processes to replicate the famous flop. He says the goal is to have the Jitney completely restored in time for the 25th anniversary of Mystery Men in 2024.


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