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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Movie fan goes online with star cars
By Bryce McGarel
BBC News Online

A Northern Ireland car buff is offering brides and grooms the chance to live their movie dreams by arriving for their weddings in the vehicles which helped make the films famous.

Rather than arriving for the big day in a stretched limo or a horse-drawn carriage, Mike Barr makes it possible for customers to pull up in a replica of Starsky and Hutch's 1976 Gran Ford Torino, or perhaps the DeLorean made famous in the Back to the Future movies.

Mike Barr with the cars that put his internet business on right track

Barr, 25, from Larne in County Antrim, has started what he believes is the UK's first internet star car hire company, which he says gives people the chance to make their special day that little bit more memorable.

Although only operating since March, Mike has managed to put together an impressive stable of movie car thoroughbreds.

As well as Starsky and Hutch's cop car and the DeLorean, he has the General Lee from the Dukes Of Hazzard, a Harry Potter-style Ford Anglia and the actual Pink Cadillac driven by Clint Eastwood in the movie of the same name.

There is also the 1979 T-Top Trans AM made famous in Burt Reynold's Smokey and the Bandit and the Ford Mustang used in the Steve McQueen classic Bullit are also on his "for hire" list.

Not to forget Michael Knight's KITT from hit 80s television show Knight Rider.

Speaking to BBC News Online, Mike explained how his idea came about.

I get a lot of phone calls from excited grooms who want to impress their mates by turning up at the church in a car they all drooled over at the cinema as kids
Mike Barr

"I grew up watching movies like Smokey and the Bandit and Back to the Future and TV programmes like Starsky and Hutch and have always had a real interest in American muscle cars.

"But I never really thought about it as a business idea until I spoke to a man I met through my work who owned a Ford Gran Torino.

"After that I decided to have a go at setting up some kind of novelty hire service as a bit of a hobby," he said.

"I then set about contacting car enthusiasts across the UK and Ireland and asked them whether or not they would be willing to allow their cars to be used.

"Most of the people I contacted were keen to get involved and wanted the opportunity to show off the cars which are their pride and joy."

So far Mike has provided cars for more than 20 weddings across the UK and Ireland, although he admits that pulling up in front of a church in the car out of Knight Rider may not be everyone's idea of a white wedding.

Going to the chapel

"I get a lot of calls from women who want to surprise their partners by getting them picked up at and driven to the church in a car that is a little bit out of the ordinary.

"But I also get a lot of phone calls from excited grooms who want to impress their mates by turning up at the church in a car they all drooled over at the cinema as kids.

"After all it's not every day you get to ride around in the same car as Burt Reynolds!"

But as Mike explained, it is not just prospective newlyweds who want to be seen about town in flash rides.

"Perhaps the person I was most surprised showed an interest was the mayor of Ballymena who rented a 1959 pink Cadallic convertible for the town's annual Mayor's parade.

"I have also received e-mails from a businessman in Finland who says he wants to treat himself by renting the Mustang driven in the Steve McQueen film Bullit, the next time he is in London for business."

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