The Wheelman

Category: Archetype of the Week
Created on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 Written by Steve

As the inhabitants of Hazzard County (where everything from property disputes to custody battles can be settled with a car race) know, it’s often handy to have an experienced driver on your side. The wheelman is the guy you want in the driver’s seat when you’re making a fast getaway from your latest bank job, chasing a hundred-foot-tall atomic monster through downtown Baltimore, or trying to outrun every cop in the greater Chicago area. While the term “wheelman” is often associated with criminal types, there are a handful of legitimate occupations available to people with lead feet and a blatant disregard for traffic laws.

Likely Stories

While a few wheelmen are merely good drivers, most are car enthusiasts. As a result, most have spent a large part of their lives in and around cars—working for repair shops, rebuilding classic autos, and attending or participating in races (legal or illegal). Some wheelmen turn their skills to legitimate business pursuits such as long-haul trucking, auto repair, and professional racing. Others (especially those with a “need for speed”) choose shadier occupations like getaway driver, smuggler, or car thief.

The Name Game

Like other action heroes, wheelmen often have monosyllabic, manly names like Jack or Rick. Last names are usually either working-class or evocative of speed and/or danger. Wheelman characters may also have surnames that are homages to famous racecar drivers or movie wheelmen (Earnhardt, Raines). Nicknames are popular among wheelmen, especially those who are involved in criminal activities. Some nicknames are related to a famous incident in the character’s past (“One-Axle Bill”) or favorite type of car (“Corvette Jack”). Others are based on the character’s personality (“Smilin’ Jim”) or physical characteristics (“Handsome Rob”). Those who regularly deal with truck drivers may go by their CB handle (“Bandit”).

The Numbers

The Wheelman’s character concept will determine where his best Numbers are concentrated, but most will want to have a pretty even spread between Body, Brain, and Nerve. A good Body gives the character the reflexes necessary to make last-minute adjustments and keep his vehicle under control. Brain rolls are needed when the character wants to spot that little old lady about to cross the street with the baby carriage or figure out what street he’s on after all those bootlegger turns and shortcuts through alleyways. A high Nerve Number gives the character the testicular fortitude required to drive through downtown rush-hour traffic at 90 miles an hour in reverse.

 

Suggested Jobs: Ambulance Driver, Bus Driver, Blues Musician, Cab Driver, Car Thief, Chauffer, Combat Driver, Driving Instructor, Fireman, Forklift Operator, Garbage Man, Getaway Driver, Long-Haul Trucker, Mechanic, Milkman, Postal Worker, Smuggler, Spy, Stuntman, Test Driver, Traffic Cop, Transporter, Used Car Salesman, Wheelman

 

Suggested Gimmicks: Always Find a Parking Space, Car-Fu, Cop Didn’t See It, Death Proof, Drive Anything, Find Every Shortcut, Friends In Low Places, Get Out of Tickets, Go Faster, Human Radar Detector, I Can Fix It, King of the Road, Nerves of Steel, Prepared, Traffic Is My Friend, Zen Navigation

 

Suggested Weaknesses: Bad Direction Sense, Cop Magnet, Gremlins, Strange Vehicle Magnet, Road Construction Ahead, Stuck In Traffic, Wanted Man, Wrong Way

 

Suggested Skills: Auto Body Repair, Auto Repair, Beat the Train, Bootlegger Turn, Combat Driving, Drag Racing, Emergency Driving, Hot Wire, Keep a Low Profile, NASCAR Trivia, PIT Maneuver, Quick Tire Change, Shortcuts, Stunt Driving, Vehicular Assault, Vehicular Intimidation

 

WWPHITM? Dan Ackroyd, Nicholas Cage, Bruce Campbell, David Carradine, Jackie Chan, Rosario Dawson, Vin Diesel, Mos Def, Jamie Fox, Mel Gibson, Buddy Hackett, David Hasselhoff, Angelina Jolie, Tommy Lee Jones, Vinnie Jones, Peter Lorre, Rose McGowan, Steve McQueen, Mr. T, Lori Petty, Richard Pryor, Queen Latifa, Jerry Reed, Burt Reynolds, Michelle Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, John Schneider, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Sean William Scott, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, 

 

Tag Line: “For the good old American lifestyle: For the money, for the glory, and for the fun... mostly for the money.”—The Bandit, Smokey & the Bandit

Tools of the Trade: The wheelman’s most important tool is, obviously enough, his vehicle. Classic American muscle cars are the most common preference, but some wheelmen prefer German engineering or even riced-out Honda Civics. Regardless of the type of car being driven, most wheelmen will require that it have a radar detector and a decent stereo system. Before the cell phones were widely used, a CB radio was a vital communications tool. Spare tires, a set of basic tools, and other maintenance items can also make life easier for a driver. In addition to the car itself, the wheelman needs a decent pair of sunglasses, and traditionalists will insist on driving gloves. A driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance (or false versions of these documents) can also come in handy.  Finally, a wheelman engaged in illegal activities will probably carry a handgun or other weapon and may carry pry bars, “Slim Jims,” and similar equipment useful for boosting cars.  

Where You'll Find Him: Most wheelmen are grease monkeys to some extent, and can usually be found in places where other gear heads spend their time: mechanic shops, race tracks, and rough bars. Truck stops and greasy diners are also favorite hangouts.  

Social Circle: As already noted, most wheelmen tend to spend their time around other people who share their interest in fine automobiles: mechanics, drag racers, and other car enthusiasts. Wheelmen of a criminal bent will also have some underworld contacts and may be more well-known than they’d like to members of local law enforcement.   

Sample Character

The Blues Brothers (c)1980 Universal PicturesElwood Blues

Body: 11

Brain: 12

Nerve: 14

Job: Blues Musician (15)

Gimmick: Can Make Cars Do The Physically Improbable (15)

Weakness: Wanted Man (15)

Skills: Briefcase Full of Tricks +3; Music Trivia +2; Dancing +1

WWPHITM? Dan Ackroyd

Dumb Fact: Likes to eat dry white toast

Tag Line: It's got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?”

 

HP: 11

 

YY: 4

Inspirational Material

Movies

The Blues Brothers

Bullitt

Cannonball Run

Cobra

Days of Thunder

Death Proof

Death Race

Dukes of Hazzard

Gone In 60 Seconds

Greased Lightning

Herbie the Love Bug series

The Italian Job

Mad Max

The Road Warrior

Smokey & the Bandit series

Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

The Transporter series

Vanishing Point

 Music

"Born to be Wild," Steppenwolf

"Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen

“Convoy,” C.W. McCall

“Eastbound and Down,” Jerry Reed

“Good Ol’ Boys (Dukes of Hazzard Theme),” Waylon Jennings

"Guitar Town," Steve Earle and the Dukes

"Hang On St. Christopher," Tom Waits

"Home to Houston," Steve Earle

"I Can't Drive 55," Sammy Hagar

"Interstate Cannonball,” Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

“On The Road Again,” Willie Nelson

"State Trooper," Bruce Springsteen

"The Road Goes On Forever," Robert Earl Keene

“Truck Driving Song,” Weird Al Yankovic

“(We Are)” The Road Crew,” Motorhead

TV

BJ & the Bear

Dukes of Hazzard

Knight Rider

 

 {mos_fb_discuss:5} 

 

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The Wheelman.
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