JACKSON COUNTY, N.C. — The carburetor has to come out.
For weeks, Mark Zoran and his team have been restoring a 1976 AMC Pacer. The car is almost ready to be painted, but the engine is still running rough. Its struggles are audible as the car pulls into the workshop.
“Because of the age and the ethanol that we have in gas today, it just destroys carburetors,” Zoran says.
Zoran is lucky a full engine rebuild isn't needed. The Pacer's engine bay was designed for a four-cylinder engine, not the inline-six it ended up with. Technician Cory Hartman notes any serious engine work involves removing the engine entirely.
The extra effort is worth it. This is not an ordinary restoration. Once finished, the car will acquire a blue paint job with flames, becoming a copy of the Mirthmobile, Mike Myers' and Dana Carvey's ride in the 1992 film Wayne's World.
Zoran's shop is no ordinary restoration business, either. The whole point of his shop, Razorfly Studios, is to make screen-accurate replicas of movie cars. His team has already built replicas of the Bluesmobile from The Blues Brothers, the Jeeps and Ford Explorers from Jurassic Park, and the obligatory Back to the Future DeLorean.
The carburetor replacement takes about 20 minutes. When Zoran turns the key, the car starts right away.
“Very smooth,” he says triumphantly. “That's what it should sound like.”
In creating the cars, Zoran said he and his team analyze the source material frame-by-frame. For example, in order to make a true replica of the Jeeps from Jurassic Park, Zoran says he needs a 1992 Jeep Wrangler Sahara and a Ramsey 6000 winch, among other things.
“A tribute might be a 2010 Jeep Sahara with a Jurassic Park logo on it,” Zoran says. “Then you've got the movie-authentic replicas, where people are going to lengths to find the original parts. That's the level of attention that we go for.”
It's a hobby rooted in Zoran's love of movies and TV shows. His collection includes a screen-used costume from Marvel's Agents of Shield and a set of cufflinks used in the 1989 version of Batman.
“I really think I'm like every kid who's playing with a figure and goes, 'Ah, I want that to be me,'” he says. “You play with those toys as a kid, you get to be an adult, and you go 'I can do that now.'”
Zoran started out helping his father work on cars. In his spare time, when he couldn't find miniature versions of cars from his favorite movies, he would make his own from multiple model kits, a practice known as kitbashing.
When he grew up, he turned that passion into Razorfly Studios. The business provides costumes and props to various production companies as well, but the cars are the stars.
Zoran sells his replicas to paying customers. That will be the ultimate fate of the Mirthmobile replica. But he enjoys the delight his cars bring, even to the people who don't buy them.
“We've had people at comic book conventions get inside the car to take a picture with it,” he says. “We turn the system on, and they have the lights and everything, and I've had people break down into tears, happy, happy tears, that they were in the time machine. To see that reaction of something that we've recreated, bring that sense of joy to them is, unable to duplicate.”
Once the Mirthmobile replica is complete, Zoran's next projects include a replica of a pickup truck from Twister and a 1989 Batmobile replica.