Bellingham classic cars part of Amazon TV pilot

A love of old cars gave a handful of Bellingham residents the chance to see what life could have looked like if the Axis powers had won World War II.

Last fall, Chris Hazenberg, Mandy Cramer, Aaron Quintrall and Gary Winkler drove their 1950s and ‘60s-era vehicles south of Seattle to be used on the set of an Amazon television pilot called “The Man in the High Castle.”

Based on a 1962 Philip K. Dick novel of the same name, the show is set in 1962 in the former U.S., parts of which are ruled by the two major world powers Japan and Germany, 15 years after a longer version of WWII ends in 1947.

The hour-long pilot, which stars Alexa Davalos (“Mob City”) and Luke Kleintank (“Pretty Little Liars”) among many others, will premier on Amazon Instant Video on Thursday, Jan. 15.

A few big-name players spearheaded the project, including executive producer Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner,” “Alien”), director David Semel (“Madam Secretary,” “Heroes”), and writer Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files”).

Amazon Studios will see what customers have to say about the show and six other pilots, and decide which stories to pick up and make into full series. The shows will be available at Amazon.com/AIV or on the Amazon Instant Video app.

Each of the Bellingham car owners got involved after Winkler, who has worked on movie sets before, was asked to bring his 1958 and 1962 German Unimog trucks to the shoot. Winkler often drives around town with his three large Alaskan Malamutes hanging out in the back of his large green rig.

He helped find other locals with cars built between 1950 and 1962, including Hazenberg, who owns a 1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Futuramic.

“They wanted cars that were in good shape but not in pristine shape,” Hazenberg said. “I thought, ‘OK, cool!’”

Hazenberg knew Cramer, who has a ‘62 AMC Rambler, and got her involved, while Winkler also invited his friend Quintrall to bring his ‘62 Unimog.

The group went to a few nights of shooting in September and October and were paid to let the show use their cars for everything from background to transportation for characters.

Hazenberg’s car was one of several used in the background of shots filmed on a set near Boeing Field, including one scene set in a German-controlled New York City.

“It was a lot of fun, it was a good experience,” Hazenberg said. “It was interesting seeing everyone dressed up like it was 1962 again.”

The cars were outfitted with German license plates and some were given Nazi decals — Winkler’s truck is still dressed up for the show. Winkler said he was asked to play a German checkpoint guard in a short scene filmed in Monroe, but he’s not sure if the scene will make it into the hour-long pilot episode.

Hazenberg said he hopes to participate again if the pilot gets picked up for a series, since the producers could choose to film in nearby Vancouver, B.C.

“I’d definitely get my enhanced license to go up there and do this again,” he said.