Missing Utah location finally found!

  • By Martijn Mulder
  • 07 Jun, 2016

Octopussy gas station location totally changed..

One of the locations that had always puzzled us, is the gas station location, where 007 drives his Acrostar BedeJet to and quips "Fill 'er up, please". We posted the above photo on our website's WANTED page , hoping some fellow location hunter would be able to solve this puzzle. And this is exactly what happened..
From the colour of the mountain ridge it was quite obvious this was filmed in Utah. Plus, all other sequences with the flying Acrostar jet were known to have been filmed in Utah, so it made sense that this scene was shot there as well. We did know, however, that the close-up shot of Roger Moore at the gas station was filmed at Pinewood, where they recreated this set. Roger Moore never went to Utah for this. 
Behind the scenes: Filming the end of the Octopussy pre-credit scene in Santa Clara (L) and Pinewood Studios (R)
Behind the scenes: Filming the end of the Octopussy pre-credit scene in Santa Clara (L) and Pinewood Studios (R)
So, how did we tackle this..? First, On The Tracks friend Uwe Brosamle from California and I discussed the possible  location of this road a lot. We both individually looked at online maps, to see if we could find anything that resembled this spot in any way (low mountain ridge in the back, road turning to the left, parking lot on the left of the image, etc). We did have a list of places that were officially mentioned as Octopussy filming locations by the Utah film commission, but none of these towns had recognizable areas that could possibly fit the above photo.
In the meantime, Utah resident Nathan Sears and I discussed it as well, and Nate decided to check things out on the spot. One of our options was a little town called Santa Clara and, as it later turned out, Nate did drive along the road we were looking for, but didn't recognize it at the time. As we will will see, the area changed a lot and where once stood all these trees, there is now none of them left!
Photo of the former Gates Motel site,  © Danny Lee Photography
Photo of the former Gates Motel site, © Danny Lee Photography
Then, a couple of things happened roughly at the same time: Uwe found online information about the former Gates Motel, which lead him to believe he was definitely on the right track. At the same time, Nate decided to write the Historical Society of Santa Clara and came up with a similar solution, individually: "That was the old Gates Motel ,gas station and cafe on the west end of   Santa Clara   Dr where Swiss Village town homes are now", were the words they wrote him back.
The Octopussy gas station, during the 2005 flood, Santa Clara, Utah
The Octopussy gas station, during the 2005 flood, Santa Clara, Utah
Nate was sent some photos as well, which confirmed the scene was shot there in the early 80s. But then it was Uwe's turn, who reached the area a few weeks later, while on a road trip with his daughter. There were road works going on, but even without that, one could have easily missed this spot, as, like I said before, the area had totally changed. There had been a flood in 2005, that washed away all the trees visible in the film. The building that was used was the Gates Motel gas station and all these structures were torn down quite a while ago, after the flood.
Uwe Brosamle at the location where the final moments of Octpussy's pre-credit sequence was filmed
Uwe Brosamle at the location where the final moments of Octpussy's pre-credit sequence was filmed
The exact location is Santa Clara Drive (Old US Highway 91) in Santa Clara, Utah. The coordinates are  37°08'08.9"N 113°39'47.9"W 

All in all a fantastic group effort and amazing detective work! One down, a few more to go!

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One of the locations that had always puzzled us, is the gas station location, where 007 drives his Acrostar BedeJet to and quips "Fill 'er up, please". We posted the above photo on our website's WANTED page , hoping some fellow location hunter would be able to solve this puzzle. And this is exactly what happened..
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