The Rum Diary, the long-awaited big screen adaptation of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s autobiographical novel set in San Juan in the ’60s, has finally gotten a release date of October 28.

We’re looking forward to seeing Johnny Depp reprise the role of his late, lamented friend; The Rum Diary‘s publication in 1998 – nearly 40 years after it was written – might never have occurred save for the success of Depp’s star turn in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

To celebrate the occasion, we present this classic snap and reminiscence of the good Doctor in his beloved 1970s Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible, affectionately known as the Great Red Shark after its counterpart in Fear and Loathing.

Hunter S. Thompson, clutching a Bloody Mary, shifts his red Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible into high gear

Twenty years ago New York Times reporter Roger Cohen got a memorable ride in the Shark when he visited Thompson at his Aspen retreat, Owl Farm:

A brisk wind is blustering down from the snow-capped Rockies as Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, clutching a Bloody Mary, shifts his red Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible into high gear.

The crazed renegade of American letters, self-styled ‘lazy drunken hillbilly’ and Gonzo journalist supreme has decided to “stretch the Chevy out a little bit,” with the top down.

As the speedometer jumps toward 95 miles per hour, he explains through the icy gusts and the frenetic crackle of a pathetic radio that “driving is one of my favorite things because I’m good at it.

Two deer spring out across the road. Dr. Thompson brakes suavely. Beneath the bravura, he cares about his car. This Chevy is, after all, an exact replica of the Great Red Shark, the “fireapple-red convertible” that he drove across the California desert in a mescaline-and-ether-whipped frenzy two decades ago.

Somewhere we’re sure he’s still at the wheel.

UPDATE: The American Cool notes that Thompson’s Chevy was eventually given to his old pal Lyle Lovett.