Labor Day weekend is here, and the new TV season is right around the corner. Brace yourselves for yet another avalanche of reality TV shows and dancing competitions.
Know what we won’t be seeing? Cool TV cars.
Remember when primetime TV included the occasional hero car, and you could always count on a good chase scene to cap off the evening? As a public service, we’re bringing back our Top 10 TV cars of all time. But first, a couple rules:
- The cars have to be in good condition—at least in our eyes. That means the My Name is Earl El Camino and Sanford and Son pickup are off the list.
- The cars must be actual functioning automobiles—no cartoon cars. As much as we love Fred Flintstone’s foot-powered cave-car and Scooby and Shaggy’s psychedelic Mystery Machine, they don’t qualify.
Without further ado…
10. 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser: That 70s Show
It’s a fine line between cool and—well, not cool.
Brady Bunch station wagon: No.
That 70s Show station wagon: Yes!
The venerable Vista Cruiser played a central role in That 70s Show, even providing the setting for one of the best show intros of all time. Cool by association, the wagon transported Eric, Hyde, and the gang to concerts, dances, and high school hijinks at the water tower. Outside of the basement circle, we can’t think of any place else we’d rather spend time with Forman and the gang. Far out!
9. Munster Koach: The Munsters
To be honest, there are really only two things we know about the Munsters: 1) The judge from My Cousin Vinny is the dad, and 2) they have a pretty sweet ride in the driveway.
Created by legendary car builder George Barris, the Munster Koach is actually three Model T bodies sitting atop a 133-inch frame. The 18-foot long coach is powered by a 289 Cobra engine.
So what if the Addams Family had the better show… the Munsters had a way better ride.
8. 1975 Ford Gran Torino; Starsky & Hutch
Know what made Starsky & Hutch cool? Was it the tight bellbottoms… the oversized shirt collars… the permed hair? No. Well, maybe—but we think it was the duo’s Gran Torino.
Nicknamed the Striped Tomato, the distinctive Ford helped Starsky & Hutch hunt down 70s criminals and other assorted jive turkeys. They even brought the Gran Torino back for the movie version of Starsky & Hutch in 2004. And the car was still bitchin’.
The perm and bellbottoms, not so much.
7. 1983 GMC Vandura: A-Team
“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade…”
And now these middle-aged men cruise around the streets of Los Angeles in a van.
Not just any van, though. It was a red-striped 1983 GMC Vandura. And from inside this van, the team acted as soldiers of fortune, solving problems that no one else could touch.
We love it when a plan comes together.
6.1955 Batmobile Lincoln Futura: Batman
We thought about leaving this one off the list because it already made our movie car post. But then we thought better of it because, hey—cool is cool.
And the original Lincoln-based Batmobile is ultra-cool.
Another George Barris creation, the original Batmobile combined the Futura’s existing long fins and bubble canopies with a custom nose and other subtle body mods for the perfect Bat car. Oh yeah, it also had a nose-mounted chain slicer, on-board computer, smoke-emitter, rockets, and other non-factory options.
What do you have? Power windows?
5. 1986 Ferrari Testarossa: Miami Vice
When you’re tooling around Miami in a 1986 Ferrari Testarossa, like Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson), you can afford to wear a pastel colored blazer and shave once a week. You can pretty much do anything you want—except become a successful singer.
The 1986 Testarossa actually replaced Crockett’s ’72 Daytona Spyder, which was destroyed in an earlier episode. Luckily, Ferrari execs must have been big fans of Miami Vice—or Jan Hammer music.
4. 1974 Pontiac Firebird Esprit: Rockford Files
Jim Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird Esprit was to television what Smokey and the Bandit’s Trans Am was to the silver screen—the undisputed king of 1970s car chase scenes.
The show ran from 1974-1980 and somehow ex-con Rockford got a brand new car every year. The moral of the story: it pays to be an ex-con. Or maybe not.
At any rate, we give the nod to the original 1974 version.
3. 1983 Ferrari 308GTS: Magnum P.I.
Pop quiz: who was the star of Magnum P.I.?
Nope, it wasn’t Tom Selleck. Nope, it wasn’t Tom Selleck’s mustache, either.
For our money, it was the Ferrari GTS in which he navigated the mean streets of Hawaii. As it turns out, this particular Ferrari model became one of most popular models for the Italian car maker—thanks in part to Magnum P.I., no doubt.
Even Higgins would look cool in one!
2. 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am (KITT): Knight Rider
It could be our undying admiration of David Hasselhoff talking here, but Knight Rider was just a great show. Wait a second—no, it was actually KITT that made the show great.
From 1982-86, the heavily-modded, highly intelligent 1982 Trans-Am patrolled primetime, provided guidance for Michael Knight (Hasselhoff), and helped hunt down evil-doers.
More important fact: KITT is the second best TV car of all time.
1. 1969 Dodge Charger: Dukes of Hazzard
The General Lee landing in the top spot on our list is about as predictable as a fight breaking out at the Boar’s Nest. The 1969 Charger ruled the backroads of Hazard County and the cafeterias of elementary schools everywhere. Seriously—did every kid have a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox in the early 1980s?
From its Confederate flag and Dixie horn to its stock car numerals and welded-shut doors, the General Lee remains TV’s most recognizable car and has inspired countless replicas. It’s Roscoe’s worst nightmare!
Agree with this list? Disagree? Share your choices in the comments section below.