Before we got an avalanche of reality TV shows and dancing competitions, TV shows used to have things like plots, characters, scripts, and—most importantly—cool cars and trucks.
Indeed, primetime TV shows were often cast around a hero vehicle, 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 and trucks of all time. But first, one rule:
The vehicles 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. Kenworth K100 Aerodyne: BJ & The Bear
The concept was simple: Cast Greg Evigan alongside a chimpanzee, then put them both in a big rig semi truck and have the duo crisscross the country getting into wacky misadventures. Riding the popularity of trucking culture that erupted in the late 1970s, it’s hard to believe that a show of such caliber only made it three seasons—but B.J.’s trusty Kenworth was there for every mile of the action.
Don’t agree with us? Frankly, it was either this truck or one of the cop cars from Sheriff Lobo.
4. 1951 Ford F-1: Sanford & Son
Is it possible to see this truck and not quietly mutter “you big dummy” in Redd Foxx’s voice?
While Fred and Lamont Sanford and a host of other memorable characters carried the show with edgy, groundbreaking comedy, the unsung hero of the series was the family’s trusty Ford F-1. The truck is a base model, with an inline six and a three-speed column shift, and in addition to being featured in the show’s opening/closing credits, it appears prominently in several episodes.
Fun fact: Did you know the oh-so-catchy theme song was composed by none other than Quincy Jones?
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 Dixie horn to its 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.