There have been many great cars that have appeared in television series over the years, some were amazing well others were not so impressive. Being a bit of a car nut I thought it would be fun to create a list of my top ten cars from TV series. Check out the list and see if you agree with my choices.
Ok counting down from number 10 here are my favorite top 10 TV cars.
10: 3 wheeler Reliant Regal from Only fools and Horses
Ok, I know its not exactly the prettiest of cars and it also managed to be on my 10 most ugliest cars list but, I had so many laughs watching this funny little car driving around on the TV series Only Fools Horses that I felt it deserved a place on here.
This was Delboy and Rodney Trotters commercial three wheeler van from the hugely successful British comedy Only Fools and horses. The BBC produced this sitcom from 1981 to 1991 with a few special episodes being released later on.
Thanks to its exposure on Only Fools and Horses, the Reliant Regal van is now frequently linked with the show in the British media. The one used by the Trotters has attained cult status and is currently on display at the Cars of the Stars exhibition at the National Motor Museum, alongside many other vehicles from British and American television and movies, such as the Batmobile and the DeLorean from Back to the Future.
Here is a clip from the classic series showing the 3 wheeler in flying action.
9: Mr Bean’s Mini
Here is another classic car from another classic comedy series, Mr Bean. I have chosen this green Mini for two reasons, first because like the Robin Regal, I have had many laughs seeing it on the telly and second because this car is identical to the first car I ever bought. It was even the same color.
Mr. Bean is a British comedy television series starring Rowan Atkinson as the comical character. The first episode was broadcast on the 1st of January in 1990 and has since then gained large audiences worldwide.
At first, an orange 1969 BMC Mini MK II was Mr. Bean’s vehicle, but this was destroyed in an off-screen crash at the end of the first episode. From then on, the car used was a 1977 applejack green model with a matt black bonnet.
After filming ended, the Mini used in the TV series was sold to Kariker Kars to be hired for various events. It was then temporarily displayed as a major attraction at the Rover groups museum. In 1997, it was purchased by the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum where it is still on display today.
Here is a clip of the famous Mini in action in the popular Mr Bean series.
8: The Fall guy’s GMC Pick up
I used to watch this series when I was kid, it was fun and I sure as hell loved that pickup truck, it could jump anything. Even now, looking back at the show, the jumps it performs are still impressive.
The Fall Guy is an American action/adventure television program produced for ABC and originally broadcast from November the 4th, 1981 to May the 2nd, 1986. It stars Lee Majors, Douglas Barr, and Heather Thomas and shows the adventures of a Hollywood stuntman.
Colt’s truck was an early 1980s GMC 4×4 pickup. The truck had a custom-made chrome roll bar mounted with 4 off-road lights, and a custom chrome grille guard mounted with 2 off-road lights and a Warn winch. One unusual characteristic was a secret compartment in the truck’s bed, which was used to stash away villains or to hide weapons.
The truck was very often involved in high-speed chases and huge jumps. As a result, it became very popular, especially with children (like me), and numerous toy and model versions were produced.
During the show’s run, the stunts took their toll on the trucks (for example, one clip that appears in the opening credits clearly shows an axle breaking after a jump), so several different year model trucks were used during the show’s initial run. As a result, there are some inconsistencies in the episodes. For instance, in the pilot episode the truck (a 1980 model) has two square headlights and a light tan interior. For the remainder of the series, it almost always had the quad headlight configuration of the 1981. The truck usually appeared to be a long bed model, but sometimes a short bed model was used. After destroying several trucks due to the huge jumps, a custom built jump truck was built as a solution and greatly reduced the number of trucks scrapped during the show’s production.
At the end of the series, the remaining trucks were either auctioned off or given away in a contest. One of them was sold on eBay in 2003.
Here is a video clip showing a couple of great truck jumps from The fall guy series.
7: Miami Vice’s Ferrari Testarossa
The Ferrari Testarossa is one of my favorite Ferraris of all time, I used to have posters have the iconic supercar all over my bedroom walls when I was a kid, so I instantly took a liking to it in the Miami Vice TV series.
Miami Vice is an American television series produced by Michael Mann for NBC. The show became noted for its heavy integration of music and visual effects to tell a story. The series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two Police detectives working undercover in Miami. It ran for five seasons on NBC from 1984–1989.
The Testarossa wasn’t the first choice for the show, a Ferrari Daytona replica was originally used by detective Sonny Crockett which was basically a Chevrolet Corvette C3 chassis wearing Daytona shaped body panels. After the first 2 series Enzo Ferrari took note and filed a lawsuit demanding that they cease and as a result, the vehicle lasted until season 3, at which point it was blown to pieces in the season three premiere episode. The fake Ferraris were removed from the show, with Enzo Ferrari donating two brand new 1986 Testarossas as replacements.
Here is a clip from the American hit series Miami Vice.
6: The A team van
At number 6 is another childhood favorite, the A team van. This has to be the hottest van to ever appear on TV and even by todays standards it still looks damn cool. I must admit the show was a bit tongue in cheek but still as a kid I loved it.
The A-Team is an American action adventure television series about a fictional group of ex-United States Army Special Forces personnel who work as soldiers of fortune while on the run from the Army after being branded as war criminals for a “crime they didn’t commit”. The A-Team was created by writers and producers Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell at the behest of Brandon Tartikoff, NBC’s Entertainment president.
The show ran for five seasons on the NBC television network, from January 23, 1983 to December 30, 1986 (with one additional, previously unbroadcast episode shown on March 8, 1987), for a total of 98 episodes.
The black and metallic grey GMC Vandura van used by the A-Team had a bright red stripe, black and red turbine mag wheels, and a red rooftop spoiler. One of the original six vans used for the show is now displayed in the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswick, northern England.
It is a common error that the van is said to be all-black, whereas in fact the section above the red stripe is actually metallic gray; this error was even continued on most toy models of the van.
Here is a tribute video to The A Team tv series with some great A Team van moments.
5: Starsky and Hutch’s Gran Torino
Starsky and Hutch was a bit before my time but I got to enjoy watching the show during reruns and like many, I grew up admiring the bright red Ford Gran Torino.
Starsky and Hutch (usually written as Starsky & Hutch) is a 1970s American television series created by William Blinn, produced by Spelling-Goldberg Productions, and broadcast between April 30, 1975 and May 15, 1979 on the ABC network.
The two main characters were California policemen, David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Kenneth ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson (David Soul). The duo worked under the radio call sign “Zebra Three”, and were known for tearing around the streets of the fictional California city Bay City.
Originally, Starsky was to drive a Chevrolet Camaro convertible in the series, however, when production started on the pilot episode, Ford Motor Company’s Studio-TV Car Loan Program was the lease supplier for Spelling-Goldberg. They looked at lease stock and chose two 1975 351 Windsor V8-powered “Bright Red” 2-door Gran Torinos. The car was custom painted (on top of the factory red paint color) with the distinctive white “vector” stripe designed by Spelling-Goldberg’s transportation coordinator George Grenier. The rear end was lifted by air shocks, and had “U.S.” brand 5-slot mag wheels added with larger rear tires.
David Soul (Hutch), remarked that the car looked like a ‘striped tomato’. That nick-name stuck, and very soon the show’s writers had worked it into the show as Hutch’s derogatory name for Starsky’s beloved Torino.
The aggressive stunt driving required of the show resulted in many accidents and fender-benders for the Torinos. The time demands of a weekly production mandated quick body and paint repairs so the cars could get ‘back to work’ as soon as possible, and many of the quick and often sloppy repairs are quite evident to eagle-eyed viewers of the show. The front fenders seemed to have taken a lot of abuse, and the ‘Gran Torino’ nameplates on the front fenders are missing in several episodes, as are the chrome wheelhouse moldings.
Below is a chase scene with the Gran Torino from the Starsky and Hutch TV series.
4: Magnum’s Ferrari 308GTS
Magnum P.I. was a big hit worldwide, while most women only watched it to see Tom Seleck with his bushy mustache I on the other hand was more passionate about his Ferrari 308GTS.
Magnum, P.I. is an American television series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 and was consistently ranked in the top twenty U.S. television programs during the first five years of the series.
The open top Ferrari 308 GTS was introduced in 1977 and was made famous on the television series Magnum, P.I.. Several cars were used, with a new one being introduced for each season. Most were auctioned off after filming.
Here is a clip with the Ferrari 308GTS from the Magnum TV series
3: The Bat Mobile
Most people my age or older remember the original Batman TV series, it was awful and corny but we still watched. One of the few things that made the series entertaining was the use of the Batmobile. It still looks kinda cool today, don’t you agree?
Batman is a 1960s American television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It starred Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, two crime-fighting heroes who defended “Gotham City”. It aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network for two and a half seasons from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968. Despite its short run, the show had a total of 120 episodes.
The Batmobile built for and used in the 1966–1968 live action television show Batman and its film adaptation was a customized vehicle that originated as a one-off Ford concept car of the 1950s.
The TV series Batmobile was based on the Lincoln Futura Show Car, originally created by William M. Schmidt and his design team at the Lincoln Styling Department; its rakish lines are said to have been inspired by the mako shark and the manta ray.
Barris hired Bill Cushenberry to do the metal modifications to the car and its conversion into the Batmobile was completed in just three weeks, at a reported cost of US$30,000. Barris retained ownership of the car and leased it back to 20th Century Fox and Greenway Productions for use in the series. The estimated 1966 value of the Barris Batmobile was about $125,000, but today it is estimated to be worth at least US$2 million.
When filming for the series began, several problems arose due to the age of the car: it overheated, the battery went dead, and the expensive Mickey Thompson tires kept blowing. By mid season, the engine and transmission were replaced with a Ford Galaxie’s. The most frequent visual influence of this car is that later Batmobiles usually have a rear rocket thruster that fires as the car makes a fast start.
All three Batmobiles used in filming are on display at the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Cumbria, UK.
Here is a clip from the original Batman series
2. Knightrider’s KITT
It was a really tough decision with the top 2 and after a lot of thought I decided to put KITT at the second spot. This has to be one of the greatest car from the 80’s, this fantastic Pontiac could do just about anything and it was every kids dream to have one.
Knight Rider is an American television series that originally ran from September 26, 1982, to August 8, 1986. The series was broadcast on NBC and starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a high-tech modern-day crime fighter. Michael Knight drove a futuristic talking car with artificial intelligence. Conceived and produced by Glen A. Larson, the show was an instant hit.
The character of KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) was physically embodied as a modified 1982 Pontiac Firebird with numerous special features such as Turbo Boost (which allowed quick bursts of speed or jumping over obstacles), the ability to drive ‘himself’, a front mounted scanner bar that (among other things) allowed KITT to ‘see’. The car was also fitted with a ‘molecular bonded shell’ body armor that was portrayed to be invulnerable to almost everything including diamond headed drills, small arms fire, the impact of thrown objects, and even high speed impacts with walls. The armor could also resist most artillery and explosive blasts although a strong direct hit could cause severe damage. A refit in the 1985 season included the addition of “Super Pursuit Mode” and a convertible top. The car’s voice was supplied by actor William Daniels.
Here is KITT tribute video made by a fan of the popular TV series.
1: Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee
Standing at first place in my top 10 list is the famous bright orange General Lee Dodge Charger. I have so many found memories of watching this series as a child and because of this program the Dodge Charger became one of my favorite cars. In fact the General Lee, to this day is well known and is often noted as being the most famous car in the world.
The Dukes of Hazzard is an American television series that originally aired on the CBS television network from 1979 to 1985. It was inspired by the 1975 film Moonrunners, which was also created by Gy Waldron and had many identical or similar character names and concepts.
The show featured Bo and Luke Duke, two cousins living in a rural part of the fictional Hazzard County, Georgia, with their cousin attractive Daisy and wise old Uncle Jesse. Almost every episode had the Duke brothers racing around Hazzard town in their customized 1969 Dodge Charger while trying to fight the system and root out the corrupt practices of Hazzard County Commissioner Boss Hogg and his bumbling brother-in-law-Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.
The General Lee or simply “The General” was Bo and Luke Duke’s name for their 1969 Dodge Charger. It was orange with a Confederate battle flag painted on the roof, and the words “GENERAL LEE” over each door along with the number “01”. The name refers to the American Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Since it was built as a race car, the windows were always open, a rollbar was installed, and the doors were welded shut. Through the history of the show, an estimated 309 Dodge Chargers were used during the series; twenty-three are still known to exist in various states of repair. A replica was owned by John Schneider (Bo), known as “Bo’s General Lee”. In 2008 Schneider sold “Bo’s General Lee” at the Barrett-Jackson automobile auction for $450,000; the underside of the hood has the signatures of the cast from the 1997 TV movie.
The show also used 1968 Chargers by changing the grille and taillight panel to the 1969 style, and removing the round side marker lights. These Chargers performed many record-breaking jumps throughout the show, almost all of them resulting in a complete destruction of the car. The Duke boys added a custom air horn to the General which played the first twelve notes of the song Dixie.
Warner Brothers purchased several Chargers for stunts, as they generally destroyed at least one or two cars per episode. By the end of the show’s sixth season, the Chargers were becoming harder to find, and more expensive, so the producers used 1/8th scale miniatures, filmed by Jack Sessums’ crew, or recycled stock jump footage.
Here is a video tribute to the great General Lee!!
Well thats my top 10 list of the greatest TV series cars to drive on our screens. You will probably note that most of them are from the 80’s TV shows and that is because they don’t seem to make great shows like this anymore. Its a shame.
Hopefully somebody will come along soon with the next best TV series car that we will all love and admire once more.
What is your favorite TV series car, tell us in the comments box below.