At this stage in the development of the Internet, we have all been subjected to lists. Specifically, the “Top random number movie and or TV and or animated cars list”. I know I have seen plenty of them. They are all pretty much the same. Batmobiles, Back to the Future, Mystery Machine, General Lee, Herbie ad infinitum. The only variation seems to be the location of the car on the list. Once and a while someone will put in an obscure reference, like the Logan’s Run car or Cheech and Chongs’ Impala from Up in Smoke. I can’t disagree with these lists, it’s just the same old stuff. However, I am about to introduce a “Top 25” list too. I have decided to focus solely on the cars that are well deserving of being on a list, but always lose out to another similar more famous, car. They say no one ever remembers who came in second in the World Series; here is the list of cars that always come in second. The runner ups.
Top 25 “Runner up” Movie/TV/Animated Cars
25. “Big Journey” cars
Runner up: 1970 Dodge Challenger from the 1971 motion picture “Vanishing Point”
When talking about movie cars, no one ever skips the car from the movie The Car, after all it’s a movie about the car. The car was a George Barris creation and is a highly modified 1971 Lincoln Continental. In the movie the car is possessed by a demon and is on a journey of death and destruction. In the 1971 movie Vanishing Point, Kowalski sets out on his own journey. While Kowalski is not possessed, he is fighting personal demons. In a drug fueled haze he races the 1970 Challenger towards San Francisco. Kowalski finally frees his demons in an unforgettable fiery finale. The 1971 Vanishing Point, while not a commercial success, remains one of the best car movies ever made and is an underground classic. Don’t waste your time on the remake with the same name, it pales in comparison.
Runner up: Ambulance from the motion picture Mother, Juggs and Speed
The Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters is an ambulance converted to the ultimate Ghost busting vehicle. The Ecto-1 lives on as one of the most recognizable icons from that movie series. If all of Bill Cosby’s characters were more like Mother Tucker, instead of Cliff Huxtable, Bill Cosby would probably be a much more popular person. In the motion picture Mother, Juggs and Speed, Cosby is a hard drinking, hard driving ambulance operator. Along with his co workers played by Harvey Keitel and Raquel Welch, they are trying to keep the ambulance company afloat and win the coveted contract from the city. Mother Tucker spends most of the time in his 1975 GMC Ambulance, modified with custom wheels, a louvered hood, and side pipes. While not as well remembered as the Ecto-1, the Mother Tucker ambulance still remains a formidable ambulance.
23. Scary Cars
Runner up: Frankenstein’s Gator Car from the motion picture Death Race 2000
Christine has risen up past the horror movie genre to become a star of her own. Christine is a 1958 Plymouth Fury that was just born bad and is possessed by an evil spirit. Most people don’t remember the movie but they remember the car. In Deathrace 2000, the future holds for us a dictatorship where justice and television entertainment go hand in hand. The legendary death racer Frankenstein is not all that he appears to be. His car is designed to look like an alligator and is often referred to as the Gator car. It is a highly modified corvette. The Deathrace movie has had several horrible remakes, but no one has ever attempted to recreate the scary beauty that is the original Frankenstein car.
22. Whimsical Musical Cars
Runner up: The Bugaloos Buggy from the television show, The Bugaloos
The Monkees were an undeniable force in the 60’s pop music scene. The Monkees was a show that was based on a fictional band. The fictional band became so popular that the actors who played the band, became an actual band. Essentially they became a cover band of the band they portrayed. While mostly appearing in musical numbers the Monkees drove around in their Dean Jefferies created Monkee mobile. The Bugaloos were going to be Brittan’s answer to the Monkees. Phil Collins was rejected for a part on the show and later that year joined a little band called GENESIS! Maybe you have heard of him? Have you ever heard of John Mc Indoe? The Bugaloos were occasionally transported around in their dune buggy, a George Barris creation. Like most Barris creations, the Bugaloos buggy was a wild 60’s show car with colorful metallic paint and hotrod wheels and extended canopy to look more insect like. Its head lights were converted to eyes also adding to its insect like appearance. It was a cool way to get around and a great prop for musical montages. Much like the Bugaloos themselves, the Bugaloos buggy never quite made the charts.
21. Fast, black, heroic
Runner up: 1973 Corvette Stingray from the motion picture Cleopatra Jones
Several years ago the The Green Hornets 1966 Chrysler Imperial would have probably been on the runner up list. The original TV show is widely available on DVD and streaming sites. Also a full length motion picture with everyone’s favorite stoner Seth Rogan has increased the Black Beauty’s popularity. Cleopatra Jones is the foxy black version of James Bond. Like James, she drove a well equipped super car. Her 1973 corvette stingray was customized with one of a kind body panels. The t-top roofs would open gull wing style when her doors opened, I assume this was to accommodate her massive afro. The door panels opened to reveal a massive stock pile of weapons. Don’t let her cover job as an international model fool you, Cleopatra was all business. She was a complete bad ass. Unfortunately for Cleopatra, she had too much competition from Foxy Brown and Shaft. Cleopatra and her corvette remain undiscovered and underrated
20. Cartoon Cars
Runner up: The Compact Pussy Cat from the television cartoon Wacky Racers
The Flintstones car much like the family that drives it can be classified as Modern Stone age styled. It is primarily built of stone and wood, and while it looks sturdy and heavy, can be easily overturned by a rack of Brontosaurus ribs or by an over excited Dino or Bam Bam. It is a memorable car from an iconic cartoon. I always thought Barney’s roadster was cooler. Penelope Pitstop, from Wacky Racers, drove a pink car that was possibly “too girly” to obtain a higher status. Penelope Pitstop was the perennial damsel in distress. Her style was not focused on winning races as much as it was about staying pretty. Her car was the four wheeled version of Macy’s cosmetics department. Despite this the Compact Pussycat was a cool looking car, like a pink version of the Mach 5. Penelope Pitstop placed in the top three quite frequently.
19: Dean Jefferies Car
Runner up: The Landmaster from the Motion Picture Damnation Alley
KITT is a sassy cybernetic computer that is installed inside a “state of the art” 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am. While capable of driving himself, he is driven by the venerable Michael Knight, played by the drunken hamburger eating David Hasselhoff. An all time favorite classic car that has been spun off multiple times in multiple ways. Like KITT, the Landmaster was designed by famous auto designer Dean Jefferies. If you are going to be cruising in a post apocalyptic earth where giant insects are king, the best way to do this is in an military issue Landmaster. Created specifically for the movie Damnation Alley, the Landmaster is extremely unique. The drive wheels are mounted on 3 spokes giving it a total of 12 wheels, the spokes can be locked so 8 wheels are driving the vehicle. The spokes can be unlocked allowing the entire element to roll which gives it the ability to climb steep inclines. Despite its massive size, it can float too. The Landmaster is steered by pivoting the flexible center with hydraulic arms, so it’s probably not the best commuting vehicle. Despite its sheer amazingness and futuristic design, it remains relatively ignored. I have personally had the opportunity to sit inside the Landmaster and it is one of the highlights of my life.
Runner up: Condor mobile from the movie Condorman
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, our fine four-fendered friend. He’s a car, he’s a boat, he can even fly and he helps topple the evil child hating king of Vulgaria. Sadly, it was all a dream, or was it? The Condormobile was not a dream. We first see the Condormobile bursting from the shell of a gypsy truck in the finale of the movie Condorman. The Condormobile with its rear guns, flame thrower and front mounted ramp, easily vanquish the KGB agents in their Porsches. Much like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Condormobile turns into a hover boat to escape the enemies. Unlike the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Condorman was a commercial flop and quickly disappeared from most people’s memories. Pixar gave Condorman and his Condormobile a cameo in the short Small Fry. In late 2012 Disney announced plans for a remake of Condorman starring the sparkly vampire kid. Glad to hear its coming back, but I hope it’s not worse than the original.
17. Badass Vans
Runner up: The van from the 1987 television cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The A-team a band of misfits taking the war on crime to the streets, with a plan that always comes together. The A-team van itself has reached pop culture stardom being driven by none other than B.A Baracus played by the “Jibba Jabba” hating Mr. T. Much like the A-team, the Ninja Turtles, in their first cartoon series, are a band of misfits out to rid the streets of crime. They often travel in their well equipped mobile command center, a van, drawn to look a lot like a VW camper. It is well equipped for crime fighting and pizza eating. While the turtles have existed in many carnations, their van too, has taken on different forms. The 80’s cartoon version is my personal favorite pizza getter.
16. Police Supercar
Runner up: 1960 Corvette from television show Rip Tide
The Ferrari 308GTS is so synonymous with Magnum P.I. that a search just for the Ferrari 308 by itself will still produce pictures of Magnum. Magnum drove the Ferrari through out the entirety of the show. It’s almost an equal cast member to Tom Selleck and John Hillerman. Unfortunately the networks couldn’t air Magnum P.I. 24/7, so they actually had to come up with other shows, which may or may not have been total rip offs of Magnum. Enter Rip Tide. The Premise, two army buddies start a detective agency, they realize the importance of computers in crime solving (way back in the 80’s even!) and they hire a computer nerd to help them solve cases. While the show takes place in the less picturesque Los Angeles, there are still lots of adventures on the water thanks to the Ebb Tide boat, and plenty of helicopter drama thanks to the Screaming Mimi. The boys do take to the road every once and a while and they often do it in Nick Ryder’s 1960 corvette. Nick’s Corvette is bright red and is modified with flames and after market rims. It’s not a bad way to get around Los Angeles, and has plenty of power to chase bad guys. Sadly Perry King’s, mustache could not rival that of Tom Sellecks and the show only had three seasons.
15. British Secret Agent Car
Runner up: Lady Penelope’s FAB-1 from television show The Thunderbirds
James Bond’s Aston DB5 spy car is so famous that there is one in the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. Just as well equipped as any James Bond vehicle, is Lady Penelope’s FAB-1. Based on a modified Rolls Royce this car has 3 axles and a bullet proof canopy and is expertly driven by Lady Penelope’s butler, Parker. FAB-1 is loaded with the standard hidden machine guns and rocket launchers. As is the case with every spy car, the FAB-1 seems to have an appropriate gadget or device for every emergency situation it encounters. The only things that I can see that keep FAB-1 from being a winner is that it is painted bright pink and the actors were actually creepy looking marionette puppets. Not a winning combination.
14. Mystery Solver Car
Runner up: Speed buggy from the television cartoon Speed Buggy
The Mystery Machine appears to be a 60’s Chevy van. The van belongs to Mystery Inc, better known as Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, Velma and Scooby. The Mystery Machine is legendary. It has its own origins and history behind it. It also has many devoted followers who have made their own real life Mystery Machines. Speed Buggy was basically a rip off of Scooby Doo. Its about 3 teens who tour the country with their race car speed buggy, along the way they solve mysteries. Speedy himself is a cross between Scooby and Herbie. He is a sentient being with thoughts and a mind of his own. There weren’t a lot of episodes of Speed Buggy, so he often gets forgotten, but as a future motor head, I was drawn to any cartoon with a racing theme. He will always be one of my favorites.
Runner up: The Elva MK6 from the motion picture Viva Las Vegas
I never really got into Hardcastle and McComick, it was a dumb premise. A retired judge decided to hunt down criminals that got away from his court. He decides to let a convict who was convicted of stealing a prototype car, off the hook if he agrees to be his agent. Bonus, he gets to keep the car he stole, so crime actually does pay. The season one Coyote X was different from the season two and three version, but the one that makes the list is the rounder season one version. The Coyote X always looked like the Volkswagen powered kit car that it was. Much like the Coyote X, the Elva MK 6 that Elvis drives in Viva Las Vegas was touted as a prototype. Elvis’s character Lucky spends much of the movie singing and dancing with Ann Margaret and occasionally takes practices runs in his car. He accidentally loses all of his money, so he is forced to work as waiter and enter a talent show competition to win the money to buy a new engine. Surprise! He wins the talent show. He also manages to win the Gran Prix. He also scores a win with Ann Margaret, apparently off screen too. Elva was a British company that made race cars for the budget minded in the 50’s and 60’s. They came with many power options, and were known for being fast and light. They are still popular for vintage races today. You know where you can find a Coyote X? No where.
12. Talking Cartoon Race Car
Lightning McQueen named after the legendary Steve McQueen, is a computer animated race car created by Pixar. Lighting is so state of the art that in some portions of the movie he looks real. He is voiced by Owen Wilson. You can’t deny Lightning’s popularity. Disneyland has an entire land devoted to this movie. No wonder he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bimmer. On the opposite end of that scale is Turbo Teen. Remember the first time you drew a car? That’s what Turbo Teen looks like. I wouldn’t be shocked to find out the show was animated by 12 year olds. Even though he is poorly drawn, he is clearly supposed to be a mid 80’s Trans Am. Don’t be so quick to write off Turbo Teen. It’s a great premise. Brett is a star athlete driving his flashy red sports car when he accidentally crashed into a lab which at that exact moment is running an experiment that fuses him into his car. He and his buddies set forth to solve crimes. When it’s hot, he is Turbo Teen. When he is cold he is Brett. Turbo Teen was Spiderman, Hulk, Transformers and Knight Rider all in one show. Unfortunately it only went one season, and no one sees the potential in bringing it back.
11. Crime-fighting Muscle Car
Runner up: 1965 AC Cobra from the television show Honey West
Starsky and Hutch are probably less famous than their bright red 1974 Grand Torino. Seriously do you know which one is which? You don’t, but you remember Huggy Bear. They were no nonsense detectives trying to take back the streets from criminals. Criminals they frequently pursued in their well powered Torino. Another Detective you may not know about is Honey West. She was a rich girl who inherits her father’s detective agency. She has a pet Ocelot, but she was no Paris Hilton. Honey took her work very seriously and was a tough detective. She was played by the very sexy Anne Francis, who was in a myriad of television and movie roles. Honey drove possibly the best production race car to date, the 1965 AC Cobra with a 289 V-8. Honey wasn’t a Sunday driver either, in most episodes she is chasing or running from someone in her Cobra. Honey West was only on for one season, so she and her awesome car were never able to make their impact.
10. 1970s General Motors Love
Runner up: 1973 Custom Corvette from the motion picture Corvette Summer
Sing it with me “East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’, we’re gonna do what they say can’t be done…”
We all love the action-packed Burt Reynolds flick, a high speed romp featuring a late 70’ Trans-Am. For me, personally the majority of great moments from that movie come from Jackie Gleason not Burt Reynolds. A movie that was generally ignored was Corvette Summer. This movie was released right after Star Wars. Mark Hamill’s second movie is about a young high school graduate named Ken. Ken and his classmates spent the entire school year building a custom corvette. Right before graduating, on its maiden voyage, it is stolen from a fellow classmate played by Danny Bonaduce. Bonaduce!! Ken spends the summer tracing the car through Las Vegas with the help of a lovable prostitute and some high-larious cholos. There are several car chases through the movie and it climaxes with a spectacular chase against a black Firebird 400. Spoiler alert! The theft was an inside job. The corvette is an extreme custom, most noticeably with the addition of right hand drive and a deep metal flake paint job. While most might look at the Corvette in today’s standards and think it’s ugly, it is the epitome of 70’s custom styling. It has flames, chrome pipes, custom body panels, not one inch of this car is stock. It is owned today by a Corvette Museum.
9. The Simpsons
Runner up: The Canyonero from the television show The Simpsons
Most people list the episode where Homer finds his long lost brother Herb, who is a millionaire CEO of a car company, as a classic episode. Herb foolishly lets Homer into his life. Homer destroys his brother’s finances when in an effort to bond; he designs the ill fated “Homer”. From that episode on I have always referred to rack and pinion steering, as rack and peanut steering. The other classic car introduced to us by the Simpsons is the Canyonero. It smells like a steak and seats thirty five. It is twelve yards long and two lanes wide and sixty five tons, which is good for going real slow with the hammer down. Unexplained fires are standard, so are blinding super high beams. Squirrel crushing and dear smacking are part of the adventures you can expect. Unfortunately the Federal Highway Commission has ruled the Canyonero unsafe for city or highway driving.
8. The Munsters
Runner up: Drag-u-la from the television show The Munsters
The Munster Koach is the iconic ride of the Munsters Family. It is a hot rod version of funeral carriage. It was designed by custom car legend Tom Daniels and built by George Barris. In one episode Herman loses the Munster Koach in a drag race. Grandpa decides to build his own car to win the Koach back. He builds Drag-u-la (a clever mix Drag Racer and Dracula) needless to say Grandpa wins the race, all the while smoking a cigar! Drag-u-la was also designed by Daniels and built by Barris. It is 50% sling shot dragster and 50% coffin, and 100% awesome. The car remains popular today with a plethora of available models and toys, and was memorialized by Rob Zombie in a song called Dragula, and with the video featuring shots of Dragula from the movie “Munsters Go Home”.
Runner up: 1973 Mustang from the 1974 motion picture Gone in 60 Seconds.
Steve McQueen will always live on as the king of macho. He was a hard living actor who blurred the lines between his life and career. In Bullitt, the much hyped 11 minute car chase has Bullitt chasing a Charger through the streets and hills of San Francisco only to see the Charger blow up when it crashes into a gas station in Brisbane. Toby Halicki is the mad man genius behind the original gone in 60 seconds. It was filmed on a tight budget and with very little attention to the law. Gone in 60 seconds has a simple plot. A team of car thieves has 5 days to deliver 48 specific makes and models of cars for a pay off of 400k. Each car is code named and proves relatively easy to get except number 48. Eleanor, the yellow 1973 Mustang, takes several attempts and the final attempt leads to the epic 40 minute car chase. Take note of the crashes and damage to the city of Los Angeles during this chase most of it was real. Sadly, Toby Halicki died trying to make a sequel to this film, which puts him far and above Steve McQueen.
6. Bugs and Buggys
Runner up: Wonder Bug from the television show Kroft Super Show
Who doesn’t love the Love Bug? Herbie is a sentient Volkswagen Beetle that befriends a struggling race car driver and teaches him a lesson about choosing greed over friendship. A lesser known but equally as lovable sentient automobile is Schlep car, who with the aid of the magical horn becomes the fabulous Wonder Bug. Wonder bug was a short serial in the 70’s on a variety show called the Kroft Super Show. Wonder bug could drive himself, spoke in an in cohesive language. And he could do one thing Herbie couldn’t, and that was fly. Wonder bug also fought crime full time. As a kid I didn’t put much into the logistics of how a crappy beat up pile of junk could transform itself into a completely different car. As an adult I got bogged down with where Schlep car went when he was wonder bug. If they were both Schlep car, then how come Schlep car couldn’t fly? I have obviously thought about it way too much. Wonder bug could probably drive circles around Herbie, but don’t hold your breath for any feature films, they are probably to busy making another sequel to a sequel.
5. Mopar Muscle in The Dukes of Hazard
Runner up: Daisy Duke’s 1974 Plymouth Road Runner
If I was a betting man I would say that the General Lee is probably one of the most recognizable cars in history. It certainly has to get credit for keeping Duke of Hazzard on the air. It wasn’t the best written or acted show in history. I was a young boy coming of age while this show was on air. I loved this show for its perfect mixture of Mopar and scantily clad Catherine Bach. In the first season Daisy Duke prancing around in high heels and her self titled shorts climbed into her yellow and black Road Runner through her window (see photo). It was one of those moments that I realized I had become a man. I had always loved Road Runners, and Daisy just made that easier for me. If you have a keen eye for Mopars you will notice that after season one Daisies 74 Road Runner became a 72 Satellite. In season two the Duke boys drive it off a cliff and give Daisy her Jeep CJ named “Dixie”. You also may have noticed over the run of the show that the General Lee was a mixture of 1968-1970 Chargers. I have fond memories of the TV show but have to lament the rampant destruction all those beautiful Mopars.
4. America Graffiti Cars
Runner up: Bob Falfas 55 Chevy from American Graffiti and Two Lane Black top
A lot of people love Milner’s coupe, me personally I have never been a fan of 32’s or the color yellow. In the movie however Milner’s coupe is more about moving on to the next stage in life and growing up. A car that certainly gets eclipsed by the Milner coupe is Bob Falfa’s 55 Chevy. He is the guy that spends the entire movie trying to race Milner and is played by none other than Indiana Solo. A fact that some people don’t know, is the same 55 Chevy appears in the movie Two Lane Black Top. It gets a starring role this time and is driven by Beach Boy Denis Wilson and folk singer James Taylor. The only reason to mention Two Lane Blacktop is so you will go out and rent it (yeah I’m from the 60’s). It’s an excellent movie. Harrison Ford went on to have a stellar movie career and is a well known and respected actor. The guy that played Milner, he went on to nothing except a horrible sequel to American Graffiti and now tours around with tertiary characters from American Graffiti selling his autograph for $20 dollars at car shows. True Story.
3. Speed Racer Cars
Runner up: Racer X’s Shooting Star
The Mach 5 is the first car I can remember being obsessed with. Its futuristic look and its array of gadgets certainly make it competition for the Bat mobile. Let’s not forget about Racer X. Spoiler Alert! He is Speed Racer’s older brother Rex Racer. Rex and Speed grew up in Pop Racer’s shop building race cars. It would go without saying the Racer X has built the Shooting Star by himself based on knowledge that both he and Speed posses. In the cartoon the Shooting Star is the only competition that the Mach 5 ever really has. Some would say the Shooting Star appears to be a much better car. It does have a rear mounted engine after all. They appear to be equally equipped and matched. Rex isn’t out there to win. He’s out there to make sure his brother is safe. I always wondered what would happen if Racer X tried to win. The show was called Speed Racer though not Racer X.
2. Time Machines
Runner up: 1965 Chevy Malibu from the motion picture Repo Man.
Doc Brown invented one of the most iconic movie cars ever, a time traveling DMC-12 (commonly know as a Delorean). There is no doubt we’d all love to take one to 88 mph to see what happens, my guess, is nothing. In Repo Man, Alex Cox steps in with his “time traveling” classic car, a 1965 Chevy Malibu. Most of the movie is spent trying to prevent a lobotomized scientist from escaping with the dead alien in the trunk. Miller, the acid causality from the hippy days, knows what’s really going on and understands what the Malibu truly is. Only he doesn’t know how to drive, so he recruits punk rocker turned repo man, Otto. Powering a car on dead aliens turns out to be just as hard as finding 1.21 Gigawatts in the 50’s. The 1965 Malibu is a classic automobile with typical Chevy styling and performance options. While it may not look as futuristic as a DMC-12, it is certainly a cool car and mint condition stock examples are getting harder to find. In today’s market you can get a mint condition 1965 Malibu for around 20k. You would have to fork over another 10k for a mint DMC-12. Prices don’t include dead aliens or “Mr. Fusion” brand reactors.
Runner up: The Joker Mobile.
Who doesn’t love the 60’s TV Bat mobile. It’s a perfect mix of 60’s hot rod styling and comic book madness. The Batmobile has and always will be, cool. There are lots of other cool vehicles driving around Gotham that don’t always come to mind. There is Batgirl’s Batgirl Cycle, Cat Woman’s Kitty Car and even Bruce Wayne’s limo. When you are talking about pure 60’s hot rod styling though, Joker’s jalopy stands out. Like a lot of other 60’s TV show cars the Joker Mobile started life as a custom show car. Originally called the Mongrel T, it had brief appearances in TV and movies and was once in an Elvis movie called “Easy Come, Easy Go”. It’s a four-seater, open cockpit, with surfboards for seat backs and faux fur lining. It sports a massive exposed engine, flanked by long side pipes, no doubt the Joker Mobile is fast. You think the Batmobile is full of surprises, don’t stay behind the Joker Mobile for too long, you will see that it is loaded with surprises too.