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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Lights, camera, action: 15 of TV's most famous vehicles

Lights, camera, action! The small screen has delivered some big hits over the decades-and more often than not the car has been the star. Here are 20 of our favorites, revisited whilst wearing a pair of rose-tinted glasses. See how many you remember.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/entertainment/lights-camera-action-15-of-tvs-most-famous-vehicles/
207 REPLIES 207
Snailish
Engineer

Pretty good list, easily 10 that I would have named in my own (biased?) list.

Kookie Car, Munster's Car, Batmobile and Beverly Hillbillies Car probably bump a few of the 15 off the list for "most famous". Green Hornet you are getting debatable as I'm not sure that remains a pop-culture known thing of as much significance. Scooby Doo van gets an honorable mention, after all a lot of real-life clones of it have been made.

Hazzard Charger would be the reason Mopar has risen so high in the muscle market vs. how the magazines talked about that in the 80s.

Kookie Car caused the fad T boom and arguably led to the street rodder movement in the 70s

If the Monkees make the list Batmobile & Munster's have to be there too.
DaveP
Detailer

I was thinking the same thing! (As luck would have it we just went to a concert and saw the last Monkee, Mickey Dolenz - he has lots of backdrops with the Monkee carin the show). Anyway, in additiopn to your suggestions, let's add Columbo's 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible - a match to the Kojak car, and for the Brit cars, the many cars of the Avengers, like Emma Peel's Lotus Elan. Having recently moved our son's stuff, I had his truck looking like a modern version of Jed Clampetts 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster.
dooscoop32
Detailer

If the Kookie car arguably started the street rodder movement in the 70s, then John Milner's '32 Ford from 'American Graffiti' surely perpetuated it. And then ZZ Top's '33 Ford Eliminator kicked the door down!
Figgy308
Intermediate Driver

Yep the reason I imported a 69 Charger sight unseen from Ky a dzozen years ago was my childhood mesmerisation of the Dukes of Hazzard.
Smilodon
Instructor

And the Munster's coach was driven by musician Thomas Dolby (Blinded by Science) in the hilarious throwaway film "Rockula"... speaking of "ula", what about the casket based Dragula?
Snailish
Engineer

Any day you can mention Thomas Dolby in context is a great day.

RokemRonnie
Instructor

I'm partial to the Ironside paddy wagon.
superduty
Intermediate Driver

I would add to the list two of the cars used by Mannix. First is the 1967 Olds Toronado convertible followed by the 1968 Dodge Dart GTS convertible. Both were Barris customs and the Dart was the best, by far. The later Mannix cars (Cuda, Camaro) were much less interesting.
Then there is the Sunbeam Tiger with the James Bond gadgets that Maxwell Smart drove in Get Smart. Like with Mannix the later cars used on the show (Karnann Ghia, Opel GT) were less interesting.
Honorable mention has to go to the Dragula, Gandpa's ride on the Munsters.
AmericanPatrick
Pit Crew

Hawaii 5 "O" series; 1967 Mercury Marquis 2 door Hardtop (pilot show). Then the 1968 Mercury Park Lane 4 door for the whole series and 1974 Mercury Marquis in the waning season with the 1968 still on set...
sclin10
Instructor

I remember an episode where a mid-sixties Ford Galaxie drove into the drink and when it was pulled out, it magically turned into a 1960 Ford Fairlane.
hyperv6
Collector

Cars on here that should not be and many missing that should be here.

Batmobile, Munsters cars etc.

Charlie angels, they had cars? Heart to Heart? Kojack no way.
audiobycarmine
Technician

"... of TV's most famous..."

You ARE joking, right?
No Batmobile, no Munsters cars, no Black Beauty??

One of your choices was a favourite show of mine: "The Persuaders"; yet in that very same season was an American show that was actually NAMED for the car it featured; "Bearcats!", starring Rod Taylor, Dennis Cole and a Stutz Bearcat.
Both of these shows failed fairly quickly. Too bad.
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

Bless you for remembering "Bearcats!"
I loved the show so much I fell in love with brand-new cars and upon discovering what real 1912-16 Bearcats went for (even back in the '70s) I decided to find one of the George Barris built TV replicas.
I found the #1 car in 1998, restored it and have been driving it ever since.
A lot of fun!
Rod Taylor seven sent me photos.


tigercat
Detailer

That is crazy that you actually have the car that I used to watch as a kid from that show. Do you also have replica coats, caps and googles? I am guessing the guns and explosives are out of the question.
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

I have goggles, though not quite like the ones used in the series. George Barris offered me a set he swore were used by Taylor in the series, but he wanted $2000 for them.
I also put together a costume like Taylor wore, army-style green shirt, cavalry -style tan pants (bought off eBay for a few dollars, the label inside indicating it was owned by a Hollywood costume shop), tall boots and "Smokey Bear" hat with a plastic M1911 pistol.
I only wore it a couple of times in parades. Some 20 years ago when I bought it, I had a passing resemblance to Taylor in '71...dark hair and reasonably thin but a bit taller, so it wasn't like I was 5'2" and 250 pounds!
I thought about getting a replica Vickers .30 machine gun like the mounted off the spare tire rack (my car still has the hole for it, but getting a correct WWI gun, as opposed to a slightly different WWII version, was cost prohibitive.
Besides, most people don't remember the series, so after spending all that money, I'd likely get a lot of "Why does it have a gun?" comments.
It's fun to have the car I watched on TV as a kid. I even have several of the model kits...one even came with the car.
Now I'm getting older, so I 'll have to find it a new home fairly soon.
tigercat
Detailer

I remember that show as a kid. Liked the Bearcat's because it was having a hotrod in the old west. Well at least it was a hotrod back then probably tops out at 50 mph. My older sister watched it for Dennis Cole and had his poster. I watched for Rod Taylor because he was the time traveler in H.G. Wells the Time Machine. I also agree with you and think the 1966 Batmobile is the single most iconic car of all time. It was so different and has stood the test of time with many incantations over the decades. No other car on any list has done that other than Aston Martin's in James Bond movies.
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

When I visited Barris to show him photos of my recently completed restoration, he let me sit in the #1 Batmobile...every '60s kid dream.
Smilodon
Instructor

I'd buy a replica of the original and best Batmobile just to "Blues Brothers" slide and park in front of the new Fargo PD headquarters... but I'm too old to leap out, cape or not, and the new Fargo PD sits on grade, no stairs. Sigh.
HelenC
Intermediate Driver

Giles, you have one slight error in you nice article. Jim Rockford’s Firebird is owned by Alen Clarke of Newport Beach, additionally Alen owns Rocky’s Chevy K10. I have seen both cars in person at his warehouse. It is most certainly not down under. Just a little factoid. Thanks.
sclin10
Instructor

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Firebird change from one year to another during one scene?
superduty
Intermediate Driver

I recall an reading an interview with James Garner and he complained that the show lost money on the Firebirds they rented for each episode instead of buying several of them. You are correct, however, during some episodes the year of the Firebird would change. That had more to do with reusing footage from other episodes than anything.
MattK
Advanced Driver

James Garner also didn't like the new look of the "79" Firebird and kept the style of the previous car for the remaining years of the show. Love that show.
CAZINPA
New Driver

Simon and Simon! That was the only reason I knew what a Power Wagon was in my youth.
cobralee
Pit Crew

You can't forget the Sunbeam Tiger that Agent 99 used in the TV series... Get Smart.
PorscheMan
Intermediate Driver

... and the Shelby and the Karman Ghia and the Opel GT.
PorscheMan
Intermediate Driver

AND a 250 California in the first couple o'episodes.
RickR
Pit Crew

Picking nits here, but it was actually a Sunbeam Alpine.
Only because all of the Hillman Minxes were busy that month.
SJ
Technician

There was an actual Tiger but most scenes were shot with a rebadged Alpine. Supposedly the "James Bond" Machine Gun would not fit under the bonnet on the Tiger.
Oldroad1
Gearhead

No. Maxwell Smart drove that Sunbeam. Agent 86.
Patrician
Detailer

Lois Lane's Nash convertible and Broderick Crawford's Buick police car. Other than Kojak and Highway patrol were there other Buick police cars? Does anybody ever watch the original Perry Mason? I watch it every night just to see the cars.
DaveP
Detailer

Car 54 where are you...
Adam21
Pit Crew

Came here to say this very thing.
sclin10
Instructor

Sky King's 1955 DeSoto wagon.
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

I was watching my DVDs the other day, I thought one was a 56 New Yorker wagon, the other a 57-58.

In the very early episodes (circa 1953), he had an ungainly Plymouth Woody, I think they called it a Surburban.
RickR
Pit Crew

For 10 extra points: What model of AIRPLANE did Sky King fly?

no, was NOT an F-14 Tomcat.
dclaxon
Intermediate Driver

The early seasons it was a Cessna T-50 "Bamboo Bomber" and was later replaced by a Cessna 310.
GreggOhio
Pit Crew

Songbird and Sobgbird II
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

The second plane did not have "II" painted on it.
Several years ago, someone painted a 1960 Cessna 310D, a model not used in the series, but was used in a publicity shot for syndication, and painted "Songbird III" on it.
Smilodon
Instructor

I watched "Perry Mason", two back to back episodes every day on TBS while in the Keesler military hospital for 8 months in the early '80s after my service injuries. Raymond Burr got me through some really bad times. I still watch, on Dish network, and I love the mid century chrome barges. Ever see Desi and Lucy in "The Long, Long Trailer"? The primrose/black/white Mercury that Desi has looks very much like Perry's early episodes droptop Merc.
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

According to the Internet Movie Car Database, (caution, a great way to waste many hours), in the mountain scenes of the film, they used a Lincoln pulling the trailer...it was outfitted with Mercury side trim so it looks a lot like the Mercury.
Iso_Grifo
Instructor

That Kojak car is sweet. I expect to see 1970's Buick Century sedans on next year's hot values chart after it's appeared on this list.
MattK
Advanced Driver

Especially in coupe form. My dad had a 73 Gold 4dr.
JimDandy83
Intermediate Driver

How can anyone forget Colombo's lovable little piece of crap. I forget the actual make and model but I can picture it in my dreams.
AmericanPatrick
Pit Crew

1953 Peugeot 403 Cabriolet ~ my Brother in Law called me up on a bar room "bet"... I knew the answer ~ he won...
AmericanPatrick
Pit Crew

1959 not 1953...
DaveP
Detailer

1959 Peugeot 403 convertible
PorscheMan
Intermediate Driver

Pug 204 raggie IIR. Someone else with correct us if I'm wrong.
JimDandy83
Intermediate Driver

Thanks to all those who remember and liked the little1959 Peugeot 403 convertible. The first detective worried about climate change obviously.
n2Cars
New Driver

#16 - Columbo's Peugeot.