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The Definitive Top 50 Cars of Vintage Television

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It’s time to forget that Prius or minivan parked in your driveway and drift back to the good old days of muscle cars and shaggin’ wagons. Here’s a definitive list of the greatest cars, trucks and vans of vintage television as determined by yours truly.

Please note that this isn’t a list of the cars we’d most like to own. These are favorite vehicles that were awesome each in their own way. Thus, the Trans Am from Knight Rider and Fred Sanford’s pickup both make the list. Also, don’t get hung up on the order – the numerical placement is haphazard at best. But please contribute your own favorites in a comment. I’d love to hear of any glaring omissions. Enjoy!

 

TV Cars (8)
1. The General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard
TV Cars (6)
2. Dan Tana’s 1957 Thunderbird from Vega$
3. The Coyote X from Hardcastle & McCormick
4. The Pontiac Trans Am from Knight Rider

 

TV Cars (9)
5. The Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS on Magnum PI
6. The Munster Koach

 

TV Cars (10)
7. The Sunbeam Tiger on Get Smart
8. The Monkee Mobile
9. The Packard-Darrin 180 from Banacek
10. The 1950 Mercury pickup on Sanford & Son
11. The Bradymobile station wagon
12. The Mystery Machine on Scooby Doo
13. The Gran Torino from Starsky & Hutch

 

TV Cars (5)
14. The GMC A-Team van
15. “Dixie”, Daisy Duke’s 1981 AMC Golden Eagle Jeep

 

TV Cars (2)
16. The 1974 Firebird Esprit from The Rockford Files
17. Emma Peale’s Lotus Elan from The Avengers
18. Dragula (another one from The Munsters)
19. Major Nelson’s GTO from I Dream of Jeannie
20. The Batmobile

 

TV Cars (3)
21. Black Beauty from The Green Hornet
22. The Ferrari Daytona Spider from Miami Vice

 

TV Cars (11)
23. The Corvette Roadster from Route 66
24. Bill Bixby’s 1974 Corvette from The Magician
25. The 4X4 GMC Pickup from The Fall Guy
26. The 1979 Dodge Power Wagon from Simon & Simon

 

TV Cars (7)
27. Friday & Gannon’s 1967 Ford Fairlane on Dragnet
28. The 1976 Ford Mustang Cobra II from Charlie’s Angels
29. Al Bundy’s 1974 Dodge Dart

 

TV Cars (4)
30. The Lamborghini from Automan
31. Columbo’s 1959 Peugeot Convertible
32. The Mach 5 from Speed Racer
33. Roger Moore’s Volvo 1800 from The Saint

 

TV Cars (13)
34. The Reactor used in the old Star Trek Roman Empire episode
35. The Partridge Family bus

 

TV Cars (14)
36. The Hardy Boys Mysteries GMC van with a custom paint job on the side of a scenic sunset
37. Straker’s car from UFO
38. The Kenworth truck from B.J. and the Bear

 

TV Cars (1)
39. The customized Piranha from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
40. Mannix’s Roadster
41. Dobie Gillis’ tricked-out hot rod
42. Rooster’s pimpmobile from Baretta
43. Paul Lynde’s 1970 Caprice Convertible in The Paul Lynde Show.
44. The 1972 Dodge “Squad 51” from Emergency!
45. The 1928 Porter from My Mother the Car

 

TV Cars (12)

46. The Thunderbolt Grease Slapper from Tom Slick
47. Cunningham’s DeSoto from Happy Days.
48. Karl Malden’s and Michael Douglas’s 1973 Ford Galaxie 500 from Streets of San Francisco
49. Ralph Malph’s T-Roadster pickup from Happy Days
50. The Model T pickup from The Beverly Hillbillies

  • One of the most underrated vehicles on classic TV is the truck from The Untouchables. For one thing, it is based on a real vehicle used by Eliot Ness and his agents. They confiscated one of Capone’s beer trucks that had a Hemi motor, then put two sharpened, steel sheets on the front to deflect bullets and break down the doors on illegal breweries and liquor warehouses.

    • smokehill

      I don’t believe there were any Hemi motors available back during Prohibition, other than a few small ones, mostly foreign & rather obscure. The first ones with any size and power were the Chrysler Firepower series in the early 1950s.

  • DG

    Nice selection!

  • timdub70

    One more: McGarrett’s 1968 Mercury Park Lane from Hawaii Five-O. At least once a week, that car was seen burning rubber through the streets of Honolulu and the roads of Hawaii. And Al Bundy’s ’74 Dodge Dart was played by a ’72 Plymouth Duster. I think this was the writers’ swipe at Chrysler’s badge engineering since the Duster/Dart Sport/Demon were the same car. In the episode “Get The Dodge Out Of Hell”, Al gets his car washed but the car wash people cannot find his car. Kelly checks the lost and found at the car wash and found a nice Plymouth. Al said, “I don’t want a Plymouth, I want my Dodge, dagnabit!”

  • Tom Beiter

    I would have chosen Mr. Brady’s 1971 Plymouth Barricuda convertible. And that’s not the Cunningham’s DeSoto in picture 47. I believe that’s a Chevy Deluxe. Howard’s De Soto (which I agree belongs on the list just for the episode “Cruisin'”) can be seen here: http://pics.imcdb.org/0is75/happydays2173kg0.3695.jpg. I’d forgotten Maxwell Smarts red convertible was a Sunbeam from the makers of mixers and blenders.

  • KAF

    The Beverly Hillbillies truck was an Oldsmobile, I think.

  • JHenry

    Paul Lynde’s Caprice looks to be a ’72 in his show’s intro video.

  • smokehill

    Mannix drove a number of George Barris customs, but the one pictured — and most commonly considered as “the Mannix car” — is a heavily customized Oldsmobile Toronado.

  • smokehill

    To be more specific, Banacek’s car was a 1942 Packard Darrin 180 Victoria

  • smokehill

    Green Hornet’s “Black Beauty” car was actually a customized 1966 Crown Imperial sedan

  • smokehill

    The General Lee car, from The Dukes of Hazzard, was a 1969 Dodge Charger. There were a LOT of them used throughout that series, with engines varying from the 318 to the 440. The smaller, lighter 318’s were preferred for the two-wheels-in-the-air driving stunts.

  • smokehill

    Straker’s car from the UFO series was a heavily modified (British) Ford Zephyr -Zodiac Mk IV, with an Escort engine and gearbox.

  • smokehill

    The Dobie Gillis hot rod was, I believe, originally a 1930 Ford Model A, obviously much modified into a Bonneville-style racer. It actually was raced a number of times and set a few records.

  • smokehill

    Though often described as a Buick truck, the Clampett’s rusty old jalopy in The Beverly Hillbillies was actually built on a 1922 Oldsmobile chassis. There were originally several of them, but I believe only the main one survived, now in the Museum of the Ozarks.