The Best Cars Driving the Small Screen

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cars on the small screen

You grew up trying to slide into your mom’s station wagon windows as the Duke boys did, and you heard the Miami Vice theme in your head the first few times you drove after getting your license. If GPS makes you feel like you can almost hear the voice of KITT, you likely have spent time watching a little television and soaking up some cool car fantasies.

There are a lot of iconic cars that have livened up the television screen, but here are a few favorites:

The Sopranos’ Cadillac Escalade: It’s a car that just looks perfect for stashing bodies and anything else you’re trying to hide. Tony Soprano drove Cadillacs throughout the show, but in season five he got the SUV bug, and while the first one, a white Escalade, fell prey to an accident, it was replaced by another Escalade in black. Once Tony got used to that cargo space, he couldn’t go back to a sedan.

Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine: While the show has changed over its many decades to appeal to the kids of that generation, the Mystery Machine has always transported Mystery, Inc. While not based on any particular model of van, the Mystery Machine resembles a Ford Econoline and is instantly recognizable for its psychedelic colors and painted flowers.

Magnum PI’s Ferrari 308 GTB: Viewers of Magnum PI had a hard time deciding whether to focus on the storyline or just admire that beautiful car. The 308 had to be altered to fit Tom Selleck’s long legs, and it was rarely filmed with the top up because he still didn’t quite fit. Whether you’re a car enthusiast or a Tom Selleck fan, this show had plenty to keep fans interested.

Knight Rider’s KITT: Every kid in the 80s was enthralled when Knight Rider debuted with the mysterious and clever KITT, a car based on a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. Its high-tech features included turbo boost, armor, the ability to see and smell and it was even multi-lingual. David Hasselhoff never looked so cool as when he was behind the wheel of KITT.

The Dukes of Hazzard’s Dodge Charger: Beau and Luke outran the sheriff and outsmarted Boss Hogg every week in the General Lee, but never in the same General Lee. Hundreds of Dodge Chargers were used throughout the show, with each episode averaging more than one car. The orange car, with its signature air horn, dominated the show’s scenes and made it an iconic car.

Breaking Bad’s Pontiac Aztec: While this car is unlikely to make anyone’s list of dream cars, it was an important part of a cult TV show. The 2004 Pontiac Aztec sells for just $50 in the last episode, but in reality, the heavily damaged crash double sold for nearly $8,000.

Lost’s Volkswagen Camper: The Volkswagen Camper was resurrected for the series Lost and when it’s found tangled in vines and deep in the jungle, it takes some coaxing to get it running again. The van used in the show was sold at auction for $47,500.

Batman’s Ford Futura Batmobile: The 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car was black with red trim, and was converted for the show in just three weeks. Not only were fans thrilled with the car’s cool exterior, but it also featured a bat ray projector, self-inflating tires and it shot bat smoke at villains.

Miami Vice’s Ferrari Testarossa: What else would an undercover cop posing as a high-end drug dealer drive but a Ferrari Testarossa? Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas looked impossibly cool chasing criminals as Crockett and Tubbs in their white Ferrari. The car eventually sold for $750,000.

Mad Men’s Jaguar E-Type: The sophistication of Don Draper could only be matched by a Jaguar. The E-Type used on the show wasn’t integral to the story line, but it still made an impression on viewers, just like it did when it first debuted. The brand is part of a story arc in the series, as Don pitches a marketing strategy to Jaguar executives, but the scenes of Don driving his red E-Type are what captured the attention of the show’s fans.

What’s your favorite car to grace the small screen? It’s clear that whether a show’s creators choose a sporty style to define a character’s coolness or a quirky customized model, the car has the potential to completely steal the show.

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