"Turbo boost, KITT!" Do those words fill you with excitement, and maybe a touch of nostalgia for the halcyon days of the '80s, when a hot car was all you needed to get at least three or four seasons out of a TV show? If you've always been the type who paid as much attention to the cars and trucks the stars of the shows drove as you did to the shows themselves, you need to put the key in this quiz and fire it up!
Matching a vehicle to a show is more important than you might know. Can you imagine if Magnum, P.I. had driven around his lush Hawaiian locations in a Honda Civic or a Ford Crown Victoria? Sure, the 'stache would have still made the show cool, but the wheels Magnum was driving would have made him less than the icon of awesomeness he was.
You might automatically think of the General Lee that the Duke boys drove in The Dukes of Hazzard when you think of TV show cars, and for sure it's one of the most iconic (although you won't see it anymore thanks to that Confederate Flag on the roof). But there are hundreds more vehicles that starred in their shows, and we'll test your knowledge of the most famous here!
Almost as big a star as the titular characters Starsky & Hutch (1975-1979) was Starsky’s “striped tomato” Ford Gran Torino. Actor Paul Michael Glaser reportedly hated the car upon first sight, and even its later-model-year replacements with bigger engines.
The Mystery Machine is instantly recognizable as the Scooby-Doo gang’s groovy ride. Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby always had a new mystery ahead in the psychedelically painted van of ambiguous make and model.
The A-Team (1983-1987) drove around in this flashy van, scaring off bad guys with homemade booby traps and by shooting near them (never at them). It had George “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Peppard, Mr. “Rocky III” T, Dirk “Battlestar Galactica” Benedict, and … the guy who played Murdock.
This bus was what the musical Partridge Family drove around from gig to gig. In their very first episode, they bought the used school bus and gave it the colorful makeover you see here. Talk about mobile advertising.
Sonny Crockett's white Testarossa took a 1980s-cool crime drama, Miami Vice, to the next level. The production actually used two of them on set. Never mind the fact that it would be hard to conceal an identity as an undercover narcotics cop for long even in a less flashy car, even in a city the size of Miami.
The Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) was the artificially intelligent, talking car that helped David Hasselhoff fight the bad guys in Knight Rider (1982-1986). More recently, in 2008, NBC brought back Hasselhoff and KITT--this time in the form of a Shelby Mustang GT500KR--for a reboot pilot.
When Homer Simpson’s long-lost, automaker half-brother “Unky” Herb invites him to design a new car, the result is The Homer. It’s everything Homer loves about automobiles, all in one striking, $82,000 package. Predictably, the Edsel-like boondoggle ruins poor Unky Herb’s motor company.
Her good ol’ boy, former moonshine running cousins may have had a bright orange Dodge Charger, but Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach) had a curve-straightening, hill-flattening ride of her own. For much of The Dukes of Hazzard’s run (1979-1985), the short-short wearing heroine drove this “Golden Eagle” Jeep CJ.
Fred Gwynne and Yvonne DeCarlo needed a family grocery getter on the Munsters (1964-1966), so “Kustomizer” George Barris and company obliged with the frightfully memorable Munster Koach. Barris reportedly incorporated three Model Ts into the Ford-powered spookmobile.
Route 66 (1960-1964) helped to pioneer the genre of “a new town, a new adventure” on American TV, as well as the “odd couple road trip” trope. Well-off Tod Stiles and street tough Buz Murdock cruise America in a series of early-1960s Corvettes, finding drama and special guest stars at every turn.
Two vehicles appear in most episodes of the TV series M*A*S*H (1972-1983): One is a Bell “chopper” bringing wounded soldiers to the Army hospital, but this is a quiz about cars, not helicopters. The other is an olive-drab jeep, the workhorse of the Army in Korea and other wars.
This Lotus 7 kit car appears in the opening credits of the UK series The Prisoner (1967-1968). As the titular character Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) tells its apparent new owner in one episode, “I know every nut and bolt and cog. I built it with my own hands.” If only it had a rear bumper sticker saying “Be seeing you.”
It’s the Urkel Car! This oddball, postwar European vehicle is as iconoclastic and unique as Steve Urkel himself. It appeared in several episodes of the TV series Family Matters (1989-1998).
Netflix’s acclaimed series The Punisher (2017) grounds the Marvel Comics character in realism, and that goes double for vigilante Frank Castle’s Battle Van. In the comics, it was a succession of high-tech, armored battle wagons, replete with machine guns and even a grenade launcher. In the Netflix series, a spinoff of Daredevil Season 2, the van was … pretty much a van.
Na na na na na na na na BAT-MANNN!!! In the campy Silver Age TV series Batman (1966-1968), this was the Batmobile. We would be proud to drive it down Main Street today.
Mount a wrecker bumper on the front of a Dodge Power Wagon, and you have the beginnings of greatness. Gerald “Major Dad” McRaney and Jameson Parker portrayed battling brothers in the hit series Simon & Simon (1981-1989).
There have been a number of Monkeemobiles over the years, but they’ve invariably combined a Pontiac GTO convertible with a distinctive, coach-like soft top. In the 1966-1968 TV series The Monkees, the original supercharged Monkeemobile gave way to more driver-friendly versions for the pop quartet.
Hanna-Barbera made plenty of Saturday morning cartoon shows in the late 1960s and 1970s, and Speed Buggy was a 16-episode effort in 1973. The dune buggy “Speedy” had a trio of human passengers/friends, but his serious security vulnerabilities often led to him being p0wn3d by the bad guys.
The 1982 TV show “Police Squad!” is one of the very few TV series that enjoyed more screen time in its movie spinoffs. Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) managed to knock over trash cans with his pea-green 1973 Plymouth Satellite as often as possible.
She’s got a serious case of the Benz. Donna Meagle, played by standup comedian Retta, adores her Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV, and (over-)reacts when it’s damaged or in danger of becoming so.
This poor, unassuming BMW became irrevocably known as “The Smelly Car” in a 1993 episode of Seinfeld (1989-1998). After being parked by a valet, the Bavarian status symbol takes on an offensive odor that affects the social lives of everyone even remotely connected to it. In the end, even when practically handed the keys, a random car thief gets grossed out by the stench of the 5-Series he’s attempting to steal.
That mustache, though. Tom Selleck became a household name as Magnum, P.I. in the 1980-1988 TV series. The Hawaii-based private investigator rocked a Ferrari 308 GTS or GTSi as the series progressed.
Radio and movie character The Green Hornet hit TV screens in 1966-1967, and his weaponized Black Beauty was this brand-new, crimefighting Chrysler. Yes, that was Bruce Lee as Kato, and yes, there was a two-part crossover episode with Adam West and Burt Ward from Batman.
Would you believe…? Maxwell Smart, also known as Agent 86 of CONTROL, fought the nefarious forces of KAOS in the Mel Brooks/Buck Henry series Get Smart (1965-1970). He drove the comely Agent 99 around town in this smart Sunbeam Tiger, although it was replaced by a Karmann Ghia after the first couple seasons. As the accidentally lucky spy might say: “I asked you not to tell me that.”
The “General Lee” was the signature ride of Bo and Luke Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard, (1979-1985). The jumpingest Charger in Hazzard County was a race car, so the titular “good ol’ boys” had to slip through the windows because the doors were welded shut.
Private investigators always had distinctive cars in American TV shows, and Dan Tanna on Vega$ (1978-1981) was no exception. Robert Urich drove this gorgeous red 1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible in the desert’s own “Sin City.”
Go, Speed Racer, go! Built by Pops Racer, the indomitable Mach 5 was up to the unique challenges of Japanese cartoon car racing. It had Auto Jacks to jump over opponents, a trunk big enough to smuggle a small child and a chimp, and whirling saw blades to dispatch small trees in the way. Oh, and it could turn into a submarine, too.
Retired judge Hardcastle and his vigilante weapon McCormick needed a suitable ride to thwart the baddies. Presenting the inconspicuous, unassuming, sneak-up-on-the-bad-guys Coyote X. The original was a kit car incorporating a Porsche engine in a Volkswagen chassis.
What better place to cook crystal meth than in a classic RV out in the desert? Breaking Bad’s Walter White and erstwhile partner Jesse Pinkman donned hazmat suits to make batches of “Heisenberg’s” blue gold in this Fleetwood Bounder.
After he was The Six-Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors became Colt Seavers The Fall Guy (1981-1986). He was a Hollywood stuntman by day, and his expertise just happened to come in handy for his night job: bounty hunting. Quite often, this involved his sadly abused truck.
“I’m comin’, Elizabeth!” Fred Sanford may have bluffed about his heart attacks, but automotive-minded viewers didn’t have to simulate their palpitations at the sight of his 1951 Ford F1 truck in Sanford & Son (1972-1977). Lamont, his son and exasperated business partner, drove the iconic red pickup in the opening credits.
The first TV series of The Transformers (1984–1987) featured a host of robots that could hide themselves in the forms of cars and trucks. Fan favorites over time included Bumblebee, Kup, and Arcee, but it's the O.G. of the Autobots--Optimus Prime--who tops the list. He could transform into a cab-over Freightliner semi truck, but he always had his robot form and a big blaster ready for action.
The Munster Koach was a hit, so the production team once again tapped George Barris’s “Kustomization” shop to create Grandpa Munster’s Drag-U-La (get it?). That’s an actual fiberglass coffin forming the car body, and those are organ pipes on either side instead of the typical drag exhaust tips.
One of Arrested Development’s best running gags is the Bluth Company stair car, left behind after the family’s legal woes oblige them to sell off the company plane. Jason Bateman’s protagonist Michael often has to drive the stair car around town, plagued by “hop-ons” (people catching a free ride on the back).
James Garner played Jim Rockford, an ex-con turned dirt-cheap private detective, on The Rockford Files (1974-1980). He drove this Pontiac Firebird to get around town, usually with stunt maneuvers and high-speed pursuits.
The Simpsons’ perennial sad sack Krusty the Clown occasionally came into a bit of luck, like surviving yet another heart attack or coming into possession of a sweet ride like the gargantuan Canyonero. Its interior was roomy enough to impress young Bart Simpson, and it even had a Western theme song: “Can you name the truck with four-wheel-drive, smells like a steak, and seats 35? Canyoneroooooo.”
Shazam! This distinctive RV graced the 1974-1976 live-action Saturday morning kids’ show, the kind where everyone always wore the same outfit week after week. Billy Batson drove around with his proto-Obi-Wan figure named Mentor, saying the magic word that would transform him into the superhero Captain Marvel (the DC Comics one).
This 1979-1981 show had it all: a hot semi truck, a hunky lead actor (Greg Evigan), and a chimp. It even followed the “nickname-and-the-nickname” convention for the show title, which was practically a requirement in the 1970s.
Another creation by the legendary George Barris and crew. The family jalopy carted around the Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971) as the nouveau-riche fish out of water.
Before he was one of the many James Bonds, Roger Moore was The Saint (1962-1969). The modern-day paladin helped to right wrongs and fleece upper-crust thieves, all the while driving a sharp Volvo.