April 17, 1964 is a historically significant date for Mustang enthusiasts. That’s the day that Ford officially unveiled its new two-door sports car at the New York World’s Fair. But fans of the CBS television show Hazel actually got a good look the night before.
At the beginning of the situation comedy’s April 16, 1964 episode, the Baxter family and their live-in, take-charge maid, Hazel Burke, are shown getting into the Baxter’s new car—a red Ford Mustang coupe. It was no coincidence. As part of Ford’s promotional plan, there’s also an opening credit sequence with Mustang. It marked the pony car’s first TV appearance, five months before the Mustang made its movie debut in Goldfinger.
Six Mustang generations have appeared on hundreds of television shows since Hazel. Some have been memorable, others forgettable. Here are the 10 Best TV Mustangs of All Time:
1997 Ford Mustang GT Convertible, Team Knight Rider
Eleven years after David Hasselhoff’s Knight Rider Pontiac Firebird went from prime time to reruns, the concept was revised in 1997 with Team Knight Rider. The crew of do-gooders all drove modified Fords including an Expedition, an F150, and a red Mustang GT convertible named Domino. Complete with roll bar, side exhaust, and tonneau cover over its back seats, its KITT-like equipment included rocket launchers and an ejector seat. The series lasted two years.
2008 Shelby GT500KR Mustang, Knight Rider
Ten years after Team Knight Rider, the concept was back to one car and one crusader. This time KITT was a black 2008 Shelby GT500KR Mustang coupe with the voice of well-known actor Val Kilmer. The supercharged, 550-horsepower Mustang wore a huge rear spoiler and had features similar to those on the original KITT, including Turbo Boost and Attack Mode. According to producers, this KITT was capable of an astounding 167 mpg because it was mostly solar powered.
2012 Ford Mustang GT, Alcatraz
In 2012, the makers of the action series Alcatraz paid homage to the Steve McQueen car chase in 1968’s Bullitt, widely regarded as the best car chase every put on film. The gang from Alcatraz did it right, matching the Bullitt chase closely, even using some of the same shots and San Francisco locations. Although the Mustang was blue instead of McQueen’s Highland Green, the villainous 2012 Dodge Charger was properly black. Plenty of tire smoke and wheels-up action.
1967 Ford Mustang Fastback, Blue Bloods
In 2015, the long-running cop drama Blue Bloods also paid tribute to McQueen and Bullitt. In season 6/episode 7, called “The Bullitt Mustang,” the cast spends the entire hour trying to recover the last surviving Mustang used in the film, which was stolen. Spoiler alert: They recover the car, and in the final scene Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlburg, and other cast members genuflect over the car, although producers admitted after some internet drama that the Highland Green Mustang was not actually the real car but a faithful clone.
1965 Ford Mustang Convertible, Beverly Hills 90210
The long-running teen drama Beverly Hills 90210 was never short of automotive eye candy, and when it came time to get some wheels for Brandon (Jason Priestley) in 1991, producers went for it. They chose a stone-stock, pale-yellow, 289-powered ’65 Mustang convertible with black interior and original wire-wheel hubcaps. The car made such an impact that Mattel marketed a 1/64-scale die-cast Hot Wheels replica.
1968 Shelby GT500 convertible, Get Smart
In Mel Brooks’ 1965-70 Get Smart comedy spy series, bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart is known for driving a Sunbeam Tiger, Karman Ghia, and an Opel GT. Smart even drove a Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet in the first episode. But in season four, a Medium Blue 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500 convertible with Saddle interior is also seen occasionally. Although the car used in the production probably survived and was sold after filming, its Hollywood history is undocumented. Does anyone out there know the whereabouts of the Get Smart Shelby?
1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, 21 Jump Street
In 1987, 21 Jump Street introduced Johnny Depp to the world, behind the wheel of a blue 1968 Mustang fastback. Aside from the incorrect side mirror, the car appears to be stock down to its hubcaps and white wall tires, but it is missing its corner lights, which Mustangs first wore in 1968. Without them, this car is often mistaken for a 1967 model.
1970 Ford Mustang Coupe and 1973 Mustang Convertible, Mary Tyler Moore
This is a twofer, since Mary drives two Mustangs in the iconic sitcom Mary Tyler Moore. First, we see her behind the wheel of a white 1970 coupe, which also appears in the series’ famous opening sequence. The car is surely a six-cylinder and wears standard dog-dish hub caps. In 1973, Mary scores a yellow, showroom-new Mustang convertible, but oddly enough she’s seen washing a blue Mustang convertible during the credits in later episodes.
1966 Ford Mustang Fastback and 1991 Mustang GT, Spenser: For Hire
Soon after his success as the ’57 Thunderbird-driving Dan Tana in Vegas, Robert Ulrich starred in Spenser: For Hire, a series about a private investigator in Boston. The show isn’t especially memorable, but the cars are. In the first season, Ulrich drives a black and tatty 1966 Mustang Fastback four-speed on nondescript dark wheels. When it’s destroyed, he switches to a new two-tone silver 1987 Mustang GT for five episodes, then returns to his trusted classic. The show ran from 1985-88 and was usually good for a few quality car chases per season. Sometimes in the snow.
1976 Ford Mustang Cobra II, Charlie's Angels
Driven by Farrah Fawcett, and later Cheryl Ladd, in the good-girls-vs.-bad-guys action series, the Cobra II is the most famous Mustang II of all time. White with blue stripes, the Mustang appears in essentially every episode of the series, which ran from 1976-1981. Although seldom driven in anger, The Cobra II races a Porsche on a mountain road in Season 4. Today it’s as much a part of the show’s legacy as its beautiful female stars and remains one of the most iconic Hollywood Mustangs of all time.