Our Two Cents: 10 fantastic TV cars

Provided they are set at the right time and location, one of the joys of TV shows has always been the vehicles used as transportation for both the protagonist and minor characters. There were no 1957 Chevrolets in Little House on the Prairie for a darn good reason, and one of my favorite guilty pleasures is The Americans, a brilliantly executed vision of 1980s Cold War spying had all the right cars in the right places.

Sure those aren’t 1989 Taurus wheels, but the vehicle choice was spot on. IMCDb | Dreamworks Television

From the first brick-like, B-body Oldsmobile Delta 88 to the climax involving a jellybean Ford Taurus (i.e. times certainly changed!), I rarely found fault with the choice of cars over time. But that’s a little too “big picture” of a query for our team, so I narrowed things down to a single car from a TV show.

Which leads us to the answers given by my teammates here at Hagerty Media. If you like surprises, you won’t be disappointed in our diverse array of vehicles.

1967 Chevrolet El Camino – That ’70s Show

The Carsey-Werner Company

Let’s start this off right, with a bold recommendation from our Media Operations Manager, Myrynda Freeman. And while a certain Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagon normally gets all the accolades from this TV series, but Steven Hyde’s sweet ride was definitely cooler for kids of all ages.

Datsun 280 ZX – Tokyo Vice

Executive Editor Eric Weiner picked a stunner from a fantastic show, and quoted Hagerty contributor Priscilla Page to explain his choice:

“Its controversial transformation made it a heavier, bulkier, softer car that fans of the old Z felt had lost its edge—not the case when [Detective] Katagiri drives it. The detective embodies earnest cool, maintaining his calm in extraordinarily high-pressure situations. His car isn’t built for chases, but neither is Katagiri. He likes to take his time and can’t be rushed. The long game matters more than striking first. He’s no adrenaline junkie, and his evident cool belies his kindness, integrity, and incorruptibility.”

289 Cobra – Honey West


Hagerty Marketplace Editor Colin Comer, came up with a doozy from a more obscure American TV series. The 289 Cobra played a big role in Honey West, and documentation of serial number CSX2540 is crucial. (As it is with all Cobras.) Even the IMCDb page digs deep into this small-block Cobra’s heritage, as the Internet never lets us down, right?

Coyote – Hardcastle & McCormick

Matt Tierney, our Senior Art Director, recommends the Coyote kit car from the crime drama series Hardcastle & McCormick. If Mike Post’s theme song doesn’t bowl you over, the Coyote’s reproduction coachword originating from the McLaren M6GT will certainly pique your interest. While I don’t remember this series personally, the title sequence suggests the Coyote looks like half-engineered fiberglass with interior shots cribbed from a contemporary Ferrari. But still, that’s some fantastic TV magic by the legendary Stephen J. Cannell.

S30 Datsun “Devil Z” – Wangan Midnight

Even in America, the Japanese graphic novel (Manga) has more than just a cult-like following. But when it comes to a specific novel, Wangan Midnight, the dark, film noir appeal has taken several of us by storm, including Senior Editor Eddy Eckart.

As he said, “The answer to this question has changed more times than I can remember over my 42 years. Right now, I’d say the Devil Z from the anime version of the manga Wangan Midnight. It’s hard to beat a ‘cursed’ 240 Z that’s heavily modified for racing on Japan’s highways. Even better it’s all based on real street racing culture.”

GMC G-series Van – The A-Team

Ben Woodworth’s “easy answer” is the A-Team van. As our esteemed Senior Video Lead put it, “I remember getting home from school and trying to come in the back door as quietly as possible so I could turn on the TV and watch The A-Team and Knight Rider (and Fall Guy and Airwolf) before my mom knew I was home and asked the inevitable, ‘is your homework done?’ question.

“Even if I didn’t have homework, the next words out of my mom’s mouth were ‘well then go outside and play,’ something I’m forever grateful she “made” us do as kids. If it was close enough to the end of the show, I could convince her to let me finish before moving on to homework or play. Always wanted that van. Still do.”

1968 Chevrolet Chevelle – The Dukes of Hazzard

Cameron Neveu, our Managing Editor, added Luke Duke’s ’68 Chevelle, which appeared in Season 3, episode 14 of The Dukes of Hazzard.

“As a kid, I watched Dukes of Hazzard every evening on TV Land. While the Duke boys’ 1969 Dodge Charger—and cousin Daisy, for that matter—was the main reason for 10-year-old me to tune-in, a different starlet stole the show in a few scenes throughout the series’ seven-season run. For me, a card-carrying member of the Bowtie Brigade, Luke Duke’s 1968 Chevelle was the coolest car to ever appear on screen. Sporting a hood scoop, with (questionable) dual quads, and a #76 on the door, the car was everything that made the series great: tacky, confident, and light-hearted.”

BMW Isetta – Family Matters

And now for something entirely different, a German microcar recommendation from Branded Content Writer, Matthew Fink.

“I’m going to go with an episode of a show that stayed with me to this day because of the car. Urkel’s BMW Isetta on Family Matters! (Feel free to make fun of me!) Obviously doesn’t compare to the other cars mentioned here, but as an 11-year-old before the internet, I had no idea this existed and couldn’t believe it was a real car. I can remember yelling for my dad to come see it and him teaching what it was. Come on, a front mounted door with the steering wheel attached, how cool is that?”

1977–78 Dodge Monaco – Hunter

This question wasn’t too terribly easy for Managing Editor Stefan Lombard, but he picked another masterpiece from Stephen J. Cannell.

“Where to start? Is it Rick Simon’s 1979 Dodge Power Wagon from Simon & Simon? Is it Maxwell Smart’s 1965 Sunbeam Tiger from Get Smart? Is it Frank Poncherello’s 1971 Pontiac Firebird from CHiPs? I mean, all of these make my short list. But my all-time favorite TV car has to be LAPD detective Rick Hunter’s dark green 1977 Dodge Monaco from Hunter. It was basically Fred Dryer in car form—big, brutish, zero f*cks to give. Or as Rick himself says, ‘Works for me.'”

1973 Buick Century – Kojak

I wasn’t old enough to watch Kojak when it was a hit show, but I vividly remember my visit to Dirty Old New York City. While visiting NYC had more than its fair share of challenges back then, at least Times Square wasn’t a shiny, happy, gag-inducing tourist trap with furry creatures assaulting visitors. And that’s why I, Sajeev Mehta, recommend the 1973 Buick Century in Kojak.

The themes presented in Kojak were disturbingly serious in nature, ripped straight from the headlines, and featured a character that provided both gentle reassurance and heroic retribution in a city that so desperately needed it. I just couldn’t get enough of Telly Savalas as an actor and personality, and there was something about having a milk-chocolate toned Buick instead of a Chevrolet that fit the role quite well. This guy worked hard and treated the city right, he deserved more than a mere Impala or Malibu!

What did we miss? Starsky’s Striped Tomato? Hunt’s Audi Quattro? KNIGHT RIDER OMG why did you forget it? Crockett’s Testarossa? This list goes on and on, but we hope you enjoyed our diverse take on famous TV cars, and we look forward to you lighting your own fire in the comments below!

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    Hey ..what about the White Corvette “Spirit” that Bill Bixby drove into his plane in the TV Show
    “The Magician” ?

    For me it will always be the 69 Dodge Charger. I have owned one for 45 years and people still know what show those cars were in.

    What kind of list is this without the Ferrari 308 GTS from Magnum PI? And also what about the Rockford Files? Silly list.

    I almost forgot the Mod Squad Challenger Convertible! It is actually a 71 but rebodied to resemble a 72 as Dodge wanted the latest style on TV. I had a chance to buy one of the 2 made a while back and didn’t, I sure wish I had!

    Same Here! Had a chance to buy a Brady Bunch 72 Challenger Convert in Fla of which 72 never had drop tops…thank for the reminder. Ended up with a much more impressive car than that.

    On the code line which gives the dealer order number, that number will start with an “R”, which designates “Special Meaning” (in this case, a TV ‘special promotions’ car).

    Mannix also drove a 70 340 Cuda convertible and I think a 71 383 Cuda SE convertible. How about Spenser’s 65 Mustang Fastback?

    All cool to a car obsessed kid watching 80’s TV.
    BMW 635 – Moonlighting
    Ferrari Daytona – Miami Vice
    KITT – Knight Rider
    1965 Mustang Fastback – Spenser for Hire

    Be careful what you wish for, my mothers boyfriend had a “Coyote kit car” that sat on a VW chassis. That car was an electrical disaster, also there was no good way to wash that thing. He offered it to me once, that was easy to say no to.

    A LOT of kit cars had that same problem, usually because the builder tried to go “cheap” and NOT buy the mfgr’s. wiring harness kit. I worked at a Dune Buggy shop near Chi in the late 60’s-early 70’s & 98% or so of the cars that came in for work on the electrics had the owner’s idea of what the wiring should be. Cobbling something out of the oem V-W harness was a really bad place to start. Saw a LOT of kit car fires…..

    Wow apparently you completely forgot the shows Riptide, Stingray, Magnum PI, Starsky and Hutch, Perry Mason (lots of cool late 50’s early 60’s there), 77 Sunset Strip and a little ditty called Miami Vice just to name a few. I mean really an Isetta, cpuldn’t you have found a moped or scooter somewhere??

    My 10 would be (1) Cal. Kid, (2)Gen. Lee, (3)Rockford Firebird, (4)Vegas T-Bird, (5)Fall Guy Pkup.(6)Smart’s Sunbeam, (7)Bev. Hillbillies T, (8(The Mach 5,(9)Kookie’s T,(10) Kitt

    How about Lee Majors lifted K-10 from the Fall Guy? That 2-tone paint is quintessential chevy for that era. And how can you leave out Kit in an entire show about a car (no show was ever about Hasselhoff always outshined by cars or bikinis). There are so many better choices here. I get trying to be less mainstream but we are too far afield.

    Sajeev – I knew you had eclectic taste, but come on, Tokyo Vice lol

    Here is a list for you:
    the Dodge Macho Wagon from Simon & Simon
    Magnum P.I. 308 GTS Ferrari
    The 1976 GMC K15 stepside truck that John Baker (CHiPs)
    The silver jag from the ORIGINAL Equalizer
    Lee Major’s Fall Guy truck, that ’81-84 K-2500

    I think you missed the mission of Our Two Cents, @Matt…I didn’t suggest Tokyo Vice, each suggestion comes from individual members here at Hagerty Media. One pick per member, only one from me.

    I picked Kojak’s Buick Century and I stand by my decision.

    C’mon, Sajeev – you KNOW that every time you put up a list of the staff’s favorites, about 80% of the responders will skip the facts and jump directly to telling you what an idiot you are for leaving out THEIR favorites! It must be some rule of nature or something… 😏

    There’s only one true TV car that surpasses all the rest. It’s the greatest TV car of all time! Here’s a hint: it belonged to a fellow named Fred Flintstone. So there! Let’s see you top that!:)

    So many great cars, but missing is the Mod Squad’s 1950 Mercury Woodie Wagon, which met an ignoble end being driven off of a mountain road

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