If The Big Lebowski Were Filmed Today, What Car Would The Dude Drive?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
if em the big lebowski em were filmed today what car would the dude drive

Before the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released in 1998 and was set in late 1990 or early 1991 (a period during which I was also in Southern California and living a fairly Dude-ish lifestyle myself). The choice of a ’73 Gran Torino by the Coen Brothers makes some interesting statements for those who obsess about movie cars, and Monday is always the best day to discuss such things.

Looking at 1990/1991 from the perspective of 1998, you’ve got a nasty recession being observed via dot-com boom-tinted glasses, the first one-sided ass-kicking dished out by the US military since Vietnam from the point of view of an ascendant hyperpower, and so forth. At the same time, the latter years of the 1990s saw cars that could knock of 200,000 miles becoming commonplace, with carburetors and mechanical ignition systems dead as global Marxism-Leninism. With all that in mind, The Dude’s car had to be something from the Malaise Era, for symbolic location along the Malaise-Gulf War-Hyperpower continuum as well as for the fact that unemployable Los Angeles loadies could be expected to drive 18-year-old midsize sedans.

So the question here is: What would be this car’s equivalent today? If you’re just going by straight model years, a 2014 movie set in 2006 with the protagonist driving an 18-year-old midsize Ford sedan would give us a 1988 Taurus… and it’s easy to picture the 2006 Dude clanking along in a hooptified first-gen Taurus.

However, the runup in global commodities prices in the second half of the first decade of the century meant that larger cars were worth a fair amount at the scrapper, which means that even the ugliest Taurus floated a bit above the very bottom of the car-value barrel. That’s why I think that The Dude of 2006 would drive an early Hyundai Excel. What do you think?

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  • Safe as milk Safe as milk on Mar 31, 2014

    in the real world, the nissan sentra might be the way to go but in the movies, i would see a modern day dude as driving a run-down chrysler product. say a cabforward full size or an old town and country mini-van.

  • Camusmuse Camusmuse on Oct 26, 2016

    Old topic...but that is kinda what I am about to say... I dont know if the Dude would even exist today...he was a mark in time. Maybe the real question is what band would he hate instead of the Eagles??? Or all the technology....the widespread use of the internet....the movie just wouldnt happen...he could of just found the same rug on Ebay.... BUT!!!! if a car mus be chosen...this it would most certainly not be a foreign front wheel drive car. Now i have not read every post...this dude is much to busy...lol...but I believe a modern day equivalent would be something like the Ford Crown Victoria (box style) or even a Chevy Caprice....something big, something rear wheel drive, and something easily and cheaply bought.... no minivans....no hatchbacks....just a good old four door sedan....easy as cake....;)

  • Redapple2 My dad s buddy got a tire thru the windshield. DRT -dead right there.
  • Redapple2 Hope they fix the:1 ride. worse than a corvette2 seating position. ankles at the height of my butt is UNCOMFORTABLE .As is. Horrible truck
  • Redapple2 One time; doing time; for a long time.
  • Robert Good! Those things are hideous.
  • ScarecrowRepair Road trips by myself -- cherry tomatoes or seedless grapes. Gotcher nutrition, gotcher water, bite-sized, no sticky fingers. Light lunch, maybe; normal dinner.