By on June 3, 2019

FCA

One of the many joys in finding a good program on television is discovering that a vehicle of some sort plays an integral role in the story. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, the car — or truck, or SUV — is such a perfect fit that it’s as much of a character as the human actors themselves.

What’s the best one, though? As you’d expect, we’ve an opinion or two on that.

The ’67 Impala in the long-running Supernatural TV series is a great fit for the two protagonists, pairing pretty well with the attitude and personalities of the Winchester brothers. The car’s story was woven into the entire series, with references to it popping up at nearly every opportunity. It’s a constant, both for the characters and the viewer.

Plenty of others exists, of course. The Firebird in Knight Rider prompted every young gearhead in America to want a small track of flashing red lights on the nose of the family ride. Then there’s the Charger in The Dukes of Hazzard and the Hemi ‘Cuda in Nash Bridges. One could even argue the Bronco in Longmire belongs on this list.

How about it? What small-screen set of wheels do you think was as much part of the cast as its human counterparts? We’ll save big-screen movie cars for another day.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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110 Comments on “QOTD: Car in a Best Supporting Role?...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    Dart GTS convertible in Mannix and Charger in Bullitt (but a movie).

  • avatar
    ajla

    “a vehicle of some sort plays an integral role in the story.”

    The Enterprise-D.

  • avatar

    James Garner on The Rockford Files in that gold ’74-’78 Pontiac Firebird is iconic. Rockford’s cars secretly had the 400 c.i. (6.6) V-8 and WS6 Trans Am suspension bits.

    Car chases – particularly reverse J-turns done by Garner himself- were integral to almost every story.

    Given that 15 million people tuned in every week, that show many have sold more Firebirds than Burt Reynolds.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Lotus 7 – The Prisoner

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Herbie the love bug should have won an Academy Award, he was robbed

    Oops, I guess Herbie was big screen, my bad

    The Munster’s Koach one of my favorites as a kid. A classic Barris custom

    http://www.barris.com/carsgallery/tvmovie/images/munsterkoach.png

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Live action and small screen, I would have to say hands down KITT in Knight Rider as it was in fact a character. Although I guess you could even say that Kitt was in fact the star moreso than Hasslehoff.

    Honorable mention to the scruffy dog van in Dumb and Dumber. Original Transformers cartoon perhaps? Small screen but maybe not what you had in mind.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beware_of_the_Car

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    My mind went to both Herbie and the Ferrari 308GTS from Magnum P.I.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Route 66. A Corvette. A C1 for the first 3 seasons. A C2 for most of the 4th.

    A TV show about 2 guys driving around America in their ‘Vette.

    So the car is central to the concept.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      And they never explained how two guys barely making ends meet working odd jobs could afford a new Corvette every year after Todd supposedly inherited the first one.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I enjoy watching the 70s detective shows Cannon and Barnaby Jones. Ford ponied up to provide the cars for the good guys _and_ the villains, so lots of malaise metal.

    Cannon, who was supposed to be a man of means, drove the Lincoln Mark IV which also had a car phone.

    Barnaby Jones, with his aww-shucks and elderly personality, drove a plain-Jane 2-door brown LTD.

    Neither car was really the “star” of the show, but did show up in plenty of car chases and other shenanigans.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The Mach 5. Go! Go! Go!

  • avatar
    thegamper

    ohhhh, Christine!!!

  • avatar
    4drSedan

    Hardcastle and McCormick and the Coyote X!!!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardcastle_and_McCormick

  • avatar
    Noble713

    Small screen?

    Takumi’s AE86 from Initial D.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Yes indeed. Good choice.
      “Bunta has a unique way of training his son to drive – every morning when Takumi delivers tofu. Bunta gives Takumi a cup of water which is placed in the drink holder; Takumi must not spill even a drop of it while he is driving.”

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    As a kid I really liked the Equalizer’s Jag…

    …enough that I went on to grow up and own a couple :)

  • avatar
    forward_look

    1928 Porter, in 1965’s “My Mother the Car” starring Dick Van Dyke’s little brother Jerry.

    You think I’m kidding, right??

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    Since it was a TV series, (although animated) I’m going with the Freightliner FL86 aka Optimus Prime from the original Transformers TV series.

    http://andrewmajewski3d.com/freightliner-fl86-cab-over-engine-truck/

    I can’t prove it, but I suspect that for many of a certain age, it may have been the first time that they knew about a specific truck, and that a truck was cool.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Fred Sanford’s 1950-51 Ford F-1 pickup. Red with a fair amount of patina. Nice business lettering on the doors. Functional with a bit of Southern California cool.
    Lamont and Rolo the neighbor never got to lower it put a set of period correct rims.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    “Vanessa” in “Corvette Summer”

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Though not a widely known show, “Burn Notice” on USA network featured a 1973-74 black Dodge Charger…it was in many, many episodes.

    https://imgur.com/zgrpDdR

    I am particularly grateful for this car’s prominence in the show because it fostered interest in older cars in my then 12 year old son–we watched the show together often.

    As a result, we embarked on a father-son car project together. We checked out some Chargers, but after he sat in one, decided it was too big. We then decided to work on a 68 Mustang. It was a great project, and I am VERY pleased to have had the time with my son…who is now away at college.

    A video of our project: https://youtu.be/7gmijTA4aqg

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Knight Industries Two Thousand

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Love the General Lee & Mach 5.

    32 comments & no mention yet of the original Batmobile? That’s “diabolical!” Adam West played that role to the hilt. Such camp.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The truck in “The Highwayman” The movie pilot had it able to turn invisible; the TV series had it become a helicopter.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      Honorable mention to “Jetto’s” rig, based on the Steinwinter Supercargo.

      https://www.thedrive.com/sheetmetal/12603/the-forgotten-steinwinter-supercargo-is-unlike-anything-on-the-road-today

      Ah, 80s Jane Badler…

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “Bosch” is a great Amazon Prime original cop drama. As you might expect, it features countless Ford Crown Vics. In a few years, when all those Vics have been crushed, this show will be a good reminder of how many of those barges once prowled our streets.

    https://tinyurl.com/y4k8sfp5

  • avatar
    formula m

    The black Ferrari daytona replica from Miami Vice
    White Ferrari Testarossa Miami Vice
    Magnum PI, red Ferrari 308GTB/GTS
    A-Team GMC Vandura

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The 82′ GMC long bed square body used in the ‘Fall Guy’. To this day, I have serious want for a clean 80’s square body with a 3″ lift. Though two tone brown would not be my choice.

    The truck matched the character perfectly.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    Delorean.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Got an obscure one for you. (Didn’t see the above post)
    The Fall Guy – Starred Lee Majors (post $6 Million Man) and I forget who-else in a father/son private detective firm. It had a Chevy Silverado pickup was regularly seen flying off of street jumps in the almost weekly car chase scene. Apparently they broke the trucks with great regularity until they built a specifically designed truck to withstand the punishment. It was redesigned with a mid-engine and extra-beefy suspension bits. That particular truck was only used in “jump” scenes and only filmed from the front to hide the mid-engine design.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Colombo and his 1959 Peugeot.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    “Beverly Hillbillies” truck is mostly seen in the opening montage—but it really helps set the tone for the show. The P1800 that Rodger Moore drove in “The Saint” is worth a mention.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Can’t forget the Kawasakis on CHiPs.

    …and now I have the theme song stuck in my head.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I was also smitten with the Police 900s and Police 1000s in CHiPs. Eventually purchased a 1980 model at an LAPD auction around 1987 or so. LOVED riding that thing!!!!

  • avatar
    Darkdowgow

    No love for the A-team van? Cartoons but scooby doo van aka mystery machine Wanted bad. My little brother first car was a well worn mini van rattle can painted like the a-team van. That van ended lif rolled and in a drainage pond. No one hurt

  • avatar
    John R

    K.I.T.T. IS KING

    Honorable mentions to the Freightliner FL86, the Martini Porsche 935 turbo and the European Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle for their appearances in the Gen 1 Transformers cartoon.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    No love for the Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino? I figured the Ben Stiller movie would have freshened its place in people’s consciouses, but I guess that was still quite a while ago.

    As a kid, I liked seeing the Dodge Macho Power Wagon in Simon and Simon.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    C.A.R.R. from Stroker and Hoop and Charlene from the Venture Bros.

  • avatar
    pbx

    The Avengers. John Steed’s Bentley and Emma Peel’s Lotus.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      As I recall, Peele drove an XKE, not a Lotus. Loved that car, too. Then again, I had no idea it had such a poor reputation for reliability, either.

      • 0 avatar

        In most of the episodes in the DVD set I have, she drives a Lotus, just sayin’.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I have to admit I never saw ALL of the Emma Peel episodes but the few I remember had the Jag. (I was a kid at the time and my parents were sticks in the mud. Mom was of the sort to say, “Why do you watch that stuff, it can never happen,” while reading historical fiction romance, to which she would answer, “But it COULD have happened!”)

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I always liked A.J. Simon’s red Z-28 with the targa top (“Simon & Simon”). The Gen 3 F-bodies were actually considered really cool back then.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Ah! Another obscure one…
    The Magician, starring Bill Bixby, always drove a white Corvette C3. First a 73 then a 74,

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    How about the red Plymouth Valiant in the made-for-tv movie Duel?

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    The Valiant? Ok I suppose. But that smoky diesel semi was evil itself, a very strong character. We’re too old, hardly anyone here probably saw Duel, let alone knows it was one of Spielburg’s first movies. Maybe the first?

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Wow ~

      I always thought that “Duel” was one of those cheesy T.V. movies every GearHead old or young watched and knew by heart .

      ? The rig (“Keller”) was a Perterbuilt maybe ? like a model 352 ? .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    The red Mark 2 Jaguar in the Inspector Morse series. Part of the reason I go into Jaguars!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Walter White’s Pontiac Aztek

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    ” My Mother The Car” Ha! Ha! Have no idea what the car was.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    Everyone remembers the Seinfeld episodes with cars:

    Seinfeld’s smelly 5 Series
    Kramer’s Ford LTD in the parking garage
    George’s Chrysler LeBaron owned by Jo(h)n Voight
    Newmann’s Post Office Kurbmaster
    Puddy trying to sell a Saab 900

  • avatar
    doug-g

    Has the topic of Columbo’s Peugeot been touched on?

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      A Very rare Peugeot 403 drop top…..

      I’d mention what kind of car it was and others watching would say ‘that’s not a Peugeot and they don’t make convertibles anyway !’ .

      Peter Faulk was a giant .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Since the fantasy car the Mach 5 has been mentioned, I must bring up Supercar! from Jerry and Sylvia Anderson. Although, it must mentioned that it only drove on the road in one episode, spending its time either under water or in flight.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The convertibles driven by Don Adams in Get Smart.

    A Sunbeam Alpine or a VW Karmann Ghia.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      In that case, I will add Kolchak’s Spring Time Yellow 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible.
      :-)

    • 0 avatar
      ruckover

      What is amazing is that in the pilot of the show, Max drives a Ferrari 250 convertible. This might well be the single greatest car ever used in a TV show.

      He also drove an Opel GT in the final year of the show.

  • avatar
    BillSellwood

    Honorable mention to Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad, a real fan of beaters from the 80’s – 90’s. The Pontiac Aztec, the ’84 Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon, and the Cadillac with the 500 CI V-8 featured in the final episode.

  • avatar
    STS_Endeavour

    Freightliner FL86 – Transformers
    Lamborghini Countach – Automan
    1965 Cadillac El Dorado “El Diablo” – Gravity Falls
    Kenworth W900 – M.A.S.K.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Ben Matlock’s grey Crown Vic suited his personality very well. Old school, reliable, stodgy and unapologetic.

    The current black Chargers used on NCIS work well. The Intrepid and Stratus from earlier seasons less so. Gibbs’ older F-150 (debadged I suspect because of Dodge sponsoring the show) fits him pretty well, too, similar to the reasons the Crown Vic fit Matlock.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Episode I watched last night had him driving a Lincoln Town Car. Didn’t note the season but it was funny how he “protected” the car while visiting a bar to meet up with his PI.

      “Who’s the toughest guy here?”
      “I am. What’s it to you?”
      “Here’s a ten-spot. There’s another one for you when I come out if the car’s not touched.”

  • avatar
    jamespdx

    LOVE the Lincoln and Thunderbird convertibles from Perry Mason, but the Duke’s car has to be one of the top “character” cars!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I loved Perry’s Continental. And so many people driving a convertible WITH THE TOP DOWN! OMG what a concept.

      I was following a Solara convertible yesterday afternoon on my way to work, and before we came to a stretch where I could safely pass it, I couldn’t understand why the top was up.

      I began to wonder if the top had ever been down. Then I think to myself, why buy a convertible if it’s always going to be too hot or too cold for you to put the top down? It was in the mid 80s at the time, I’d have had the top down no matter what.

      People like the *idea* of a convertible, just dont ever take advantage of it. Truly, the only vehicle I see with topless on a regular basis is a Jeep Wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

        I can think of another LOL

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Yeah, but I see a fair number of Miatas with the top up on nice days.

          The lady in the Solara must have heard my thoughts or read my comment on line. I saw her again today (heading the opposite direction, but I knew it was the same black Solara because of the tinted license plate cover) with the top down! Good for her.

  • avatar
    Sobro

    Robert T Ironside’s 1940 Ford 1 1/2 ton former paddy wagon with wheelchair lift. (According to the internet it was a replica).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Volvo in the Saint what a cool car. Harry O’s MG and Diagnosis Murder’s cool old Jaguar.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Also, how about the blue 66 Impala sedan in Baretta. That car fits in perfectly with Detective Baretta, “Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow” and Fred the cockatoo. A friend of mine had a similar blue Chevy sedan and a few people thought he was an undercover cop.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    The MonkeeMobile!
    “Here we come”
    “Walkin’ down the street…”
    And IIRC they had the VoxMobile on the show also.

    And the car from Dog and Cat that was similar to the Coyote from Hardcastle.


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