By on August 24, 2020

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Movies and television have delivered countless heroes and villains, more than a few femme fatales of dubious loyalty, and still more ethically challenged antiheroes. Quite often, they do not take public transportation.

What’s interesting to note is that, when you think back to all the famous TV and silver screen characters strongly associated with a specific car, the star vehicle, more likely than not, sports just two doors. The mind immediately flashes to the famed Bullitt chase between two well-matched ’68 coupes. Magnum’s Ferrari 308. Rockford’s unusually powerful Firebird Esprit. Anything Don Johnson drove. Even Jerry Seinfeld’s Saab 900 convertible.

Yes, you could even throw in Uncle Jesse’s Ford pickup or Daisy Duke’s Jeep. With this mind, what fourdoor vehicle with an acting credit deserved to be remembered?

It could be a repeat character in a TV series or the vehicle of choice in a solitary film. It just has to have made an impression on you, dear reader.

Kojak’s ’73 or ’74 Buick Century 455s weren’t the most talked-about vehicles of their day, but who’d turn down one of these muscle-bound intermediates if given the chance? Perhaps the sedan with the most repeat appearances was Steve McGarrett’s black ’68 Mercury Parklane Brougham, seen on Hawaii Five-O from 1968 to 1974 (after which a ’74 Marquis Brougham carried the series to its 1980 conclusion).

Surely the former sedan still has a few re-run viewers thinking about Mercury — and perhaps its sad end. Then there’s the trio of red Valiants (a ’70, ’71, and ’72 model, only one of them a V8) that carried Dennis Weaver’s meek character through his life-and-death battle with a mostly unseen trucker in Duel. Most unlikely human and vehicular heroes in movie history? Could be.

The choices of revered (or at least remembered) cinematic four-doors are numerous, though not as plentiful as the two-door variety. Which comes to mind first?

[Image: Steph Willems/TTAC]

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64 Comments on “QOTD: A Hero Behind Each Door?...”


  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Tony Soprano’s Suburban and Escalade. (If you’re thinking of replying “ack-choo-uh-lee those have five doors,” just punch yourself in the face.)

    John Wick’s Charger at the end of the first movie (I never saw 2 or 3).

    The 9C1 Impala Jason Bourne crashes the hell out of in NYC.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The Bluesmobile for sure.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    For Anglophiles there is only one. Inspector Morse’s Jaguar Mark II.

    Broderick Crawford’s Buick on Highway Patrol (showing my age).

    For people of a certain age, Jack Benny’s Maxwell. A running joke for decades.

    Tony Baretta’s ’66 Impala.

    As for unsung heroes that were not sedans, Al Bundy’s ‘mighty Dodge’. “A fine American automobile”.

    The Clampett’s Olds pick-up.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Walter White’s Pontiac Aztek. Just seemed to be the perfect car for him.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, the Aztek isn’t a four door – it’s a five door. Walter’s Chrysler 300 SRT-8 was killer, though…too bad it ended up getting shot up.

      (Pour one out for Hank…)

      But if we’re delving into the “Breaking Bad” universe, how ’bout Saul Goodman’s Suzuki Esteem or DeVille (license plate: LWYRUP).

      I also like Hector Salamanca’s sweet ’60 Chevy sedan.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    1959 Cadillac Ambulance Ecto-1 Ghostbusters.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    1965 Lincoln Continental in Matrix

    1971 Ford Custom 500 in White Lightning with Burt Reynolds

    1977 Dodge Monaco in Hunter TV series

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    You’re right. They’re all coupes and 2-door convertibles. James Dean’s Mercury, Clint’s Gran Torino. That Buick driven by Tom Cruise in Rain Man. And that was a Triumph TR-3 that Marcello Mastroianni famously piloted around Rome in La Dolce Vita. Famous cars all of them. No rear doors in any of them.

    To think of a four-door, you’ve got to ask who might have been chauffeured somewhere. Ah! That Hudson Commodore driven by Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy.
    Or that land ark, the Isotta-Fraschini in Sunset Boulevard. (It’s now on display at Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile in Turin.)

    The least-fortunate job of getting chauffeured? Gotta be Carlo Rizzi’s garroting in The Godfather. My guess is that it was a 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook. And my advice is: Don’t go riding shotgun in it if a guy named Clemenza is in the back seat.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Mannix- 68 Dodge Dart GTS convertible

    I don’t know if Kojak’s ’73 or ’74 Buick Century had the 455. They could have been the standard issue 350. I don’t think Buick offered police spec then. NYPD in the 70’s ran Plymouth Fury’s with the police package and the 440.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Wagon Queen Family Truckster from “Vacation”!

    Also the VW Transporter T2 Bus from “Little Miss Sunshine”.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Black Beauty 1966 Black Imperial Crown driven by Bruce Lee in the Green Hornet television series.

    1968 Plymouth Satellite sedan in Adam-12

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Later in the series Adam-12 used AMC Matadors. This bemused me since I didn’t know AMC offered a police package. Years later in the late 70’s I had a high school friend who picked on up at an auction. It had the 360-V8 with the heavy duty package and was repainted Earl Scheib baby blue.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Adam-12 used what the L.A.P.D. used .

        The Matadors were amazingly sturdy cars ~ much like the late 1960’s Dodges .

        In the 1974 model year there was a saboteur in the AMC assembly plant who deliberately left the ball joint nuts loose causing several crashes .

        I’ve forgotten the name of the contract AMC dealer but one day a black d white Matador pared behind it blew up from a bomb .

        Quite a few baby blue “Metro” Matadors were used by the L.A.P.D. .

        Some of these cars were equipped with the powerful 401 CID engines, these had poor oiling and threw rods with regularity .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Burke’s Law with Gene Barry as millionaire captain of Los Angeles Police homicide division Amos Burke, who is chauffeured around to solve crimes in his 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II

    Harry Bosch in his black Ford Crown Victoria for all those Panther Lovers.

    Darren McGavin in the Outsider TV series as David Ross an ex-con, loner detective in LA in his beat up 61 full size Plymouth sedan.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    The ’67 Impala hardtop sedan in Supernatural is such a big part of the show that it’s had multiple episodes revolving around it.

    The three major hero cars in Ronin (S8, 450SEL 6.9, M5) were all sedans.

    I’d also give an honourable mention to the littany of Crown Victorias in major roles as cop cars and taxis for the past 20+ years.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’m 2000late to the game, but I just started Breaking Bad, the Aztec was perfectly cast in its role. Which , btw , doesn’t look as goofy now as it did when it was actually sold. I’m sure this has been brought up by the B&B, but it probably was ahead of its time.

  • avatar
    B-BodyBuick84

    The Bluesmobile, 1974 Dodge Monaco is probably the most well known 4 door movie car. I’d also throw in the 66′ Malibu blue Chevy Impala from Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. Nothing like a mundane 4 door sedan with a factory 427 and 4 speed.

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    My vote: the mildly customized 1968 Dodge Dart GTS 340 convertible driven by Joe Mannix from season two until he switched to a Challenger towards the end of the end of the series. And since I was driving a ’69 GTS at the time I was impressed that the TV show used the real sound of the 340!

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    The one that comes immediately to mind is the Tucker Torpedo in “Tucker: the Man and His Dream”.

  • avatar
    subuclayton

    Suzanne Somers T-Bird?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, everyone got the ones I would have suggested (Bluesmobile, the “Black Beauty” from “Green Hornet”), so I’ll go all Michael Connelly / Panther Love here:

    1) Harry Bosch’s all-black Crown Vic from “Bosch.”
    2) Mickey Haller’s Town Car from “The Lincoln Lawyer.” License plate” “IWALKEM”.

    (And if any of you haven’t read the “Bosch” or “Lincoln Lawyer” books, do it. They’re great.)

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The Dude’s 73 Gran Torino in “The Big Lebowski”

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Oliver Douglas’s 4-door Lincoln convertible in “Green Acres”

    -or-

    Milburn Drysdale’s early ’60s Imperial sedans he drove in “The Beverly Hillbillies”

    As a little kid I sought out TV shows specifically for the cars involved, “The Beverly Hillbillies” was one of my favorite because all the cars were supplied by Chrysler Corp. and every new season there would be a whole knew fleet of cars for all the actors. Except Jed Clampett who drove that Oldsmobile truck to the bitter end

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    Great choices on the Suzuki and Caddy! S’all good, man!

  • avatar
    BTigs

    The A-Team Chevy Beauville Van. A true hero ride if ever there was one.

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    Then he would give the “Don’t drink and drive” spiel sitting on the edge of a desk at the end of each show. Tool cool!

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    Then he would give the “Don’t drink and drive” spiel sitting on the edge of a desk at the end of each show. Tool cool!

  • avatar
    randyinrocklin

    That car in the pic looks a 68 or 69 TBird with suicide doors. My uncle had one of those. I have to say it was gorgeous back in the day.

  • avatar
    jamespdx

    Perry Mason’s Lincoln convertible!!!!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Forgot Ward Cleaver’s Plymouth Fury sedans in Leave It To Beaver. The 1st season of Leave It To Beaver Ward drove a 57 Ford Fairlane Sedan (Chrysler sponsored the program in later seasons).

    Also the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Ozzie drove a 55 Pontiac Safari station wagon.

    Matlock started with a Lincoln Town Car and then with multiple silver Crown Victorias. The Andy Griffin show Sheriff’s cars were Ford Galaxies.

    Car 54 the police car was a 4 door Plymouth.

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    Milburn Drysdale! This is great stuff!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Very much so .

    I didn’t appreciate Car 54 until long after it was off the air .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    It is the flying red 1962 DODGE Dart 440 convertible with Sylvesterrr behind the wheel. BTW it was his girl friend’s car he borrowed against her will and then destroyed. Crazy guy.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    One of the joys of watching Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is the vehicles used.

    References to the Morse universe!!! His Mark II with its iconic license plates was auctioned for over 100,000 pounds in 2005.

    Oliver Wendell Douglas using his Lincoln like a pick-up.

    Toody and Muldoon in Car 54.

    Mayberry’s sheriff’s cars.

    Burke’s Law! The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty. The Dude’s ride.

    A mention of perhaps the greatest car movie American Graffiti.

    So many great vehicles and great cars. Enshrined in our culture/memories. Demonstrating the emotional ties that we attach to autos.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    While the vast majority of movies were distracting us with sexy coupes, or vanishing convertibles, or obsolete sedans, True Lies (1994) gave us an accurate glimpse of the future with the [four-door] 1991 GMC S-15 Jimmy. (Recall that the four-door model was newly-available for the 1991 model year.)

    https://www.imcdb.org/v009912.html

    [The future is SUV’s. Are they sleek? No. Are they sexy? No. Are they reliable? Perhaps. Are they economical? Hah.]

    Hollywood: not real life.

    Everyone needs a friend like Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold’s character):
    https://youtu.be/CVJryL6EgCs

  • avatar
    markmeup

    Welp, i have several here for your enjoyment…

    What about Cannon’s Marks? I prefer his 1st of the early Series episodes, Mark III (personal favorite), but his Mark IV is much better known for sure.

    Barnaby Jones’ LTDs along with Betty’s Pinto & Jedediah’s ’60s Mustangs.

    Bobby Ewing’s Benz SL & of course later on, Sue Ellen’s awesome & iconic 500 SEC

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The Auburn in Remington Steele. The Power Wagon in Simon and Simon. The truck in The Fall Guy. Whatever Ms. Peel drove. The white challenger in Vanishing Point. Both hero cars in Gumball Rally, both with iconic engine noises.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    McGarrett’s black Mercurys in the only real 50.

  • avatar
    spamvw

    Fast Times 60 Buick LeSabre

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    All American cars are mentioned. What was that junk heap Columbo drove, that kept getting towed? Oh, wait – that wasn’t a sedan, but a Peugeot cabriolet.

  • avatar
    ShouldaWouldaCoulda

    I don’t know how many doors, how do you count the tailgate? 1983 GMC Vandura on The A-Team. I pity the fool.
    5 doors: The Ectomobile from Ghostbusters. 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex. Back off man, I’m a scientist.
    4 doors: Black Beauty from the Bruce Lee Green Hornet. 1966 Chrysler Imperial Crown. Let’s roll, Kato!
    3 doors: Wayne & Garth’s Mirthmobile. 1976 AMC Pacer. Game on!
    2 doors: Honorable mention to Magnum’s Ferrari and Bond’s DB5, but I go for the Coyote X from Hardcastle & McCormick!
    0 doors: Tie between the General Lee and Fred Flinstone’s car

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