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38 TV Shows That May Have Left An Automotive Impression On Its Viewers

There was a recent trend in social media where you are asked to name 10 vehicles that influenced your love for cars. It made us look back to the vehicles that we lusted after, or used to have, or what our family members or friends used to drive. It also made us realize that some of us were influenced by the vehicles we see in the TV shows that we repeatedly watched as we were growing up. Here are 38 TV shows where the hero car may have left a profound impression on their young viewers.

Route 66 (1960-1964)

Route 66 is an American adventure crime drama that ran from October 7, 1960 until March 20, 1964. It followed two young men traversing the United States in a Chevrolet Corvette convertible, and the events and consequences surrounding their journeys. Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) was joined on his travels by Buz Murdock (George Maharis), who was later replaced by Lincoln Case (Glenn Corbett). The Corvette in the first episode was a 1960 model, which was replaced by a 1961 model for the rest of the season. A 1963 Corvette Sting Ray convertible was used until the show ended in 1964.

The Flintstones (1960-1966)

The Flintstones is an animated sitcom that takes place in a romanticized Stone Age setting and follows the activities of the title family, the Flintstones, and their next-door neighbors, the Rubbles. It ran from September 30, 1960 to April 1, 1966, and was the first animated series to hold a prime time slot on television. One of the modern conveniences the show had was the Foot Car.

The Saint (1962-1969)

The Saint is a British mystery spy thriller TV series that aired between 1962 and 1969. It was based on the literary character Simon Templar played by Roger Moore, who helps those whom conventional agencies are powerless or unwilling to protect, often using methods that skirt the law. Templar’s hero car was a white 1962 Volvo P1800 with the number plate ST1, which is often referred to as “the Saint’s car”. Volvo supplied the show with the P1800 after Jaguar Cars rejected a request from the producers to provide an E-type.

The Green Hornet (1966-1967)

The Green Hornet is an action series that starred Van Williams as the Green Hornet/Britt Reid and Bruce Lee as Kato. The single-season series premiered on September 9, 1966 and ran until July 14, 1967. The show featured the Green Hornet’s car, The Black Beauty, a customized 1966 Imperial Crown sedan that can fire explosive charges from tubes hidden behind retractable panels below the headlights which were said to be rockets with explosive warheads and had a concealed gas nozzle in the center of the front grille. The Black Beauty can also launch a small flying “scanner” with video and audio surveillance through a small rectangular panel in the middle of the trunk lid. It was a foreshadowing of today’s small helicopter-like drones. Working rockets and gas nozzles were likewise incorporated into the trunk lid.

Batman (1966-1968)

Batman is a live action TV series based on the DC comic book character. It stars Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Burt Ward as Dick Grayson/Robin, two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City from a variety of arch villains. The dynamic duo patrolled Gotham City in the Batmobile, which is based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car that was modified for the series by George Barris. On January 19, 2013 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, the original Batmobile sold for $4.2 million.

The Rat Patrol (1966-1968)

The Rat Patrol was an action and adventure series that follows the exploits of four Allied soldiers – three Americans and one Briton – who are part of a long-range desert patrol group in the North African campaign during World War II. The show was inspired by the British Special Air Service (SAS), which used modified 1941-1945 Willys Jeeps armed with machine guns, and Popski’s Private Army, although these units did not exist in the American military until after WWII.

Wacky Races (1968-1969)

Wacky Races is an animated TV series that features 11 different cars racing against each other in various road rallies with all of the drivers hoping to win the title of the “World’s Wackiest Racer”. The cartoon had many regular characters, with 23 people and animals spread among 11 race cars, including (1) The Ant Hill Mob, a group of dwarf gangsters led by Clyde and is composed of him, Ring-A-Ding, Rug Bug Benny, Mac, Danny, Kirby and Willy, in the Bulletproof Bomb (Racer #7); (2) Penelope Pitstop, the lone female, in a 1930s racing costume in the Compact Pussycat (Racer #5); (3) The Gruesome Twosome, Tiny “Big” and Bella “Little”, who are monsters, in the Creepy Coupe (Racer #2); (4) Dick Dastardly, an archetypal mustache-twirling villain and his wheezily snickering dog, Muttley, in the Mean Machine (Racer #00); (5) Lazy Luke, a hillbilly, and Blubber Bear, a timid, crying bear, in the Arkansas Chuggabug (Racer #8); (6) Professor Pat Pending, an inventor, in the Convert-A-Car (Racer #3); (7) Peter Perfect, a gentlemanly racer, in the Turbo Terrific (Racer #9); (8) The Red Max, a Manfred von Richthofen-styled aviator who speaks with a German accent, in a car/plane hybrid called the Crimson Haybailer (Racer #4); (9) Rufus Ruffcut, a lumberjack, and his companion Sawtooth, a beaver, in the Buzz Wagon (Racer #10); (10) Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly in an armored car/tank hybrid called the Army Surplus Special (Racer #6); and (11) The Slag Brothers, Rock and Gravel, in a caveman-themed race car called the Boulder Mobile (Racer #1).

Scooby-Doo (1969-present)

Scooby-Doo is an animated franchise comprising numerous TV series produced from 1969 to the present. The cartoon series featured teenage friends Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, and their talking brown Great Dane named Scooby-Doo. The “gang” solves mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures with some help from their van and mobile laboratory, the Mystery Machine.

UFO (1970-1971)

UFO is a 1970 British science fiction TV series about the ongoing covert efforts of a government defense organization to prevent an alien invasion of Earth. The show is set in 1980 with extraterrestrial aliens abducting humans and harvesting their organs for their own bodies. The main cast of characters are the staff of a secret, high-technology international military agency called SHADO or Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization. The futuristic, gull-winged cars being driven by the lead actors were built by The Explorer Motor Company, which attempted to actually mass produce these cars for sale to the public.

The Persuaders! (1971)

The Persuaders! is an action-comedy series starring Tony Curtis (Canny Wilde) and Roger Moore (Brett Sinclair) and was filmed in Britain, France, and Italy between May 1970 and June 1971. Wilde drives a Rossa Corse left-hand-drive 1970 Dino 246 GT while Sinclair drives a Bahama Yellow right-hand-drive Aston Martin DBS. Both cars were provided to the show’s producers courtesy of the respective vehicle manufacturers.

The Funky Phantom (1971-1972)

The Funky Phantom is an animated cartoon series, where a trio of teenage detectives – Skip Gilroy, April Stewart, and Augie Anderson, along with their dog Elmo – drive around the country in their Looney Duney dune buggy and solve crimes with the help of their Revolutionary War-era ghost, Jonathan Wellington “Mudsy” Muddlemore and his cat, Boo.

The Magician (1973-1974)

The Magician is a crime TV series that starred Bill Bixby as stage illusionist Anthony “Tony” Blake, a playboy philanthropist who used his skills to solve difficult crimes and help the helpless. Blake operated from his Boeing 720 jetliner, named “The Spirit”, and drove around in a white 1973 Chevrolet Corvette with custom license plates “SPIRIT”, which, for its time, had an exotic feature – a car phone.

The Rockford Files (1974-1980)

The Rockford Files is a detective drama series starring James Garner that aired between September 13, 1974 and January 10, 1980. Garner portrayed a Los Angeles-based private investigator named Jim Rockford, who drove around in a Copper Mist 1974-1978 Pontiac Firebird Esprit. One element of the show was the famous “Jim Rockford turn-around”, which is also known as a J-turn that is commonly employed as an evasive driving technique taught to Secret Service agents.

Starsky & Hutch (1975-1979)

Starsky & Hutch is an action TV series about two Southern California police detectives, David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Kenneth Richard “Hutch” Hutchinson (David Soul). Under the police radio call sign “Zebra Three”, they were known for usually tearing around the streets of fictional Bay City, California using the “Striped Tomato”, a 1975 Ford Gran Torino, which was painted bright red with a large white vector stripe on both sides.

Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981)

Charlie’s Angels is a crime drama TV series that aired from September 22, 1976 to June 24, 1981. It follows the crime-fighting adventures of three women working in the Charles Townsend private detective agency and originally starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, and Jaclyn Smith. The ladies drove around in Ford cars with Farrah driving a 1976 Mustang II Cobra.

The Professionals (1977-1983)

The Professionals is a British crime-action television drama series that aired from 1977 to 1983. It starred Martin Shaw (Doyle), Lewis Collins (Bodie), and Gordon Jackson (Cowley) as agents of the fictional CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5). The best-known cars used in the series were the 1977-1981 Ford Capri models driven by Bodie and Doyle. Doyle also drove a Ford Escort RS2000 while Cowley used several 1979-1981 Ford Granada Ghia models.

Vega$ (1978-1981)

Vega$ is a private detective crime drama that aired from April 25, 1978 to June 3, 1981. The show stars Robert Urich as private detective Dan Tanna, who drives to his assignments around the streets of Las Vegas in a red 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Tanna lives in the theatrical showroom props warehouse that allows him to park his T-bird in his living room. He also uses gadgets considered high-tech for the era, such as a car phone and an answering machine that physically picks the phone off the hook and into the microphone of a tape recorder.

The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985)

The Dukes of Hazzard an action-comedy television series that was aired from January 26, 1979, to February 8, 1985. The show is about two young male cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, (played by John Schneider and Tom Wopat) are on probation for moonshine-running. With their female cousin Daisy Duke (played by Catherine Bach), plus friends and family go through various escapades as they evade the corruption of Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The Duke boys evade the law in a customized 1969 Dodge Charger nicknamed “General Lee” that became an iconic symbol of the show.

Magnum, P.I. (1980-1988)

Magnum, P.I. is a crime drama TV series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator (P.I.) living on Oahu, Hawaii. It ran from 1980 to 1988 and was consistently ranked in the top twenty TV programs during the first five years of its original run in the U.S. Magnum drives around Hawaii in a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS. Subsequent episodes featured later models including the 308 GTSi and 328 GTSi.

The Fall Guy (1981-1986)

The Fall Guy is an action/adventure show about Hollywood stunt performers who moonlight as bounty hunters. Lee Majors plays Colt Seavers, a stunt man who uses his physical skills and knowledge of stunt effects to capture fugitives and criminals. He is accompanied by his cousin and stuntman-in-training Howie Munson (Douglas Barr), whom Colt frequently calls “Kid”, and occasionally by another stunt performer, Jody Banks (Heather Thomas). Colt tools around in a 1981 GMC pickup truck.

Simon & Simon (1981-1989)

Simon & Simon is a detective TV series that ran from November 24, 1981 to January 21, 1989. The show revolves around two disparate brother Rick (Gerald McRaney) and AJ (Jameson Parker) who run a San Diego private detective agency. Rick drives an old Dodge Power Wagon while AJ drives a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, and later, a customized 1987 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.

Knight Rider (1982-1986)

Knight Rider is an action crime drama television series that ran from 1982 to 1986. It stars David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a high-tech, modern crime fighter assisted by KITT, an advanced, artificially intelligent, self-aware, and nearly indestructible 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that cost the studio $100,000 to build (equivalent to about $266,000 in 2018).

Remington Steele (1982-1987)

Remington Steele is a crime drama series that ran from from October 10, 1982 to February 17, 1987 and features a blend of romantic comedy, drama, detective procedural, international political intrigue, and espionage. The series starred Stephanie Zimbalist as Laura Holt, a licensed private investigator who opened a detective agency and invents a fictitious male superior she names Remington Steele. Pierce Brosnan plays the title character, a former thief and con man, who assumes the identity of Remington Steele. He tools around in a 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster.

Hardcastle and McCormick (1983-1986)

Hardcastle and McCormick is an action crime drama TV series that aired from September 18, 1983 through May 5, 1986. It stars Brian Keith as Los Angeles County Court Judge Milton C. Hardcastle and Daniel Hugh Kelly as ex-con and race car driver Mark “Skid” McCormick, who drives around in a prototype sports car, the Coyote X, which was based on the McLaren M6GT.

The A-Team (1983-1987)

The A-Team is an action-adventure TV series that ran from 1983 to 1987 about former members of a fictitious United States Army Special Forces unit who are accused of a crime they did not commit. It stars George Peppard as Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, Dirk Benedict as Templeton “Faceman” Peck, Dwight Schultz as “Howling Mad” Murdock, and Mr. T as B.A. Baracus. They go fight the bad guys in a modified black and gray 1983 GMC Vandura van with red stripe, black and red Turbine mag wheels, and rooftop spoiler.

Riptide (1984-1986)

Riptide is a detective TV series that ran on NBC from January 3, 1984 to August 22, 1986. Cody Allen (Perry King) and Nick Ryder (Joe Penny) are two former Army buddies who opened their own detective agency with the help of Murray “Boz” Bozinsky (Thom Bray), a brilliant but nerdy scientist and computer hacker whom they met while serving in the military. They operate out of Cody’s boat, the Riptide, and drive around in Nick’s red 1960 Corvette or Cody’s orange “Woodie” station wagon, which was later replaced by a four-wheel custom GMC Jimmy.

Miami Vice (1984-1990)

Miami Vice is a crime drama TV series that starred Don Johnson as James “Sonny” Crockett and Philip Michael Thomas as Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs, two Metro-Dade Police Department Vice Squad detectives working undercover in Miami. During the first two seasons and two episodes of the third season, Crockett drove a black 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4 kit car replica built on a Chevrolet Corvette C3 chassis. The Daytona was “blown-up” in the season three premiere episode and was replaced by a brand new white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa, which was donated by Ferrari. All throughout the series, Tubbs drove a 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible.

The Equalizer (1985-1989)

The Equalizer is a crime drama series that originally aired from September 18, 1985 to August 24, 1989. It starred Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a retired intelligence agent with a mysterious past, who uses the skills from his former career to exact justice on behalf of innocent people who are trapped in dangerous circumstances. The series combined elements of the spy, private investigator/police procedural, and vigilante genres. McCall appears to be independently wealthy and drives a Jaguar XJ6.

Moonlighting (1985-1989)

Moonlighting is a comedy-drama detective series that originally aired from March 3, 1985 to May 14, 1989. It reactivated the career of Cybil Shepherd (Madelyn “Maddie” Hayes) and introduced Bruce Willis (David Addison) who played private detectives. The show’s theme song was co-written and performed by jazz singer Al Jarreau and became a hit and so did Maddie’s car, a 1985 BMW 635 CSi.

Houston Knights (1987-1988)

Houston Knights is a crime drama TV series set in Houston, Texas, that ran from March 11, 1987 to June 7, 1988. The series follows the partnership between two very different cops from two different cultures. Chicago cop Joey LaFiamma (Michael Paré) was transferred to Houston after he kills a mobster and a contract is put out on him. He is partnered with Levon Lundy (Michael Beck), the grandson of a Texas Ranger. La Fiamma drove an ice-blue AC Cobra 289 replica while Lundy drove a pickup truck.

Mr. Bean (1990-1995)

Mr. Bean is a British sitcom created by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis and starred Atkinson as the title character. The sitcom began with a pilot episode on January 1, 1990 and ended on December 15, 1995. Mr. Bean’s vehicle was a citron-green 1977 British Leyland Mini 1000 Mark 4 with a matte black bonnet.

Highlander: The Series (1992-1998)

Highlander: The Series is a science fantasy action-adventure television series featuring Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) of the Scottish Clan MacLeod, as the eponymous “Highlander”. It was an alternate sequel to the 1986 movie Highlander, became an international hit, and boasted of a soundtrack by Queen. MacLeod drives around in a 1963 Ford Thunderbird which he later replaced with a Citroen DS 21 when he moved to a new city.

Cobra (1993-1994)

Cobra is an action/adventure series starring Michael Dudikoff as Robert “Scandal” Jackson, Jr., a martial arts expert, expert marksman and ex-Navy SEAL who was left for dead after an ambush but rescued and offered a job with “Cobra”, an undercover anti-crime agency that provides justice for victims who haven’t benefited from the system. Jackson catches the bad guys riding his red AC Cobra.

Nash Bridges (1996-2001)

Nash Bridges is a police procedural television series starring Don Johnson as Nash Bridges and Cheech Marin as Joe Domingo, two inspectors with the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit. Nash and Joe cruise the streets of San Francisco in Nash’s Curious Yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible, a gift from Nash’s brother Bobby just before Bobby left for the Vietnam War.

That ‘70s Show (1998-2006)

That ’70s Show is a period TV sitcom that aired from August 23, 1998 until May 18, 2006 and focuses on the lives of a group of six teenage friends living in fictional Point Place, Wisconsin, from May 17, 1976, to December 31, 1979. The main teenage cast members were Topher Grace (Eric), Mila Kunis (Jackie), Ashton Kutcher (Kelso), Danny Masterson (Steven), Laura Prepon (Donna), and Wilmer Valderrama (Fez). Most episodes featured Eric and the rest of the cast in or around Eric’s Aztec Gold 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, which was handed down to him by his father. For the first seven seasons of the show, the show’s introduction showed the cast inside the Vista Cruiser, which was purchased by Valderrama when the show ended in 2006.

Las Vegas (2003-2008)

Las Vegas is a comedy-drama series that was aired from September 22, 2003 to February 15, 2008 and focused on a team of people working at the fictional Montecito Resort and Casino. It originally centered on Ed Deline (James Caan), a strict ex-CIA officer who was promoted from head of security to president of operations. Upon his departure later in the series, Ed’s protégé and former Marine Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel), becomes the Montecito’s new president of operations. McCoy drives around Las Vegas in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro convertible.

The Mentalist (2008-2015)

The Mentalist is a crime drama series that ran from September 23, 2008 until February 18, 2015. It follows former “psychic” Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), who is a consultant to the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and his boss, a former senior agent, Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney), using the highly developed observational skills he previously employed to “read” people’s minds. Patrick drives to the CBI in his Citroen DS.

Magnum, P.I. (2018-present)

Magnum, P.I. is a reboot of the popular 1980-1988 crime drama TV series. The reboot stars Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, a former Navy Seal and private investigator living in Hawaii. Like the original, he lives in the estate owned by a wealthy author, Robin Masters, who gave Magnum free reign to use 2018 Ferrari 488 Spyder.

So there you have it, 38 TV shows that could leave you with an indelible impression of automobiles and a love for cars if you watch these TV programs repeatedly. It doesn’t matter what your age, social status, or financial capacity you have right now. Repeatedly watching any of these shows will leave you with a nagging want to own or at least experience the vehicle or vehicles that are being driven by the main characters of the show. IN our case, we’ve fantasized about most of the vehicles in this list, including the Mystery Machine and Peter Perfect’s Turbo Terrific. The closest we got was the Rockford Firebird, which shares the same platform as our 1971 Chevy Camaro RS project car. If you think we forgot an important TV show, leave a comment at the box below. Thank you.