It's the car, right? Chicks dig the car.
You all know that’s from Batman right? Well yeah, but it’s a misquote, Batman says “It's the car, right? Chicks love the car.” Admittedly Robin does actually say the words “Chicks dig the car” later in the movie, but for once I’m not writing about movies or comic book heroes, I’m writing about cars.
I’m putting this out there because this chick does dig the odd car or two - well ten actually. Now I’m not a petrol head. I know where to put the various fluids every car needs to survive, but wouldn’t know how to even start an oil change. What I do know is what I like in an on-screen car, and sometimes it really is that je ne sais quoi. Just so you know, the above pedantry is the last of the defensible position I’m going to take here, the rest is purely my ranking with very little reasoning. Anyway, here is the countdown of my top ten favourite cars from TV and film.
10 - Bessie
Yeah, okay, I am a Whovian, but I have always loved this car anyway. I think Bessie might actually be the first TV car was aware of, I should also say that it’s the thing I remember most about Jon Pertwee’s tenure as The Doctor. Driven by The Doctor (3rd, 4th and 7th), this 1938 Ford Roadster E93A (registration number WHO 1), in Canary-yellow was known as Bessie. Its most recent outing was in “The Name of the Doctor”, when the Impossible Girl is seen in its wing mirror. It survived at least three series of Doctor Who, of course we are talking about a time travellers car, so there’s one thing no one knows - how old this car really is! After all, it is garaged in the TARDIS.
9 - The General Lee
It was the Dukes of Hazard who drove this hazard to the environment. A 1969 (great vintage) Dodge Charger with a 440 cubic inch (yeah who knows cubic inches right? But that’s Americans for you) engine and a burnt orange paint job. The thing with this car is that I really like the car, I even watched in rapture as the Wheeler Dealers did one up once. But the reason that this car didn’t make it higher up the list is partly about its looks, from some angles this is just the most gorgeous vehicle ever, but from others the nose is clearly oversized for the rest of the vehicle. A typical muscle car, I do wonder how many gallons you need for a mile, but I still love it. This car survived seven series (145 episodes), though Lord knows how the way Bo and Luke Duke used to throw the thing around, but that’s the magic of television for you. The fact the Dukes had to climb in and out of the windows in those oh so tight jeans only helped to improve the appeal.
8 - The Striped Tomato
For this one I am talking about the original Starsky and Hutch (Glaser and Soul) version not the more recent film. Okay I admit that my clearest memory of this vehicle is the opening sequence, the one where Dave Skarsky is throwing this thing around the streets of "Bay City, California", and then runs over the bonnet - scandalous. This is not, however (as a friend of mine thought), the guy they jump on the roof of.
The car is a 1976 Ford Gran Torino in red and white with a 351 cubic inch engine, it lasted 93 episodes - dread to think the number of tires they squealed through though.
7 - The Audi Quattro
“Fire up the Quattro!” Whether you believe that this was Phil Glenister or Ashley Pharoah who coined that line, doesn’t matter, it’s a great line delivered brilliantly (and frequently). This bright red diva was a 1983 Audi Quattro 2.1 litre manual transmission. Now while this is off the TV, I do remember these cars when they were new and shiny and the boy racers loved them for real. Never drove one myself, but I heard they were a fun ride. It’s interesting that even Gene Hunt loved this car so much he refused to knock over garbage (in a complete turnaround from what you’ll see in No 6). The car lasted three series, 24 episodes.
6 - Ford Cortina
This bronze 1974 Ford Cortina screeches with odd discretion through the opening sequence of “Life on Mars”. In fact its Ford Cortina TC Mark III GXL, the Grand Xtra Luxury version of the third generation Ford Cortina series, and I don’t care if it did have the wrong dashboard in the series or that the vinyl roof wasn’t introduced until after the series was set. I loved the look of this car, it’s so 1970s! And the fact that this bronze or gold or whatever colour you want to call it is just so beautiful helps to draw the eye and invites the touch. There is even a sequence in one episode where Hunt drives down an alley and knocks over what is clearly a pile of empty boxes, and it’s all supposed to be a homage to the Stripped Tomato.
Have to be honest I was rather torn on how to place the Ford Cortina and the Audio Quattro on this list. I felt I shouldn’t split them up, but the Cortina had to win even though it only lasted two series (16 episodes). It’s all down to the colour, love the colour, and the freshness of the idea.
5 - The Ferrari
This 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS was driven around Hawaii by Magnum PI, but it was actually owned by Robin Masters. We all have more information about Tom Selleck to speculate on that then we did at the time, but hey, this is about the car. And I have to say I wasn’t entirely sure about this one, I mean yeah, it’s a Ferrari and they are considered great cars, but they’re a little close to the ground for me. The reason why this one makes the list is because I like oddities, and here’s the oddity that made me like this one: the car had to be specially modified for 6'4" Selleck, the padding was removed from the seats so he could sit lower in the car, and the seats were bolted as far away from the steering wheel as possible to maximize the leg room. Even with these modifications you can still see that Selleck's head is higher than the top of the front windshield frame! In 162 episodes you very rarely saw Magnum drive with the top up - but in Hawaii, why would you?
4 - Mark 2 Jaguar
This is an absolute classic that nearly didn’t happen. In Dexter’s books Endeavour Morse originally drove a classic Lancia, but this beautiful Burgundy Mark 2 Jaguar graced 7 series and 5 specials - a total of 33 episodes. Unlike many of the cars on this list this is not a performance car that gets thrown around the streets or abused by any thoughtless driver. This car, like it’s owner is classic, refined, elegant and irreplaceable.
3 - Triumph Roadster
Here we are with another open top on another island with another detective. The open top is the 1949 Triumph Roadster 2000, driven around Jersey by Jim Bergerac in the series named after him. This car is a throwback to an era of timeless elegance, where men were men, women were ladies and treated as such, and cars had lines that flowed, they were seek, they were stylish, smart, and beautiful. This has that definite je ne se quoi factor.
2 - Aston Martin
Well seriously, you didn’t think this wonder of British engineering wouldn’t be on the list did you? A 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in silver and driven by James Bond. Most incredibly I’ve always loved this car even though until Skyfall I was never that much interested in Bond. Aside from the sleek lines, the cool colour and the romance of trouble that Bond brings with him, this is one tripped out vehicle. I mean how many cars have a built in arsenal? That’s got to be one way to get through the traffic. Added bonus is there’s the chance to let your boss know that you could eject them if you wanted to, though perhaps wisely he allows M to sit beside him all the way to Scotland.
Before I go on to reveal what my personal favourite is, there are a few cars that I considered that didn’t quite make the list.
- The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am from Knight Industries, okay it looks good, but there’s something I just don’t trust about a car with artificial intelligence. I don’t even like the driver assist stuff that’s already being put into cars. If the driver can’t manage alone, take them off the line.
- The 1967 Reliant Regal, yes you might think that Trotter Industries drove a Reliant Robin, but you would be wrong. There’s one simple reason why this didn’t make the list - it doesn’t have enough wheels.
- And finally, the car that the chicks love - the Batmobile. Slinky, sexy and while at least one was based on the 1955 Lincoln Futura, there’s one fact you can’t get away from - The Batmobile isn’t a real car!
1 - Baby
Baby is the name Dean Winchester calls his incredible 1967 Chevrolet Impala, well when he’s not calling her Sweetheart anyway. According to Dean the car has a 327 engine and a four barrel carburetor, but I’m not a petrol head so you can decide for yourself if you think this is good or bad. This Impala has been driven by John, Dean and occasionally Sam Winchester through ten seasons (and counting) of Supernatural. That’s 218 episodes of demon fighting so far.
If James Bond’s Aston Martin is tripped out, this one is tricked out, literally, it’s got a demon trap painted in the boot, and an arsenal too. Though unlike Bond these boys have bullets of salt not lead, they look for beers not vodka martinis, and the villains are usually undead before the boys get there.
Still this is about the car. The shiny black paintwork, the clean lines of the chrome, all in perfect balance. Also this car can be said to have come back from the dead several times. Unlike the Aston, and one of the reasons that this is number one, this car gets beat the hell up, virtually destroyed, but Dean always nurses his baby back to polished perfection.
Then there’s the interior.
Proper dials and black leather bench seats. Perfect for stretching out to sleep on when you’re on the road chasing demons across America. The open window thing seen here makes me wonder how water tight it might be, but this car looks fantastic inside and out. Sex on four wheels - and yes I am still talking about the car. Dean and Sam are a whole different article, and not one I can publish on this site!
Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!