Yesterday we took a trip through Nos. 20-11 on our list of the best Pop Culture Vehicles of All-Time. Today we present you with the top 10.
As you can see from yesterday’s 10, it appears that most of us grew up as children of the ’80s, what with the 1989 version of the Batmobile, the A-Team van, Magnum’s Ferrari and the Griswold’s Family Truckster gracing the list. That doesn’t stop here with six more vehicles that were prominent in the 1980’s making the top 10.
But before we drive into that, let’s give a few shout outs to a couple of vehicles that barely missed the top 20. They are the 1976 AMC Pacer called the “Mirthmobile” from Wayne’s World, the Beach Boys’ Little Deuce Coupe, a 1932 Ford Model B Coupe, The Simpsons‘ pink sedan, Harry Dunne’s Sheepdog van in Dumb and Dumber, and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
Here are the top 10.
No. 10 – Optimus Prime from Transformers
Named on five ballots. Highest rank: No. 1 – twice.
Leader of the Autobots, enemy of the Decepticons, protector of planet Earth, friend of the humans, and a sweet-looking Kenworth K100 (for you cartoon fans, Peterbilt 379 for the movie lovers). You could put any of the Transformers on this list and be satisfied (Jazz and Bumblebee both earned votes), but it’s fitting – and deserving – that the lone representative is their leader, Optimus Prime. (KJ)
No. 9 – The Flintstones car
Named on seven ballots. Highest rank: No. 5.
I’m not even sure what the car that Fred drove in the Flintstones was called. The Flintstones Mobile? The Rock Car? The Foot Mobile?? I really have no idea.
It wasn’t really the car itself that was interesting. It was made out of wood, stones, and a sheet. And it didn’t protect anyone. And they were all convertibles. But it’s the way Fred used his feet to drive it and also as brakes to stop the car that made it special.
But really, I agree with this guy. If Fred had to run to get his car going all the time, why didn’t he just run without the car? He may have been in better shape. (GG)
No. 8 – Herbie, a 1963 Volkswagon Beetle
Named on seven ballots. Highest rank: No. 3.
Herbie was an odd selection to the list. He (or should I say, it?) made the list seven times and five times it was in the top five, yet nobody wanted to step up and talk about the little VW Beetle. I couldn’t even think about why I threw it at No. 14 on my list. For most of us we just remember the No. 53 logo and red, white and blue stripes Herbie sported in the 1968 Disney film, The Love Bug, with Buddy Hackett and Dean Jones attempting to take control of him/it and his/its antics. Congrats Herbie! (KJ)
No. 7 – Ecto-1, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor from Ghostbusters
Named on eight ballots. Highest rank: No. 2 – twice.
It was Halloween 2001 and my brothers and I were searching for our next Halloween costume. Our first choice was the mariachi outfits from Three Amigos. Though we had the hats, we had no luck finding the rest of the outfit, plus my brother’s BeDazzler was out of commission. Then we stumbled across flight suits, recruited our friend and fell back in love with the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters. The suit has been worn every Halloween since.
But alas, this is not about how ‘bustin makes me feel good. It’s about the 1959 Cadillac ambulance/hearse that Dr. Ray Stantz bought for a measly (?!) $4,800. Sure it needed a ton of work (suspension work, shocks, brake, brake pad, steering box, transmission, rear-end, wiring, mufflers) but after the work was put in the Ecto-1 turned into one of the sweetest vehicles to every grace our presence on the silver screen. The best part of the Ecto-1, was of course, the distinctive siren. (KJ)
No. 6 – 1963 Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger
Named on eight ballots. Highest rank: No. 4.
James Bond, a man of action, who’s had almost as many different cars throughout the years as missions or women. We can debate our favorite movie, bond girl or even the man chosen to play Bond, but when it comes to his most iconic car the Aston Martin has no serious rivals.
The Aston Martin DB5 defines what we think of as a spy car, with Q’s special add-on packages we wish we could equip on our cars at the local auto dealer. Who wouldn’t love access to smoke screens, oil slicks, front machine guns and perhaps best of all, an eject able passenger seat (particularly handy on long, grueling road trips with a less than ideal passenger)?
Interesting facts: Corgi Toys produced a toy of the car, which became the biggest selling toy of 1964. The actual Aston Martin sold in 2010 for $4.6 million. Ian Fleming had Bond behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB3, but the movie has him driving a DB5 as that was the current model during filming. (Tim Swift)
No. 5 – The Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo
Named on 11 ballots. Highest rank: No. 2.
The Mystery Machine represented the 70s like very few vehicles. It was a van with pastel colors. It had flower power and even had flower hub caps. And the gang took that thing everywhere.
The van didn’t really have much to do with the story, but it represented its time perfectly. Plus, I’m sure Scooby and Shaggy had their fair share of Scooby Snacks back there.
One thing I always wondered is that whenever you saw the side profile of the Mystery Machine, everyone was in the front seat. It’s a van! Get comfortable in the back! And why was Scooby sitting on his hind legs in the front seat? Oh well.
I also see this bad boy running through my neighborhood every once and again. (GG)
No. 4 – The Batmobile from Batman (TV series)
Named on nine ballots. Highest rank: No. 2 – three times.
Each iteration of the Batmobile comes fully equipped with weaponry, armor, and any number of bat bells and whistles. But much like its general galaxy of Batquipment, the 1960s TV show boasts perhaps the most absurd array of accessories for the road. Dual parachutes, the multi-purpose Batray, batphone direct to Commissioner Gordon’s office, a tracking device, smoke screen, voice control, and a fully equipped Batcomputer in the trunk! The car every bit as campy as the show itself, and remains the only topless live action Batmobile, as far as I can remember. “Roger, ready to move out.” (Zack)
No. 3 – KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) a 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am from Knight Rider
Named on 11 ballots. Highest rank: No. 2 – twice.
No one watched Knight Rider because of the plots. Hell, it can be argued that most people didn’t even watch Knight Rider because of its “star,” David Hasselhoff. Of course, it’s difficult for “The Hoff” to be overshadowed, but K.I.T.T. managed to do it. The Trans Am Firebird was outfitted with artificial intelligence, making it essentially the first cop with four wheels. It certainly assisted Hasselhoff as Michael Knight on some of his tougher missions. Hell, with its occasionally snarky commentary (provided by “St. Elsewhere”’s William Daniels—something I don’t think I was aware of until I was doing research for this peace,) it could be argued that the car was smarter (certainly wittier) than its driver! (Big Money)
No. 2 – “The General Lee” a 1969 Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard
Named on 12 ballots. Highest rank: No. 1 – twice.
It wasn’t until we were in my mid-20’s that my buddy and I realized why our dad’s so loved watching The Dukes of Hazzard – Daisy Duke. And all this time we thought it was because of the beautiful 1969 Dodge Charger called The General Lee. I mean, that was the reason we sat with our dads and watched it the first eight years of our lives. Years later I’d also find out why I love brunettes with long legs, and think girls look hot in white jeeps (thanks Daisy!).
I’m not a big car guy. I drive one to work, know they have a steering wheel that helps you to turn, and four wheels that help you get where you’re going. Oh, and gas and oil helps it go. That’s the extent of my knowledge on cars.
I do think there are some beautiful classic cars out there. I drove a ’66 Mustang coupe to school (not in tip-top shape) so it holds a special place in my heart, but there is only one vehicle that when I see it either on the screen, or happen upon it in person, that gives me shivers down my spine, and that’s an orange ’69 Dodge Charger with the painted “01” on the doors.
The General Lee was fast, it could jump over huge trenches, the doors were sealed shut so you entered the car through the windows, and usually after you did some hood-sliding, and it had that signature horn that plays the melody from “Dixie”. (No need to get into the flag that was on top of the vehicle.) It was a beautiful muscle car, and will always have a place in the hearts of those that grew up in the early 80s.
Just ignore the horrible movie they made in 2005. Awful!
No. 1 – DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future
Named on 14 ballots. Highest rank: No. 1 – twice.
“Wait a minute, doc – are you telling me that you built a time machine…out of a DeLorean?!”
In addition to functioning as succinct exposition for the film’s trailer, that iconic line works as a cunning joke, making you wonder which part of the sentence Marty finds more incredulous, the existence of a time machine, or the decision to make it out of the infamously short-lived gull-wing novelty vehicle. Even stealthier is Doc’s response: “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?” Screenwriter Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis received a thank-you letter from John DeLorean for their homage to his creation, but for a film that so presciently toys with temporal trends (Marty trying to order a Tab and a Pepsi Free in 1955, being ridiculed for his “life-preserver” jacket that was a normal fashion in the ’80s), it’s hard to believe there isn’t some element of satire to Doc’s poor taste in automobiles. Whether they intended to or not – but I suspect they did – Gale and Zemeckis supplied the film’s most enduring out-of-time gag by using the DeLorean (even though in the first scripts the time machine was originally a refrigerator!), whose entire lifespan happened within the 80s (1981-1982 specifically) and whose silly, wasteful attempt at cool futurism could not have emerged in any other era. One of the lamest inventions of the ’80s used to symbolize one of mankind’s trippest, farthest-fetched aspirations (time travel) – it’s like if Steve Jobs had conceived of the iPod to look like a Chia Pet.
But even assuming Back to the Future wanted us to believe that the DeLorean was cool (maybe those vertically-opening doors gave it just the spaceship-esque correlation it needed to complement its sci-fi purposes, especially when displaced to the simpler era of 1955), it was cool for its own reasons. Sure, looking at it out of context now, the DMC-12 looks like a flat, junky ’80s relic, and good riddance to its lost production. But thanks to BTTF, we all kind of wish we had the time-traveling model, with a built-in flux capacitor, time circuit dashboard, and tricked-out Mr. Fusion (a preferable energy source to the first film’s Libyan-funded nuclear reactor) and rocket boosters for aerial maneuvering. Disregarding traffic laws, is there any other meaningful MPH count besides 88? And who wasn’t felt the sting of disappointment when their cars didn’t light up in with blue electricity and cross the space-time continuum upon hitting that golden number (considering it’s pretty much illegal to go 88 anywhere in the world but a race track, hopefully the answer is “nobody”, but seriously)? Doc may have been anxious to destroy OUTATIME as early as halfway through the 2nd film for all the problems it had caused him and Marty, but when it finally does meet its fate in a spectacular collision on the train tracks – caused, ironically, by the same machine that had just saved its life a hundred years earlier – even its advanced follow-up model, the steam-punk flying train, can’t claim quite the same lovable personality (both the animated series and the 2010 platform game knew well enough to bring it back to life). There must be a lot of cars whose brief, unsuccessful manufacturing throughout the 20th century have been utterly forgotten, but this ugly sack of crap is now an immortal, museum-preserved pop culture idol. Heavy! (Mike B)
Did your favorite make the list? Let us know in the comment section below.