Encyclopedia Hoonatica: TV Anti-Hero Cars

Television is a great medium for manufacturers to show off production cars through product placement deals. Who can forget the Saint’s Volvo or Jim Rockford’s Firebird? Likewise, prominently featuring fancy exotics (Magnum P.I., Spenser For Hire, Miami Vice, The Mentalist) or wild, customized show cars such as the Batmobile, Monkeemobile, and Mannix Toronado generate enthusiasm for a show and up the characters’ “cool factor”.
But other, more down-to-earth shows sometimes feature a car that is notable, but for the WRONG reasons. For example, Harry O‘s Austin-Healey Sprite was represented in the show as a notoriously unreliable bucket of bolts. On In Plain Sight, U.S. Marshall Mary Shannon and her co-workers often leveled outright contempt toward her worn out, faded purple Ford Probe.
Your encyclopedic task for today is to list cars featured as an ongoing plot device on a TV show, but that were either disliked by the characters who drove them or represented as worthy of ridicule by the audience.
Difficulty: Finally, one that’s as achievable for pop-culture machines and couch potatoes as for hardcore motor geeks.
How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Adding photos with standard HTML is good, but shrink the big ones with width="500".
Image Sources: davidjanssen.net, IMCDB

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  1. GTXcellent Avatar
    1. Vavon Avatar

      I was going to post that too… But isn't it a Plymouth Duster?
      <img src="http://www.chicagonow.com/drive-he-said/files/2013/07/Bundy_72_Dodge_010-e1373743837800.jpg&quot; width="640/">

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        1973 Dodge Dart Sport, "The Mighty Dodge" as Al called it. Loved that show.

        1. CJinSD Avatar

          It may have played a Dodge Dart Sport or Demon on TV, but the grill and hood reveal it to have been a Plymouth Duster.

    2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      There is no vehicle that better answers this question than Al Bundy's Dodge. There is no longer story arc about a vehicle's notorious decrepitude than Al's Dodge. Although shown rather infrequently throughout the series, if anyone watched more than an episode of that show, they knew that Al drove a shitty Dodge. (That, and he once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game, playing for Polk High)

      1. JayP2112 Avatar

        The episode where the Dodge got lost at the car wash:
        Peg, you can find 4 D Cells in the dark but you can't find a Dodge in a car wash?
        Television gold.

      2. Juliet C. Avatar
        Juliet C.

        The only one that probably exceeds it is Jack Benny's Maxwell, but most of its life was on radio, not TV.
        <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nRZzncUp0Ik/UyA3DB2RkEI/AAAAAAAAs_o/oLw_LNXQYAA/s1600/MAXWELL+WITH+JACK+AND+EVE.png&quot; width="500">

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    I watched "The Good Guys" after it was recommended here and found it hilarious. Detective Stark is a mix of hero and anti-hero, just like his car:
    <img src="http://image.highperformancepontiac.com/f/pontiac-news/fox-tvs-the-good-guys-stars-an-80-trans-am/29870966/no-subject.jpg&quot; width="600">
    The Pontiac is introduced as a "don't-want-to-be-seen-in-it"-car that Stark just has to have. Over time, its qualities grow and the social stigma moves to the background. But it starts as a clear anti-hero.

    1. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

      One of my favorite shows of all time. Might be time to watch it again.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        It is a masterpiece. I felt the same about the show as one is made to feel about Stark and his Pontiac. But it grows. And it's so funny, I cried tears of laughter.

        1. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

          "It's not a toy! It's an orange gun!"
          Nearly died laughing.

    2. quattrovalvole Avatar

      +1 for The Good Guys. Bailey's Lumina is a total opposite of the Pontiac which is fitting considering the good cop-bad cop relationship between them.
      <img src="http://pics.imcdb.org/0is804/25811531.7088.jpg&quot; width=500 />

    3. quattrovalvole Avatar

      +1 for The Good Guys. Bailey's Taurus is a total opposite of the Pontiac which is fitting considering the good cop-bad cop relationship between them.
      <img src="http://imcdb.org/i334889.jpg&quot; width=500 />

  3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    Shame that it has to be TV because there are so many examples of Movie cars that were shown as aging losers who today are highly sought gems. Harper's Porsche and Crash Davis' Shelby.
    As for TV, well We have WW's Pontiac:
    <img src="http://www.ew.com/sites/default/files/i/2013/09/27/Aztek.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      I thought about including movies, but since they aren't by nature serial, it just becomes "name a crappy car in a movie" which is fairly limitless.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Urkel's Isetta.
    <img src="http://www.kellie.de/tv1/tv_isetta.jpg"&gt;

  5. Eric Rood Avatar
    Eric Rood

    Kim Kelly's AMC Gremlin—which she inherited from her dead-from-an-OD aunt who owed Kim's mom money—from "Freaks and Geeks" comes to mind. There are several misadventures in that car early in the series' only season.
    <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i127857.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. yesthatsteve Avatar

      Here's another Gremlin: Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt) on Justified.
      <img src="https://uproxx.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/13-pattongun.gif&quot; width="600">

  6. Devin Avatar

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/43/Columbo%27s_Car_1959_Peugeot_403_convertible.jpg"&gt;
    Columbo's Peugeot seems to be a fairly obvious answer to this one.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      That's one I almost put in the header. I decided to wait and see if somebody mentioned it.

    2. Batshitbox Avatar

      What? I thought he drove a Morris Minor! Now my Columbo GIF from this weekend's Quick Hit makes no sense.

      1. Vavon Avatar

        Now I get… why I didn't get it in the first place!!!

      2. longrooffan Avatar

        curious about that as well BSB.

  7. Eric Rood Avatar
    Eric Rood

    Maybe not necessarily the best answer, but this seems like a reasonable place to post this:
    <img src="http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/09/19/article-0-067F420E000005DC-402_634x673.jpg&quot; width="400">

    1. Devin Avatar

      Though Bean also comes with his old nemesis:
      <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i007718.jpg"&gt;

      1. 1977chevytruck Avatar

        I think your picture is inverted.

  8. LEROOOY Avatar

    We're only one episode into Better Call Saul as of last night, but I just know "Jimmy McGill's" crummy Suzuki Esteem is going to have a good story. The attention paid to cars on Breaking Bad, and how they relate to the characters that drive them, was pretty interesting.
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/R4zjR2a.jpg&quot; width="400">

    1. mike england Avatar
      mike england

      I agree, sir. Breaking Bad was great TV for a lot of reasons, and the 'car wrangling' is just one of them. There were several rotton cars in that show but the best and biggest was Walt's RV that he and Pinkman used for a mobil meth lab.

  9. muthalovin Avatar

    "Because he's the hero New York deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Wayne Knight."
    Okay, I took liberty with that. Newman is not really an anti-hero, except in this episode of Seinfeld when he eats all those muffin stumps.
    <img src="http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/ShiftyGerman/newman-nsx.gif"&gt;

    1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

      If I owned every vehicle in that gif, I'd be pretty happy.
      Even with the Chevette and I don't know what that is behind the Starquest.
      Which looks like a Mitsubishi but I'll call it a Starquest anyway because that's an awesome name.

  10. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    <img src="http://pics.imcdb.org/0is86/snapshot20061113152317tn8.4687.jpg"&gt;
    That 70s show.
    From the pilot:
    Steven Hyde: Is Red still thinking of giving you the car man ?
    Michael Kelso: Even if we do get it, we're gonna need serious gas money because the Cruiser's a boat
    Eric Forman: I know the cruiser's a boat, this whole gas shortage bites
    Fez: Who's getting a boat?
    Steven Hyde: There's no such thing as gas shortage man, its all set up by the government, everything's controlled by the oil companies like I heard about this guy who invented a car that runs on water man, its fiber glass, air cooled and it runs on water!
    Fez: So it is a boat?

    1. pj134 Avatar

      I was actually thinking the Toyota more than the vista cruiser. Red's rant about hovercars and jetpacks and all that.

  11. r henry Avatar
    r henry

    James Bond "For Your Eyes Only"
    <img src="http://www.chud.com/articles/content_images/117/FYEO2.jpg&quot; width="600">
    It took Roger Moore to make a 2CV cool!

  12. ptschett Avatar

    Not really an ongoing plot device, but there was the "I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!" SNL skit.

  13. windbüchse Avatar

    Claire's hearse in Six Feet under:
    <img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XyJN6Y%2BWL._SS280.jpg&quot; width="600">

  14. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    Outside of Al's Dodge, this seems to me to be the most fitting for a character.
    <img src="http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/mynameisearl/images/0/05/List263.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width/1000?cb=20080824082322"width=500&gt;

  15. windbüchse Avatar

    My Mother, the Car – one of the worst TV shows of all time. Jerry van Dykes mother is reincarnated as a 1928 Porter touring car.
    <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i039539.jpg&quot; width="600">

  16. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    How about Tank's Daewoo from MadTV?
    <img src="http://i.ytimg.com/vi/J2MzBfKjAC8/hqdefault.jpg"&gt;

  17. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    The beater Dodge pickup from Simon & Simon.
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/S7fxBbs.jpg&quot; width=500>

  18. mdharrell Avatar

    <img src="http://www.tvsinopse.kinghost.net/w/wonderbug1_arquivos/tvsinopse61001.jpg&quot; width="300">
    I choose neither to confirm nor to deny that my taste in automobiles was, and is, strongly influenced by Schlepcar.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Ever consider adding a junkyard horn to the KV Mini?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It does make one wonder….

  19. engineerd™ Avatar

    I My wife watches way too much Friends. So, I present to you Phoebe Buffay's Checker Marathon.
    <img src="http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121212221342/friends/images/a/ae/Taxicab.png"&gt;

    1. FЯeeMan Avatar

      Phoebe has a last name? Who knew…

  20. nanoop Avatar

    Mad Men character Price wants to suffocate himself by the exhaust gases of his brand new Jaguar E. It certainly won't start.
    <img src="http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y186/q-max/E-Type/madmen5.jpg&quot; width="400">

    1. windbüchse Avatar

      Hmmm, are oil fumes toxic?

  21. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    Not technically an ongoing plot device…
    <img src="http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/10/10058dcb1b4362d026586078bdcfd1a21f6add9244f48ee814914b82d9892f5f.jpg"&gt;
    I thought this one was pretty dumb:
    <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i213433.jpg"&gt;
    The characters who own this are rather desperately poor for the first part of the series. Maybe sell your classic muscle car that's actually in reasonable condition and move to somewhere that isn't a stratospherically expensive resort town.
    "Hey, you, you're that badass getaway driver from that one time. Come do drivings for our evil gumball rally."
    "No I'm not. I'm just a gardener, look at my junky pickup. I don't wanna do evil gumball."
    <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i100658.jpg"&gt;
    Spoilers: He is totally that guy from that one time. Then he gets his rad getaway car back and then the show gets cancelled.
    Probably saved me a bunch of hours because it wasn't good but I would have watched it anyway.

  22. engineerd™ Avatar

    Blueberry from Psych…always mocked by Shawn and constantly getting beaten up, crushed, cut in half, etc. They even had a contest where one of the prizes was a Blueberry.
    <img width=500 src="https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/bd/f8/e4/bdf8e4d45e4e6b26a09a4ba9efa74f3c.jpg"&gt;

    1. nanoop Avatar

      Ooh! Probably a collectors item by now.

      1. spotty Avatar

        just looked, start at about $60ish and head up to $800 for the rarer box versions (labelled Flowery Twats rather than Fawlty Towers)
        never seen one before though, very cool

    2. Vavon Avatar

      [youtube mv0onXhyLlE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv0onXhyLlE youtube]

  23. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/arresteddevelopment/images/0/03/2x12_Hand_to_God_(56).png/revision/latest/scale-to-width/670?cb=20130123233849" width=500 /img>
    Between the inability to accelerate, the inability to stop, and the pop-ons, the Stair Car wasn't without its faults.
    <img src="http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Metallicar-metallicar-725007_400_225.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
    And the creators of Supernatural described wanting a car you'd lock your doors if it pulled up next to you. It even got its own episode! Sort of!

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Staircar seems like such an obvious choice…now that you've said it.

  24. Tomsk Avatar

    Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segal's character on How I Met Your Mother) had this sweet (but persnickety) Fiero up until a Season 2 episode that centered around it.
    <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_JBbVo-IBEpY/TOITdlE2TfI/AAAAAAAAACo/VZT4YyGOrbU/s1600/Episode+39.jpg&quot; width="600">

  25. Drives Dead Marques Avatar
    Drives Dead Marques

    I'm only to season 2, but Sam Axe from Burn Notice has had a mid 2000s Neon, and a late 90s Buick Park Ave/LaSabre (along with a Caddy one of his girlfriends bought him). Both of those are very anti-hero cars. Unfortunately I can't find a picture.
    <img src="http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/28/f3/05/28f30540ace43a6b6a5ec465717a98a1.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. mike england Avatar
      mike england

      Sam Axe was such a great character. I think the best / most memorable car was that huge pink convertible they destroyed after a few episodes. That's another show where the 'car wrangling' was really memorable.

    2. Rover_1 Avatar

      <img src="https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/10/d1/78/10d178868f902fcb1781d590e4bd62d9.jpg&quot; width="200">
      <img src="http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c341/DanFoto/Burn%20Notice%20Cap/FlyCar2.jpg&quot; width="250">
      <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i317140.jpg&quot; width="300">
      1960 Buick Le Sabre
      and the actual car crashed,a '59 four door, disguised in the shoot to look like the convertible.
      <img src="http://pics.imcdb.org/9554/burnnotice_59_buick_4.jpg"width="400"&gt;

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        On behalf of all four doors and wagons I have to formally protest the higer-value-for-less-practicality-trend that leads to the early death of so many beautiful cars.

    3. r_henry Avatar

      Burn Notice fan here. I have had a thing for Chargers with white steering wheels for a long time….

  26. wisc47 Avatar

    Bored to Death featured a 1975 Mercedes 280SE that was owned by Ted Danson's character. It's probably the perfect car for a show based in gentrified Brooklyn.
    <img src="http://pics.imcdb.org/2/308b2d_002044_c31.jpg"&gt;

  27. jeepjeff Avatar

    OMG! You Guys! You left me the Possum Van!
    <img src="http://classicredgreen.weebly.com/uploads/2/8/3/2/2832377/8408503_orig.jpg&quot; width=500>
    Your encyclopedic task for today is to list cars featured as an ongoing plot device on a TV show, but that were either disliked by the characters who drove them or represented as worthy of ridicule by the audience.
    While the van was much beloved by Red Green, it was clearly used as a point of ridicule. Over. And. Over. And. Over.

  28. Batshitbox Avatar

    Better late than never… Trailer Park Boys' '75 New Yorker
    <img src="http://www.trurodaily.com/media/photos/unis/2014/05/21/2014-05-21-01-15-05-webtrailer.jpg"&gt;

  29. Batshitbox Avatar

    Vyvyan's Ford Anglia With Flames Up The Side, from The Young Ones.
    <img src="http://www.anglia-models.co.uk/images/movies/movies-yo01-1.jpg"&gt;
    (Well, it only appears in one or two episodes… but there's only 12 episodes)