TV TypeCARsting: The art of matching Cars and Characters.

BBC has been running a three-part serialisation of J K Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy” over the last couple of weekends. This is normally far from the kind of thing that we would usually discuss on Hooniverse, but one aspect of its production stood out to me more vividly than primetime weekend TV usually does.
The cars. Including the ageing (but still commanding) Silver Spirit shown lurking behind Michael Gambon in the image above, three of the major characters had cars which perfectly fitted their persona. The Roller has obvious gravitas, pomp and ceremony, but this is partially offset by its age and relative cheapness. It’s an exact match for Gambon’s village councillor with his relatively limited means, craving for status and mistaken belief of his own importance.
What other examples of absolutely spot-on vehicular casting have you seen on TV?

The other two cars used prominently during the programme were just as well chosen.
Simon Price is a shallow, vindictive man who knows nothing of passion, integrity or quality. He bullies the only people on Earth with any reason to respect him; his children. He craves material possessions, yet shows little discernment. The story mentions his para-legal acquisition of a 50″ TV branded with the make-believe name MATSOKI. Doesn’t sound like a high-end brand, does it? But it came to him for very little outlay, and a big telly is a big telly, after all. So what does he drive? It’s an old, very clean, Proton Persona.
The Proton Persona is a car entirely bereft of defining characteristics. It is a way of moving around from place to place in a convenient manner and is typically owned by people who either don’t care about cars and driving, or in the case of Simon Price, have absolutely no concept that there are better, more enjoyable, more rewarding modes of transport. It’s a nothing car for a nothing person.
This is a stark contrast to our hero. Barry Fairbrother, a solicitor with a disarmingly philanthropic streak. He exudes all the qualities that Simon Price lacks. His house is furnished simply but with really nice stuff. His car of choice? A Triumph Stag.
Was there ever a car with a more determined, hard-bitten following than the Stag? Stag ownership offers a rich tapestry of daily pitfalls. Every possible automotive malady could manifest itself at the drop of a hat, and the devoted drivers of the marque are all too aware of it. They don’t care at all because they’re promised half an hour per year of exquisite pleasure when the stars align and everything works as it should. To run a Stag you need patience and understanding. It follows that Stag people are nice people.
The BBC have done a good job here. So how about other examples? Or what about when they give a character totally the wrong car? Over to you.
(Images all screengrabs from BBC’s “The Casual Vacancy”. Copyright property BBC 2015)

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  1. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Patrick Jane’s DS on The Mentalist: quirky, confident, demanding, unusual, complicated, and a bit of a spectacle just showing up on the scene.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      A DS is dangerously nudging “trying too hard to let other people know that I am quirky, confident, demanding, unusual, complicated, and a bit of a spectacle”. That it requires some serious mechanical commitment might get it out of my personal hipster jail.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        The fact that Patrick is a bit of an attention-whore-in-denial is what makes it perfect.

  2. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Tuesday Answer: Dr. Steven Kiley’s Bonnie. You instantly knew his youthfulness was going to push the elderly Dr. Welby out of his comfort zone.×540.jpg

      1. dead_elvis Avatar

        Yep. Figured there would be mention of Breaking Bad.
        Better Call Saul may not be quite the same caliber show (but it’s pretty great so far), yet once again they’re nailing it with the cars.

        1. failboat Avatar

          just about every car in breaking bad is a perfect choice.

  3. JayP Avatar

    Magnum: Hey, how’d you know this was my car?
    Cindy Lewellyn: What else would a man like you drive?

    1. JayP Avatar

      But that was Robin Master’s Ferrari. Higgins took it away and Magnum had to buy his own car…

  4. CherokeeOwner Avatar

    I like this. I’d love to see TV TypeCARsting be a regular feature.
    So just off the top of my head:
    -Jeff Winger of “Community,” and his Lexus, an IS 350 according to
    Winger is a lawyer who got disbarred because he faked his college transcripts. In the hopes of getting his BA so he can return to practicing the law, he heads to a joke of a community college to procure a BA. Over the course of the show, it’s established that Winger will take shortcuts, manipulate people, and even outright lie at every opportunity, even if it’d be easier to do honest work, because he thinks he’s above slumming it at a community college, yet every time he tries to skirt around a situation, it usually backfires in his face and he’s forced to fix the mess he made. The guy always puts on an air of superiority and is fussy about how he looks. (Ex.: during a zombie infestation, rather than climb through a dirty window, he opts to take the door because he doesn’t want to get his nice suit dirty. He gets mauled.)
    Lexus is about having an air of superiority, on two fronts. They are Toyotas for people who want others to know they’re rich/important, yet don’t buy a Mercedes or a BMW because they know damn well they’ll get boned on maintenance costs by buying German. It’s the Uber-superior choice. It’s the car for the guy who thinks, “I’m not a sucker. I’m the smartest guy in the room.”Uh, yeah, Winger, you’re the smartest guy in the Study Room, not the Court Room. The guy in the court room has a Mercedes outside. You have an IS 350 that you had to sleep in because you missed rent payments, because you lost your job, because you faked your transcripts.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Pierce’s CTS was also pretty well chosen. Dan Harmon drives a silver Prius, just like the Dean – not sure if that’s a deliberate point.

  5. Dabidoh_Sambone Avatar

    Joy’s Subaru Brat on My Name is Earl. Iconic. Trashy.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Now…is this an American flag on the Brat?

      1. Dabidoh_Sambone Avatar

        As American as Japanese baseball.

  6. NapoleonSolo Avatar

    We used to call this “appropriate technology.” Appropriate technology (AT) is technology that is designed to be “appropriate” to the context of its use. To be effective in practice, an appropriate technology should be easy to maintain. To be effective for many people and have a wide impact, an appropriate technology must be affordable.

  7. NapoleonSolo Avatar

    This was a great fit. Let’s not bring up the Flubbermobile, any Batmobiles, or the Munstermobile.

  8. NapoleonSolo Avatar

    Am I showing my age, yet? Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse had the Catmobile which could fly and sported both radio and video communications. I can’t imagine them in any other car, so it must be typeCARsting.

  9. Volvo_Nut Avatar


  10. Volvo_Nut Avatar

    In Workaholics, Ders drives a 1985 Volvo 740 GLE. His character is the most responsible of the three, and it’s essentially their only form of transportation. Quasi-dependable, and a little shabby, but it gets the job done.

  11. StephaneDumas Avatar

    No mention of Columbo and his Peugeot 403? 😉 (there one photo on )

  12. neight428 Avatar

    Al Bundy’s Dodge/Plymouth:
    “It’s true I hire my body out for pay, uh hey hey…”

  13. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    Bandit. What was the question?

  14. Kiefmo Avatar

    Office Space did a good job of this.
    Peter’s Corolla: a default car for a person who has made it through life solely by making default choices. Of course he’d drive a Corolla.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      Likewise, Tom’s Taurus: a default midsize choice for an older generation of the type that either cannot afford or doesn’t like Japanese-branded cars.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Well, against Japanese-branded cars, other than the Mazda 626 in the driveway.

  15. Kiefmo Avatar

    How did I not know about this BBC adaptation? Oh, right. I was born in the wrong damned country.
    I guess I’ll have to “locate” it through other means, as I have had to do with all of the Discworld adaptations.

  16. Prince Halibrand Avatar
    Prince Halibrand

    THIS. Brilliant all around. Great show.

  17. Sjalabais Avatar

    “It’s a nothing car for a nothing person.”
    Well made point, but….I can also see how its oddity and relative rareness might tingle one or another Hooniversalist in the right spot.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Oh, pish, don’t be silly.
      Well, I’m off to go look at that ad for the 1986 Skoda Rapid with Parts Car again.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Don’t think with your head.

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Surviving examples only exist because their owners have forgotten to throw them away.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        That is true for so many cars I want my claws in…wait, were you trying to convince me of something? 😉

  18. nanoop Avatar

    Columbo’s Peugeot convertible: rather humble, quaint, could need some TLC but still does the job old-school.

  19. FerdiP2 Avatar

    “…at the tone leave your name and message – I´ll get back to you”

  20. irishzombieman Avatar

    A man and his Firebird: Dan Stark in The Good Guys.