All the TV shows and films I adore have one thing in common. No, I’m not talking about great directing, believable characters, or even women shaking there ta-ta’s like they were a blender on puree. What I’m talking about is cool machines.
There’s nothing like a hot ride on the screen to make the little boy in me jump up, take control of my motor functions, and start making vroom vroom sounds. With that in mind I’d like to present you with what I think are ten of the coolest vehicles in film and TV history.
10. United States Air Force “LandMaster” - 1977 film Damnation Alley
Just survived a nuclear war and looking for transport? Well then look no further because the 11 ton, 35 foot long Landmaster is the vehicle for you. The 391 cubic inch engine in this baby guarantees that you can power through bad weather, armor plated cockroaches, and even the most persistent of radioactive hillbillies with the ease that Henry Ford intended. Giant mutated scorpions giving you trouble? The 6 cannons and exterior mounted armor piercing bazookas will satisfy any amount of road rage and keep you right on schedule. The roomy interior features plush seats, cup holders, bunk beds, and even a delousing station. Civilization may be ending in a firestorm of nuclear hell but you’ll be riding the open roads in style!
Please note that the manufactures of the Landmaster cannot take any responsibility for the acting skills of Jan Michael Vincent or George “I’m Really Grumpy” Peppard.
9. Drag-U-La – The Munsters TV show
Everyone knows that driving a car is dangerous. More than 40,000 of us go to the eternal junkyard in the sky every year while cruising the highways. Most carmakers tend to shy away from that fact, figuring it’s not a big selling point. How refreshing then to finally see a car that celebrates that danger and the mortality inherent in all men!
The Drag-U-La only seats one (of course) and gets a mere 4 miles per gallon of embalming fluid but it more than makes up for those defects with it’s groovy ghoulie design and style. This coffin rocket sports a 360 cubic inch engine, 4-speed shift, bat shaped air scoops, and an exhaust system shaped like the organ pipes they’ll play at your funeral when you hit something while traveling in it. Yes, unlike the eternal bloodsucker the car is named after, you’re life will be forfeit for the first distracted redneck that drives by in a jacked up king cab. And with a top speed of 180mph, the weak plexiglass shielding the driver’s head will be no match for the unyielding asphalt your skull bucket will be bouncing off of. But on the plus side it’s shaped like a coffin…. ain’t life ironic?
8. JetCar – 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Built by scientist and rock star Buckaroo Banzai, facts about the jetcar are hard to come by. Department of Defense officials still refuse to go on record about the vehicle and it’s properties and the legendary 1984 road test is spoken of in scientific circles as an event of almost mythic proportions. What is known is that the jetcar was built to exceed Mach 1 and contained a curious device known as the “oscillation overthruster.” Did this arcane instrument allow the vehicle to power through the side of a mountain and come out unharmed as the rumors suggest? Facts are few and far between but Banzai’s fellow scientist and hair model “Perfect Tommy” may have let a few of them slip during a 1994 interview with Cosmo magazine.
Interviewer: What’s your idea of an ideal woman?
Perfect Tommy: Oh you know, one that won’t freak out when you drive through a rock wall, slip into the 8th dimension, and come home with some slimy thing stuck to your axle.
Interviewer: Excuse me?
Perfect Tommy: Forget I said anything.
7. Aston Martin DB5 – 1964 film Goldfinger
James Bond really has it all….the best clothes, the hottest girls, and, of course, all the coolest toys. I’d go so far as to say that without all those gadgets Bond would just be like every other guy with a gun and a license to kill. Over the years he’s had jetpacks, briefcase guns, exploding watches, and even x-ray specs and the ultimate in high tech highway hardware, his original Aston Martin. Sure the car looks hot straight out of the factory but Bond’s vehicle sports all the deadliest gadgets that Q could think to throw into it. Stuff like dual machine guns, radar, revolving license plates, oil slicks, smoke screens, and even bullet proof windshields make this one car you don’t want to mess with. About the only thing the car can’t do is mix a shaken martini.
It’s no wonder that women like Pussy Galore throw themselves at Bond’s feet. The Aston Martin is the vehicular equivalent of waving a sign that says, “I’m cool, have sex with me.” Pretty soon every woman you meet is looking at your 76 AMC Pacer and asking if it has an ejector seat. Damn you James Bond!
6. United Nations Space Command Warthog – Halo video game
I know, I know, the warthog hasn’t been in a TV show or movie yet. (Cross your fingers that the movie deal hasn't been killed all the way.) But are you going to nitpick about details when you touchdown in New Mombassa and are being chased by fanatical aliens hell-bent on making you into chop suey?
I didn’t think so.
The Warthog is a great multipurpose assault vehicle that seats 3 and can operate in a plethora of different terrains. Steep inclines and deep ravines are no match for the 4 balloon tires and sturdy chassis. Plus the swivel machine gun on top comes in very handy when the High Prophet of Regret shows up and tries to turn you into a messy red pulp of bio-engineered body parts.
But the real genius of the Warthog is that it’s indestructible. You can push it from a cliff, off a bridge, or even drive it down a bottomless pit and it will be no worse for the wear. You simply can’t break the damn thing. You could nuke this sucker from orbit and all you would have to do is turn it right side up for it to be fully operational. Why can’t they make your armor from the same stuff they make the Warthog from?
5. Light Cycle – 1982 film Tron
Why worry about turning radius, braking speeds or comfort when you can have a vehicle that simply defies the laws of physics? Need to make a 90-degree turn at a high rate of speed? No problem! Need to kill an enemy? Let your unyielding wall of colored exhaust do the job for you! Parking is never an issue with a light cycle since it simply appears and molds itself around your body whenever you want. That’s good news since you won’t be able to carry around many quarters in that glowing leotard you’re forced to wear.
Speaking of those leotards, am I the only one to ever think that the Master Control Program was gay? Just think about it. He makes everyone prance around in those silly costumes. Plus he’s acting bitchy one second and then being all withdrawn the next when things don’t go his way. And just take a look at the colors he chooses for his “cylinder” (Geez, another clue!) Kind of brings a whole new meaning to the phrase end of line now don’t it?
4. Pursuit Special – 1981 film The Road Warrior
“Last of the V8 Interceptors, be a shame to blow it up.”
-Some weird crippled guy
Mad Max has it rough. His world’s nuked, wife’s murdered, and yesterday’s dinner was eaten straight from a dog food can. All in all, it didn’t turn out to be a very good year. About the only thing Max has going for him is that he has the coolest damn car on the Australian continent. Of course having a vehicle like that forces you to roam the wastelands searching for gas and that leads to it’s own host of problems. You ever try siphoning a gallon of unleaded while a guy with a pink Mohawk swings a chain at your head? It ain’t easy.
But the car is worth it. Featuring a black on black motif with a kick ass blower sticking out of the hood and room inside for the family pet and his shotgun. In fact the car’s roomy interior means that no matter how much leather you have on, you’re sure to be riding in style and comfort.
Special Note: It’s best to use self-service fuel pumps with this vehicle since unknowing gas station attendants have a tendency to cause the car to explode.
3. Mach Five – Speed Racer TV series
The appropriately named Speed Racer who makes his living as both an international racecar driver and a fighter of evil forces drives the Mach Five. He’s sort of a combination of Richard Petty and Batman (but without the cowboy hat or persecution complex) Speed’s car is much like Bond’s Aston Martin but, instead of hiding all the special functions, the Mach Five proudly displays them on it’s steering wheel. None of the buttons are labeled so any idiot that sits in the drivers seat can randomly hit a knob and cause everything from rotary saws to laser beams to come to life. Clearly the manufacturers of the Mach Five didn’t consider safety to be a huge issue.
The Mach Five conquers this design flaw by being able to overcome almost any obstacle thrown in its path. It can drive underwater, run over other cars, do side wheelies for extended lengths of time and even act as a blimp with enough balloons tied to it. About the only fault in the Mach Five’s design (besides those pesky unlabeled buttons) is the ease in which young children and monkeys can gain access to the vehicle’s trunk.
2. Schlepcar – Wonderbug TV series
Now here’s a vehicle that had an insane amount of special features. Sure it comes equipped with a magic horn that can turn it from a beat up junker into a hotrod dune buggy. And yes, even more amazing, is that in dune buggy mode the headlights became eyes, the bumper became a mouth, and it somehow acquires the power of flight. Sure, that all sounds pretty incredible. But I’ll let you in on the real secret power of this sucker…. it has the power of never letting the three stoners who own it get arrested. Trust me, the 3 teenagers who ride around in this thing are baked out of their gourds 24/7.
Oh sure these kids think they are fighting crime and stopping evil but in reality they are driving 10 miles an hour through the streets of Burbank trying to find a Quickie-mart to satisfy the munchies. Schlepcar must have an anti-Cop force field that he never tells them about.
Extra Irony Points awarded for the fact that one of the teens became an adult film star later on in his life.
1. Knight Automated Roving Robot – Knight Rider TV series
I’m sure some of you were holding your breath, waiting for KITT from Knight Rider to make his appearance on my list. Well you can all exhale now; I’m not going there. He’s a has-been if you ask me; more overexposed that David Hasselhoff’s chest hair. Let me set you straight, the coolest car on the show was KITT’s evil twin KARR.
Unlike KITT, KARR has no urge to be all goody-goody. The hell with David Hasselhoff says KARR; I can make it on my own. Wisely dispensing with a human driver leaves KARR with more time to find out just what kind of vehicle he really is. After suitable introspection KARR discovers that his biggest joys in life are stealing lasers, trying to blow up KITT, and spending time at the beach. On the inside, KARR is a lot like you and me, just with a carburetor instead of a spleen.
Yes, KARR gets my top vote. An evil Trans Am with a mind of it’s own? Now that’s quality entertainment.