That old adage about viewing the past with rose-colored glasses firmly applies to the ’80s more so than about any other decade in recent memory. The truth is that the ’80s were not a glamorous time, yet pop-culture has placed the decade of decadence on a platform of adulation out of pure nostalgia. This is rather fitting when looking back on the most iconic cars from ’80s TV shows, because most of the picture cars that have been identified as icons of ’80s TV are also rather plain when you really think about them. What makes these cars the best cars from that decade’s TV programs are the memories associated with them more so than the cars themselves. With that said, these cars are legendary to TV viewers and car buffs and have earned their place in the annals of Hollywood and automotive history.
The Fall Guy’s Truck
Lee Majors was “The Six Man Dollar Man” during the ’70s, but took on a more blue-collar role during the ’80s when he became “The Fall Guy.” The Fall Guy’s ride of choice was a modestly lifted early-’80s GMC four-wheel drive truck. There were no crazy modifications to the stock two-tone brown and beige truck beyond a subtle lift-kit, mud tires, light bar, wench, and an iconic eagle logo on the hood, but the truck became a legend thanks to its memorable chase scenes, death-defying jumps and images of Heather Thomas running around it.
Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari
Over a decade before Kato Kaelin became the world’s most famous guesthouse dweller, Thomas Sullivan Magnum, a.k.a. Magnum P.I., was captivating TV audiences from the confines of the Robin’s Nest estate in Hawaii. But it was not his tenement that made his character; it was his Ferrari 308 GTS. The red targa top car was inextricably linked with the image of Tom Selleck’s iconic mustache and vibrant Hawaiian-print shirts that allowed his chest hair to peek out in pure ’80s fashion.
Miami Vice Hero Cars
Sonny Crockett was an ’80s icon and the picture car coordinator for TV’s “Miami Vice” did well in selecting a car that would suit the cool vibe of the ’80s hero. During the first two seasons, Sonny Crockett cruised the streets of South Beach in a black 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spider 365 GTS/4, the perfect ride for the setting and white linen sport coat character wardrobe. During the third season, Sonny Crockett took the keys of a white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa, which also seemed to be the perfect vehicle to embody 1986 Miami.
Bobby Ewing’s Mercedes SL Convertible
If you drove a Mercedes during the ’80s, you had money. This was before the rise of entry-level models and price-point driven lease programs. What more fitting vehicle for an oil magnate than a bright red Mercedes SL convertible? These cars were luxurious, sexy, expensive, and had a presence as big as the state of Texas so it seems like the ONLY appropriate ride for Bobby Ewing.
KITT from Knight Rider
Knight Industries Two Thousand, more commonly referred to as KITT, was a supercomputer on wheels back in the ’80s. The 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am had more in common with a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class than any General Motors Product of the Reagan-era. The highly modified 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am featured a scanner bar on the hood that allowed the car to monitor the road ahead, an in-dash entertainment center, and even talked to its driver with a personality that is still sorely lacking from OnStar and Siri.
The A-Team Van
The GMC cargo van is the most unassuming vehicle on this list when in its normal guise. The picture car coordinator for TV’s “The A-Team” subtly added a red stripe and spoiler bar in addition to red rim accents and suddenly that black full-size van became a legend. The adventures that are associated with this classic ’80s TV car also had something to do with the van’s iconic status.
The General Lee
The bright orange 1969 Dodge Charger driven by the Duke boys on TV’s “The Dukes of Hazzard” is one of the most recognizable cars in all of film and television history, not just the ’80s. The car’s popularity is so widespread that it has inspired people to paint a wide variety of vehicles, ranging from economy cars to mopeds, in General Lee livery.
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