Back in the day, there was nothing quite like staying in on a Saturday to watch your favorite cartoons. TV shows like The Jetsons, Speed Racer, and Justice League filled lazy afternoons with fun stories, gadgets, and best of all, cool cars.
Some fly, some talk, some fight aliens from outer space, some just get beloved characters from point A to point B. The real world is full of nice cars, but there’s yet to come along a ride that tops these legends of the fictional world. Get in, let's take a trip in some of the greatest animated vehicles ever!
10 Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 from the Anime Series Initial D
Nicknamed Eight-Six in Japan, this 1983 model was considered ancient next to the other racers of Initial D. Driven by the title character Takumi Fujiwara, what made this car stand out was not its make and model, but the person behind the wheel.
The character Takumi was a racing prodigy and master drifter who, despite a nonchalant attitude about racing, made the Toyota Sprinter do impossible things, and therefore is popular among fans. Painted in white and black with Takumi’s family name marking its door, this car quickly raced into the hearts of fans and became the series’ calling card.
9 The T-Car
Possibly known only to millennials, The T-Car was the technologically-advanced, official team vehicle of The Teen Titans. It was created and sustained by none other than the team's mechanical expert, Cyborg, who used robotic components to construct this unique model.
Outfitted with hover jets for water travel, a nitro booster in the rear, a plasma turbine engine, plus an interface that Cyborg could directly connect to, the T-Car was not only transportation for the superhero team but a tank ready for battle. Possibly modeled after the 2005 Infiniti FX35, the T-Car was ready any time Robin called, “Titans GO!”
8 Megas XLR
Two guys and a girl from the future take a car, make it fire engine red and model it after a 1970s Plymouth Barracuda, and fix it up on top of a giant mech to fight off evil aliens. What’s not to like?
On top of this impossibly cool scenario, the titular character rewires the dash with old gaming equipment, enabling him to fight the bad guys with the same skill needed to play games on the TV screen. Similar to The T-Car, Megas XLR ( which stands for eXtra Large Robot) is not widely known. Needless to say, it's worth getting to know.
7 The Gadget Mobile
The Gadget Mobile is a particularly special car because it has two modes: Van and Police car. The Inspector’s car remained in Van Mode when doing domestic activities with Penny and Brian, but as soon as a mystery appeared, bam! The Police Mode was activated and Inspector Gadget was on the case.
Closely resembling the Locust Esprit models, the Police Mode Gadget Mobile came to every scene prepared with gadgets upon gadgets: a giant robotic claw, a giant magnet and so many more. The Gadget Mobile is fast, reliable and helps Inspector Gadget solve cases. At one point, it even flies.
6 The Flintstones’ "Foot Mobile"
The "Foot Mobile" is, if nothing else, iconic in its simplicity. Although it lacks pretty much everything one would look for in a car nowadays, it seemed to get the job done just fine for the Flinstone family during the unpredictable prehistoric era.
Without windows or a floor, it’s hard to say how they managed to keep warm or cool when the weather changed. One thing is for certain: The Foot Mobile packed a punch in horsepower, courtesy of the well-worn feet driving it. Plus, it somehow managed to fit every family member who needed a ride. A pre-modern miracle.
5 Mach 5
A fan favorite. Known for its stark white color and aerodynamic body, with the bright red “M” on its hood, this fictional car is steeped in the heart of Japanese and American culture. What made it extra special was the enhanced steering wheel. Put there by Pop Racer, the seven lettered buttons on the steering wheel activated customized accessories.
Each accessory gave Speed Racer an advantage in a race. An open-roofed two-seater with no radio, the Mach 5 was a true racing machine, flying past the competition while Speed Racer and company gave comically dramatic commentary. Demon on wheels is right!
4 The Mystery Machine
Reminiscent of a 1960s era panel van, the Mystery Machine didn’t have any super special features, but that doesn’t make it forgettable by any means. Although it was never tricked out or modified, it did transport the greatest detective journalism team in history to and from criminal cases.
It also worked as a rescue van, picking up the Scooby-gang and whoever joined them along the way, high-tailing it out of sticky situations. Not to mention its uncanny ability to stock whichever supplies were needed (especially Scooby snacks) by anyone at any given time. Mystery Machine, indeed. It's not strictly a car, no, but how could we not include it here?
3 Lightning McQueen
What’s cooler than a talking car? An anthropomorphic one! When the Pixar film Cars hit the theatres there were more than just kids filling the seats: car enthusiasts were all intrigued by the daring concept.
Here was a world of cars that not only raced, but smiled and snarked and spat while doing it. A cherry red Corvette mixed with some Ford GT40, Lightning McQueen was funny, charming, and easy to empathize with. It’s what made seeing a second and third movie so bearable, which isn't always the case with sequels!
After seeing Transformers, everyone wanted a yellow Camaro just in case it turned out to be an alien robot, but no-one seems to remember Bumblebee’s humble beginnings as a small, 1967 model Volkswagen Beetle. This little guy was always out to prove himself, relying on espionage and data collection to get the job done.
Unlike its movie counterpart, cartoon Bee could talk, and was not only a reliable messenger for the Autobots but a smart aleck. Whether you prefer movie Bee or cartoon Bee, we can all agree that a car moonlighting as a superhero is pretty cool.
1 The Batmobile
The dark protector of Gotham has to ride in style, and under the radar. Although the Batmobile has come in many shapes and forms over the years, nothing beats the animated classic of 1992.
Sleek and mysterious with a hint of 1950s muscle car, it’s outfitted with all the tools a vigilante needs: Jet exhaust, titanium alloy wheels and paneling, advanced computer complete with auto-pilot mode, a grappling hook, wheel slasher hubs, and the list goes on. Inspired by a fictional “car of the future” in Batman’s own lore, the Batmobile’s true-to-life inspiration is the 1955 Lincoln Futura.