TV shows influence people. There’s something about watching a regularly scheduled show that shapes a culture’s style and tastes. The way a character acts, the clothes he wears or the car he drives can all have an impact.
When viewers witnessed a 1969 Dodge Charger called General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, it set off casuals and enthusiasts alike. Both sides wanted to own a car like that and, if they were daring enough, try to pull off the same stunts as Bo and Luke. It went on to become one of the most iconic cars in TV history.
There are a lot of cars in TV shows over the years that people covet. They dream of owning these cars. With so many of the real-life cars used in shows now worth a lot of money, this forces aspiring owners to get their dream cars another way: mods.
By changing the exterior of their cars, fans attempt to recreate some of the coolest cars to ever hit the small screen, regardless of how absurd or impractical they look. They may not even have the resources to pull it off, but that doesn’t keep them from trying their best.
When it comes down to it, some of the best TV cars are too tough to recreate. There are two dilemmas that face these aspiring modders: an easy-access to the original model cars they're based on—such as a 1969 Dodge Charger, for example—and the fictionalized parts that don't exist in the real world, a la Fred Flintstone's car. Despite the challenges, these builders tried anyways, driven by their love for TV automobiles.
The original Adam West Batmobile is worth a lot of money. According to Business Insider, the car from the 1966 show sold for a whopping $4.2 million. They used a Lincoln Futura concept car to based the Batmobile off of, making it hard to replicate by modders today.
An adventurous modder attempted to recreate it in their backyard. Although it looks good, it falls slightly short to the original. That shouldn’t take away from the resources and time that went into this close recreation.
24 Mach 5 from Speed Racer
It’s challenging to adapt cars in real-life from their cartoon counterparts. This one attempts to bring the Mach 5 from Speed Racer into reality. While the replica manages to nail the white and red paint job, it falls short in other design areas.
One of the most iconic parts of the Mach 5 is the front nose. This one doesn’t quite nail it down, instead bearing a smoother and less pointed aesthetic. This custom car still manages to turn heads even if it falls short of the original.
23 Green Hornet Black Beauty
Thanks to a movie adaptation back in 2011, the Black Beauty car from The Green Hornet is familiar to younger audiences too. According to Popular Mechanics, the original car from the show was a Chrysler Imperial Crown.
This custom car has the same frame even if it’s a matte surface instead of sporting the show’s shiny exterior. It’s also missing much of the weaponry that popped out of the vehicle’s hood, such as a flame thrower, which is probably a good thing.
22 Flintstones’ Car
The Flintstones’ car is an impossible car to adapt to reality. First of all, it’s based on a cartoon, so there’s no practical model to base it off of. Secondly, the Flintstones accelerate in the car by actually running with their feet inside of it.
Whether this one truly works or not is unclear; either way, it’s one of the trickiest builds out there. In the cartoon, it technically had a backseat also that could fit the whole family, but this one only has a front seat.
21 Sanford and Son Pickup
This Sanford and Son replication missed a few marks from the original. Its color is a much brighter red and the exterior looks somewhat cartoonish, a little bulky. According to Ford Truck Enthusiasts, the team behind this build actually owns the original 1954 Ford F-100 used in the show.
The look behind this replica takes a more stylistic approach. Although these modders made a conscious decision to go a different route, even an old truck from the 1950s can prove to be a difficult vehicle to make a carbon copy of.
20 A-Team Van
This owner wanted to bring the A-Team’s van to life. The 80s television show used a GMC Vandura, but it only had four wheels. This is a full blown 6x6 that’s longer than the show’s iteration.
As per a YouTube video by c1run1, an inside look at the front shows what appears to be the car’s air filter. This replica may not be an exact copy of the one in the show, but it lends even more space in the back.
19 Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine
This is not your parents’ mystery machine. The one they grew up watching on the popular Scooby-Doo cartoon had a van painted in bright colors. This one fits the bill as far as the paint job goes while adding a few of the characters in.
The only problem is it’s not the same van. It stretches a lot longer and has a rack at the top. Even more, the modders donked out the wheels to make them much bigger than the one in the show.
18 Knight Rider Mustang
There are lots of TV show cars people covet, but one manages to make it on many top lists: K.I.T.T. This car—or character, to be exact—was a 1982 Pontiac Firebird in the show.
According to the site Which Car, the TV producers spent $100,000 to make the eye-catching K.I.T.T. car audiences fell in love with. This modded version someone worked on instead uses a Ford Mustang and implements the iconic red LEDs on the front of the hood.
17 Transformers’ Optimus Prime
Optimus Prime was the leader of the Autobots in the original Transformers cartoon from the ‘80s. He took the form of a huge Peterbilt semi-truck and sported bright red and blue colors. Someone took on the monumental task of adapting this beloved character into a real-life vehicle.
It really stands out here in a parking lot in front of AutoZone. Without a doubt, fans familiar with the show will recognize this Optimus imitation instantly, though it isn't exactly the Peterbilt depicted in the show.
16 Magnum, P.I. Ferrari
Here’s a kit car that attempts to bring the Ferrari 308 GTS from Magnum, P.I. into the real world. Aside from how much bulkier it makes the front of the car, some elements are missing.
Many remember this car cruising through Hawaii. Popular Mechanics points out that one of the cars used in the actual show sold for over $180,000 a few years ago. While this example captures the spirit of the show’s car, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.
15 Dukes of Hazzard General Lee
The General Lee’s entry on this list was inevitable. Replicas of this car are ubiquitous. One thing that isn’t as common though is a 1969 Dodge Charger, the car that the original TV show used.
That forced many to use different models for the base. This also happens to be a full-fledged donk with big wheels and a unique paint job that looks as if the car’s exterior is peeling. The show’s car is tougher to pull off than it seems.
14 Starsky & Hutch Bedford
The Starsky & Hutch car has an iconic look that many will recognize immediately. The car used in the show was a 1976 Ford Gran Torino. Red on the outside, it had a signature white stripe that curved around the back and down the side.
According to Hemmings, one of the original cars they used in the show sold at auction for $40,000. This van may not be an original, but it’s an attempt to recreate a classic but in the form of a Bedford CF.
13 Partridge Family Bus
It’s a familiar bus that those who watched The Partridge Family will recognize right away. The crazy white, yellow, blue and red colors painted across the long bus made it an iconic vehicle of TV. The original one on the show was much longer though.
The team or person behind this build settled for a much smaller bus. They also took some different liberties with the paint job. The wheels, for example, have a different color scheme. This proves that not everyone can recreate the vehicles they grew up watching on TV.
12 Beverly Hillbillies’ Roadster
Many are familiar with the Beverly Hillbillies. It’s hard to forget the opening of the family rolling down the palm tree-lined streets of Beverly Hills in an old worn down pickup. This “tribute” as per Ideal Classic Cars attempts to capture the same spirit and look of that show’s recognizable ride.
Although they managed to recreate it to look close to the show’s car, it’s hard to make it identical. They even added a few dummies dressed up as the show’s characters as a final touch.
11 Munster Koach
The Munsters may have been a bunch of creepy individuals, but all together, they made up a typical US family. What wasn’t so ordinary though was their mode of transportation. The Munster Koach was a cross between a hot rod and a hearse vehicle. Here is a custom job someone made in an attempt to replicate the Munster Koach.
While it bears similar characteristics, not all the parts are the same, such as the headlights and the shifter—thus making it a difficult car to make from scratch.
10 Another Knight Rider Mustang
This is another shot of the Knight Rider Mustang from earlier. Here it’s posing in front of a skyline. The LED light bar is also lit up red, which is a call back to the show’s original K.I.T.T. car. Making K.I.T.T. using a Ford Mustang is giving this car a welcome update, while also demonstrating the difficulty of replicating cars from famous TV shows.
One could argue it’s easier finding a new Ford Mustang than it is a Pontiac Trans Am from the 1980s in perfect condition.
9 Herbie Beetle
This Herbie Beetle tried but couldn’t live up to the small screen version. The iconic beetle from Herbie, the Love Bug was white with red and blue stripes down the middle. It also had a number 53 on the hood and sides.
Although this version foregoes the hood one, it has the number on the side. What’s odd is that the beetle is all black and only bears the number, making it a half-hearted effort in making it like the one seen in the famous show.
8 Face Man’s Car from The A-Team
It’s not the A-Team’s van, but it’s from the same show: Face Man’s Corvette. Simply called “The Vett,” this car managed to gain fans for its unique look. This particular replica, as per YouTube user Robert Videobob Moseley, is a 1984 Corvette C4.
Part of what makes the show’s car iconic is the red stripe that streaks across the border of the car. This one looks similar but this one has slight differences that fall short from the transmission to the top.
7 Stair Car from Arrested Development
The hilarious stair car that shows up throughout the Arrested Development series is not an uncommon car to find. It wouldn’t be hard to find one roaming around an airport. This modder took things to a whole new level by adding the actual flight of stairs to a 1991 Civic Wagon, as per Jalopnik.
They then painted the exterior with the same red, white and blue stripes from the show. It’s a tough mod to pull off that didn’t scare this owner away from trying.
6 General Lee VW Bug
It’s not Herbie, the Love Bug, though it probably should be. Instead, this beetle is an attempt to copy the famed General Lee car from The Dukes of Hazzard. It has the familiar orange paint, the number “01" on the side (instead of Herbie “53”) and says “General Lee” across the top.
Someone took on the impossible task of converting their Beetle into a famous TV car that’s originally a Dodge Charger. Despite getting the car model wrong, it’s an impressive paint job nonetheless.
5 Monkeemobile from The Monkeys
The Monkeemobile comes from the ‘60s show called The Monkeys that centered around the iconic band. This particular version seen here is a replica that got put up for auction. This is just one of two Monkeemobiles made into replicas, as per Street Muscle Magazine, using 1966 GTO convertibles.
For one, this car is missing “The Monkeys” famous logo on the side. Otherwise, it still bears the recognizable nose on the front and its foldable white roof. Once they paint the logo on, it’ll be hard to spot the difference.
4 Kookie T from 77 Sunset Strip
This is an attempt to mimic the famous hot rod called Kookie T in the show 77 Sunset Strip. According to Hemmings, Kookie T managed to inspire modders to make their own hot rods, including this one seen here.
While the Kookie T lent initial inspiration, it veers off into a different stylistic path. It has the flames painted on the sides and gnarly pipes sticking up just like the original but lacks key features. The most glaring thing missing from this replica is the roof cover.
3 Bessie From Doctor Who
In the Doctor Who TV series, the Doctor will often take a yellow roadster to his destinations. This is a recreation of that show’s eye-catching car. No one can deny the amount of work that goes into a modified car like this one.
At the end of the day, it’s a close representation but slightly misses the mark. Looking closely, the grilles are different, and the two lanterns are missing also. One practical addition is the side-view mirrors, which the original car didn’t have.
The Viper TV show centered around a Dodge car that crippled crime on the streets. This car perfectly captures the grayish silver that the original show’s car bears. What it lacks, however, is the signature grille on the front that looks like a whale shark with teeth. The spoiler on the original show’s car is also much smaller and low-key.
Despite the major differences, this is still a worthy replica. It’s worth noting though that the original Viper supercar is one-of-its-kind.
1 1928 Porter from My Mother the Car
It may not be as popular as other TV shows on the list, but this 1928 Porter is similar to the one in My Mother the Car. According to Popular Mechanics, the show centers around a man finding out his mother is reborn as a classic automobile.
The one from the show looks just like this one, only it’s missing some important features. For one, there’s no roof over the top that folds over. There are also additional headlights not on the show’s version.
Sources: YouTube, Hemmings, Ideal Classic Cars, Business Insider, Which Car, Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Popular Mechanics, Jalopnik & Street Muscle Magazine