Stranger Things is wildly popular due to its fun 80’s throwback setting, and its impeccable casting. The cars in the show are just as well chosen as the actors, each perfectly hand picked to represent and deepen the character who drives it. For car lovers this attention to detail adds another enjoyable layer to shows, particularly period pieces like Stranger Things. For this list we focused on a few of the rad rides featured in all three seasons of the show, and how they relate to the character. Some minor spoilers may lay ahead, so play it safe and finish binging season 3 before you head on down.
10 Billy’s Camaro
No offense to Camaro lovers, but the Camaro is the mullet of cars. Billy’s blue Camaro is the ideal choice for the bad boy of Hawkins, and his accompanying hairstyle. The car is seen screeching around backroads, constantly revving its engine, and nearly running several people over. Also like the character, the Camaro is a car that is both good and bad. Camaro’s have always been a relative performance bargain, and the rear seat gives them just a hint of practicality. In many ways the Camaro is a car conflicted about who it is, and that is a vibe that you might get from Billy, and also from mullets.
9 Steve’s 733i
It's hard to imagine a better car from the period for the spoiled preppy kid. Did Steve’s folks get him a 3-series? Nope. Maybe they stepped up to the 5-series? Also, nope. Steve got the big boy, and in a very 80’s shade of brown. Steve’s Bimmer also reflects something about his character. These 1980’s BMW’s have become easier to love as they aged, as they came within reach of the less well off, their charm really started to show. In the time of the show, the car was ostentatious, ridiculous even, for a highschool kid, but those watching the show from present day don’t have the same reaction. Steve also has aged gracefully, shedding his preppy ways, and showing his true character as the show has progressed.
8 Bob Newby’s Camry
Poor Bob. (You were warned about spoilers). The Camry cast as Bob Newby’s ride is just so excellent. Bob was a very normal guy, he enjoyed the simple, sweet things in life, and didn’t expect too much. While he was a simple man, he was also special, and ultimately he was reliable, selfless, and brave. His Camry represents him perfectly. It’s hard to think of a more normal car than a Camry, although they would have been less ubiquitous in the 80’s than they are today. This Camry however is not just any old sedan, Bob Newby got the Camry liftback. The hatch lends itself to a slightly sleeker shape, a little more practicality, but most importantly it takes this very normal seeming car, and makes it something special. RIP Bob Newby, Superhero.
7 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park
Another spot on casting for the Matriarch of the Wheeler family, this big wagon is also the top of the line unit. The Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon represented the pinnacle of the Ford/Mercury full size wagons. If Karen Wheeler was going to be driving a boring old station wagon, it was definitely going to be loaded up, and have a five word name. It is the epitome of suburban stay at home momdom of the time. The wagon also has seating for 8, a big V8, and bitchin' wood paneling. It’s a nice reflection of Karen, who is herself, always dressed to impress, but still a mom first and foremost. This cars real utility shines when Nancy gets behind the wheel in season 3.
6 Jonathon Byers’ Ford Galaxie 500
Jonathan’s car feels like it is largely a reflection of his past, and his socioeconomic status. This car has been through some stuff, and it keeps on running. Jonathan has also not had the easiest life, with a deadbeat dad, and a mom who occasionally was unable to be the steadying influence kids need. Jonathan often had to be the rock in his family, and this car has also been that for him. It is not fast, modern, or cool, but it is his, and it has been reliable for him. It’s not hard to see a 40-something Jonathan Byers, a successful photographer in a suit and tie, leaving the office, and jumping into his big old Ford, serving as a reminder of where he came from, and who he is.
5 Lonnie's Oldsmobile 442
Speaking of deadbeat dads... Although this car is only briefly featured in the show, it deserves recognition for the excellent casting. The 442 is an underrated, lesser-known muscle car, and it’s cool to see one anytime. It was less cool, though, to see the pristine, beautiful Olds parked in the yard of Will and Jonathon Byers father. This shiny machine does a great job of relaying instantly the screwed up priorities of the boys’ dad. While they are struggling financially in Hawkins, their dad is impeccably maintaining a pretty sweet machine a few towns over. The casting of the car, and its condition did a lot to send a message, without any dialogue being needed.
4 Joyce Byers’ Pinto
A bright cheery car with a dangerous side, that’s Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers for sure. She is working hard, and doing the best she can, while still putting on a positive face as much as possible, despite the extremely difficult circumstances she is in. That bright green paint hints at the best of Joyce, she is a light in the world when things aren’t too heavy. The history of the Pinto also adds to the quality of the car’s casting, as we see in the show, Joyce too can get... fiery when it is called for. The Pinto is also a quirky car by today's standards, and Joyce has her quirks and curiosities as well.
3 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible
Let’s call it borrowed. This car is a character of its own and becomes a key part of the later episodes of season three. Beginning it’s time in the show as the chariot of an obviously annoying Wall Street broker type, it is driven by several leading players, and each of them really seems genuinely excited to be behind the wheel of such a rad ride. This car gives us a look at what high class American cars of the time had become. The Todfather reflects the material girl, mall culture of the 1980’s perfectly.
2 Jim Hopper’s K5 Blazer Cop Car
K5 Blazers are just cool. These Blazers, were the absolute height of GM’s full size two-door SUV’s. Add to that the sweet tan two tone police paint job, and those red and blue lights, and you have something special. Could the show’s creators just have put Hopper in a Ford LTD or Chevy Caprice cop car, absolutely not. Hopper is bigger and more rugged than that. He is a man’s man, and that is something he struggles with. Hopper is tough on the outside, but he has feelings, and is dealing with the past loss of his daughter, and currently trying to raise Eleven.
1 ALL THE BIKES!
Stranger Things is a lot of things, it’s a 1980's nostalgia piece, a semi-horror show, sometimes a love story, but it is mostly a coming-of-age tale. This is a show about kids, facing big problems, and all the normal little things teenagers also struggle with. Your bike, for most people is your first ride. The mobility a bike provides is that first taste of freedom, you are able to cover some serious ground, and really take yourself places for the first time. Watching the kids cruising around on their bikes strikes that perfect balance that mirrors the awkward time we all go through. The kids cast in the show are the real stars, and the raddest rides are what those kids use to get around.