There are plenty of things in the wonderful world of television that we wish we could have - massive apartments in New York city that are affordable even if you rarely seem to actually go to work; dozens of absolutely stunning single women in every bar, ever; the ability to make people find our strange quirks charming and adorable, rather than deeply off-putting; a never-ending wardrobe; literal superpowers; bookcases that swivel to reveal racks of high-tech weaponry; the ability to get away with actual murder, best the FBI, and do some light hacking without even thinking about it; and, of course, the really, really, cool cars.
From the impossibly cool superhero cars like the Batmobile to some more believable options like the Winchester’s Impala and even a few honorable mentions that aren’t so much cool as their own kind of iconic, we’ve rounded up all the best cars to ever grace the small screen. Owning some of these bad boys is even possible, although the more superpowered or sentient ones on the list are obviously not going to be sitting in the driveway anytime soon. But this isn’t about being realistic; it’s about drooling over cars so cool that they even outdo the driver sometimes… or, at the very least, are as iconic a character within the series as the other leads. Cool, ridiculous, ridiculously awesome, and everything in between, these are the 20 cars we would most love to own from TV shows.
20 The Impala (Supernatural)
The Impala, baby, is Dean Winchester’s most prized possession - and with good reason. A 1967 black Chevy Impala, with a 327 four-barrel engine and 275 horsepower, baby, wasn’t quite the hundred millionth vehicle to roll off the line (that happened three days earlier), but it's far more important. This car has been a home to Sam and Dean when they were living on the road. It's survived ghosts and monsters and angels and demons. It's been destroyed and rebuilt and has saved the world at least once. It’s also packing a trunk full of weaponry and a Devil’s Trap on the inside so that demons can be held inside. The actual cars on the show vary slightly, especially when it comes to the engine, with the main ‘Hero’ car having a 502 Big Block 550 Horsepower Engine.
19 Party Wagon (TMNT)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s iconic ride may not be quite as sleek and sophisticated as most other super vehicles, but it’s still incredibly cool. Originally just a common van, and also known as the "Turtle Van," the Turtles’ ride has been modified over and over, adding communications systems, weapons systems, armor, and even the ability to shoot sewer covers at enemies. Different versions of the Party Wagon put the focus on different things - defense, offense, transport, and espionage being some of the many uses of the van, although the turtle-shell accents make it far from inconspicuous. Owning the Party Wagon would be the ultimate for fans of the original animated series from the ‘80s (or any of the rest of the TMNT franchise - let’s be honest!).
18 The Barracuda (Nash Bridges)
Another detective show with a truly fantastic car front and center, Nash Bridges features smart-alec police inspector Nash Bridges (obviously) dealing with his complicated personal life at night and spending the daytime cruising around in a bright yellow 1970 Plymouth Barracuda solving crimes. The heavily restored ‘Cuda is absolutely stunning, and, at the time of filming, was one of the most expensive production vehicles in its class. Buying one of these extremely rare muscle cars today would run you $2-3 million, and that’s assuming you could find someone willing to give it up. This is an ultimate for muscle-car collectors, with a 426 V8 engine and more than 425 horsepower, as well as a range of other modifications for the series, including a reinforced front end and a Shaker hood scoop.
17 The Mystery Van (Scooby Doo)
Not the sleekest or the smoothest of rides, but this is on the wishlist of every stoner and pop-culture aficionado. The van that the Scooby Gang rides around in solving mysteries, the Mystery Van, is iconic and has enough seating for everyone you know! Although many people assume that it’s a VW Microbus, thanks to the flower-power feel and the spare tire on the front, the make and model are never actually revealed (and it’s far too boxy to be a Microbus anyway). Instead, it’s a mash-up of various ‘60s panel vans, meaning that if we actually owned it, it would be a one-off, which is a whole different kind of cool - although in a pinch, a custom-made Microbus would do the trick, too…
16 Brian’s Prius (Family Guy)
Family Guy isn’t a series that makes a whole lot of sense - and it’s not supposed to. But when it comes to the Griffin Family vehicles, the craziest thing is that the dog has the nicest ride. While the rest of the family struggle to get by in their crappy old station wagon, Brian is cruising around in a 2004 Toyota Prius with a vanity plate that reads ‘BRI-D0G.’ By now, that may not sound very impressive, but when Brian first got the car, it was almost brand new and had only recently become available on the worldwide market - definitely a status symbol to a certain kind of person. Of course, Brian’s choice of a more eco-friendly car still ends up making him the butt of jokes from the rest of the family.
15 Detective Gordon’s Diplomat (Gotham)
One of the coolest things about Gotham is its strange timelessness; some parts of the show appear almost modern (especially the weaponry), while others are reminiscent of ‘70s and ‘80s cop shows, and still others fit more with the ‘90s. Detective Gordon’s car, for example, is a classic cop car of the ‘80s, a 1987 Dodge Diplomat. The specs are never explicitly discussed on-screen, and although they have a few high-speed chases through the streets of Gotham, they aren’t really the important part. Instead, Gordon’s car is cool simply because it looks cool. It’s the perfect classic detective car, and it gives him the kind of edge that a more modern vehicle just couldn’t.
14 The Batmobile
Some of the big-screen versions of the Batmobile have definitely been cooler than the one that hit television in the classic ‘60s Batman series, but this version is still the original (and possibly the most iconic). This 1955 Lincoln Futura is a concept car that was customized for the series - with some special additions just for Batman. From the red trim and bat symbol on the side and the hubcaps to the less realistic bat-weaponry; the bat-tering ram, the bat-magnet, the bat-scope, the bat-phone, the bat-ray… really, any potentially useful gadget you can think of with the word ‘bat’ added to the name! The actual car needed a few updates during filming (including a replacement engine) due to the age, but there’s just something about the original Batmobile that looks incredibly cool… even if the gadgets aren’t real.
13 Inspector Morse’s Jaguar (Inspector Morse)
This ultimately British detective series will appeal to fans of Sherlock Holmes… especially if they wish that the lead detective was a little less brilliant and a little more into good wine and fast cars. It helps that Inspector Morse himself cruises around Oxford solving crimes in a 1960 Jaguar Mark II with a 2.4l engine and a top speed of 120mph. The red Jaguar is one of the most recognizable cars on British television and is the perfect ride for the stiff-upper-lipped Morse, who loves the finer things in life. Up there with Bond’s Aston Martin when it comes to British cool, the Jag made waves when it was sold in 2005 for an unnamed sum - presumed to be above 150K.
12 Tango T600 (Silicon Valley)
This is definitely one for the nerds, the rich… and the people who absolutely hate being stuck in traffic! The all-electric Tango T600 was designed by Commuter Cars, who have only put out around twenty since production began in 2005. This teeny tiny car is about half the width of a standard vehicle, with seats fighter-jet style (one behind the other) and with the ability to go from zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds. It doesn’t have a huge range, but with the ability to slip between lanes and beat the traffic, it’s definitely a cool car to have for commuters and the eco-friendly crowd. Of course, it’s also incredibly quirky, and the reaction to it in Silicon Valley (“f***ing billionaire”) is probably more likely than admiration… even if George Clooney has one.
11 The Munster Koach (The Munsters)
This monstrously wonderful sitcom introduced a one-of-a-kind vehicle to the small screen, the Munster Koach. Built out of the bodies of three Ford Model Ts, it’s a massive 18 feet long, with three rows of seats and a fourth raised seat hanging off the back - big enough for the entire Munster family. In 1864, it cost around $18,000 to build (which converts to over $143,000 today), with hand-formed steel scrollwork, brass radiators, and fenders. Most of the Koach was built from scratch to create this totally unique vehicle with its black exterior and blood-red velvet interior (even though the series was broadcast in black and white, so fans couldn’t see the color). Totally impractical for actually driving around, this is still a car that we would love to have in the driveway.
10 Mach 5 (Speed Racer)
There have been multiple adaptations of the Speed Racer (aka Mach GoGoGo), a manga-turned-franchise about Japanese racing, and what all of them have in common are the absolutely incredible cars. The Mach 5, Go Mifune’s main vehicle, is an incredible (if entirely fictional) machine, similar to standard racing cars but with a series of buttons on the steering wheel that activate various gadgetry used to help him win the race. These include jacks that lift the car, for anything from maintenance and repairs to literally leaping over obstacles, retractable tire grips for icy terrain, retractable rotary saws to cut through obstacles (especially forests), a bullet-proof deflector that protects the driver, super-powered headlights (used in tandem with an infra-red visor), a homing robot that can carry messages and is controlled remotely from the cockpit, and even an underwater mode.
9 The A-Team Van (The A-Team)
I pity the fool… who wouldn’t want an A-Team Van. Ok, so technically, it’s nothing that special. It’s just a 1983 Chevrolet GMC Vandura, painted black and grey with a red stripe, but it’s the recognition of this particular van as the one driven by the most brilliantly ridiculous mercenary team ever that makes it so darn cool. In addition, the Vandura did have a few nifty gadgets from time to time, like a gun locker, a printer, audio surveillance equipment, and various disguises, but most of these are pretty outdated at this point. They also weren’t consistently part of the van from episode to episode, as the show is chock full of continuity errors, but that’s all part of the fun.
8 Lola (Agents of SHIELD)
Agent Coulson’s beloved Lola is a red 1962 Chevrolet Corvette, and even if that was it, it would still be one of the coolest cars on TV. However, this being the Marvel universe, it’s not just a ‘62 Corvette. It’s a ‘62 Corvette that's been tinkered with by the Stark men as well as Agent Coulson himself, which means that it's packing more than a few optional extras. Lola has a bulletproof windshield, guns behind the headlights, a flamethrower (for when the guns just aren’t enough), the world’s first GPS system, and most impressive of all, it's hover capable. The tires rotate sideways to reveal a miniature version of the same tech that allows the Helicarrier to fly.
7 Crockett’s Daytona and Testarossa (Miami Vice)
The ultimate ‘80s detective series, Miami Vice showcased more than one amazing car, but the first (and the iconic one, for many) was Detective Crockett’s 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4. The black Ferrari was sadly destroyed in the first few episodes of the third season (by Stinger Missile, in true Miami Vice style) and replaced with the equally flashy white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa. These aren’t the only impressive machines in the series either, as Miami Vice was packed with flashy boats, as well as the excessive number of firearms that the show is known for. We wouldn’t want to wear those crisp white suits these days, but a Daytona or a Testarossa has aged much better than the wardrobe.
6 Canyonero (The Simpsons)
A parody of every oversized, gas-guzzling SUV on the American market, the Canyonero is the most impressively ridiculous car in animation. This ‘country-fried truck endorsed by a clown’ packs some thoroughly unrealistic specs, such as being twelve yards long (that’s forty feet), two lanes wide, sixty-five tons and seating for thirty-five people. But hey, there's nothing better than this massive and impractical machine that's just perfect for squirrel-squashin’ and deer smackin’… or just getting a hilarious theme song stuck in your head. And of course, at this size, it’s bigger than many of the uber-fashionable tiny houses on the market, so if need be, it could even double as a second home (which is a more practical use than as an actual car)!
5 Ferrari 308 GT (Magnum PI)
Even if you can’t grow a mustache like the one and only Tom Selleck, you can drive a car like the red Ferrari made famous by his stint on Magnum PI. The show actually used a series of different Ferraris over the eight seasons of the show, with a new model each year that the private detective was in Hawaii, making everyone in the ‘80s jealous. The original car for the series was a 1979 308 GTS, with a 3.0-liter V8 engine and a four-valve-per-cylinder engine. Each year, the previous season’s model would be returned to Ferrari to be auctioned off and replaced with the latest model, meaning that Magnum always had the latest sportscar to zoom around the island in.
4 General Lee (The Dukes Of Hazzard)
Also known simply as ‘The General,’ this 1969 Dodge Charger was the main car driven by Bo and Luke in the Dukes of Hazzard. This bright orange Charger with a distinctive ‘01’ painted on the side and a Confederate flag on the roof became an iconic part of the series, famous for car chases and driving stunts, including the incredibly long jump that features in the credits (and which needed a trunk full of cement in order to work). General Lee is also known for its distinctive horn… and for being destroyed on set time and time again. Hundreds of these cars were wrecked on set, leading to a few shots in later seasons actually being of AMC Ambassadors.
3 Black Beauty (The Green Hornet)
A supercar to rival the Batmobile, The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty is as much a star of the ‘60 TV show as Kato or the Green Hornet himself. A customized 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial sedan, Black Beauty was kitted out with an impressive range of gadget and weaponry to help the Green Hornet in his fight against evil. Various elements include green ‘infrared’ headlights, hood-mounted machine guns, and rockets behind the bumpers. A small flying ‘scanner’ could be separated from the car for surveillance, and a gas nozzle in the grid could provide smokescreens and non-lethal Green Hornet Gas. The Black Beauty was later updated for the more recent Green Hornet movie, adding extras like a flamethrower, machine guns, anti-riot spikes, and stinger missiles.
2 Ford Gran Torino (Starsky and Hutch)
Before the PIs and Detectives of the ‘80s with their cool cars, there was Starsky and Hutch, one of the best-known cop shows of the ‘70s. These two detectives drove around in their now-iconic 1975 351 Windsor V8 Gran Torino, which sported a bright red with a signature white stripe down the side. In addition to the custom paint job, the Gran Torino was customized to better equip it for the various stunt shots throughout the series, although that distinctive engine roar was actually added in post to make it louder than it was in real life. Throughout the series, various models of the Gran Torino were used from 1974 to 1976 because the bodywork wasn’t notably different (and the cars were constantly being banged up in stunt scenes).
1 KITT (Knight Rider)
The ultimate supercar for crime-fighting, KITT (or Knight Industries Two Thousand) is the name of the artificially intelligent car given to Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) to help him in his new role as a superhero. Originally, KITT was in the body of a 1982 Pontiac Firebird, although the second KITT was a 2008/2009 Ford Shelby GT500KR. KITT has a particularly sensitive personality and is loaded with features, including entertainment systems, self-driving capability thanks to the Alpha Circuit, and a bulletproof Molecular Bonded Shell (and a thermo-resistant coating to protect against fire and extreme heat). Powered by a turbojet with modified afterburners, it can go 0 - 60 in 2 seconds, and even faster with the use of the turbo-boosters. But all that (and more) just doesn’t compare to the fact that it’s an actual intelligent, self-aware car - the ultimate in TV cool.