Iconic Cars of Television

Last month I posted about the Iconic Cars from the Movies. This month it’s about the Iconic Cars of television. As a kid I can remember watching some of my favorite television shows and wishing I had a car just like that.

There have been plenty of shows through out the years that have aired in our living-rooms where the car was the real star of the show. Shows like Knight Rider and The Dukes of Hazzard.

Below are just a few of the cars that made an impression on me.

1960's Batmobile

Batmobile / Batman

from the 1966–1968 live action television show and its film adaptation began life as a Ford concept car called the Lincoln Futura, built over a decade earlier in 1955.

ABC-TV chose famed Hollywood customizer George Barris to design a “Batmobile” for their soon-to-go-into-production Batman show.

Dean Jeffries worked on the design and initial fabrication for the Batmobile, using a 1959 Cadillac, but when the studio wanted the car faster than he could provide, he turned it back to George Barris. With only three weeks to finish, Barris decided that rather than build a car from scratch, it would be best to transform the Lincoln Futura (bought from Ford for $1.00 into the famous crimefighting vehicle of TV’s caped crusader.

Barris hired Bill Cushenberry to do the metal modifications to the car. When filming for the series began, several problems arose due to the age of the car: it overheated, the battery went dead, and the expensive Mickey Thompson tires kept blowing. By mid season, the engine and transmission were replaced with a Ford Galaxie’s. The most frequent visual influence of this car is that later Batmobiles usually have a rear rocket thruster that usually fires as the car makes a fast start.


The Koach / The Munsters

Munsters 2

The Koach / The Munsters

Designed and built by George Barris. The Koach was made from 3 Model T bodies and is 18 feet long. The 133″ frame was made by hand.

It took 500 hours to hand form the ornate rolled steel scrollwork. It had Gloss Black Pearl paint. The front end had a dropped axle, split radius rods and T springs. The studio gave George Barris 21 days to complete the car. Powered by a 289 Ford Cobra engine from a 1966 Mustang GT.

Green Hornet Black Beauty 2

Black Beauty / Green Hornet

Green Hornet Black Beauty 1

Black Beauty / Green Hornet

The Green Hornet television show of 1966 and 1967, the “Black Beauty” was built by star Hollywood carmaker Dean Jeffries, both based on 1966 Imperials.

Dean Jeffries was given the job and 30 days to get it done. The series had just two Imperials, whereas the modern-day movie had 29.

Black Beauty ran a 440-cubic-inch V8 turning out 350 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque running through a three-speed automatic.


Coyote / Hardcastle and McCormick

The Coyote X, was built from custom molds based on the McLaren M6GT. The original Coyote X was molded, modified and assembled by Mike Fennel. The nose, windshield doors and lower body are faithful representations of the McLaren.

The car uses a chassis from a Volkswagen Beetle and its engine from a Porsche 914.

General Lee

The General Lee / The Dukes of Hazzard

The General Lee is the Dodge Charger driven by cousins Bo and Luke Duke in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard.

From 1979 to 1985, 1968 and 1969 model-year Chargers were converted to into General Lee’s. An estimated 256 General Lees were used to film the series. Seventeen still exist in various states of repair. On average, more than one General Lee was used up per show.


KITT / Knight Rider

KITT, the Knight Industries Two-Thousand, was a customized 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am. The 1982 model year was the first year of the third-generation (1982-1992) F-bodies and was a complete redesign of the second-generation.

Glen A. Larson borrowed the idea of K.I.T.T.’s hood mounted scanner from one of his earlier projects, Battlestar Galactica.

Pontiac, who supplied the Trans Am for the series, found itself swamped with customer requests for black Firebird Trans Ams with T-tops, tan interiors, and red lights on the front bumper, just like the show car.

Categories: Television

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