Sep. 4, 2012 at 8:39 AM ET
Even if your own ride is a battered Honda Civic with no air-conditioning and a busted radio, you can appreciate the oh-so-cool cars of the movies and TV. Here are some of our favorites.
'Smokey and the Bandit' Trans Am
The black 1977 Pontiac Trans Am in the classic Burt Reynolds film was a dream car for any kid in the 1970s. From the Firebird decal on the hood to Sally Field riding shotgun, everything about that car was hot. It was always the fastest of the bunch in my own Hot Wheels collection, and was an easy choice when I could only bring one toy on a road trip. In the film, Reynolds was a perfect fit, maybe because the T-roof allowed a little extra room for the cowboy hat he almost never took off. And the music of Jerry Reed served as a perfect complement as Bandit and Snowman hauled tail to get that beer from Texarkana to those thirsty boys in Atlanta. -- Kurt Schlosser
'Starsky & Hutch' Gran Torino
The only thing cooler than Huggy Bear in the '70s cop show “Starsky & Hutch” was the red 1974 Gran Torino with the unique white stripe. Classic muscle cars were a standard of most good cop dramas, but no paint job was as simple and dramatic as that on David Starsky’s “striped tomato,” as Kenneth Hutchinson called it in one episode. The pair rarely went anywhere in so-called Bay City, Calif., without leaving skid marks. And in the 2004 big screen adaptation, the car was as big a star as Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. -- K.S.
Herbie the Love Bug
Anyone who has ever driven a Volkswagen Beetle can support the claim that the cars have a mind of their own. Herbie takes it to another level in the 1968 film about a simple Bug that becomes a racing champion. The white No. 53 car with the distinct red and blue racing stripes went on to star in four sequels, including “Herbie: Fully Loaded” in 2005 with Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel. Look out! -- K.S.
'Dukes of Hazzard' General Lee
The Confederate flag on the top of the 1969 Dodge Charger may look non-P.C. now, but when the Duke boys sailed through the hills of the South on "Dukes of Hazzard," viewers never thought about the flag's historic meaning. Instead, we were enraptured by Bo and Luke's nerve and savvy as they dodged Boss Hogg and his bumbling pals. The General Lee was a huge part of the show's appeal. Its doors were welded shut, so Bo and Luke had to slide in the windows, racecar style, and that and their hood-sliding were much envied and imitated by kids whose real-life ride was Mom's Country Squire wood-paneled station wagon. It couldn't talk like "Knight Rider's" KITT, but the "Dixie" blast of the General Lee's horn made it seem like it did. Heck, Johnny Cash even belted out a song about it, singing, "I'll jump that pond and we'll be running freeAnd they'll go swimmin', compliments of me..." -- Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
'Rockford Files' gold Pontiac Firebird
Jim Rockford's car was as much a part of the ex-con detective as his rumpled wardrobe and his trailer on the beach. Flashy and stylin', it surely impressed the many ladies who came in and out of Jim's world, but it served a practical purpose as well. Every episode, it seemed, involved Rockford dodging or chasing bad guys, and the Firebird was like a gold streak through the California sunshine. Jim and his Firebird even have their own car term -- "pulling a Rockford" is when you spin your speeding car 180 degrees, sometimes by yanking the emergency brake. Let James Bond have his Aston-Martin, Rockford's good ol' American muscle car would've left 007 in the dust. -- G.F.C.
It's the best TV (and movie!) car with the best car name. Like the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, everyone recognizes it and it can stop traffic just by rolling out on to the streets. It keeps changing, from a softer version in the Adam West TV show, to a more military-looking vehicle in the "Dark Knight" movies, but it's always sleek and state-of-the-art for its time. And the gadgets! Emergency tire inflators! Rocket launchers! Grappling hooks! Axle bombs! Nose-mounted cannons! In "Batman Forever," Val Kilmer's Batman remarks to Nicole Kidman, "It's the car, isn't it? Chicks dig the car." Actually, everyone digs the car. -- G.F.C.
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Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters.