The next episode of "Hollywood’s Top Ten" (Friday night at 11:30 p.m. Pacific on ReelzChannel) features viewers' choices for the coolest movie/TV cars, and you know what they’re going to pick: the Batmobiles, the custom Cadillac Ecto-1 from "Ghostbusters," the jalopy on "The Beverly Hillbillies," James Bond’s Aston-Martin, KITT from "Knight Rider."
They wouldn’t give me the whole list — that’s why you tune in — but here are a few of the winners:
- The Trans Am from "Smokey and the Bandit"
- The ’69 Charger from "The Dukes of Hazzard"
- The ’56 Thunderbird from "American Graffiti"
The Saint’s Volvo: The Saint, played by Roger Moore on the 1962-1969 TV show, drove a Volvo 1800S, just like me. Mine was even the same color as his. The Saint was a low-rent James Bond, and the car — a sporty version of the 122S, with nearly identical mechanicals — was no Aston-Martin. The Saint could pursue criminals, but not if they were moving too fast. Switching into “overdrive” provided a powerful visual, but the 1800 topped off around 100 mph. And zero to 60? Well, maybe 11 seconds.
The Alfa-Romeo Duetto from "The Graduate": Another personal connection because I owned that car’s linear descendant, a 1976 Alfa Spider (with a cut-off Kamm tail instead of the Duetto’s rounded example). Alfa even created a "Graduate" model because of the popularity of the movie and the car’s starring role in pursuit of a stopped wedding, with Dustin Hoffman at the wheel. The exposure garnered by this '66 Duetto 1600 didn’t save Alfa’s fortunes in the U.S., but it probably postponed the departure for a number of years.
The "Bad Timing" Mercedes: Admittedly not a star movie car, this circa 1959 Mercedes 220S from Nicholas Roeg’s 1980 "Bad Timing" again duplicates one of my own cars — my all-time favorite. It was probably the scene with Denholm Elliot and Teresa Russell, captured in the video below, that stimulated my interest in the car in the first place. Alas, I let mine get away, and now I couldn’t touch a nice one for less than $10,000. If you get a chance, it’s a really good movie (forget what the blurb says) — from the director of "Walkabout" and "Performance." Kind of hard to find, though.
The "Julie & Julia" Buick: I’d love to own one, but they’re worth $40,000, so it’s not likely anytime soon. The movie’s production designer describes the car as “a 1947 wooded blue Buick station wagon.” It was nicknamed the Blue Flash, and found in France where they filmed much of the movie. Sorry to disagree with Mark Ricker, but I think it’s actually a later car than 1947. Can I suggest that it was actually a 1950 Roadmaster with a 1949-style two-piece windshield? “It could have been Paul and Julia’s original car, as far as we knew,” said Ricker. Maybe.
The 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville from "Mad Men": Don Draper (John Hamm) brings home this beauty in the second season, at his boss’ urging. It’s interesting that there was no product placement here — instead, it’s exactly the right car for the character at that time. It’s the car Don thinks he wants, even though it turns out all wrong for him. This is the pinnacle of “Standard of Excellence” Cadillacs, for a guy on top of the Madison Avenue nest of snakes. There were some great Cadillac ads in National Geographic around this time. The Draper-type owner was shown heading into a country club with his fur-bearing wife, looking back at the car that his power and prestige had secured for him.
There’s actually an Internet Movie Car Database you can search by make. Have fun with it. Make up your own list and post your choices below in the comments — I’d love to see what you come up with.