Perhaps the most famous police drama in history is Dragnet. Starting as an American radio series, it turned into a television and motion picture series. The show enacts the cases of Los Angeles police detective, Joe Friday, and his partners. Low-line Fords provided Friday with his ride. When the show returned as Dragnet 1967, Fords were still used, including a 1967 gold Fairlane sedan with pie-pan hubcaps and twin rear antennae. With 16 total seasons and 762 episodes, Dragnet can never be forgotten.
CHiPs was an American drama series about the everyday lives of two motorcycle police officers of the California Highway Patrol. This show is remembered got its extreme freeway pileups, flips, fires, and cars. Appearing on the show, Larry Wilcox, Officer Jonathan Baker, had a 1977 blue GMC pickup. Erik Estrada, Officer Francis Poncherello, owned a Pontiac Trans Am with ’71 Firebird trim plates. The show ran for over six seasons with one TV reunion movie in 1998.
A less popular T.V. sitcom was My Mother the Car. This show aired in 1965 and only lasted one season. Attorney David Crabtree, played by Jerry Van Dyke, purchases a 1928 Porter. This car actually turns out to be the reincarnation of his deceased mother, Gladys, voiced by Ann Sothern. She talks only to David through the car’s radio. He takes the car to a body shop for a restoration so that his family will accept the car. The rest of the series is about a fanatical collector, Captain Manzini, who tries to acquire the valuable automobile. The car used in the show was actually a 1925 or ’24 Ford Model T Touring that was originally customized by Norm Grabowski.
Known for their music, The Monkees were an American rock band that started their careers in 1965. The group was made up of Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith. Many remember the music, but no one could forget the car. Regarded as the Monkeemobile, the Pontiac GTO was modified and built by Dean Jeffries. There were actually two identical 1966 convertibles. One was built for the show, “The Monkees”, the other was to tour the car-show circuit. The circuit car featured exaggerated proportions, a tall windscreen, a parachute, and third row seats. At the end of the show, the cars were offered back to Jeffries for $1,000 each however, he declined. The television car was in Puerto Rico as a hotel courtesy car until the hotel went out of business. It was then sold for $5,000 and is currently with a private car collector in Northern New Jersey. The other car was auctioned for $360,000 and now belongs to a private collector in Michigan.
Another popular television series, Get Smart starred Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, known as Agent 86. He was accompanied by Agent 99, Barbara Feldon, and the Chief, Edward Platt. The three work for CONTROL, a secret U.S. government counter-intelligence agency. They work together to investigate and solve threats to the world. The most iconic car from the series is the red 1965 Ford Sunbeam Tiger. This two-seat roadster features radar tracking, an ejection seat, a machine gun, and a smoke screen. This car pulls in front of CONTROL’s headquarters at the opening of every episode. The Tiger was followed by a blue Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia as Volkswagen was a new sponsor of the show. Later, Buick became a sponsor and in the opening of the show the Tiger was replaced by a 1969 gold Opel GT. However, Don Adams received the Sunbeam after the end of the show in 1970 and drove it for ten years.
My Three Sons was a popular T.V. show consisting of 380 episodes on two networks. The show started in black-and-white and followed the life of an widowed aeronautical engineer Steven Douglas, played by Fred MacMurray as he raised his three sons, Mike, Robbie, and Chip. The show actually ended up having four sons in total due to one son marrying in 1965 and the character being written out of the show. However to stay true to the name of the show, a son named Ernie was adopted and later when Steven remarried, his new wife’s daughter also appeared on the show. The show was sponsored by Chevrolet when it aired on ABC but then later featured many convertible Pontiacs when it was on by CBS.
The Rockford Files starred James Garner as Jim Rockford who was an ex-con and private detective. Rockford drove a 1974 Pontiac Firebird Esprits which was known for its car chases during the show. With help from his ex-con friends, Rockford worked on cold cases, missing persons investigations, and low-budget insurance scams. The “copper mist” colored Pontiac is often remembered for the famous “Jim Rockford Turn-Around”, a driving technique taught to the Secret Service. He would escape by driving backwards, making a hard left, and pulling on the emergency brake that would lock the wheels and allow the front end to turn around. Garner said that he always performed the stunt by himself. The Firebird was updated several times during the series, except for the ’79 model due to Garner’s dislike of the new look, so the ’78 model was kept until the show ended in 1980.