Another famous T.V. show, Route 66, followed two men traveling the United States in a Corvette roadster. Route 66 consisted of many adventures between Tod Stiles and his friend, Buz Murdock, who left the show during the third season and was then replaced with a Vietnam veteran named Lincoln Case. The show lasted 116 episodes, each of which had a different setting, cast, and story. Not only was the show well known for its notable guest stars like Lon Chaney, Jr. and Boris Karloff, but also the cars. The pilot started off with a 1960 Corvette which changed to a 1961 Corvette later in the season. Many people ask about “the red Corvette”, however with every episode in black-and-white, viewers did not know that the car was actually Jewel Blue. This mistake came from the picture on the official board game, which pictured Tod and Buz in a red-colored model. Each season featured a new Corvette, each with a different color to photograph well in the black-and-white film. Every vehicle driven by the character’s in each episode were different variations of Chevrolets. This unforgettable show will always be remembered for its characters, cultural impact, and of course, the cars.
With four seasons, Highway Patrol consisted of chasing criminals, shootouts, train derailments, and of course a 1955 Buick Century sedan. Dan Mathews played the head of the police force Broderick Crawford. It is assumed that the show was set in California as this patrol car was exclusively used by California Highway Patrol. These two door sedans were built for CHP and never for sale to the public. The action scenes from the show were often filmed on dirt roads, not only to save money but also because Crawford’s driver’s license was suspended for drunk driving. However, each show ended with Crawford making a safety announcement followed by, “This is Broderick Crawford saying see you next week.”
Another well-known car from a T.V. series is the GMC van from the A-Team. This 1982 van was part of the custom-van trend comeback. The van is known for its black/metallic gray body and red stripe. But looks weren’t the only thing that made the A-Team van famous, it was also complete with fender flares, a roof spoiler, a mini printing press, a gun storage locker and custom wheels and tires. The A-Team gang that worked as soldiers of fortune went through many stunts, battles, and jumps with there van that was said to be put back together by B.A. Barachus.
A car famed for helping David Hasselhoff escape bad guys on the 1980s television series Knight Rider. The original KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) appeared on T.V. for the first time in 1982 as the show then lasted for 90 episodes. KITT is an artificially intelligent electronic computer module as a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. KITT the self-driving car, voiced by William Daniels, helped the 21st century crime-fighter Michael Knight by using Turbo Boosts, a front-mounted scanner bar, small fire arms, and much more. 23 KITT cars were used for the series. All but five were destroyed at the end of filming. Complete with an evil doppelganger called KARR, KITT is a T.V. car worth remembering.
What car was more iconic than the original Batmobile? This classic 1966 Batmobile, customized by George Barris, was a signature vehicle for the Batman television series. Barris had originally purchased the 1955 Lincoln Futura for $1, that was later turned into the Batmobile. ABC Television had asked Barris to create a vehicle for their Batman T.V. series a few weeks before filming was to begin. Barris decided to hire Gene Cushenberry, a custom builder, to help modify his Futura. Three weeks later the Batmobile was created. This car helped to make Barris famous through the T.V. series. After the show ended, Barris sold the Batmobile in 2013 for $4,620,000 at an auction. With 120 episodes in three seasons, this car will always be remembered for it’s incredible features and upgrades.
No one could forget the nine seasons of the Beverly Hillbillies with their old beat up truck driven by the Clampetts. This truck is based on an early 1920 Oldsmobile Model 43-A touring car. This model had a 43-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and rode on a 115-inch wheelbase. George Barris is responsible for creating this truck, as he was asked to design a suitable vehicle for a hillbilly family. He found a 1921 Oldsmobile behind a feed store, which he considered to be an almost perfect hillbilly truck. The rear half of the body had already been removed and all that was added was a rear platform with a high bench to fit Granny and Elly May. Driving this 40-year-old truck from the Ozark Mountains to California must have meant that Jethro had been a good mechanic.
Many remember the Green Hornet TV Series for its Chrysler Imperial Crown known as Black Beauty. Black Beauty was loaded. She had retractable panels with explosive warheads, a knock-out gas nozzle in the center of the grille, a “scanner” able to launch through a panel in the trunk lid, and a gun where the fuel filler previously was. One of her most memorable features includes her green headlights. This car was customized for $13,000 by Dean Jefferies. Two Black Beauties were used for the show in 1966-’67 and both still exist today. Many still enjoy Black Beauty 1 on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum.