Eight from the ’80s: Cars We Adore

Crank back your time machine thirty years, put on your Members Only jacket and check out these totally rad rides from our favorite 1980s TV shows.

The Fall Guy
1982 GMC Sierra
Early in the series, the truck featured a 6″ lift kit, chrome roll bar, high-watt lights and 35″ Dick Cepek off-road tires. Later, it was the Sierra Grande trim package powered by a 350 cubic-inch V8 mated to a 3-speed, 350 Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission. A jump truck was built with reinforced axles and frame to take the heavy abuse of relentless car chases and jumps. This reduced the number of trucks destroyed during shooting.

Spenser: For Hire
Ford Mustang Fastback
When the show started, Spenser drove a slightly beat up ’66 Mustang in ivy green (possibly a nod to Steve McQueen’s Mustang in the film Bullitt) which was destroyed at the beginning of the second season. Its replacement was a new 1987 Mustang 5.0 GT which, five episodes later, was traded in for a perfectly restored 1966 Mustang GT which is mercilessly banged up, smashed up, and shot at over the remaining run of the series.

Miami Vice
’64 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible
Rico Tubbs drove two separate Coupe de Villes in the show. One with a white steering wheel and dash, the other with a black steering wheel. The car with the white interior had a slightly greenish tint while the one with the black interior was more of a blue/grey. These minor differences were obvious to many fans, especially in well-lit daytime scenes. But show producers used the two vehicles interchangeably with seemingly little or no effort made to hide the inconsistencies.

The A-Team
1983 GMC Vandura
Black and grey with a red stripe, black and red turbine mag wheels and a rooftop spoiler. Could any van be more iconic? GMC supplied multiple vans during the show’s run and was mentioned in closing credits of each episode. Some of these had a sunroof, some didn’t. And the roof spoiler came in a variety of angles, leading to countless continuity errors. Four vans were totaled over the series, three exist today, whereabouts unknown.

Magnum, P.I.
Ferrari 308 GTS
In the pilot season, the Ferrari was a 1978 308 GTS. Second and third seasons featured a 1980 308 GTSi. In following years it was a 1984 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole. At 6′ 4″, Tom Selleck was a little too tall to fit comfortably in the car so the seat padding was removed in order to lower him, giving him more leg room. (In the series you rarely see him in the car with the top up.) The show used one car dedicated to chases and driving shots. Another for still shots and close-ups. There were also “kit car” versions of the 308 for more aggressive driving scenes. Today, you can find a good condition Quattrovalvole for around $35k.

Miami Vice
’86 Ferrari Testarossa
Due to the high cost of an actual Ferrari, the show went into production with Corvette Daytona replicas modified to look like Ferraris. Enzo Ferrari was livid. He filed a lawsuit demanding a stop to building and shooting with Ferrari look-a-likes. He made a deal: two 1986 Ferrari Testerossas in exchange for demolishing the knock-off cars. In the show, to explain the new ride, “Sonny” Crockett asked his lieutenant for a vehicle more befitting an undercover drug dealer.

The Dukes of Hazzard
1969 Dodge Charger
“General Lee” (or simply “the General”) is the car driven by the Duke boys, in reference to
American Civil War general Robert E. Lee (hence the confederate flag on the car’s roof). The car used a variety of engine sizes including 318, 383, and 440-cubic-inches. While sources disagree, about 325 cars were used to shoot the series, with approximately 17 still in action today.

Knight Rider
1982-1984 Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am
The most modern, high-tech crime-fighting car ever. KITT, (Knight Industries Two Thousand) is the autonomous, artificially intelligent, self-aware, nearly indestructible car, played by a ’82 Pontiac Firebird modified to look like a Trans Am with a hefty price tag (back then) of $100k. Universal built 23 stunt cars. Today, only five are still in existence. The memory of KITT, however, will live in TV infamy.




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