Cars are an important part of the American culture, and our media has always reflected that. Television shows and movies often feature vehicles that are just as much a part of the show as the human characters. Read on to rediscover five of the most famous cars in the history of American entertainment.
Herbie the Love Bug
Herbie is a Volkswagen Beetle, also known as a bug, who has appeared in several Disney movies over the past forty years. In most of the movies, Herbie is used by racecar drivers, although Herbie can drive himself. The car is shown as having a mind of his own, and interferes in the lives of humans around him. Herbie has a distinctive Beetle shape with a red, white, and blue racing stripe on his hood and trunk, and the number 53 on his hood. His most recent movie was Herbie: Fully Loaded, where Herbie was overshadowed by personal drama surrounding star Lindsey Lohen.
The Time Traveling DeLorean
Although this particular car does not have quite the personality that Herbie does, the DeLorean from the Back to the Future series is famous for what it can do: travel through time. Powered by plutonium and a flux capacitor, this car’s powers create the plot of the first movie. The famous climactic scene, where Marty uses the car’s acceleration to harness a lightning strike and catapult himself back into the future, seared the DeLorean’s distinctive appearance into the American conscience. The car model is also featured in the rest of the Back to the Future series, where it contains to serve as a time machine, although powered by different fuels.
Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT)
The true star of the 80s sitcom Knight Rider, KITT is an artificial intelligence implanted in a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. KITT is capable of driving himself, a quick “turbo boost,” speaking in multiple languages, shooting a laser beam, and many other high-tech upgrades that are not found on a standard Trans Am. KITT’s personality formed part of the core of the show, and is the main factor in Michael Knight’s crime-fighting successes. An updated form of KITT, the Knight Industries Three Thousand, is featured in the modern Knight Rider movies.
Perhaps the most famous of all media cars, the Batmobile has accompanied Gotham’s defender over the past sixty years. The Batmobile is usually represented as designed by Bruce Wayne for his crime-fighting efforts, and generally includes super speed, GPS, and a variety of weapons to assist the Batman. In Christopher Nolan’s recent movies, the Batmobile is presented as a highly-modified cross between a luxury Lamborghini and a battle tank. Nolan’s Batmobile featured cannons, a grappling hook, and earned a key role in the fight between Batman and the Joker. In past incarnations, the Batmobile has been a convertible, a limousine, a Cadillac, a sports coupe, and more. Although no specific car model is used for the Batmobile, it is typically decorated with bat symbols, sculpted tail fins, and dark paint.
The General Lee:
In contrast to the other cars on this list, the General Lee is not known for its fancy gadgets or anthropomorphic personality. Instead, this car is famous for the Dukes of Hazzard cousins who drove it in their television show, and its unique modifications. Intended to represent the Southern culture in which the Dukes lived, the General Lee is named after the Civil War general Robert E. Lee and features a horn which plays the song “Dixie” and a confederate flag painted on the roof. Many versions of the General Lee were required for the show due to the number of stunts the show required, and 1960s Dodge Charges were used as the frame.
Herbie and The General Lee shows that Americans don’t need futuristic technology in movie cars in order to appreciate them, although that doesn’t hurt. Audiences are willing to fall in love with any car as long as it has a memorable personality or style.