Coolest cars in television history

Sometimes the only difference between a great TV show and a bad TV show is that one of them has a cool car in it and the other one doesn't. In fact, there are entire series that are only remembered because there was a cool car in it. Like, does anybody recall a single thing about Hardcastle and McCormick other than the Coyote X? Nope. So with that in mind, here's a look at the sweet rides that elevated their shows to legendary status: Because there are cars—and then there are the coolest cars in television history. Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride.

KITT

The Knight Industries Two Thousand was a sophisticated artificial intelligence that was placed inside a highly modified 1982 Pontiac Trans Am (the interior of which you can see pictured here). Because if you can develop AI, the logical thing to do is use it to run a bitchin' car. KITT and his human partner Michael Knight patrolled the highways and byways of America on Knight Rider for several seasons beginning in 1982. Perhaps KITT's greatest legacy? Inspiring the classic 1983 arcade game Spy Hunter. Awesome.

The General Lee

Arguably the most famous—or infamous—car in television history, the General Lee is the 1969 Dodge Charger driven by cousins Bo and Luke Duke in the hit 1970s show The Dukes of Hazzard. The General Lee has several unique features, such as the fact that the doors are welded shut, which sounds like a pretty blatant engineering mistake that really should have been caught in quality control. It's most famous, though, for its paint job, which includes a great big Confederate battle flag on the roof. That seemed cooler in the '70s than it does now, but there's still a large contingent of red blooded American men who worship the asphalt the General Lee drives on.

The Striped Tomato

The 1975 Ford Gran Torino driven by the police duo Starsky and Hutch in their eponymous '70s show was given the less than affectionate nickname "the striped tomato" by star Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky), who loathed the car on first sight. His major complaint: undercover cops driving such a ridiculously obvious car was an incredibly stupid idea. Despite this, the show became a hit, in large part due to the cool car—and, ironically, Glaser's contempt for it, which was so obvious they had to write it into the show as a recurring character gag.

The Dharma Microbus

Lost had any number of total WTF moments, but one of the most memorable is Hurley finding and fixing a dilapidated old Volkswagen microbus left to rot in the jungle by the doomed members of the Dharma Initiative. Hurley's epic ride to freedom at the end of season three turned the microbus into an icon. At a later auction of show memorabilia, the ramshackle Dharma vehicle fetched nearly $50,000 from one besotted fan. Ride on, Hurley!

The Flintstones' "Car"

When it comes to stone age automobile technology, there's nothing quite so cutting edge as the car driven by Fred Flintstone. And powered by Fred Flintstone's feet. Okay, so it has no engine, and would certainly be beaten in a race by every other car on this list, not to mention literally every car ever made in the history of the world. Whatever, man. It's still a smooth, sleek driving machine. The only flaw? If you order the ribs at the take out joint, be careful, because due to a design flaw, the car could actually tip over. Ah, well.

The Batmobile

The Batmobile has gone through dozens of iterations over the years, from movies to comics to cartoons. But there's one version of the Batmobile that towers above the rest: the 1966 Batmobile from the campy Adam West Batman TV series. One reason nobody has ever quite manage to duplicate the '66 Batmobile's unique style is the fact it was very literally unique: the Batmobile was fashioned from a one-of-a kind concept car, the 1955 Lincoln Futura. How awesome would it have been if Ford actually went into production with street legal Batmobiles?! One thing is for sure: the crime rate would be a lot lower.

The A-Team's Van

Vans aren't usually considered to be cool, unless you're comparing them to minivans, in which case, fair enough. Otherwise, though, they're mostly for pervs, hippies who need a mobile lounge to smoke weed in before the concert, or carpet cleaning companies. There's one huge exception, though: the A-Team's iconic 1983 GMC Vandura. It's easy to lose count of how many plans came together in the back of that van, and how many times the back doors were whipped open to reveal a member of the A-Team holding some high-powered cannon cobbled together from PVC piping that fired exploding cabbages or whatever. Pity the fool who thinks the A-Team's van isn't cool.

The Mach Five

The name of the show was Speed Racer, but let's all be honest here for one second: without the Mach Five, there's no show. After all, Speed Racer is about an adventurous automobile racer whose car happens to be filled with all sorts of crazy gadgets, like stilt-wheels and extendable saw blades on robot arms. Without the Mach Five, instead the show is about a delusional kid who does nothing. Given the popularity of the series not just here but in Japan, it's fair to say that the Mach Five is one of the coolest and most recognizable cars in the world.

Magnum's Ferrari

Has there ever been anyone on television as cool as Thomas Magnum, the private investigator played by Tom Selleck on Magnum P.I.? That's rhetorical, of course, since the answer is obviously "no." And a large part of Magnum's cool factor stems from his insanely awesome ride, a hellfire red Ferrari 308 GTS. They used to say that every guy wanted to be him, and every gal wanted to be with him; that may or may not have been true, but regardless of gender or orientation, every human being alive wanted to drive that awesome Ferrari.

The Mystery Machine

Finally, there's the Mystery Machine, the iconic flower power panel van belonging to—well, we're guessing it's Fred's van? He's the one who always drives it anyway. Regardless of which member of the Scooby-Doo gang actually has their name on the title, the point is that the Mystery Machine is the number one vehicle for adventure, whether it's discovering that bigfoot is actually a sinister bank manager bent on scaring tenants away so he can foreclose, or finding out that the Headless Horseman terrorizing town is actually just a projection rigged up by Old Man Hawley to protect his illegal gold mining operation. Leave the Mystery Machine off this list? Like, no way man!