A Car is a Car is a Car…

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I’m in the market for a new car. This has of course sparked many conversations with co-workers about first cars, car horror stories (still don’t know how one drives a VW bug standard in San Francisco) and car fears (is two years too long to go without getting behind the wheel or is it like riding a bike?). My first car was a green Subaru, kindly handed down to me from my parents, followed closely by a series of cars I shared with my college boyfriend; a 1980 BMW (we used to pour pepper packets down the radiator pipe to help clog a hole), a 1988 Chevy Cavalier (we had a hole in the muffler and on the floor behind the driver’s seat) and finally the 1992 Chevy Blazer which we drove cross country (and which broke down 4 times on us in the process). As you can see, I don’t have the best track record when it comes to cars so I am leaving this decision mostly in my husband’s hands. Besides, all I can offer in terms of expertise about cars is an assessment of the best cars in cinematic pop culture history. Let’s discuss shall we?

Obviously, this list starts and ends with the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 that Doc Brown turned into a time machine in Back to the Future. Complete with a state-of-the-art Flux Capacitor, winged doors and the ability to convert 1.21 jigawats of electricity into fuel, the DeLorean gave Marty, Biff, Jennifer, Doc and Einstein the rides of their lives throughout the famous 80s trilogy.

Next up, an homage to a classic. Even before I was Rizzo in my high school production of Grease, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the car, Greased Lightning. The 1948 Ford De Luxe is a thing of beauty and treated as such throughout the famous film. I love how the car comes to life during the dance sequence where Danny, Kenickie, Doody, Putzie and Sonny supe the car up; I love the look of the car, with its custom lightning streaks up the sides; I love the racing scene where Greased Lightening defeats the rival gang’s car in the race at the L.A. River. And of course, I love how the car takes Danny and Sandy up to the heavens after graduation to bring the film to its dramatic conclusion.

Now, onto a comedy. Growing up, we had our own version of the Griswold Family Truckster, but it wasn’t as fantastic as the real thing. In the hilarious National Lampoon’s Vacation, Clark Griswold’s modified Ford Country Squire LTD Station Wagon transported the Griswold family from Chicago to the Los Angeles fictional amusement park, Wally World for a much needed family bonding vacation. Along the way, however, Clark manages to kill a family pet by forgetting to untie it from the bumper, have a relative die in the car in her sleep, and drive off a cliff while trying to visit the Grand Canyon. As we watch Chevy Chase slowly lose his mind, the car finally manages to get the family to Wally World, where hilarity continues to ensue. It’s a classic film and a classic car. Speaking of…

For my final selection on this list of favorite cinematic pop culture cars, I went a little unorthodox, simply cause I couldn’t make up my mind. I literally love every single car from the movie Dazed and Confused so I’ve decided to name all of them collectively as my 4th favorite. I love Pickford’s Pontiac GTO which appears in the first scene in the movie; I love Darla’s 1955 Chevrolet 3100 half ton pick up that the senior girls round up the freshman in for their orientation (“Fry you little freshman piggies, Fry!”); I love Wooderson’s 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS simply because I love Matthew McConaughey’s character so much (“Alright, alright, alright”). The cars definitely help to make the movie in this scenario and I appreciate the effort to match the cars to the personalities.

I can definitely be accused of leaving out some perennial favorites from my list (Christine, The Batmobile) but alas, this is my list, so I can do that. Tell us which car from my list is your favorite cinematic pop-culture car and let us know which ones you think I left out.

Back to the Future DeLorean
Greased Lightning
Griswold Family Truckster
Dazed and Confused Cars

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