The best of 1970s film and TV vehicles

Power and stamina are important qualities in any contest, but our auto match takes a more speculative approach. We pit two 1970s pop culture vehicles against each other to find out which was the best vehicle of the decade.

To help us in our decision-making, comedian Simon Rakoff, who has been doing stand-up since 1978, and Benjamin Hunting, a Montreal writer and host of the “Unnamed Automotive Podcast”. We asked everyone to weigh in on a speculative head-to-head featuring movie or TV vehicles.

For example, we asked Rakoff to comment on a battle between the Ward LaFrance P80 Ambassador triple-combination pumper from the “Emergency” paramedic series and the funky, multicolored Chevrolet 6800 bus from “The Partridge Family.”

“‘The Partridge Family’ bus is cool and looks good, but the ‘Emergency’ truck would destroy it in about a second and a half,” Rakoff said.

Here are Rakoff and Hunting’s arguments for the best rides of the 1970s.


The Cadillac Eldorado of “Super Fly” against the Volkswagen Beetle from “Herbie Rides Again”

We start with a real David and Goliath contest. We pit the cute – and with a mind of its own – ragtop Volkswagen Beetle sedan from 1974’s “Herbie Rides Again” against the custom 1971 Cadillac Eldorado, from “Super Fly”.

While the Beetle – known as Herbie, the Love Bug – has starred in six films over the decades, its white exterior adorned with a simple racing stripe and the number “53” gumball logo is quite simple compared to the Eldorado. The “Super Fly” car came with whitewall tires, animal fur interior upholstery and a Rolls Royce-style grille.

“The Cadillac is awesome and cool, but it’s just a car,” Rakoff said. “He won’t have the same brain as a self-driving car. Herbie will find something. How to rock the Cadillac, or maybe, show the Cadillac its true feelings and enjoy its feelings. The Love Bug kills them with kindness.

“From a modern perspective, you’d have to take out a second mortgage just to fill that Cadillac’s gas tank versus the very frugal Beetle,” Hunting said.


The Lotus Esprit S1 from “The Spy Who Loved Me” vs. the Ford Gran Torino in “Starsky & Hutch”

Even though the commercial-grade white Lotus Esprit seen in James Bond’s ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ didn’t transform into a submarine like its film counterpart, the car became so popular that new customers had to be placed on a three-year waiting list to purchase it.

Meanwhile, the success of cop buddies show “Starsky & Hutch,” with its red and white Ford Gran Torino, prompted the Ford Motor Company to market a special edition of the hardtop vehicle with its distinctive paint job. from the Serie.

Both cars were tremendous commercial successes, but which one did our experts choose to take first place in our battle?

“Definitely the Lotus,” Hunting said. “A car that can go underwater is an automatic win for me, compared to a car that probably smells like cigarettes and stale food because it’s just been sitting all day on (police) surveillance .”

“The all-environment James Bond Lotus Esprit is the clear winner,” Rakoff said. “All he has to do is push the Gran Torino into a lake and suddenly the battle is over. Drowns him in five seconds.

The popularity of the Gran Torino from the TV show


The Kawasaki KZP motorcycles of “CHiPs” against the Triumph Trophy TR5 Scrambler Custom motorcycle on “Happy Days”

For six seasons, actors Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox patrolled the roads on their Kawasaki motorcycles as members of the California Highway Patrol in the television series “CHiPs.” Meanwhile Arthur Fonzarelli, the cool guy in a leather jacket played by Henry Winkler in ‘Happy Days’, has literally jumped the shark on his Triumph Trophy 500. According to our experts, The Fonz and his two-wheelers still reign supreme in the battle of the 1970s TV motorcycles.

“Fonzie’s Triumph would definitely beat any cop bike,” Rakoff said. “The CHiP guys have a lot of props and big widebody bikes, but they’re restricted by law. Fonzie will crash through the fences. He’s going down skateboard ramps. He does not care. He’s outrun the cops about a million times. There’s no way they’re beating him.

“Erik Estrada is cool, and nobody had a better tan in the 1970s than him, but nobody overall is cooler than Arthur Fonzarelli,” Hunting said. “The mere presence of The Fonz upped the chill factor for everyone in the room. But the presence of a CHiPs officer just meant you were going to have a bad day.


The Pontiac Firebird in “The Rockford Files” vs. the Dodge Challenger in “Vanishing Point”

The Dodge Challenger from the cult movie

For 119 episodes, private detective Jim Rockford, played by James Garner, drove a copper-colored Pontiac Firebird Esprit in the popular TV crime drama “The Rockford Files,” while the Dodge Challenger in “Vanishing Point” helped transform the Cross from 1971. – country car chase movie set in a cult classic. While Bunting called Rockford’s car iconic, he said it was no match for the Challenger.

“The Firebird was the perfect car for a detective who was always one step ahead of the repo man, but it’s not something you want to mythologize,” Hunting said.

Rakoff said Rockford’s car was “cooler than him. To this day, I think the Challenger is the car to beat in any game. I mean he looks like a shark. He comes for you. You see the Challenger arrive and you hear the theme “Jaws”.

Looks like we have a winner.

At auction

Burt Reynold's modified Trans Am recently sold at auction for $255,000 (US).

A classic 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am owned by actor Burt Reynolds and modified to look like the car from the movie “Smokey and the Bandit” recently auctioned for $255,000 (US). Reynolds, who starred in three of the Bandit series films in the 1970s and early 1980s, bought the vehicle in 2016. He modified it with a 500-cubic-inch V-8 engine linked to a transmission five-speed manual, a Hurst shifter, coil-over shocks, Wilwood-brand brakes, custom exhaust and Cobra CB radio.

wheelbase bracket

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