I always get a kick from telling that joke. And that Chevette was the butt of many jokes. It had trouble accelerating uphill, and it was so puny that my friends were able to physically pick it up with their bare hands one day and move it to another spot in my high school's parking lot.
But that little piece of crap car still managed to give me a lot of great memories. I was the first of my buddies to have a drivers' license so I ended up being the designated driver for a lot of parties -- and as a result I'm usually the only one who remembers all the drunken shenanigans that took place. I recall squeezing twelve people into that tiny little hatchback when we decided to drive a few blocks to get some pizza during the last week of Senior Year -- the stupid things we do in our youth that we laugh about today.
All of that is a long-winded way for me to lead up to today's blog topic. Even though it may be a bane on the environment, the automobile is an undisputed icon of Americana. If we look at popular culture entertainment, there have been many cars that grabbed audiences' imaginations. Here are some of my favorites:
The Batmobile from the 1960s Batman television show -- This converted Lincoln Futura still manages to excite people when it appears at car shows, conventions, parades, and other events. The new Batmobiles from the modern movies may have been flashier, but they lacked the fun flavor and the practical coolness of the TV version.
The General Lee from the TV Dukes of Hazzard -- Who hasn't dreamed of driving those good ol' boys' modified Dodge Charger, watching it defy the laws of physics as it leaped over ravines and hillsides? Sure, the Confederate flag on its roof caused some controversy, but as the theme song says, Bo and Luke Duke "were never meaning no harm."
KITT from the original Knight Rider -- A Pontiac Firebird Trans Am never looked so good. Full of enough gadgets to make James Bond and Batman both green with envy, the Knight Industries Two Thousand vehicle stole every scene it appeared in, even from series star David Hasselhoff. The new car in the reboot series just didn't measure up.
The Mach 5 from Speed Racer -- Every kid wanted to race in the Mach 5 from the classic cartoon. Even in the horrible live-action movie, the car looked great.
The DeLorean from Back to the Future -- Has there ever been a car that completely failed in the marketplace but gained such amazing fame for its role in a movie series? As the pivotal time-travel vehicle in the film, it deserved equal billing with the other stars of the trilogy.
Herbie, The Love Bug -- The little Volkswagon Beetle made a lot of fans in the 1960s, especially from the series of Walt Disney movies in which the car had a personality of its own. The Lindsay Lohan remake was forgettable, but the original still holds a place in many people's hearts.
The muscle car from Starsky and Hutch -- I used to want a white-striped red Ford Gran Torino when I was a kid, watching the good guy detectives chase bad guys with it through the streets of California. It's a shame the remake was a spoof.
Yes, there are plenty of other ones, like Grease Lightning from Grease, the black van from The A-Team, the multi-colored van from The Partridge Family, and many others, but those listed above are my favorites. Which ones did I leave out that you think deserve a mention?