Movie trucks may get a bigger press, but TV vans, SUVs, and vans are often more durable as they invade our homes every week and give us a better chance of experiencing their rough, rugged charms.
While often relegated to supporting roles, there are more than a few trucks that have become stars as a result of their regular appearance on the Idiot Box, sometimes becoming indelibly associated with a character or series.
Which TV trucks stand out after decades of exposure to reruns? Here are our picks for the most memorable small screen rigs of all time.
Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985)
The trucks): Rotary molding of Cooter tow trucks
The driver: Ben Jones as Cooter Davenport
Why it’s great: Cars from Dukes of Hazzard are filled with problematic Confederate imagery, but there’s a happy exception when it comes to the various tow trucks Cooter Davenport used to save the Duke boys from the chaos they had become that week.
How many different trucks did Cooter use to block the Sheriff’s road, tow the Dukes, or send a really sweet jump as part of the Hazzard County airtime requirement built into each stuntman’s contract? ? He had two Fords (a 67 and a 78), three Chevys (a 68 and a 69) and even a GMC (68). The show’s producers weren’t too picky about the colors or models of the trucks Cooter was supposed to drive, sometimes changing them halfway through the same episode, as footage from previous shows was reused to stretch the budget. until it would go.
As for actor Ben Jones, he would go on to become a prolific writer, as well as a two-term Democrat in the United States House of Representatives, giving hope to anyone named “ Cooter ” who might read. this article.
The truck: 1977 GMC K1500 Stepside
The driver: Larry Wilcox as Jon Baker
Why it’s great: You’re going to notice something as you go through this list of TV trucks: The producers of the late ’70s and early’ 80s had a huge crush on the GMC K1500. It appears in Chips as a personal vehicle from the Jon Baker office, decorated in bright blue with a fantastic graphics package dipping into the door. You’ll also notice the truck’s mandatory KC Hi-Lites on the front cow catcher and the roll bar that rises from the bed.
On the show, Agent Baker branded this cute truck by buying it for a song about a suspect who tried to set it on fire after falling behind on payments. Originally, the character drove a Mini Cooper, which actor Wilcox bought from the series and kept for many years after it was no longer needed for filming. No one knows what happened to the original K1500.
The Fall Guy (1981-1986)
The truck: 1982 GMC K2500 Sierra Grande
The driver: Lee Majors as Colt Seaver
Why it’s great: The premise of The right guy was a simple and brilliant beacon of ’80s high concept: what if a stuntman was also a bounty hunter? What if somehow these two skill sets complement each other?
For the Colt Seaver character, they certainly were, and that included as many jumps as possible behind the wheel of his GMC K2500, which was quickly becoming the “ go-to ” vehicle for TV shows looking for col credibility. blue. The heavy-duty truck has been modified with a lift kit and, as with Chips, a light bar.
Unlike Officer Baker’s truck, however, Seaver’s was additionally equipped with its own portable prison, which took the form of a hidden compartment accessible through a swing door in the covered part of the crate. Surprisingly, this change never caught on with the serial killer set, no doubt saving ABC TV millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements over the course of the decade or so. The right guy played in reruns.
The trucks): 1987 Dodge Dakota, 1997 Ford F-150, 1992 Ford F-350 ambulance, 1999 Ford F-350 ambulance, 1993 Ford Ranger Splash, 1982 GMC S-10, 1990 GMC Sierra K2500, 1989 Toyota Truck, all in lifeguard yellow
The drivers): Almost all Baywatch casting, but mostly idiot David Hasselhoff
Why it’s great: The Hoff never lacked a truck to speed down the beach, but in retrospect, it’s shocking how many vehicles lifeguards in Los Angeles County (and ultimately Hawaii) had access. The show apparently had no loyalty to the brand, as Ford, Toyotas, and GMC all played on the sand at varying intervals, and one has to wonder why production has chewed up so many different models over the course of a decade. .
Fun fact: Baywatch: Hawaii was originally meant to be Baywatch: Down Under, but a massive counter-campaign by residents of the New South Wales town where it was allegedly filmed stifled the idea, depriving us of any cool Holden or Ford Beach Utes.
Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001)
The trucks): 1993 GMC Sierra K1500, 1995 Dodge Ram
The driver: Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker
Why it’s great: It’s easy to forget amid the extreme placement of Chrysler products that permeated Walker, Texas Ranger, that Norris ‘toughest character’s original ride was actually an early’ 90s GMC Sierra K1500, carrying on the grand tradition (or secret blood pact?) between Hollywood and General Motors.
Seriously, almost every other vehicle on this show was from Mopar, and it was Walker’s 1995 Dodge Ram that would go on to become the second biggest star in the series. A Viper V-10 version of the truck even appeared in the follow-up to the TV movie which appeared a few years later. Walker, Texas Ranger had stopped broadcasting.
The A team (1983-1987)
The truck: 1983 GMC Vandura
The driver: Almost always Mr. T like BA Baracus
Why it’s great: Just like Starsky and Hutch, Team A make a star from a fairly ordinary automobile by painting a diagonal stripe on the side. Of course, Team A’s Vandura also offered a number of other awesome attributes, such as a spoiler, an insanely full wardrobe of disguises, a printing press (?!?), And of course a Full suite of electronic gadgets depending on what script this week’s episode required.
A total of eight vans were built for the show – some with sunroofs, some without – but only one survives today, and for some reason it’s in a UK museum. The majority were used for stunts and, as such, did not survive the various jumps, fishtails, and other tragedies that plagued Team A in their pursuit of vigilante justice.
Simon and Simon (1981-1989)
The truck: 1979 Dodge Macho Power Wagon
The driver: Gerald McRaney as Rick Simon
Why it’s great: The Power Wagon is one of the most underrated classic trucks on the market, with far fewer vehicles built than its rivals Chevrolet, GMC and Ford of the day. Even the boost to play on the popular Simon and simon The TV show, about a pair of private investigators who also turned out to be brothers of fire and ice, could do little to bolster its profile with collectors throughout the 1980s.
At the very least, Rick Simon didn’t shy away from pointing out the raw strength of his Macho Power Wagon, regularly disparaging him on screen and drawing contempt from his more distinguished brother. It was kind of like a cooler version of the GMC in The right guy except that Simon had no special stunt skills other than the ability to aim and smack his right foot to the ground.
Knight Rider (1982-1986)
The truck: Peterbuilt 352 stimulator
The driver: David Hasselhoff as Garthe Knight
Why it’s great: Any ’80s TV show that gives the main character an evil twin is automatically cool, but Knight rider took one more step. Not only did this give Hoff the chance to play the infamous Garthe, his long-lost mercenary half-brother (with a sinister mustache), but he also chose to provide his super-advanced KITT Trans Am . his own blackened 18-wheeled villainous counterpart named Goliath. We will give you time to breathe.
Goliath had missiles, sleeping gas, a razor-sharp bumper, and was coated in the same mysterious substance that made KITT completely invulnerable to all but the most advanced weapons. The giant truck’s Achilles heel turned out to be a single bolt holding its trailer in place, which Snowman Hasselhoff LASER DESTROYED to save the day. On their second meeting, Goliath ends up hurtling down a cliff to its doom, taking Garthe and the mustache with her.
The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971)
The truck: 1921 Oldsmobile model 46
The driver: Max Baer Jr. as Jethro Bodine
Why it’s great: There were an astonishing 274 episodes produced of The Beverly Hillbillies, a show that in small hands might have looked incredibly petty, but instead managed to preserve its tone of social commentary on modern California society seen through the eyes of suddenly smelly oil barons, the Ozark-sourced Clampetts .
While the Clampett family may have moved their farm to ZIP code 90210, they saw little need to change other aspects of their lifestyle, which meant that the Oldsmobile Model 46 pickup truck – built by George Barris – accompanied them. It is one of the least discussed Barris mobiles of the time, but aside from the Batmobile, perhaps the most durable to have emerged from television.
The Rockford Files (1974-1980)
The truck: 1976 GMC K1500 Sierra Classic
The driver: Noah Beery Jr. as Rocky Rockford, James Garner as Jim Rockford
Why it’s great: Although The Rockford Files was famous for the low-key Pontiac Firebird formula driven by its titular detective, Jim Rockford would often borrow his father’s GMC K1500 – wait for it – whenever he needed something a little beefier.
In fact, the truck appeared on the show so often that magazine articles were written about it at the time, referring to its built 400 cubic inch engine, carpeted bed, auxiliary fuel tank of 52 gallons, brush guard and roll bar, complete with Cibie high beams. These were all installed by Hickey Enterprises, which would make a dynamic business by modifying trucks for television.
GMC would even tag Garner for a series of print ads extolling the virtues of the GMC truck line. It’s safe to say that this show was the start of the brand’s flirtation with TV stardom, which has lasted for decades.