TV cars with the most cop
NO DOUBT I wasn't the only man of a certain age who enjoyed Sunday night's episode of Top Gear with the presenters getting to peruse a selection of iconic TV cop cars.
Picking their favourites from a line-up of 'as seen on the small screen' motors which seemed to be very much based on whatever cars were available for them to hire at time of filming, we got to see Flintoff, McGuinness and Harris hooning around the Top Gear test track in Magnum PI's Ferrari 308 GTS, the Starsky & Hutch Ford Torino and Inspector Morse's Jaguar Mk2 – although admittedly it was more a case of 'wafting' than 'hooning' in the case of the latter, given its rather more stately driving characteristics – along with brief glimpses of classic cars from other era defining TV shows such as The Professionals, The Saint and, er, Spender.
While it was certainly pleasing to see those three screen machines in action, it got me thinking about my own favourite fictional crimebusting vehicles. Most of them didn't make the Top Gear line-up, so with that in mind, here's my own personal Top 10 of TV Cop Cars.
1) Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am – Knight Rider
Maybe Michael Knight wasn't a cop or a detective in the traditional sense, but he definitely fought criminals who "operate above the law" in his computerised talking car which could drive by itself, hit speeds of over 200mph and leap through the air at the touch of a button. It was also indestructible – apart from in the episodes when it suddenly wasn't, naturally.
2) Pontiac Firebird Esprit – The Rockford Files
Another Pontiac Firebird, but this one a low-key 'working man's car' which could go undetected in 1970s California traffic whenever private dick Jim Rockford needed to tail someone. Indeed, star James Garner specifically chose the lesser-spotted Esprit as the kind of mid-range yet stylish motor his blue collar character could actually afford.
3) Ferrari 308 GTS – Magnum PI
No quibbles with the Top Gear boys over this one: the 308 is an all-time classic and no-one has looked cooler driving it than Tom Selleck did in this 1980s TV hit.
4) Ferrari Daytona Spyder – Miami Vice
Far cooler than the white Testarossa which replaced it, sadly the sleek black 1972 Daytona got blown up during an IRA arms deal (no, really) in an episode featuring a young Irish hopeful called Liam Neeson. Wonder whatever happened to him?
5) GMC 4X4 K25 – The Fall Guy
With its massive chunky tires, jacked-up suspension and chromed roll bars, stuntman/skip tracer Colt Seavers' trusty two-tone pick-up truck wasn't particularly fast – but it sure looked good in mid-air during the umpteen jumps featured in the show.
6) Ford Consul GT – The Sweeney
"We're the Sweeney, son, and we haven't had our dinner." While Morse's Jag was nice, John Thaw's other TV copper Jack Regan also had a superb motor in which he could chase/nick villains – and it even came with its own driver, Bill.
7) Ford Capri 3.0 S X-Pack – The Professionals
Before Bodie and Doyle got their iconic gold and silver Mk3 Capris, Doyle had a silver Mk2 with special order 'X-Pack' body kit. Sadly, this mean machine was only featured in the notorious episode Klansmen, never shown on British/Irish terrestrial TV thanks to some toe-curling racist dialogue. However, it is included on the DVD release – and the car itself is currently undergoing a full restoration.
8) Ford Gran Torino – Starsky & Hutch
Top Gear got this one right: Starsky's 'striped tomato' is perhaps the coolest 1970s TV cop car of all – even though Hutch's battered Ford Galaxie was the more effective plain clothes mobile
9) Ford Thunderbird convertible – Vegas
Huge in its early-1980s day yet dimly remembered now, Vegas featured Robert Ulrich as private detective Dan Tanna solving cases in the titular city while looking damn cool in his red vintage Thunderbird. Corgi even produced officially licensed toy versions.
10) Peugeot 403 Grande Luxe – Columbo
Just one more thing: has any TV cop car been a better match for its driver than Lt Columbo's battered silver rag-top Peugeot? I think not.