THE 100 COOLEST POP CULTURE VEHICLES


#100 BLACK BEAUTY from THE GREEN HORNET

When the Batman TV show debuted in 1966, the world was introduced to the incredible Batmobile.  Producer William Dozier was able to use the show's success to launch another campy superhero show, The Green Hornet, and of course he needed a cool car, too!  The converted 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial designed by Dean Jeffries was more than up for the task. 

Corgi made a kickass die-cast version of the car.  I'll never forget how happy I was when my mom brought a used one of these home that she found on a city bus when she was coming home from work.  It had a little Green Hornet and Kato inside, and you could twist a knob so Kato could shoot his gun outside the window.

Karl Kirschner is the lucky bastard that owns this car today, and you can CLICK HERE to see what he's done with it, including some cool new photos of the badass ride. 


#99 U91035 PROTEUS FROM FANTASTIC VOYAGE

1966 was a golden age for cool pop culture vehicles.  Aside from the earthbound cars, there's the amazing U91035 Proteus from the film Fantastic Voyage.  The Proteus is a nuclear submarine, that with it's crew, was shrunk down to a microscopic size and injected into the blood stream of a dying scientist to zap at an inoperable blood clot.  For many Sci-Fi fans, the thought of Raquel Welch floating around in your body was simply delightful.  I sometimes wish Raquel could shrink down, get inside of me, and then grow to full size so we can be as one.  At least that's what the voices say is best.  CLICK HERE to see a cool model of the craft in action skimming the surface of fantastic swimming pool.  You can view larger versions of these pictures by clicking the thumbnails below.


#98 THE LAND SPEEDER FROM STAR WARS

What a thrill, to be a young moisture farmer, cruising 12-14 inches over the sands of Tatooine at a blistering 30 miles per hour!  I always loved the design of Luke Skywalker's Land Speeder, despite it's impractical design (how on earth would it handle bumps or inclines without crashing is a secret Jedi mystery).  There's a gentleman who's selling a custom made drivable kit-car (pictured below) that you can bid on if you CLICK HERE.

FUN FACT: Sir Alec Guinness' nickname for his penis was "The Gland Speeder"


#97 THE SILVER SURFER'S SURFBOARD

I don't understand why Norrin Radd was so tormented.  Galactus was going to eat his planet, so to save his home world (the not so savable sounding Zenn-La) he volunteered to become his herald and find other planets for Galactus to eat instead (what a noble guy).  So he gets transformed into a chrome coated dude who flies through space on a special surfboard that he can control with his mind!  What's the problem?  There's a million skaters on Earth that would volunteer for that job, and let Galactus eat Earth as thanks!  Jack Kirby created The Silver Surfer, who first appeared in a Fantastic Four comic back in 1966. 

Years later, a drunken Jack Kirby stumbled into the offices of DC Comics and tried to recreate his success by creating a hero just like The Silver Surfer, but to reflect the early 70s culture changes, he made him a black guy on skis creatively named "The Black Racer".  The Black Racer holds the distinction of being the only black skier in fiction, or reality.


#96 THE AMC PACER

The marvelously bizarre Pacer made its debut in 1976.  So stylish and "futuristic" this car is easily one of the most recognizably weird automobiles of its time.  The intent was to give you, "broad expanses of glass for virtually 360 degrees of visibility", but what it really did was give you broad auto-glass repair bills because nobody but the AMC dealers had that strange rounded shape if you ever needed to fix it. 

It was a tough car to have private make-out sessions in, that's for sure.  Unless you could find girls that were in to indulging their fish tank fetish, it was not built for romancing.

I miss the cool cars of AMC.  There was a wonderful ugliness about them that is still charming to this day.  To think that a 70s family or a young adult ready for their first car would haggle for hours to finally drive a new Pacer or Gremlin home says oodles for the culture of the time.  We've loved goofy cars in all eras.  Lord only knows what website will be making fun of our SUV obsession 40 years from now.

MORE NEW ENTRIES EACH DAY!


#96 LITTLE NEMO'S BED

Little Nemo was a great surreal comic strip drawn by Windsor McCay (who coincidentally is a great godfather of animation, with his experimental "Gertie The Dinosaur" having the significance of being the first cartoon ever shown in a theater).  Nemo would go to bed, doze off, and end up in all kinds of crazy adventures, often with his bed flying around, or in the case of the comic strip below (click for the full size version) it grew legs like an AT-AT walker and traipsed about town.


#95 S.H.I.E.L.D. HELICARRIER

The Helicarrier was a clunky seemingly impossible to stay airborne monstrosity that was used by Nick Fury and the other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 60s Marvel comic.  Its original design was a titanic sized behemoth that could stay aloft with 6 well placed copter blades and a mysterious "gyro-complex heli-carrier stabilizer" (which coincidentally is now standard in all Toyota Camrys).  My first exposure to the ship was in the late 70s Godzilla comic, in which the red headed and temper-prone Dum Dum Dugan used it to chase Godzilla across America.  In fact, the ship had a temporary demise when a chunk of bridge thrown by Hercules at Zilla missed and smashed into it instead.  For a ridiculously thorough history of this amazing ship, CLICK HERE.


#94 MARIO KART

The Italians have long been known for their world-class auto manufacturing abilities, and the versatile and high-performance Mario Kart is no exception to their wonderful legacy.  In 1992, Super Mario Kart debuted for the Super Nintendo system, and there's a been a variant upgrade of the game for every subsequent Nintendo system ever since, including an unlicensed Hentai game in Japan called "Mario Kart: Double Gash: Bukkakequest" that was pulled from the shelves about as quickly as it debuted.  I often find myself whistling the Mario Kart theme while I drive about town and throw banana peels at the cars behind me to unwind after work. If anyone knows of a place I can find cheap turtle shells to chuck out my window, I'm all ears.


#93 KON-TIKI

Thor Heyerdal was one bad ass dude.  In 1947, he proved that one could have sailed a boat made out of reeds and sailed it 4,000 miles from South America to the Polynesian Islands.  The boat, named Kon-Tiki, was made entirely out of balsawood, and aside from a radio to keep contact with rescue vehicles if need be, had only the the primitive materials that the ancient Incan people would have used.  The book, Kon-Tiki, was a thrilling elementary school staple for years, and I am saddened to learn that it's not a part of many children's curriculum any longer.  Thor went on to make a papyrus boat called Ra-II which sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Central America that was also a success.  Unfortunately, in 1985, his ill-fated trip to travel to the middle of the earth through an active volcano using only a case of Big League Chew and a gallon of goat sperm were met with tragic results.

 

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