These movie and TV vehicles inspired audiences — but which is the best of the decade? - bdsthanhhoavn.com

These movie and TV vehicles inspired audiences — but which is the best of the decade?

Power and endurance are important qualities in any contest, but our auto match-up takes a more speculative approach. We pit two pop culture vehicles from the 1970s against one another to discover which was the top ride of the decade.

Helping us in our decision making are comedian Simon Rakoff, who has been performing stand-up since 1978, and Benjamin Hunting, a Montreal-based writer and host of the “Unnamed Automotive Podcast.” We asked each to weigh-in on a speculative head-to-head featuring movie or television vehicles.

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

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

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

MATCH NO. 1

The Cadillac Eldorado from “Super Fly” vs. the Volkswagen Beetle from “Herbie Rides Again”

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

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

“The Cadillac is awesome and cool looking, but it’s just a car,” said Rakoff. “It’s not going to have the same brain as a car that drives itself. Herbie’s going to figure something out. How to tip the Cadillac over, or maybe, show the Cadillac his true feelings and take advantage of his feelings. The Love Bug kills them with kindness.”

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

MATCH NO. 2

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

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

Meanwhile, the success of the buddy cop 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 featuring its distinctive paint job from the series.

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

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

“The all-environment James Bond Lotus Esprit is the clear winner,” said Rakoff. “All it needs to do is nudge the Grand Torino into a lake and suddenly the battle is over. Drowns it in five seconds.”

THe best of the 1970's

MATCH NO. 3

The Kawasaki KZP Motorcycles from “CHiPs” vs. the Triumph Trophy TR5 Scrambler Custom motorcycle on “Happy Days”

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

“Fonzie’s Triumph would definitely beat any cop motorcycle,” said Rakoff. “The ‘CHiPs’ guys have a lot of accessories and big, wide body motorcycles but they’re limited by the law. Fonzie is going to crash through fences. He’s going to go down skateboard ramps. He doesn’t care. He’s outrun the cops about a million times. There’s no way they’re going to beat him.”

“Erik Estrada is cool, and no one had a better tan in the 1970s than him, but no one is cooler overall than Arthur Fonzarelli,” said Hunting. “The mere presence of The Fonz elevated the coolness factor for everyone else in the room. But the presence of a CHiPs officers just meant you were going to have a bad day.”

Best of the 1970's

MATCH NO. 4

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

For 119 episodes, private investigator Jim Rockford, as played by James Garner, drove a copper-mist coloured Pontiac Firebird Esprit on the popular TV detective drama “The Rockford Files,” while the Dodge Challenger in “Vanishing Point” helped turn the 1971 cross-country car chase film into a cult classic. While Bunting called Rockford’s car iconic, he said it is no match for Challenger.

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

Rakoff said Rockford’s car was, “cooler than he is. To this day, I think the Challenger is the car to beat in any matchup. I mean it looks like a shark. It’s coming for you. You see the Challenger coming and you hear the ‘Jaws’ theme.”

Looks like we have a winner.

Best of the 1970's

At auction

A classic 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am owned by actor Burt Reynolds and altered to look like the “Smokey and the Bandit” movie car recently sold at auction for $255,000 (U.S.). Reynolds, who starred in three of the movies in the Bandit series 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 five-speed manual transmission, a Hurst shifter, coil-over shocks, Wilwood-brand brakes, custom exhaust and a Cobra CB radio.

The Best of the 1970's

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