Father’s Day is just a few days away, so we wanted to take a look at some of the greatest car dads from TV and movies. Like your own actual old man, some of these dads can be the best, and some can be rather trying, but their taste in cars is beyond reproach.
Red Foreman: Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Red Foreman was Eric Foreman’s dad in the throwback TV hit That ’70s Show. His Aztec Gold 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser was his pride and joy until he’s offered an insulting $400 trade for a new 1976 Toyota Corolla. At that point, it becomes Eric’s car.
That Vista Cruiser has to be the world’s most famous Oldsmobile. It was eventually purchased by Wilmer Valderrama — who played Eric’s buddy Fez on the show — after the show finished production.
Clark Griswold: Wagon Queen Family Truckster
If Red’s Vista Cruiser was the world’s most famous Olds, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster is the world’s most famous station wagon, bar none. It’s the Griswold family coach from 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Ironically, Clark Griswold trades in a ’69 Vista Cruiser that’s a dead ringer for Red’s car, only in Saffron rather than Aztec Gold.
The car is so indelibly linked with Clark Griswold, it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t even the car he wanted. He had ordered an Antarctic Blue Super Sportswagon.
“You think you hate it now, but wait’ll you drive it!”
Sandford Babbitt: 1949 Buick Roadmaster
Sandford Babbitt is an odd choice for a car dad, because he doesn’t appear in a movie at all, unless you count a quick shot of a photograph he’s in.
Sandford’s only line of dialogue in the 1988 Barry Levinson film Rain Man is spoken courtesy of his attorney, at the reading of his will when his son Charlie learns that he’s getting passed over for a cash inheritance, in favor of this gorgeous 1949 Buick Roadmaster.
Mr. Frye: 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider
If Sandford Babbitt was fairly anonymous in Rain Man, Cameron Frye’s dad in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is positively absent, which suits his character pretty well. He’s obsessed with his cars, including this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider, which ends up being more of a character in the film than he is.
There’s a lot of history about this car in a story that we wrote for the movie’s 30th anniversary a few years back. David Traver Adolphus wrote the definitive history of the cars constructed for the movie. All three cars were built by Mark Goyette, who now operates a world-class, Pebble Beach Concours-winning restoration shop in Bennington, Vermont.
Hank Hill: Ford Ranger
Strickland Propane Assistant Manager Hank Hill is a dyed-in-the-wool Ford man. For years, he drives a two-wheel drive 1993 Ranger SuperCab.
Dale: I know what’s wrong with it, it’s a Ford. You know what they say Ford stands for, don’t you? It stands for “Fix It Again, Tony.”
Hank: You’re thinking of a Fiat, Dale.
Hank drives the Ranger into the fifth season until it meets its untimely end and he buys himself a new 1999 Ford F250 Super Duty.
Joseph “Rocky” Rockford: 1973 GMC K1500 Sierra Grande Wideside
Jim Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird always got all the attention in The Rockford Files, but his dad, Rocky’s 1973 GMC K-1500 Sierra Grande Wideside drove the coolest pickup on television until Colt Seavers came along in The Fall Guy.
Just like Jimmy’s Firebird, you’ll find conflicting information about Rocky’s truck. Depending on which episode you happen to be watching, the truck can be a ’73, or it can be as late as a ’75, when GMC went to “K-15” for the model name.
Regardless, Rocky’s truck is a looker, with its roll bar, winch and off-road lights.
Al Bundy: Plymouth Duster
Al Bundy — most cursed father in America — drives what is often referred to as a “Dodge” in the show. It’s actually a Plymouth Duster, and the year is pretty hard to pin down. Several cars were used and there were a handful of paint jobs over the years, too.
Herman Munster and Grandpa Munster: Munster Koach and DRAG-U-LA
Ah, the 1960s, when television shows had budgets that allowed the greatest names in custom cars to produce vehicles that might appear in a small handful of episodes.
The Munsters was the only show we can think of where both a dad and a granddad had great cars. Herman Munster’s car was the Munster Koach, a custom design by Tom Daniel, built by Tex Smith and Dick Dean at George Barris’s shop. It’s built out of three Ford Model T bodies on a stretched frame, rivaling full-size station wagons at 18 feet long.
Herman’s father-in-law, Grandpa Munster, has a custom rod of his own. DRAG-U-LA is a Model T chassis with an real fiberglass casket used as the body. The engine is a 289-cu.in. Ford V-8.
DRAG-U-LA and the Munster Koach are featured heavily in the best episode of the Munsters ever run, “Hot Rod Herman.”
Homer Simpson: The Homer
There are TV and movie dads with cool cars, but there’s only one that actually designed his own concept car: Homer J. Simpson.
Homer’s estranged brother Herb runs a car company, and when he offers to give Homer one of his cars, he’s dismayed to learn that they have none of the features that average Americans like Homer wants. So he enlists Homer to design one of his own.
Hilarity naturally ensues.
Mike Brady: 1972 Plymouth Barracuda
No dad had a better batting average of cool cars than Mike Brady. From 1969 to 1974, he drove a series of cars — all convertibles, mostly Mopars — that made every American kid immediately want to move to California.
The first was a ’68 Dodge Polara, which only appeared in the pilot episode:
Pretty quickly, he replaced that with a 1969 Plymouth Fury, which appeared in the second season:
By Season 3, Mike really started to hit his stride, with a ’71 Barracuda:
In Season 4, Chevrolet must’ve outbid Chrysler for product placement, because Mike shifted to a 1972 Chevrolet Impala:
And then in the fifth season, Mike went full luxury with the 1973 Chevrolet Caprice:
The Caprice features heavily in one of the most famous Brady Bunch episodes, “The Driver’s Seat,” in which Marcia proves to Greg that teen girls are as good at driving as boys.
We missed several car dads in this top 10. Which car dads are your favorites?