Once again, while I was researching something more important, the well-muddled collection of ganglions and gelatin that forms my brain managed to send me down an unrelated tangent once I happened to find that Canada had a version of the Geo Metro called the Pontiac Firefly. That name got me thinking: how many cars share their names with a television show?
It turns out, more than I would have guessed, and that’s even after I realized that AMC never made a car called the Jake and the Fatman Sportwagen.
It’s possible I’m forgetting some, in which case I humbly ask you to let us know in the comments, so we can be sure this is a valuable source of reference for generations to come. Here’s the list:
1. Arrow (CW)/Plymouth Arrow
I’ve never seen Arrow, but it seems to be based on the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow. There’s a billionaire playboy involved! Man, DC really loved them some billionaire playboys.
Plymouth’s Arrow was one of their captive Mitsubishi imports; Mitsubishi called it the Lancer. Hey, was there a TV show called Lancer? Holy shit, there was!
2. Lancer (CBS)/Mitsubishi Lancer
Lancer, a CBS series from 1968-1970, was not about dermatology and boils, but was a western designed to compete with NBC’s much more popular Bonanza.
3. Firefly (Fox)/Pontiac Firefly
The 2002 sci-fi/Western series about the crew of the spacecraft Serenity has, of course, one of the biggest cult followings of any one-season TV show, maybe ever. It’s great!
The Pontiac Firefly was maybe a bit less great, being just a re-badged Suzuki Swift. We got them in the U.S. as the Geo Metro, beloved by hypermilers and anyone else looking to redo the bodywork of their cars in cardboard and tape.
4. Outlander (Starz), Mitsubishi Outlander
What’s up with all these Mitsubishis on this list?
The Mitsubishi Outlander is not a terrible SUV for the price, but probably wouldn’t be my first choice if I was traveling through time.
5. Maverick (ABC)/Ford Maverick
Maverick was sort of like a proto-Rockford Files for actor James Garner, in a way. Like the later show, it mixed some comedy into a different genre (a Western, in this case), but I can’t really say more, because I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen an episode. It ran from 1957-1962, and I think Maverick was a cardsharp or something like that. I’m just excited to use the word “cardsharp.”
The Ford Maverick was supposed to be an import-fighter to go against cheap cars like the Volkswagen Beetle and the newcomers from Japan, and it was pretty cheap. It got there not so much from innovation as much as just using whatever old bits were laying around – the platform was already 10 years old, from the 1960 Falcon, when the car was introduced.
Still, they’re sort of nice looking, and pleasing in a primitive way.
6. Life (NBC)/Honda Life
Apparently, Life was on from 2007-2009, but I have zero memory of this show. It was about some cop who was wrongfully imprisoned and released after 12 years something something maybe revenge something.
The Honda Life is a charming little Kei-class car for the Japanese market that’s evolved from a subscale-Civic-looking car, to an amazing tiny van, to a more modern one-box Kei car up to its end in 2014.
7. Dynasty (ABC)/Dodge Dynasty
In the dark ages before reality TV, if you wanted to watch grown, wealthy women fighting on television, you had to seek out such violent delights via fiction, instead of the carefully curated real-world fighting rich women we enjoy today. In the 1980s, the premier supplier of heavily powdered and coiffed girlfights was Dynasty.
I don’t really remember what the show was about, only that the main blonde woman was named Krystle, which looks like what I’d imagine a trademarked name for a clear gristle-based snack to be called.
The Dodge Dynasty was also sort of like a clear, gristle-based snack, at least on a desirability scale. It was related to the New Yorker, and replaced the K-car based Dodge 600. If I recall, the four-banger one with the 3-speed auto was a real dog.
8. Cobra (syndicated)/Shelby Cobra
The Shelby Cobra is a legend, and this show was named after the car, which has a prominent role in the show. Based on this trailer, it was also the most capable actor.
While I’ve never actually seen Cobra (it only ran from 1993-1994), I think it’s a safe bet to say that if you like your entertainment to consist of running to and from things, aflame and otherwise, punctuated by a punch or smirk, you’ll be satisfied.
9. Viper (NBC)/ Dodge Viper
So, television shows named after cars seem to prefer cars named for snakes. Good to know.
Viper, which ran first on NBC in 1994, then in syndication from 1996-1999, was sort of a clandestine advertising tactic from Chrysler. Chrysler designers designed the Viper Defender main car in the show, and Mopar cars were used throughout.
The show was about a special government task force set up to reduce crime in Metro City and oh god I can’t even finish. It’s terrible.
Vipers, though, are a lot of fun. America’s only V10 sports car, they look great and can be entertaining if occasionally alarming to drive.
Okay. That’s all the TV/car name shares I can think of. I’m excited to see if anyone can find any I’ve missed because, remember, this is important.
* UPDATE: I left out so many! Nova! Highlander! What the hell was I thinking? Anyway, thanks to every commenter who’s adding to the list to make this the resource we need.