Last year, we reveled in the ‘80s-tastic nostalgia-porn of Stranger Things, and, predictable bastard I am, wrote about all of the period cars used in the series. Season two was released last Friday, and over the weekend sweet, loyal Jalopnik readers were already all over my ass to do this again for the new series. Okay, okay, already! Here you go!
A few parameters here before we dive in: first, I’m not going to focus on the main character-cars we already saw in the last season, because, well, we covered those. Second, I, of course, didn’t document every car that shows up on screen, just a bunch of obvious or interesting ones, so if I missed one, sorry, and if my missing that car angered you, I do hope you come to terms with your demons.
Finally, since I know not everyone put on two pairs of Depends and binge-watched the whole series in a kiddie pool full of Little Debbies and corn dogs, I’ll do my best to minimize any blatant spoilers. It may not be perfect, but I’ll try, and either way, you’ve been warned.
Okay! Let’s look at a bunch of cars like the obsessive dweebs we are!
This is a nice start to things: not only do we get a clear date to know when everything is supposed to be happening, but that’s a nice 1966 Plymouth Belvedere station wagon, there. I think it’s a ‘66, but I could be off a bit.
My real question is that I’m wondering if this could be the same ‘66 or ‘67 Belvedere wagon we saw in the other Netflix period-car-crammed show, Mindhunter?
A pretty sweet mobile-lounge Chevy Van, I think likely 1978 or so. I think it has to be a ‘78 or later because it has the rectangular sealed-beam lights.
Speaking of rectangular sealed-beam lights, we come to the biggest, most obvious (to a car dork) anachronism seen in the show. These Chevrolet Caprice cop cars make sense for the era, but a number of the ones shown, like the one above, have the wide rectangular headlights that replaced the quad rectangular sealed-beam setup in 1987.
These cop cars, therefore, are from three years in the future!
Here, at Hawkins’ own corrugated-metal arcade, we see a nice selection of early-mid ‘80s cars, including an ‘83 or so Honda Civic Wagon with some very dark tinted windows.
This mostly shows Joyce Byers’ Ford Pinto, which we covered last time, but I wanted to point out a relatively unloved ‘80s staple: the band-aid-colored 1984 or so Toyota-built Chevy Nova sedan. Nobody is really restoring these Novas today.
Not car-related but did Dig-Dug actually allow for more than three-character high score names? I’m skeptical it did. I’ll have to fire up MAME in a bit and check.
There’s an MG Midget in the background there; last season, the only MG we saw was in a junkyard, so I’m happy to see one alive and well this time around.
This is perhaps the most notable and best-cast car of the new season: a Chevrolet Camaro, somewhere between 1978 and 1981. Those body colored urethane bumpers are the giveaway here, though I’m not exactly sure which specific year in that range this one is. I bet one of our commenters will know.
This is the new bad kid’s car, and he tears ass in it all over the place, roaring mightily and with some serious bravado. That bravado becomes sort of hilarious in modern contexts when you realize that it’s possible (and likely) this thing was making a sub-Kia Rio 120 horsepower from its massive 4.4-liter V8.
Here’s a well-populated parking lot shot showing a nice ‘73 (I think) Karmann-Ghia, what seems to be a ‘72 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme convertible, and a 1966 or so Ford Mustang.
That blue-and-white Vanagon was seen in the background of the show last season, and there’s also a nice Wagoneer, Pinto Wagon there. (I forgot to mention that teal ‘67 Chevelle, or that tip of a ‘79 or so Olds Cutlass peeking out from the right side there)
Hey look! The first French car we’ve seen in the show, as far as I know! It’s a Peugeot 505, maybe an ‘82 or so. In front is a big, brown ‘83 or so Cadillac Sedan DeVille
I like this one: next to Hopper’s police Chevy Blazer is an ‘84-ish Toyota Van, the mid-engined predecessor of the Previa. This is the car of an investigative reporter, and I think a pretty good choice for the character.
Here we have a boring gray Chevy Celebrity, and something I think is a Ford product but I can’t quite figure out. Those taillights are throwing me. One of you knows.
(UPDATE: It’s an Impala! A ‘67.)
This pumpkin farm truck seems to be a mid-’60s Ford F100. I always liked the white-painted trim.
Ah, a classic ‘80s movie cop car, the nearly always doomed Dodge Diplomat.
Is there any better place to eat lunch than in front of a roast-beef-brown 1975 Mercury Monarch? Of course not.
An average parking lot in the 1980s usually had a pretty good range of car ages, as we see here: a Ford Thunderbird from 1963, a Datsun 300ZX from 20 years later, and a Toyota Corolla that I think is a couple of years too new—it looks like an ‘86, based on the headlights. I think.
I wonder who made this truck? I bet Kenworth? Wait, no, I know that grille pattern—it’s a Mack. Yeah, look at that lovely Mack big rig!
This is one of the better-cast cars in the series. Bob seems like the sort of guy who would do a lot of careful research and then buy a new, terra-cotta colored 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback.
I think—and I can’t be absolutely certain, but I have a hunch—that I found the actual car used here. I bet it’s this one that was featured on Barn Finds earlier this year. I mean, how many of these things, in that color, in that good condition, can be left? Not many.
We talked about Steve’s 1981 BMW 733i last time, but I just wanted to point out one detail that’s sort of a giveaway that the car is more than just a few years old: that faded front marker light. It usually takes a solid decade of sun at least to get one that butter-colored from the original cheddar cheese-color.
In a flashback scene, we get a good look at the interior of a 1958 VW Beetle. I’m pretty sure it’s a ‘58 because it has the newer dashboard but the old ‘batwing’ steering wheel.
This is just a tiny background detail car, but there goes a ‘77 or ‘78 Volkswagen Westfalia camper, there, behind the bus.
Look! A nice blue Volvo Amazon! The way that cop is blocking it it’s easy to imagine it as a long-hooded two-seat GT car, which would be pretty amazing.
The first Porsche we’ve seen, a 924 (actually, it seems to be a 944—the big marker light should have told me) waiting at the light next to a 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88. That one took me a while to figure out.
A yellow Ford Fairlmont without taxi markings? Weird.
Somebody’s AMC Gremlin needs some real help.
This is such a period truck and color scheme—a ketchup-and-dijon-mustard-colored 1972 GMC Sierra Grande pickup truck.
I’m just including this shot of that Jonathan’s ‘72 Ford LTD because it’s an ideal example of something people almost never do in the real world—leave their car with all its lights on, with no worry about dead batteries or anything.
Okay, this isn’t car-related, but I wanted to point out that in the somewhat ridiculous hacking scene that involved the popular BASIC programming language, someone took at least some time to put real-ish BASIC code in here.
No one in the ‘80s would have formatted the lines that way, but the code sort of checks out, with four nested FOR...NEXT loops to go through the digits 0 through 9, and some conditional checking against some very non-BASIC made up crap.
Still, some effort was put in here, so good job, somebody.
One of the few Mercedes-Benzes we’ve seen, and it’s a 1974 or ‘75 W115 coupé! The kind with no B-pillar—I always liked these.
Let’s end with a little bit of a game: can you find the 1973 Volkswagen Beetle in the Upside-Down? It’s right there, parked in a parallel universe of terror and whatever!
I think the first season may have been a bit stronger overall, but I enjoyed season two, and the car-casting game was as good as ever, which is really about half of why I watch anything on television at all, if I’m honest.