More often than not, when a movie or TV show puts a fictional car front and center, it becomes fairly iconic or at the very least it’s something that just looks flat-out cool, making you wish it actually existed.
But not always.
Sometimes a car is simply so silly in its aesthetics or so poorly implemented that you can’t help roll your eyes or, in some cases, shake your head at the people driving it (assuming it’s not intended to be cool). With that in mind, we present this list to you: The Worst Cars In Pop Culture.
(Batman & Robin, 1997)
I look at this car and I still can’t believe it’s a thing that exists. Someone looked at this design and said, “Yes. This is the car Batman will drive in this movie.” Batman & Robin is (rightly) considered one of the worst superhero movies ever made, but even manages to somehow be worse than so many of the film’s other unsightly elements.
Granted, throughout the Batmobile’s many, many incarnations subtlety has never been one of its facets or attributes. Subtlety is actually sort of the antithesis of the car’s purpose. But there’s something so flagrantly ostentatious about this iteration of the vehicle that just sort of defies expectation, reason, good design sense, you name it. This isn’t a car for a caped crusader so much as its an oversized go-kart that would be driven by the frontman of an 80s glam-rock band in its ill-advised Saturday morning cartoon tie-in.
(Corvette Summer, 1978)
When the original Star Wars descended upon cinemas in 1977 it changed the landscape of movies forever. A legitimate phenomenon. At its center was a young, fresh actor named Mark Hamill who was surely destined for a rich, successful acting career after saving the galaxy as Luke Skywalker. So what does an actor like Hamill do to follow up the insane success of a movie that came out of nowhere and broke box office records?
How about a movie where high school grad Kenneth Dantley (Hamill) and a hooker-in-training (whatever THAT means…) head off on a hijinks-filled road trip to Las Vegas as they attempt to recover Kenneth’s stolen Corvette.
The movie bombed on release and has basically become little more than the most minor of footnotes in Hamill’s film career, which isn’t exactly brimming with quality films to begin with. (He became much more prolific and successful in his work as a voice actor.) While most of the film’s lack of success can certainly be chalked up to it just being a flat-out bad movie, some of the blame must shouldered by the fact that they used quite possibly the world’s ugliest Corvette.
I mean, just LOOK AT IT! If you’ve ever wondered how anyone could possibly make hideous one of the most classic and timeless automobile designs, look no further. I’d love to dive inside the mind of whatever knucklehead designed the flourishes used here.
WAGON QUEEN FAMILY TRUCKSTER
(National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1983)
Let’s say that Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) actually did get the Super Sports Wagon in antarctic blue with the CB radio and optional rally fun pack. Let’s say that that was the only part of the Griswolds’ vacation that went right. National Lampoon’s Vacation would still be a classic of 80s comedic cinema. But having the Griswolds put up with the Wagon Queen Truckster and its god awful metallic pea paint job and all of its other ungainly, unsightly, horribly made features makes it that much more of a perfect, well, lampoon of the 80s.
If nothing else, it’s the perfect indictment of American automobile styling and engineering at the time. Its styling is gratuitous and garish in equal measure with flourishes that make little aesthetic sense. Almost none of its features work properly or safely. It breaks down constantly. It wasn’t enough that the writers and director just gave the Griswolds an unsightly car to drive, they really went the extra mile and stuck it to the American auto industry.
(The Simpsons, OhS2 E15, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?)
What happens when you let the “average man” design a car to his own exacting and elaborate specifications? Well, when your average man in question is none other than Homer Simpson you get a car unlike any other. You get: The Homer. The features of it are…well, outrageous barely even covers it. Two bubble domes, an engine so loud “people think the world is coming to an end,” shag carpeting and no less than three car horns (all within arms reach since “you can never find a horn when you need one”) that all play the tune of La Cucaracha. The car was so expensive to make and buy (retail price tag of $82,000) that it bankrupted the manufacturer owned by Homer’s long lost half-brother.