The Car: Coyote X (based on the McLaren M6GT)
The Show: Hardcastle & McCormick
The Driver: Mark McCormick (Brian Keith)
The television landscape in the 1980s was littered with television shows whose main gimmick basing as many moments as possible around a specialized vehicle of some sort. Whether it was the good ol’ Duke boys and the iconic General Lee or Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. or even Stringfellow Hawke and his Airwolf helicopter, you could find vehicular action on almost any point on the dial for a while.
There are more than a few of these that slipped through the cracks, such as Street Hawk (about an undercover agent who rides a super-powered motorcycle). But one of the lesser knowns that remains no less memorable (to me, at least) was Hardcastle & McCormick. Now, even though I watched the show religiously alongside The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider and Airwolf, I’m not sure I could tell you a single thing about the show’s plot or characters, but I will forever have burned into my mind’s eye the sight of the Coyote X, the custom-built, cherry red sports car that Mark McCormick (one of the show’s dual protagonists) drove as he played the part of vigilante for retired judge Milton Hardcastle. Who was going to be the criminal of the week this time? What sort of recycled plot elements would rear their head now? Who cares! That Coyote X looked unbelievably cool to 6-year-old me and, frankly, it still does.
So what exactly IS the Coyote X? In the context of the show it’s a prototype sports car that McCormick stole after it was itself stolen by his murdered best friend (who also designed the car). In real life it was a kit car assembled from custom molds based on the McLaren M6GT. The finished product is apparently a quite faith recreation of the McLaren, though naturally it has more than a few modifications and deviations from the original. As was common for kit cars of the era, the Coyote X’s chassis was taken from a Volkswagen Beetle, but under the hood it boasted the engine from a Porsche 914. However, for subsequent seasons the producers had the car redesigned and based the chassis off of a De Lorean DMC-12 as apparently actor Brian Keith had difficult getting into and out of the original model.
It’s a slick-looking car, one that is actually as light and fast as it looks. It sounds great in action, too, with a nice healthy purr and roar. There’s also nothing that looks quite like it aesthetically, even now. Sure, it’s definitely got that McLaren DNA going on in its curves, but especially compared to most TV cars, it stands out as distinct now as it did in the mid-80s.