I’ve cried twice in my life. Once was when my father died. And the other time was when I sat inside the General Lee, one of the Dodge Chargers (out of hundreds) used in the ’80s TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.
It’s on display at Cooter’s Place in Nashville, Tennessee, a roadside museum owned by the actor who played “Cooter,” and I was one of dozens of middle-aged men in line that day to sit behind the wheel and softly sing to themselves, “Someday the mountain might get ’em, but the law never will.”
Here are six other TV vehicles you can visit IN PERSON this summer. You might not be able to take them out for a spin, but you can touch the upholstery, breathe in the rich aroma of exhaust mixed with ’80s cologne and feel like those car fantasies of your youth weren’t all that far-fetched.
The Trans Am from Knight Rider
Petersen Automotive Museum
This black ’82 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am T-top wasn’t just one of the KITT cars used in the show. It was an original, featured in the pilot episode, says Bryan Stevens, exhibitions director for the Petersen Automotive Museum. And it’s got a history as wild as any episode of Knight Rider. Bought by a Saudi prince in the early 1990s, it was stolen and eventually turned up (without explanation) abandoned in a San Diego parking lot.
The real reason to visit is KITT’s futuristic dash, with the maze of digital gadgets and fake buttons. “It all still works,” Stevens says, including the flashing CRT-style screens that light up like a Vegas casino. “It’s got the yoke steering wheel like something out of an airplane. It’s all super-futuristic looking.”
The big question is, does it talk? “No,” Stevens laughs, “but I can hear the voice in my head.”
The A-Team van
Hollywood Cars Museum
I pity the fool who doesn’t say, “I pity the fool…” way too many times while admiring this ’83 GMC Vandura, one of the six vans used in the original A-Team series. It didn’t just appear on screen but was used in stunts, says Hollywood Cars Museum manager Steve Levesque.
“There’s still a roll bar cage in the back” — a contraption to protect the driver during a rollover or collision — “and no creature comforts at all,” Levesque says. Are those Mr. T’s unmistakable butt imprints in the white leather seats? That’s a mystery for the ages. But if you listen, you can probably hear B.A. Baracus snarling, “Nobody drives my van but me!”
Sanford and Son’s truck
Historic Auto Attractions
When Historic Auto Attractions owner Wayne Lensing found this iconic ’50 Mercury pickup — one of three used in Sanford and Son — he did no renovations on it, not even a fresh coat of paint. “I wanted it to look like it’d be driven straight from Sanford’s junkyard to my museum,” he says. “I even threw a bunch of junk in the cargo bed.”
The most authentic part is hidden in the glove box. That’s where Lensing keeps the truck's title with Redd Foxx's signature. After the show ended, Foxx “just kept it parked on his front yard for years,” Lensing says. He’s only driven it once, and it “was not a smooth ride,” he laughs.
Ferrari Daytona Spyder from Miami Vice
Volo Auto Museum
A lot of thoughts can go through your head when you first lay eyes on Sonny Crockett’s 1972 Ferrari Daytona GTS/4 Daytona Spyder — one of two used in the Miami Vice series, according to Brian Grams, Volo’s entertainment director. Your mind could drift to the “In the Air Tonight” scene, the one imprinted on our collective memories, and how we all thought we’d grow up to be tortured but handsome vice cops driving around in our ridiculously cool convertibles.
You might wonder if this was the same car that a mechanic for the show “borrowed” in the mid-’80s and used to sell illegal machine guns and silencers before getting busted in a sting operation. Because that would make it twice as cool. Not every car has contained both a Phil Collins cassingle and black-market machine guns.
The “Striped Tomato” from Starsky & Hutch
Hollywood Cars Museum
According to legend, Paul Michael Glaser (who played Starsky in the hit ABC cop show) was no fan of his character’s bright-red police car. He frequently complained about its poor handling and steering. His costar, David Soul, was annoyed by the upholstery, which he claimed was too slick and caused the duo to slide around in their seats during high-speed chase scenes.
“Oh yeah, that’s absolutely true,” Levesque says. “I’ve been behind the wheel, and those seats are definitely super-slippery. It’s that fake leather vinyl.”
The seats notwithstanding, Levesque has never been tempted to take this car for a joyride. “It has no motor,” he says.
Fonzie's 1952 Triumph TR5 Trophy motorcycle
The Gilmore Car Museum
Hickory Corners, Michigan
Henry Winkler admitted that he was so terrible at riding a motorcycle in Happy Days that he crashed it during filming and slid under a sound truck. Producers “came running over and pulled the bike out,” Winkler remembered. “Then they pulled me out!”
Does that explain the dent in the fuel tank on Fonzie’s bike, on display at The Gilmore Car Museum? Maybe. Could it be the bike that the Fonz used to jump 14 garbage cans? Possibly. Was this the bike that the Fonz famously mourned, explaining to Mr. C that it was “a very close friend. … It made me different, it made me special. My bike made me the Fonz!” Almost certainly.