Hagerty.com

The 10 greatest detective cars


#1

Why do we love the Bullitt Mustang so much? One reason: it feels real, as much a part of the hard-boiled persona of Frank Bullitt as a badge and shoulder holster. The Highland Green Mustang isn’t polished perfection, it’s the kind of brawler that doesn’t mind picking up a dented fender en route to throwing the bad guys behind bars—or failing that, punting them into the life hereafter.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/02/12/10-greatest-detective-cars

#2

This is a rich topic. I’ll throw in this two-fer from Simon & Simon, which ran from 1981 to 1989. Dapper AJ Simon drove a 1982 Camaro Z/28, while his cowboy brother Rick drove 1979 Dodge W-150 Macho Power Wagon. I always loved that truck.


#3

The 1973 Trans Am John Wayne drove in McQ was pretty awesome as well.


#4

But what about Mannix’s 66 or 67 Toranado or that 68 Dart GTS? Convertible IIRC.


#5

How can you mention Magnum and forget about Dan Tanna’s 57 Red convertible T-Bird in Vegas?


#6

Mannix always had some kind of cool Mopar…not even a mention?


#7

What? No Harper/Paul Newman Porsche Speedster? You’re kidding right? The greatest detective ride of all time (okay, maybe after the Bullitt Mustang) doesn’t get mentioned?
Paul Newman picked the Speedster himself for the film because he thought it fit the character and because he liked them, back when they were just $2500 used cars. Not because some producer thought cool detectives drove red Ford sedans with white stripes. One of his own rides in Connecticut was a baby blue ‘67 Beetle convertible with Porsche Super 90 brakes and engine he had built because the movie insurance guys told him he couldn’t drive a Porsche while in production. Guys like Newman and McQueen invented cool. It just came naturally and it’s stood the test of time.
Check the internet and see how many hits you get for Harper’s ratty Speedster and compare it to what’s their names Saab 900, Mitsubishi, or Jaguar sedan.
My opinion of the Hagerty “top” lists has gone down a peg or two.


#8

Was Magnum PI a detective? I can get behind some Ferrari 308 love!


#9

Who can forget 1960s TV Amos Burke and his chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud? Now that was the car of cars.


#10

Robert Urich and Avery Brooks both had some stylish rides in “Spenser: For Hire” back in the late '80s, especially the former’s Mustang GT fastback and the latter’s series of Jags, BMWs and Bentleys.


#11

Lets not forget Frank Cannon from the show Cannon and his Lincoln Continental MK IV. Definitely a large bore guy and car.


#12

Another show I liked(circa 1985) but somewhat obscure was Sting-Ray starring Nick Mancuso in his 1965 Sting-Ray.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwRRqeAEzJk


#13

What about Joe Friday’s 1967 Fairlane?


#14

Yeah, Spenser and Hawk definitely belong on that list. Fastback Mustang and BMW 635 were perfect fits for those characters.


#15

Bring on McGarrett and the big, black Mercs! 5-0 lives!!! Kimble B.


#16

Agreed! Dan-O from the Islands


#17

The Saint had a Volvo P1800. Still love that car!


#18

Hey! What about Agent 86 a.k.a. Maxwell Smart, and his Sunbeam Tiger?!? (Even if sometimes it was just stinking badges)


#19

The Saint also had a white Jaguar XJS coupe.


#20

Sonny Crockett actually drove a 1972 Pantera dressed up as a Testarossa. The Ferrari engine sounds were dubbed in. The actual Ferrari was only used for “safe” beauty shots…