National Lampoon's Vacation was the first in the series of Chevy Chase comedy films starting in the 1980s, and may be most remembered for making household names of Christie Brinkley and Beverly D'Angelo, and launching the career of Anthony Michael Hall. But indispensible from the Griswold's road trip to Walley World is the garish, supremely clever abomination of a station wagon: "the new Wagon Queen Family Truckster."
Originally based on the Ford LTD Country Squire -- a more ridiculous name because it wasn't a parody -- the car was worked over to be as tawdry and outlandish as possible. Featuring an abundance of faux-wood paneling, double-stacked headlights -- eight in total -- a crown and gills on the rear side pillars, the revolting wagon was finished in "metallic pea" paint. For a family as absurd as the Griswolds, it really worked, and the Wagon Queen Family Truckster is easily one of our favorite cars in costume.
The Tumbler, driven by the caped crusader in Batman Begins and the Dark Night films, is undeniably cool -- there were even drivable street versions produced. But it's not even the coolest Batmobile. As you'll see in our list, it's not even in the top two.
The 1960s was in many ways the personification of those awkward middle school years, stretched out over a decade. In a period of growth, tumult, confusion and separation from the 1950s, the '60s was a weird time. And sandwiched somewhere in between the early bubble-gum Beetles and flower-power was the Batman TV series. The show was a bizarre example of post-modern pop-art kitsch on screen; gaudy costumes and Boom! Sock! Pow! graphics made the show a spectacle if nothing else. And front and center of it all, based on a 1954 Lincoln Futura, was the wackiest Batmobile to date. Developed by custom builder George Barris, the owner of this vehicle couldn't be in doubt; there were bats at the center of the rims, the orange silhouette of a bat on each coupe door -- Batman and Robin's respectively -- and a blood-orange trim outlining the body of the vehicle. It only takes a glance to realize that the Futura's Bat-decor could be from no other era.
The Big Lebowski inspired a cult following almost instantaneously and is single-handedly responsible for the endurance of the White Russian cocktail. The film's main character -- the Dude -- is an L.A.-based, low-laying bowling enthusiast. It'd be hard to assess such traits and somehow apply them to a vehicle, but the Dude's beaten-up wheels abide. In its better days, the Dude's car was a 1973 Ford Gran Torino. Although this one isn't technically in costume, its shabbiness and faithful reflection of its owner is alteration enough for us; consider it the automotive equivalent of a hobo costume. Also, it's the Dude's.
As far as cars in costumes, none, if any, may have this 1964 Lincoln Continental beat. It's got a costume within a costume, like dreams in the movie Inception -- but perhaps missing yet another costume; that was a confusing film. The Deathmobile plays out most of its role in the movie as Kent "Flounder" Dorfman's car -- borrowed from his brother -- which is quickly commandeered by the rest of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity for mayhem. At the film's finale, the frat disguises the car as a cake with "Eat Me" written on the side, and crashes the homecoming parade. It bashes other floats, throwing the well-ordered parade into chaos. But with the words, "Cut the cake," the black, flamed, turreted, Deathmobile emerges from the smoke -- literally -- blows its train whistle, and sets its sights on Dean Wormer.
Tim Burton is one dark mother's son. The guy knows weird, kooky, and sinister, and has made a handsome living because of it. We loved the 1960s Batmobile, but this one is just commanding, gorgeous, and generally badass. The thing supposedly runs on a turbine engine in the movies; in real life, the engine is a production-spec Chevrolet V-8. The producers wanted to give this Batmobile a more menacing appearance, and we think they succeeded. But despite Gotham-One's looks, underneath it's pretty pedestrian.
As our friends at Batmobilehistory tell us, "the production team spliced together two Impala chassis, and the car was powered by a Chevy V-8." While the Impala and Chevrolet engines are admirable in their own right, a bonafide Batmobile they certainly don't make. We can't give enough credit to the designers for coming up with such a stunning aesthetic, a look that makes this Batmobile our favorite, and easily lands it on our six favorite cars in costumes list.
In what is quite possibly the funniest movie Jim Carrey has ever been in and certainly one of our favorite comedies, Dumb and Dumber is a sure classic. Not lost on us were the great lengths designers went to in creating Harry and Lloyd's Shaggin' Wagon. Covered in faux-fur carpeting, inside and out, the Mutt Cutts van is wearing a genuine sheep-dog costume. The hind leg even lifts up to reveal the gas cap. Clever. Underneath all that shaggy fur is a 1984 Ford Econoline van. Considering how ugly those were, we'd probably dress ours up as a mutt too. For their well-appreciated efforts, and our love of this film, the Mutt Cutts Shaggin' Wagon makes our cut.
Sources: Wikipedia, Batmobilehistory, Rotten Tomatoes
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