Dukes Of Hazzards' 1969 Dodge Charger, Route 66's Corvettes & The Monkeemobile 1966 Pontiac GTO

Greg Zyla
A Reader Writes: Greg, I enjoy your articles on the TV cars in the August issue of Auto Round-Up. If I may I’d like to add my reflections to your collection.
I’ll start off with what I consider to be the first “car star” on TV, and no it’s not My Mother the Car. I’m talking about the Corvette on Route 66 in which Todd (Martin Milner) and Buz (George Maharis) toured the pre-interstate U.S. in their Corvettes. (Fun Fact: The Corvette was green, not red because green showed up better on black and white TV screens.)
The scripts were crisp and entertaining, but my mother always had two problems with the show. They spent very little time on or around the actual title “route” and second, how could two young men with no steady income afford a new Corvette every season. Of course, I was too young to understand reality but not too young to accept it and enjoy the show.
I watched Highway Patrol and Dragnet as a kid, but again too young to get the nuance of Broderick Crawford dealing with the NHRA. I liked watching Dragnet but it was its spinoff of Adam 12 that got my engine revving. The use of actual cases ala Dragnet held my teenage attention, but the mid-1960s Dodge cars with the police package motors and suspensions chasing muscle cars around Los Angeles had me watching every week.
Kookie Edd Byrnes (77 Sunset Strip) T-Bucket wasn’t the only Hot Rod on TV. Does anyone remember the “Munstermobile Koach and Grandpa’s “Drag-U-La” on the Munsters? How about the Monkees and their customized GTO?
However, did you know that Crockett’s Ferrari on Miami Vice was blown up midway through the first season because it wasn’t a real Ferrari and was a kit car? Ferrari was fanatical about suing anyone and everyone who dared to put the Ferrari prancing horse logo on a plastic kit car body. The production team company had to destroy the replica on screen to settle some Ferrari litigation.
While Jim Rockford’s Formula Firebird was tough with tire shredding spins and was a real work of art, Rockford’s 4x4 Chevy Pickup had my farm boy heart racing. You just didn’t see all that many jacked-up 4x4s on TV back then.
Speaking of 4x4s, who can ever forget the “Rat Patrol” Jeeps with heavy machine guns mounted in the bed—jumping sand dunes in Death Valley and all this before 8pm pre-family hour programming.
If you want to talk about jumping cars, you have to include The Dukes of Hazzard. I’m a MOPAR man from the beds of my toe nails to the top of my bald head, so, I always looked forward to that TV show that had a 1968 Dodge Charger in the starring role. However, I actually hated the show and I know I’ll get a lot of people upset saying that. In my opinion, the show gave rednecks a bad name and did more to damage the image of the South. With weak scripts and juvenile plots, even Barbara Bach in her Jeep CJ and Daisy Duke's shorts couldn’t hold my attention more than a few weeks. I could sit through only so much of the frame-busting, slow motion car jumps and then see the Charger sending up rooster tails of dust as it drove off before I bailed on this one trick pony. I get sick when I think of the number of Chargers ruined in that show that will never see the road again.
And finally, I wish MOPAR had not dropped out of NASCAR, not once but twice. Had they put the money they put into the Hellcats back into NASCAR they would be champions and a dominant force again. Just because you have a 700-plus horsepower car doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have anywhere to race it.
Thanks for putting up with my rambling and please keep up the good work. Yours truly, Mark Davis, Fort Dodge, IA.
The Author Responds: Mark, thanks for the interesting letter, and I have to admit I didn’t know about the “fake” Ferrari used in the Miami Vice television series. Turns out they were indeed replicas built on a C3 Corvette chassis. You are also correct about the litigation by Ferrari, but for season three, Ferrari did supply two real 1986 Ferrari Testarossas so things worked out in the end.
The Monkees car was pretty famous being built by Dean Jeffries, a noted designer and builder. There were two Monkeemobiles built, one for the TV show and one for publicity tours. Pontiac marketing pro, racer and author Jim Wangers was in charge of the publicity for Pontiac and supplied Jeffries with two 1966 GTOs.
The Munster cars, Drag-u-la and Munster Koach, appeared at drag strips back in the day as booked in features. Both were from the George Barris company and both were powered by 289-V8 Ford engines. The coffin based Drag-u-la in the TV show was built by Grandpa so he could win back the Munster Koach, which Herman had lost in a drag race in the episode "Hot Rod Herman."
Thanks again for your interesting, nostalgic letter.
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