Man, the 80's have had so many memorable moments on TV. Yea, they come off full of cheese now but I remember a time when shows like Knight Rider, AirWolf, A-Team, and Street Hawk were what defined our evening television. Especially when there was a vehicle in the mix! Whether it was land or air, these machines really made some of these shows memorable!
Let's visit some old friends....
Remember STREET HAWK, starring legendary 80's icon REX SMITH!
This is Jesse Mach, an ex-motorcycle cop, injured in the line of duty. Now a police troubleshooter, he's been recruited for a top secret government mission to ride Street Hawk -- an all-terrain attack motorcycle designed to fight urban crime, capable of incredible speeds up to three hundred miles an hour, and immense firepower. Only one man, federal agent Norman Tuttle, knows Jesse Mach's true identity. The man...the machine...Street Hawk.
VIA WIKI-The motorcycle in the pilot episode was based on a 1983 Honda XL500 trailbike. The motorcycles used in the series were based on 1984 Honda XR500s. The motorcycles used for the stunt shots were based on Honda CR250s.
Dude, who didn't want to ride Street Hawk to school!
You know we can't have this conversation without mentioning KNIGHT RIDER. Seriously, besides the General Lee, how many muscle cars do you remember being the stuff of legend quite like KITT.
Billionaire Wilton Knight rescues police Detective Lieutenant Michael Arthur Long after getting shot in the face. Giving him a new identity (plastic surgery) and a new name: Michael Knight. Wilton selects Michael to be the primary field agent in the pilot program of his public justice organization, the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG). The other half of this pilot program is the Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT), a heavily modified, technologically advanced Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with numerous features including an extremely durable shell and frame, controlled by a computer with artificial intelligence. Michael and KITT are brought in during situations where "direct action might provide the only feasible solution.
WIKI FACT- The car used as KITT in the series was a customized 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am sports model, that cost US$100,000 to build (about $245,000 in 2014).
In my heart of hearts, I always yearned for a modern remake of AIRWOLF. This helicopter was so cool that I wish Lockheed would build one just to inspire a new movie.
Airwolf, an advanced supersonic helicopter with stealth capabilities and a formidable arsenal, was designed by Dr. Charles Henry Moffet (David Hemmings) - a genius with a psychopathic taste for torturing and killing women - and built by the Firm, a division of the CIA (a play on the term "the Company", a nickname for the CIA). As the series begins, Dr. Moffet and his crew steal Airwolf during a live-fire weapons test. During the theft, Moffet opens fire on the Firm's bunker, killing a United States Senator and seriously injuring Firm deputy director Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III (codename "Archangel"). Moffet takes the gunship to Libya, where he begins performing acts of aggression - such as sinking an American destroyer - as a service for military strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who allows Moffet to keep Airwolf on Libyan soil.
Archangel recruits the reclusive Stringfellow Hawke, the chief test pilot during the development of Airwolf, to recover the gunship. Archangel leaves his assistant Gabrielle (Belinda Bauer) - who becomes Hawke's love interest - at Hawke's cabin to brief him for his mission. A week later, after an undercover operative in Libya is killed in the line of duty, Gabrielle is sent in undercover and Hawke is sent in sooner than originally planned. With the assistance of pilot and father figure Dominic Santini, Hawke finds and recovers Airwolf, but Gabrielle is tortured and killed by Moffet. Hawke obliterates Moffet with a hail of missiles from Airwolf before returning to the United States. However, instead of returning the gunship, Hawke and Santini booby-trap Airwolf and hide it in "the Lair", a large natural cave in the remote "Valley of the Gods" (visually modeled on Monument Valley). Hawke refuses to return Airwolf until the Firm can find and recover his brother, Saint John (pronounced "Sinjin"), who has been missing in action since the Vietnam War. To obtain access to Airwolf, Archangel offers Hawke protection from other government agencies who might try to recover Airwolf; in return, Hawke and Santini must fly missions of national importance for the Firm.
WIKI FACT- The flying Airwolf helicopter was actually a Bell 222, serial number 47085, sometimes unofficially called a Bell 222A. During filming of the series, the helicopter was owned by Jetcopters, Inc. of Van Nuys, California.
The original helicopter was eventually sold after the show ended and became an ambulance helicopter in Germany, where it crashed in a thunderstorm and was destroyed on June 6, 1992, killing all three crew members.
Although it only lasted 11 episodes, I still wanted to show some love for BLUE THUNDER. The TV show, NOT the movie!
You know I can't end this piece without mentioning the DUKES OF HAZZARD and the General Lee!
WIKI FACT-The General Lee was based on a 1969 Dodge Charger. The name refers to the American Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The television show was based on the movie "Moonrunners", in turn based on actual moonshine runners who used a 1958 Chrysler named Traveler, after General Lee's horse. Traveler was originally intended to be the name of the Duke boys' stock car too, until producers agreed that General Lee had more punch to it. The show also used 1968 Chargers (which shared the same sheet metal) by changing the grille and taillight panel to the 1969 style, and removing the round side marker lights. These Chargers performed many record-breaking jumps throughout the show, almost all of them resulting in a completely destroyed car.
Hope this article brought back some good memories of a great era in TV Vehicles. An era often imitated, rarely duplicated.