The Simpsons is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary, making it the longest-running primetime scripted series in TV history. While much has changed in society, the Simpsons mostly remains the same, and that includes many of the cars to appear throughout the series. Usually, the automobiles used on the show are copies of regular cars. Their main sedan is called a “Junkerolla” and the series will do knock-offs of more famous rides. Thus, you’ll have a Ferrini, a Canyonero and more fake names. That fits in line with the show’s style, as the producers don’t want to tick off real car companies by making fun of their rides.
Yet the show has used quite a lot of actual automobiles over its long run. Many of them are in the usual “blink and you’ll miss it” background appearances for long road scenes. A few others can be the backdrop for a more important scene. But a few are used as actual plot points and given a nice showcase. There are scores of examples but here are 20 of the best times a real-world car popped up on The Simpsons to show the animators love these rides as much as real gearheads.
In flashbacks to his teenage years, Homer is shown driving what’s simply called “the ‘70s car.” It mixes a Challenger, Barracuda and other cars into one.
Some flashbacks do show current cars with Homer having done a summer stint working at a farm. He’s leaning on a car that the animators claim is a 1970 Dodge Coronet (although some fans argue it has elements of other cars of the time). It’d be a great muscle car if not for its bad shape and the word painted on the side, which oddly makes it a fitting choice for Homer.
While cleaning up the garage for the first time since the family moved in, Homer discovered a Morgan Super Sports 3-wheeled car in excellent condition and makes it his new ride. Jay Leno just happens to be visiting Springfield and sees the car. A noted gearhead, Leno bought the car with Homer using the cash to take Marge to Paris.
Too bad Leno didn’t realize Homer didn’t actually own the Morgan, so it’s impounded and Chief Wiggum ends up driving it. It’s a great use of a rare automobile.
Given that he’s capable of breaking some bones just by getting out of bed in the morning, Homer owning an ambulance makes a lot of sense.
Needing a new job, Homer picks up a 1959 Cadillac Ambulance Eureka from a lot. He claims it’s because he heard the siren cry out “Buy me” when it was used. Homer then opens his own ambulance service which goes as badly as one expects. The ambulance eventually ends up going into the ocean and shows even a lifesaving vehicle isn’t safe from Homer.
Springfield often seems to be stuck in a time warp and not just because Bart and Lisa haven’t aged in 30 years. The series will boast flashbacks that show the town hasn’t really changed much over the decades.
When a young Homer is spotted on a jog, Abe catches up to him inside a 1961 Chevy Impala, a precursor to the muscle cars of the ‘70s. It’s clear Abe just uses it for normal drives and not daredevil antics but it shows where Homer got his love of nice cars from.
A running gag on the show is that although they’ve met hundreds of times, Mr. Burns keeps forgetting who Homer is. When Marge (who he has a crush on) tells him she’s married, Burns imagines her with some handsome Adonis driving a sports car by the ocean. It’s an Austin Healey circa 1959, a great roadster with a winged badge and bonnet to set it apart. It’s a brief scene but fun with Burns unable to accept Marge could be married to someone like Homer.
Mr. Burns never fails to remind everyone he’s the richest man in Springfield. Instead of a regular modern limo, Burns chooses to drive around in a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8. It’s a fantastic mix of limo and roadster with a nice style and its 80 mph speed was impressive for its time.
Burns added a fancy gold statue to the front while enjoying the nice ride. A later version is also used by resident crime boss Fat Tony but Burns’ is far more lavish.
The Simpsons really do enjoy showing off Lamborghinis. In one episode, they take a tour of the company’s main factory where Homer can’t help but cause a huge mess. Another episode has Bart imagining his life in adulthood. That includes how Nelson made himself a major payday by selling off his pituitary gland. He’s soon showing off a brand new Murcielago with the license plate “No Gland.” This top of the line sports car is a fantastic machine and having it driven by Nelson just oddly fits.
This is another classic car owned by Mr. Burns. It’s a gorgeous Bugatti Type 50, one of only a handful in the world and worth over a million dollars.
Burns uses it to try and woo Gloria, a lovely woman who happens to be the ex-girlfriend of resident hoodlum Snake. He uses the Bugatti as it’s his “chick magnet” car and even lets Homer drive Gloria in it (amazingly, Homer doesn’t wreck the car). The relationship goes badly but shows Burns’ love of classic automobiles.
Given he’s in a nursing home, Abe Simpson being out on the road is a pretty dangerous idea. An episode involves Homer telling the kids how in the early 1980s, he was part of a successful barbershop quartet group. They actually got a lot of money off the deal and Homer bought his dad a “new” car. It’s a 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood, which even for the time, was called a beater. It seems his dad didn’t use it very long but it’s the thought that counts.
For a family that’s supposed to be dirt poor, the Simpsons have a knack for getting their hands on some fancy cars that they never use again.
For one beach trip, the family ends up renting a 1950 Mercury Woody Wagon. As the name implies, this has a lot of wood paneling and was a constant sight for beaches and vacation spots in the 1950s. Presumably, Homer somehow smashed it up so it’s never used again, but at least it made for a fun beach trip.
AMC cars pop up a few times in the show. The Gremlin is the automobile used by both the Comic Book Guy and the nearsighted Hans Moleman, both of whom enjoy its reliable style.
The Pacer also pops up as the car used by Lisa’s music teacher, Dewey Largo. The dependable compact car comes in a variety of uses in Springfield and it seems odd that AMC gets more screen time than other car companies on the show.
The Country Squire has popped up on the show a few times.
A 1966 version was used by the Flanders family when their home was repossessed. A 1973 version belongs to the kindly Dr. Hibbert. The man is a rare competent person in Springfield although, given his outrageously high medical fees, the fact he drives an older station wagon with his family seems a bit odd. It looks like the good doctor is just a cheapskate when it comes to his car.
A running joke in the show is Mr. Burns being an incredibly ancient man often barely hanging onto life. It’s unsurprising then that he has cars that were brand new when he was a younger man.
When he has to make a fast escape from the law, rather than do it in a fancy sports car, Burns goes for a 1936 Stutz Bearcat. This lovely loose sports car was very top-notch for its day, although its top speed was just 90 mph. Leave it to Burns to insist on a stylish getaway car.
One of the key reasons The Simpsons is so loved is because of the countless sight gags. Fans never tire of freezing a frame to read a background sign or event that’s thrown in for goofy fun.
In one case, Homer is shown driving into a section of town that looks like 1973 never ended. That includes what appears to be a completely different show going around with a guy in a flashy coat leaping onto a 1968 Chevy Nova to chase another guy. It’s another “blink and you miss it” moment the animators love to throw in.
Letting Homer Simpson drive a Lamborghini is like asking a bull to run a china shop. For some reason, Mr. Burns elected Homer to be the guy to fly to Italy, pick up a brand new Fasterossa XT550 with the ABS Sport-Tec package from the factory and get it back to Springfield.
As anyone but Mr. Burns could predict, it’s a complete disaster as Homer wrecks the car twice and it ends up stuck in some ruins. Watching Homer destroy this beautiful piece of machinery is utterly stunning.
A classic episode has a variety of stars coming to Springfield to join Krusty in a huge telethon. Among them is Johnny Carson who had retired from the Tonight Show.
Thanks to the freedom of animation, Carson is depicted as a super-strong figure capable of spinning a 1987 Buick Skylark over his head like it’s a toy. The car is light but not that light so it’s best no one attempts this stunt in real life.
This massive sedan was supposed to be a sports car but ended up becoming more of a family car instead. It was basically that decade’s version of an SVU as its large interior was good for long car trips. It pops up in the show in a flashback to Marge as a child on a road trip with her aunts (with the obvious sight gag of those massive hairdos crushed against the roof). It’s another good example of a classic car used well on the show.
This classic car is still loved for its wonderful style. The two-door hardtops stopped production in the United States in the late 1950s but were still produced overseas until 1981. They became popular in South and Latin America as a throwback to when cars had a lot more style than speed or safety features. This popped up in a brief cameo in Cuba and later at home to show a nice throwback automobile in Springfield.
“The Trouble with Trillions” has Homer somehow messing up his taxes, which has him pushed by the IRS to find the world’s only “trillion-dollar bill.” Naturally, Mr. Burns has it and circumstances soon lead to him, Homer and Smithers going to Cuba where Burns tries to use the bill to buy the country. Since it’s Cuba, it’s inevitable that a 1957 Ford Fairlane is shown passing by on the road. The popular roadster is a constant sight in that nation and thus, only natural it would pop up for this episode.
One episode has an old-time newsreel showing Springfield’s first car factory. It involves amphibious cars that are shown driving in and out of the water. Viewers could be forgiven for thinking that this was some zany bit the show invented. But, incredibly, there really were a series of cars made in the 1960s designed to drive off the road and turn into boats. The fad didn’t last long as the reality soon became that car boats just didn’t work out. Yet it oddly fits for Springfield.
Sources: jalopnik.com, nerdist.com, simpsonswikia.com