We are counting down the Top 50 hot rods and street cars of all time that have made an appearance in a television series, or a memorable television episode. Starting from #50, and counting down to our #1 pick, follow along with our memories, and see where your favorite show lands.
10. The Monkees: 1966 Pontiac GTO
Airing for three seasons from 1966 to 1968, “The Monkees” told the story of four band mates: Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones who took viewers on a magical escapade of whimsy and song, and delivered slapstick comedy, subtle lessons, and musical performances in every episode.
Many of the original tunes became global hits with record sold by the millions, and can still be heard on playlists today, including: “Last Train To Clarksville” 1966, “I’m A Believer” 1967, and “Daydream Believer” 1968, among many others.
But there was another star of the show – The Monkeemobile. Following on the heels of the Chrysler Imperial Crown, aka Black Beauty, featured on “The Green Hornet” another television star car originally designed by car customizer Dean Jefferies is the 1966 Pontiac GTO. The Los Angeles Times reported upon his death that he had built the cars in just 10 days.
Pontiac believed The Monkees show would provide prime product placement to highlight its newest lineup, and orders were placed. Jim Wangers, Pontiac’s contracted ad agency chief, ensured delivery of two GTO convertibles to Hollywood – one for television, and one for publicity and promotional appearances.
Both cars would eventually have seating for seven (four buckets and a wrap-around U-shaped bench), but underneath both had the same components, including base model engines mated to automatic transmissions; solid, unsprung axles for popping wheelies; and superchargers. This added power made the cars hard to handle, however, and eventually they were removed and replaced with mock-ups that were “all show but no go.”
Forever known as The Monkeemobile, this custom treat was another groovy vehicle that was as popular on television as it is today, and spurred on the craze for wild musclecar and hot rod fabrication. There has been confusion as to who really built the car – Jefferies or Barris – but Jefferies set the record straight in a 2006 interview:
Motor Trend Classic: There seems to be some confusion. Was it you or George Barris who designed and built the TV car for the Monkees, the Monkeemobile?
Jeffries: That’s one of many bad spots in regards to that man. He sure does take credit, but he had nothing to do with it. I made the car. Every bit of it. He also says he made the Green Hornet’s car, still does to this day. He puts his name on a lot of things he had nothing at all to do with.
Barrett-Jackson listed the second vehicle Barris restored as part of his Star Car Collection in a 2008 auction. It was sold to a private collector for $396,000.