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.
12. The Partridge Family: 1957 Chevrolet Superior Bus
About as iconic as a television star car can get, “The Partridge Family” bus is near the top of the list, and recognized the world over for its unique paint scheme as much as the TV family that defined an era. The bus, a 1957 Chevrolet Superior that Shirley Jones (Shirley Partridge) actually drove on the streets without a stunt double or tow vehicle, was purchased from the Los Angeles or Orange County Unified School District, and played a big role on the show.
Second only to David Cassidy, the bus is what gave The Partridge Family it’s visual identity. And, although it is not a hot rod or street car, it’s indelible mark was made as a cultural icon, and has been replicated in everything from cars and trucks to games, toys, and pop art.
Speaking of pop art, the paint may have looked groovy, but many attribute it to a style inspired by Mondrian’s Composizione 1921 by artist Piet Mondrian who was known for geometric designs using abstract color blocks of blue, red, yellow, grey, white, and black in squares and rectangles, with straight and vertical lines.
The Chevy bus was in most episodes, whether driven to a gig, or parked in the backdrop for scenes. But what was its fate after the last episode aired in March 1974?
This Partridge Family fan website tells the tale: “The actual bus lived for years behind Lucy’s Tacos on Martin Luther King Blvd., right by USC. When Lucy’s repaved their parking lot, circa February 1987, the bus was sent off to a junk yard. It was in horrible shape – windows broken, tires flat, all identifying type (such as the family name on the side and the caution nervous mother driving sign on the back) was painted over in white and the rest of the bus was miserably faded. So, the upshot is that the original bus is long gone.” Time magazine also said the bus ended up on the scrap heap circa 1987.
I Think I Love You
From 1970-1974, David Cassidy was the heart-throb of every pre-teen and teenage girl in America. He not only looked fine, but he had the pipes to back it up. And while acting was not his forte, it didn’t matter. The Partridge Family was his ticket to stardom, and he became the most popular performing artist and world phenom by the time he was 20 years old, with several number one records, and a larger fan club than Elvis and The Beatles combined!
But on the television program, Keith’s character was in a phase of life he wanted to be a cool high school student and young adult. Tired of being chauffeured around in the family bus or with friends, Keith saves up enough money to buy his first car – a 1952 Hudson Hollywood Hardtop – in season one, episode 21: “Up A Pair Tree.”
The episode, which first aired in February 1971, centers around the pride and joy of Keith’s purchase, but things soon turn sour when he discovers it’s a lemon. Borrowing money from everyone he knows to fix it, he is now in debt. This leads to a string of odd jobs he fails miserably at. In the end, he gets the girl. Naturally.
It wasn’t the only cool ride parked in the driveway. Another classic that makes the rounds for a few seasons, starting in the fourth season, is a 1967 Ford Mustang convertible. Frankly, the female audience didn’t notice at the time what Cassidy drove on screen (or even care), it only mattered that he was on screen as our hearts were all aflutter.