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.
16. The Beverly Hillbillies: 1921 Oldsmobile Truck, Kustomized By George Barris
High-living with millions in the bank from striking it rich from oil on their backwoods home, the Clampetts refuse to get rid of the clickety-clackety family wagon – a 1921 Oldsmobile customized by the late George Barris, kustomizer extraordinaire. The truck has a huge screen presence throughout the series, which aired on television from 1962 to 1971.
During those nine seasons, the ensemble cast featured family patriarch Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen), Granny Daisy Moses (Irene Ryan), Sweet, sexy Elly May (Donna Douglas), and know-it-all cousin Jethro Bodine (Max Baer, Jr.). This classic fish-out-of-water platform resonated with viewing audiences for its comedic situations, and has enjoyed a long history as a television classic.
According to research, the old jalopy was based on a 1921 Oldsmobile Model 43-A touring car, named such because it was powered by a four-cylinder, 43 horsepower motor. When it was new from the factory, the touring car was priced at $1,445, and was considered a medium-range priced car.
Barris was tapped to create a vehicle suitable for a hillbilly family, and set out to find something that would render it as both practical and nostalgic. His answer came in the form of a 1921 Olds he found behind a feed store in Fontana, California. And, although the previous owners had not kept it pristine, that was just fine with Barris, who intended to leave the weathered and rusted patina, and missing back end, just the way it was.
In the 1968-’69 season, Barris was asked once again to create an outlandish car to depict the new and improved family truck in “The Hot Rod Truck.” Jethro is tired of the battered truck and is jonesing for a souped up car to drive, so he takes matters into his own hands and has a few new parts put on. What appears instead is half truck and half hot rod. Jeb orders Jethro to spend more of his money to revert the truck to its former glory, but instead, Jethro buys a full-blown hot rod to reclaim his identity and self-respect.
Based on a 1925 Olds platform this roadster is equipped with a 1969 442 Olds engine. It was also outfitted with four dune buggy-style seats, dual chrome rollbars, exaggerated fender flares, wide wheels and tires, and eight chrome headers rising up through the blown engine compartment that Jethro says sings with raw power. Power is put to the test in a drag race between the old truck and the new roadster. Who wins? Watch the video to find out!