FFWD REW

Road vehicles from a ridiculous future

Even George Jetson would be embarrassed to drive these

Sci-fi cars are badass. Just check out the sweet rides from The Road Warrior (1981) Minority Report (2002) Blade Runner (1982) and Damnation Alley (1977). These are the vehicles that tell the radioactive mutants of the future to keep their slimy hands off because the driver has an eye patch and a gun and he takes no shit from green corpse-men or robo-fascists.

Then there are the other futuristic vehicles. The silly ones. Cars and bikes that inspire derisive laughter from even the most timid space creatures. Even if you’re the last fertile man on Earth you’re not getting lucky if you try to pick your date up in one of these babies.

• Killer Golf Carts from Warriors of the Wasteland (a.k.a. The New Barbarians ) (1982). The Italian film industry liked The Road Warrior so much they spent most of the ’80s trying to remake it on the cheap. With Warriors of the Wasteland they went all out on customizing the bad guys’ vehicles tricking them out with plenty of buzz saws flame-throwers and retractable spears. Cool! Of course adding such modifications to actual cars would have cost a fortune so the evil marauders zoom into battle astride some of the most heavily armed golf carts ever seen by man. “What should I use to decapitate that screaming woman Claudio? The fender-blades or the nine iron?”

• Canopy Penny-Farthing from The Prisoner (1967). Ah the perfect vehicle for imprisoned ex-spies who aren’t allowed to go anywhere. Good for navigating an empty perfectly paved road on a nice sunny day and for no other occasion. An iconic vehicle that’s elegantly useless.

• The “Fabulous Turbo-Powered Firebird II” from Design for Dreaming (1956). Is it cheating to pick on a ludicrous “concept car” from a forgotten ’50s promotional short about an auto show? I don’t think so because not only did this nine-minute laugh-a-thon get lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000 but you can see footage from it in the documentary Roger & Me (1989). Actually there are plenty of funny cars on display. In the MST3K episode Mike and the ’bots call one shiny auto the “Schick Electric Razor Car” and mock another for seemingly baring its teeth. Still it’s all leading up to the “Car of the Future” which sports a bubble dome and a huge vertical fin on the back. No other land vehicle has looked more like a silver trout. (And wait… did the narrator say it was “turban powered”?)

• Michael Keaton’s Batmobile from Batman (1989). Every version of the Batmobile is both silly and cool at the same time. The “silly” part probably reached its apex during the Joel Schumacher years but I still find the 1989 version perfectly chuckle-worthy. With its long body and ramjet nose this street rocket looks impossible to drive. It even needed crazy gadgets just to turn corners. And just where do you park a 20-foot-long car? (Answer: when you have Batman’s anti-theft devices you can park anywhere you want.)

• The “Lunar Tank” from Radar Men from the Moon (1952). Hooo boy. Cars just do not get any sillier than this. From the painted-on lighting bolt to the ridiculous beard-trimming attachment at the back everything about this futuristic panzer is hilarious. Do yourself a favour and watch the original serial just so you can see this baby in motion — the rounded chassis makes it rock like a hobby horse every time the poor driver steps on the gas.

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