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Clown Car
A Clown Car is a vehicle that (in addition to being the transport of choice for a clown) holds (or seems to hold) far more occupants than it should, leading observers to believe that it's Bigger on the Inside.

First used in the Cole Brothers Circus in the 1950's in a circus clown routine. It has since been used as a sight gag in many works.

Compare Clown Car Base (for the structural version), Bag of Holding (when it's a bag or container), Clown-Car Grave (for a tomb with similar properties) and Bigger on the Inside (when the viewer can see the vehicle's interior). Contrast Misleading Package Size.


Examples:

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     Film 
  • In the (still animated) beginning of Enchanted, Giselle gets out of her coach in her wedding dress, and Nathaniel is run over by all the animals that were apparently in the coach with her (even though her dress is so big, it's hard to tell how she fit herself).
  • In one scene of You Don't Mess with the Zohan, over a dozen Arabs get out of a regular New York taxi cab.
  • In the Mel Brooks To Be or Not to Be movie, the Jews who had been hiding in the theater emerge in front of an audience of Nazi officers, as an endless stream of clowns from an actual clown car on stage, and walk out unhindered through the front door.
  • In the Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle / Buster Keaton two-reeler Moonshine, forty-five revenooers get out of a model-T (at 0:59 here).
  • Naturally used in the B-movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Near the end the evil klowns relocate to a closed amusement park, arriving in a little clown car. The security guard bemusingly watches about 10 klowns emerge from the vehicle, and the klowns then shower him with acid pies.
  • During the battle with the atheists in Jesus Christ Vampire Killer, a group of six atheists emerges from a small hatchback. After Jesus dispatches them, another group of six atheists leave the same car. Understandably, Jesus throws his hands up in disbelief before engaging them.
  • At the beginning of Nanook Of The North, Nanook paddles his 12-foot canoe onshore. He climbs out of the canoe, and then both of his wives and his dog emerge from inside the tiny canoe. (This was actually footage edited to look like they were all inside. In truth, the family members separately climbed into the canoe, then were filmed getting out.)

     Literature 
  • In Harry Potter, Mr. Weasley's Ford Anglia and a some cars used by the Ministry of Magic are enchanted so as to comfortably seat over twice as many people as could be squeezed in normally.
  • The Discworld Fools' Guild Diary includes strict rules on the minimum number of clowns allowed to travel in a single coach or sedan chair.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Batman's Batmobile turns out to have some serious Clown Car carrying capacity. In an attempt to infiltrate the Batcave, The Joker, the Penguin, and six of their henchmen can all fit in the Batmobile's trunk.
  • The Goodies episode about the Rolf Harris plague has a take-off of the Pied Piper of Hamilton, which includes the Rolf Harris "attacking the babies in their cradles". Later when the Goodies draw them out of the city by playing "Waltzing Matilda" on didgeridoos, an endless stream of Rolfs are seen clambering out of the one baby carriage.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye tries to break the record for the most people stuffed into a Jeep (16) after seeing a picture in Life magazine of a bunch of college kids doing it in a Volkswagen.
  • Modern Family has Cam riding in one of these.
  • Pushing Daisies: A number of clowns were driving away from the circus when they were forced off the road and into the lake. When their car is dragged up from it and they start pulling the bodies out, it starts out with only one clown...and then another one is pulled out and another one and another one, including a clown wearing stilts, and it keeps going until it's hilarious.
  • Sesame Street used a clown car in a counting lesson. A mini hatchback (with a police siren) came in driving around in circles, then came to a stop to let out 10 clowns (each counting 1 to 10 as the came out) before they all went back into it (counting backwards this time), after which the hatchback took off.

    Theater 
  • In Crazy For You, the choreography for "I Can't Be Bothered Now" has more Chorus Girls emerging from a smallish car than could possibly fit in it.

     Video Games 
  • Dead Rising 2 : Off The Record has a clown car which, despite its small size and only having one visible passenger seat, can hold up to eight survivors.
  • Psychonauts: During the Milkman Conspiracy level, several large black government-type sedans pull up and disgorge a tidal wave of Censors to fight the Rainbow Squirts.
  • Age of Empires provides an egregious example in Transport Ships. You can pile up to 10 elephants in a Transport Ship, and it looks like it would have difficulty carrying one.
    • Its Star Wars adaptation, Galactic Battlegrounds, has a similar issue. A transport ship with a storage compartment the size of a rental truck can hold multiple AT-AT walkers.
    • Zigzagged in StarCraft, due largely to Units Not to Scale: the sprite for a Terran siege tank is roughly the same size as a dropship, but the dropship can fit two.
  • Golden Sun, especially the first one. How do they fit into those tiny little wagons?
  • Super Robot Wars invokes the trope often, depending on the capital ship and robots you have. A typical situation would be the Ra Calium from Gundam with a standard load of twelve roughly eighteen meter Mobile Suits plus another dozen super robots in the 30+ meter range. Probably at it when the 100m Daitarn 3 is on board. Occasionally possibly averted when Macross or its descendants are available.
    • This gets REALLY bad in Super Robot Wars Destiny, where you get permanent control of Shin Dragon, which is roughly the size of an entire CITY, fitting in one of the battleships. This is averted somewhat in its next appearance, Super Robot Wars Z2: Saisei-Hen when it is designated as a battleship on its own.
  • Ace Combat games have from time to time carriers that can keep spawning enemies until destroyed.
  • Halo Wars There is no way a infantry transport vehicle the size of three dump trucks can carry 240 Marines, and look empty from your view over the battlefield.
  • The Koopa Clown Car (actually some kind of reverse helicopter) from Super Mario World is able to carry Bowser, an infinite amout of Mechakoopas, Princess Peach, two Super Mushrooms, and an infinite amount of enormous cannonballs inside itself without running out of room, and the cannonballs are at least as big as the car itself.
    • Bowser Jr. also has one that can carry an infinite amount of Bob-ombs.
  • Done in the Dawn of War series, the first one and its expansions featured vehicles which were much smaller than the ones you would find on the tabletop, yet still able to fit about 30 troops, on average, while the tabletop version could fit a single squad of about 10 or so. The second Dawn of War had vehicles that still followed this trope.
    • The second game's unit proportions are about equal to the tabletop models, actually.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, at one point Travis walks into a parking lot with two vans in it. He has to fight the thugs coming out of those vans, who seem to keep pouring out for a good 20 minutes.
    • Actually, several more vans (about eight more) pull up. Albeit those vans seem to have come from Hammerspace.
  • Mini Robot Wars has the Transporter and its Aquatic Mook equivalent the Killer Whale, both of which are Mook Maker units that can spawn a huge amount of enemies for something its size.
  • In the NES version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Mission 3 is set entirely inside the confides of a chopper. The player fights against a total of seven or eight enemies in this stage (two right hand-men, three or four Williams and two Bolos), all coming out from the helicopter's cockpit.
  • True to the name of the trope, during the credits of Transformers: War for Cybertron, Bumblebee drives on screen in his scout car mode and screeches to a halt...before unloading half a dozen Autobots from his passenger compartment before transforming and running offscreen himself. Since the lineup of people who were riding him includes Sideswipe, Ironhide, Ratchet, Scattershot, and Optimus Prime, all of whom are demonstrably larger than Bumblebee in both mode, this makes Bumblebee a car full of cars through the magic of clown car technology and Rule of Funny.

     Webcomics 
  • This becomes a source of Black Humour in this strip of Cyanide and Happiness. First a clown accidentally runs over a dog. He steps out of the car to tell the kid who owned the dog that he's sorry. Then the next clown steps out... and in the end there's a whole bunch of clowns looking at the dead dog and apologizing.
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship has the strip "Honk". A drunk clown stumbles out of a bar, drives away in his car, and wraps it around a tree. A fleet of ambulances come to pull dozens of dead clowns from the wreckage.
  • The Whiteboard: Red asks Doc if his truck was bought from a circus clown after seeing a bunch of players and gear being unloaded. Doc says no, but notes that it uses the same technology.

    Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • The buses from Cars 2, which for some reason can actually carry cars inside them!
  • Dexter's Laboratory shows a single, comically tall clown coming out of a comically undersized clown car, eventually biting Dexter.
  • In Madagascar 3, as the monkeys make a deal with the ringmaster to buy the circus, you can see a large number of clowns piling into a Clown Car, with the Ringmaster getting in as well.
  • The Simpsons:
    • A drug-addled tank-driving Bart is about to crush a clown car, thus prompting Krusty to hasten out several other clowns.
      Krusty: (Sees the tank coming) "Whaaa!!! Quick, everyone out! Noodles! Seesaw! Oopsie! Flopsweat! Hoohaw! Jitters! Sir Widebottom!"
      Sir Widebottom: "Oh! I'm stuck!" (This does not end well for him.)
    • The Show Within a Show "Trans-Clown-O-Morphs": One trans-clown-o-morph morphs into a helicopter and then into a car. An army of them then steps out of that car.
    • This was also referenced when Krusty and several other clowns emerge from a large executive car. Krusty tells the others to get back in, as it's only funny when the car is small.
    • Minor example: in one episode, an extraordinarily tall man is seen driving a car so small that when seated, his knees are roughly level with his ears. Nelson points and laughs. The tall man explains that this was the largest automobile he could afford before giving Nelson his comeuppance.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot episode Samurai Vac used this as a running gag by attempting to cram over 40 teens in one small car. It is visually overstuffed, and it bursts after adding a final, really small person.
  • Another older example is in Trolley Troubles, an Oswald short. Oswald's trolley seems to be fairly small, but it can hold hundreds of riders!
  • A late second-season episode of Transformers Prime had the Autobots intercept a newly-fallen ship containing more Decepticon troops than they believed could possibly fit inside. Ratchet says that humans refer to the phenomenon as a "clown car".

     Real Life 
  • It became a common circus act after its first use in the 1950's. The act is performed by stripping a car of its interior and removing the seats to maximize the space inside, then loading the clowns inside.
  • Gabriel Iglesias's friends used to joke about this when he drove a VW Beetle.
    Gabriel: If you're a fat guy, and you drive a little car, and all your friends are comedians... ooh, they will make you cry.
  • There is a joke that Mexican people have the superpower of making any van they enter into a Clown Car. If you live near the US/Mexican border, you could see they can fit 40-50 people in an 8-person van. It is kinda freaky. Made fun of specifically here.
    • An amusement park in México City used to have a promotion called "auto sardina" (sardine car) where you pay the entry fee based in the size of the car, not the number of people in it, so you usually have two families jammed in a really small car.
    • In Spain this joke is made with the Chinese instead.
  • Operation Solomon, an airlift operation by the Israeli Government to rescue thousands of Ethiopian Jews from a collapsing Ethiopian government in 1991, set a record by airlifting 1122 passengers in a single Boeing 747 (of which the highest official capacity, for the 747-400 in single-class configuration, is 624 passengers; even the personnel involved in the operation expected not to be able to fit more than 760 people in the aircraft). They landed with 1123 passengers, as a baby was born during the flight.
  • Filipino jeepneys are notorious for trying to fit in as much passengers as possible. If the city's rules don't allow them to get away with putting people on the roof, they will stuff the internal benches (even if it means people are "sitting" on an area that's a few square inches large) and the floor.
  • Common in Afghanistan where you often see people crammed into buses and cars oftentimes with people or another vehicle on the roof which in turn is full of people.
Bigger on the InsideHyperspace IndexClown Car Base
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