Cars, trucks, planes and pretty much everything that moves in all forms of media often seem surprisingly resistant to damage and/or destruction. This is inconsistently applied: a vehicle's indestructibility is often purely a function of how important it is to the plot that a vehicle be Made of Iron (or Made of Plasticine). This also counts when a vehicle that shows no damage whatsoever still suffers a Critical Existence Failure when appropriate (say, its HP value hits 0, or the Blues Brothers arrive at the courthouse).
This is often a consequence of lawyers: for Product Placement, car companies will often supply the vehicles for a movie, on the terms that the cars not be damaged, either because they'd like them back, or to perpetuate some ridiculous idea that their cars are indestructible. This is made worse in Video Games, since some game companies have an irrational need to pay to licence real products instead of making the other company pay them for the advertising like everyone else, the makers of the products in question can set the terms to whatever they want, which can often mean indestructible cars. This can influence gameplay; at least one racing game has had to cut out damage models because the licensors wouldn't let them.
This may be somewhat justified for police and military vehicles that are designed to survive hard use and kept in peak condition by a dedicated maintenance staff, but even these cases often push the suspension of disbelief boundaries.
Contrast with Every Car Is a Pinto. See also Beauty Is Never Tarnished.
Haruko Haruhara's signature Vespa from FLCL never takes any damage despite being its owner's ride of choice when charging into battle against the myriad monsters that spring from Naota's forehead every episode. Nonetheless, it is shown to break down on occasion, but it's nothing slotting a Gundam figure into it or a stop-motion sequence in the end credits can't fix.
In many Humongous Mecha series, bullets, beam sabers and laser cannons will rip through most mecha, but they seem surprisingly impervious to more mundane things like falling any distance. Even the ones with delicate parts will get back up with all their wings and command antennae intact.
A better indicator of this trope is the chase scene earlier in the film through a crowded mall. The mall was abandoned and had nothing inside. The Blues Brothers team filled the inside of the mall, then asked a few car dealers to fill the lot outside so the mall would look crowded. In interviews later on, the cast and crew were very afraid of doing any damage whatsoever to the parked cars, as they all had to go back to the dealers without a scratch.
Mentioned on the Transformers DVD, where the CGI robots were given plenty of dings and scratches to help them blend into the environment, but the prop cars themselves were always buffed, sometimes giving them an almost CGI appearance.
The Nigh Invulnerable Dodge truck in the movie Twister. The rest of the storm chaser's cars lose windshields to hail and get dented from storm debris, the hero's truck only gets a measly flat tire, and that's not even storm-related!
Golden Eye had the officially licensed cars appear for just a bit and not really do anything. When fans complained at the sponsor and the filmmakers, Tomorrow Never Dies ended up with a lengthy chase scene where the licensed car that ended up being practically reduced to a crumpled ball of sheet metal, but Bond dropped it off back at the rental agency... Through their window.
In the 1984 film of the story of the same name, everything is run down, dirty and decaying except for a patrol helicopter that's seen outside Winston Smith's window at one point. Presumably because it would have been too much trouble to dirty down a helicopter and then clean it up again before returning it to the hire company.
This is possibly Fridge Brilliance. A totalitarian government will make sure to keep patrol helicopters and other military vehicles in pristine condition because they focus more on the military than the rest of the country, akin to Soviet Russia or North Korea.
The irony is that the Fridge Brilliance is likely due to a trope inversion — in real-life, helicopters are extremely fault-intolerant. Any helicopter able to complete a patrol circuit without incident has to be undergoing regular maintenancenote The average helicopter requires over 10 man-hours of preventative maintenance for every hour of flight time. Some high-performance military models have required far more than that., which will also mean its being kept at least halfway clean. A helicopter left neglected long enough to show deterioration visible to the naked eye at that distance has overwhelmingly likely odds of either crashing at the first opportunity or failing to get in the air at all.
Arguably, the vehicle driven by Dennis Quaid in the film Vantage Point. He (playing a Secret Service agent) chases a vehicle being driven by his traitorous partner, and incurs three car crashes during the chase, none of which slow the vehicle down at all. It's only a full-on collision with a wall that stops the vehicle, and Dennis Quaid jumps out of the vehicle with nary a scratch.
The French Connection, when police officer Popeye Doyle drives recklessly to catch a suspect travelling to a nearby station in Manhattan. The car narrowly misses dozens of vehicles and pedestrians, and makes it without a scratch.
The remake of The Nutty Professor: During when Buddy Love is leaving the nightclub to his Dodge Viper while reverting back to Sherman Klump with the assistant Jason approaching him, is over-sized foot slammed the accelerator maneuvering pass every car untouched until eventually stopped. The fire department still have to use the jaws of life to get Sherman out.
In Rachel Getting Married, Kym, angry after a fight with her mother, purposely drives her father's Mercedes off the road, over a road sign, into the woods and then crashes into a rock. Although the airbag deploys, when we see the car in the morning light, the front end isn't even dented.
Subverted in The Wolf of Wall Street. So high on Quaaludes that he literally can't walk or talk comprehensibly, Jordan nevertheless manages to drive his Ferrari a short distance home from the country club without, it seems, a scratch. But after he's slept it off a bit and the police come, we see it as totaled as it really was.
If MythBusters is anything to go by, the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard couldn't possibly survive all those insane stunts every episode. In fact, the General Lee didn't survive all those insane stunts: they went through 309 of them over the course of the series to maintain the "not a scratch on it" look.
Of the 26 Dodge Chargers used in the film, many were wrecked so a few could finish without a scratch. One of the original General Lee's had to be returned to Warner studios after shooting, and two Chargers that were acquired for two bucks on the condition they be sold back to the prior owner for a dollar and a quarter each.
Justified in Knight Rider, with the car being Nigh Invulnerable. Even more so in the recent TV movie, where the car isn't quite as invulnerable, but self-repairing. After a certain crash, the car still sparkled. (As per the tv movie, it also only worked when the system was on; turn off the computer, and you have a normal, smashable car. In the show, however, it was a high tech polymer, with the formula split between three different people. KITT did not become vulnerable until someone created an antidote, and then it was just so they could upgrade KITT into a convertible.)
During an episode of Heroes there's a shoot out with one person hiding behind Hiro and Ando's rented Nissan Versa. In a fine example of the Nissan Versa's incredibly blatant Product Placement in that show, Hiro later comments that there's not a scratch on the Nissan Versa.
The Top Gear presenters once tried to destroy a Toyota Hilux Diesel. They failed - after crashing into a tree, drowning it in the ocean, dropping it from a crane, dropping a trailer on top of it with a crane, driving through a mobile home, striking it with a wrecking ball, setting it on fire, and putting it on top of a 23-story building that was then blown up, it still started and drove.note Specifically, it was restored to working order in less than 5 minutes, using only several common hand tools normally carried in the truck and no replacement parts of any kind. The only part that had to be replaced due to insurance issues was the windshield, of all things. The beat-up Hilux in question now sits on a podium in the studio, and Toyota went on to release the Hilux Invincible, and use footage of the process in commercials for the US-model Tacoma.
Feng Shui's "Golden Comeback" book has the Automobilus Indestructus schtick. It doesn't prevent damage to the care, merely ensures that no matter how much damage it takes, it keeps running... until the chase scene is over, at which point it spontaneously falls apart.
Human vehicles in Halo: Combat Evolved are completely indestructible, regardless of what you hit them with. In Halo 2 and Halo 3, this trope is partly subverted in that vehicles do show damage, but they cannot actually be destroyed unless Master Chief (or the Arbiter)'s HP is depleted entirely.
A lot of games where vehicles can be destroyed have the vehicles appear without a scratch until they finally blow up.
Averted (as much as the DOS-era graphics would allow) in Fatal Racing: Cars, both your and your opponents', will start smoking as they take more damage, and eventually small flames will start to erupt from the car. A car with three visible flames is a pinprick away from death and will rapidly find itself a target by other trigger-happy players within reach. At which point it will explode.
As mentioned above, a lot of videogames with licensed cars have indestructible cars. One game actually had a full damage model shipped with the game only accessible by cheat codes. Games like Burnout use Brand X versions of real cars in order to get away with their insane crashes.
There was a NASCAR game which used this as a selling point. The ad even featured a real car versus a normal game car, with crew members hitting the game car with tools and amazed at how it didn't break.
The reason many car manufacturers don't want damage models attached most of the time is because they don't want simulated crashes to reflect badly on their car designs. They fear that if a player happens to cause a particularly-nasty crash with their car (especially in the increasing push for accurate physics modeling), they may feel it's not a safe car to drive in real life (and safety is usually a factor in car purchases), potentially influencing real-life sales in the showroom. Basically, no one wants to be seen as the next Ford Pinto.
Need for Speed Carbon opens with a race at the end of which your car is "totaled" in a crash. Since it's a licensed car, all damage to it occurs during a Discretion Shot, and you never see it afterward.
Need For Speed Underground 2 plays it straight except for certain cases where the rarely-used stunt camera will show broken glass in the windows of your car, which is instantly fixed when you switch back to the regular camera.
In No More Heroes, Travis' bike is indestructible up until the finale, where it crashes to cement the fact that this is the Point of No Return.
Several specific vehicles in the Grand Theft Auto games are invulnerable to various types of damage, being tailored to specific missions - it is possible to disregard the mission and save them in garages, preserving their effects.
TaleSpin is an example of this trope applied inconsistently. The Sea Duck is virtually indestructible, except in the final episode of the Plunder and Lightning pilot arc where it is completely destroyed. Planes occasionally explode when shot down, but a crash usually involves the plane skidding to a stop (or a comic "pile-up" in midair).
Volvos. The damn things are nigh indestructible, it takes a lot of deliberate effort to kill one, like driving one off of a cliff, Twice.
Mercedes-Benz E series W124 (1985-1996) had been designed to be as sturdy as possible. This turned thousands of them in the favorite brand of taxicab companies, and also made them almost impervious to traffic accidents. In a deconstruction of the actual trope, the outer bodywork panels may be shredded from nose to tail, but the safety cage around the cabin and the mechanical parts would still hold. In some cases, the Mercedes had been hit from the back by a lighter car and pushed forwards into another car, trunk pushed inwards by more than 1ft, front hood turned into an accordion, front fenders bent backwards, engine and radiator pushed back without breaking, and the car still drove under its own power to the workshop. Both headlamps survived intact.
Top Gear demonstrated that the Toyota Hilux (called Tacoma in the US) CAN NOT BE STOPPED. By no means does it literally fit the trope name— no bodywork ever made will survive spending a night in the ocean, being lit on fire, and being strapped to the roof of an imploding high-rise. After all that, though, it still moved easily under its own power with no parts replaced and only a few minutes repair with hand tools.