The Precious, Precious Car
: I promised Darklighter I'd bring this baby back without a scratch! Winter
: [shoots off their own hood ornament]
Now it's scratched. Get closer!
There's this total jerk, see, and he has a really nice car, very possibly a shiny red convertible
. And he loves this car more than anything else in the world. He will make it clear to everyone that the car is worth more to him than all their lives put together, and they are not to touch it, go near it, even look at it wrong.
One of three things will inevitably happen:
- Somebody will borrow it without permission.
- It will be destroyed or seriously damaged.
- Most likely, both of the above.
If the one who owns the car is a main character, the trope is Watch the Paint Job
. See also It's Going Down
. Practically a subtrope of What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
. Contrast The Alleged Car
, a vehicle whose defining quality is being terrible/hated instead of pretty/loved.
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- Vice-Principal Uchiyamada in GTO has a very shiny Toyota Cresta that he loves very much and it gets thrashed over and over again. Multiple times people attempt suicide and just happen to land on the car, it also gets stolen (by students) and driven off into Tokyo Bay. In its final appearance he's gotten savvy and has lashed a mattress to the roof. It gets destroyed in a different way.
- Happens not once, but several times, in Birdy the Mighty Decode, where Birdy will accidentally demolish any of the cars and subsequent new cars of one of the human minor characters with her super strength.
- In Battleground: Tatooine, an arc in the X-Wing Series comics, Winter and Tycho have to borrow Huff Darklighter's shiny, expensive speeder to chase after some people who shot up a party. While driving, Tycho takes it a bit slow, telling Winter that they promised to bring it back without a scratch. Winter then shoots the front of the airspeeder and says "Now it's scratched. Go!" A few pages later, the speeder is totally destroyed.
- Characters in Sin City love to take care of their cars. Wallace and Dwight's Cadillacs are the two biggest examples. Unfortunately, many of these cars do get wrecked, much to the chagrin of the characters.
- One Archie Comics story featured Reggie showing an excessive, obsessive, amount of concern for his car. As Archie states, "Reggie doesn't own his car- his car owns him!"
- Ronnie's "tuff" hot rod that Cherry wrecks in "Hot Rod Boogie" in Cherry Comics #1.
- "The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California" drives the final act of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Cameron's father treasures the vintage Ferrari more than anything, including his own family. Cameron spends much of the movie fearing his father's fury once he figures out Cameron, Sloane and Ferris borrowed the vehicle for a day. Cameron finding a meaningful way to confront his father regarding the vehicle's unexpected additional mileage and destruction is the actual point of the movie.
Cameron Frye: Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love. It is his passion.
Ferris Bueller: It is his fault he didn't lock the garage.
- Back to the Future: Biff Tannen's 1946 Ford Super De Luxe.
- Flounder's brother's car in Animal House.
- Kirk's stepfather's car in the Star Trek movie.
- Additional material indicates that it was Kirk's father's car, and his stepfather intended to sell it. Out of spite, Little Jim Kirk went on the joyride with it instead.
- Kerr's car from Terminal Velocity gets driven out of a plane. And Kerr leaps out after it. It does not go well for him.
- Agent Malloy's car from Con Air.
- Possibly subverted. He actually shrugged off its destruction.
Vince Larkin: I know a good body shop in Fresno if it's insured.
Duncan Malloy: I was bored with that car anyway.
Vince Larkin: It worked out nicely, then.
- Starsky's Gran Torino in the Starsky & Hutch movie. Very unusual in that Starsky is a protagonist, and (after being talked into attempting an ill-judged jump) he destroys the car himself.
- Walt Kowalski's titular car in the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino. True to the trope, the car does get 'borrowed' without his consent after the would-be thief stares into the wrong end of a fully loaded high caliber rifle wielded by a Badass Grandpa.
- Variation in Return of the Jedi: Lando, about to borrow the Millennium Falcon to go with Wedge and Rogue Squadron after the second Death Star, tells Han he'll bring his ship back without a scratch on it. Han has a feeling that he'll never see his beloved Falcon again. Lando does bring her back, and her radar dish is missing. If that wasn't bad enough, an earlier version of the script had the Falcon getting destroyed in the Death Star's explosion.
- Doug's father-in-law's Mercedes, The Hangover.
- In a nice twist, it is revealed to be perfectly fine after the 'what happened last night'. Seconds later, it gets damaged.
- In a deleted scene, the joke is paid off by the Father-In-Law GIVING it to the protagonists.
- Main character's brother's 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge in Sex Drive.
- Winston Wolfe's Acura in Pulp Fiction:
Winston: I get my car back any different than I gave it, Monster Joe's gonna be disposin' of two bodies.
- Happens to the yuppie's Jaguar that Jack takes with a Flashed Badge Hijack in order to catch the bus in Speed.
- We don't really learn about the car's preciousness until after the accident, but I say Fast Times at Ridgemont High totally counts:
Jefferson's Brother: My brother's gonna kill us! He's gonna kill you and he's gonna kill me! ...My brother's gonna shit!
Spicoli: Well, make up your mind, dude, is he gonna shit, or is he gonna kill us?
Jefferson's Brother: First he's gonna shit, then he's gonna kill us!
- Archie's dad's Pontiac Firebird that ends up wrapped around a tree in High School USA!. The kids then concoct a scheme to persuade Archie's dad that he wrecked the car himself.
- One Crazy Summer features Teddy's red Ferrari, complete with personalized license plates reading "CUL8R".
- Sgt. Murtaugh, driving his wife's station wagon, chasing the South Africans in the opening sequence of Lethal Weapon 2. At the police station, a cop bets money that Riggs & Murtaugh will catch their target first, but once he's told that they're in Murtaugh's wife's station wagon, he wants to back out of the bet. (Naturally, since Riggs is involved, the car becomes The Alleged Car in very short order).
- In Tower Heist, Shaw's most precious possession is his valuable sports car in his penthouse once owned by Steve McQueen, which, in a fit of anger, Josh Kovacs smashes to hell, declaring "Steve McQueen is my little bitch." Also, it happens to not only be made of solid gold as a hidden emergency treasure trove, but its glove compartment is where he hides his secret ledger of all his fraudulent accounts.
- At the beginning of Project X, Thomas' dad tells him not to touch his Mercedes or let anybody else use it. Predictably, it winds up at the bottom of the pool.
- All of James Bond's cars are this to Q. It especially applies to The World Is Not Enough, in which it gets sawed in half by a helicopter-mounted buzzsaw. While Bond usually chuckles when the car gets destroyed, here he actually looks sheepish.
- The titular SUV Sharon from the Venezuelan Movie Mi vida por Sharon is treated this way. The plot of the movie is all the lengths its owner goes to rescue it from express kidnapers, almost at the expense of his family and the romantic relationships with his ex-wife and actual girlfriend (the man was two-timing with each other, and still both felt more betrayed with his love for his SUV). Although he manages to reconcile with his family and got his car back, Sharon still gets destroyed, at the hands of the pregnant dumped girlfriend, in a explosion that would make Michael Bay smile.
- Crowley's very attached to his Bentley in Good Omens.
- In Shutter Island, Teddy blows up Dr. Crawley's beloved car in order to create a diversion.
- Phyllis Reynolds Naylor uses this trope cleverly in one of the Alice books. The teen-age Alice is a passenger in a jerk's flashy new car, and he is driving recklessly at eighty-plus miles an hour. He ignores her pleas to slow down and drive sanely, so she pretends that she's going to puke. The jerk says, "Not in my car!" and stops to let her out to puke. Once out, she wisely refuses to get back in.
Live Action TV
- Home Improvement: In the early Season 4 episode "Don't Tell Momma," Tim borrows Jill's car – a customized 1955 Chevrolet Nomad – to get some work done on it, and stops by a construction site on the way to tape a segment of Tool Time. He gets behind the wheel of a crane, quickly loses control and drops a three ton beam on the car's roof, destroying the car! Tim tries to hide the truth from Jill, but she finds out and is very angry.
- Family Matters: An early, Urkel-less Season 1 episode sees Carl bring home a 1936 Ford police car (owned by the Chicago Police Department) he had hoped to drive in a parade. He specifically admonishes the others to not drive the car. Rachel disobeys him and damages the front fender of the car when she bumps into some trash cans. Rachel does what she can to repair the damage, but Carl finds out – the fender falls off the car, Rachel having improperly reattached it – when he leaves for the parade. He leaves for the parade, having no choice but to drive a damaged car in the parade, and returns to get his explanation.
- Here's a handy guide: if Kelso makes even a passing reference to his car in an episode of Scrubs, bad things are going to happen to it.
- In Power Rangers RPM, when Col. Truman refers to the Project Go-Onger van as his prized possession, you knew it was going down. And it did: the Monster of the Week planted a bomb on it, causing it to go out of control and right off a cliff. The Rangers bailed out just in time to see it die.
- Lt. Gruber tanks in 'Allo 'Allo!.
- The Villain of the Week in one Burn Notice episode ("Square One") is allowed to drive Jesse's Porsche Cayman under the belief that it was now his. To keep Michael's client from blowing his head off, Fiona tries to make the villain flee, and reassures Jesse that she will only shoot the windhield. The guy backs up in a hurry, rips off the back bumper, and drives off. Jesse says, in an a very annoyed voice, "Just the windshield, Fi?"
- Another Villain of the Week had a pristine red GTO. Part of Team Westen's plan in that episode involved tossing a pepper grenade inside, then lighting off a coffee can full of thermite over the engine and burning a hole straight through it.
- And then Fi blew Jesse's Porsche up completely.
- In Chuck, Casey is shown lovingly washing his Ford Crown Victoria. Chuck must later divert an incoming missile by reprogramming it to home in on said Crown Vic. Casey is inconsolable.
- Donna of Parks and Recreation is crazy about her Mercedes.
- This happens in Only Fools And Horses, and even ties into an earlier plot point too. Del borrows Boycie's Jaguar E-Type (for various reasons), and just when he decides to stop in the road at the end of the episode, the car gets crashed into by a dodgy car with no brakes Del had sold to an Australian guy earlier in the episode.
- Chi Soo from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop loves his black car and drove it to school. His father stopped him from doing this by taking the wheels; he had a Played for Laughs breakdown in the garage because of this.
- Ray Vecchio on Due South loves his 1971 Buick Riviera ("The Riv") to the point that he is loath to let anyone else drive it, and is near-inconsolable when it gets destroyed. He actually goes through three identical Rivs over his two seasons on the show, the first two having been blown up in the line of duty.
- Vyv's car in The Young Ones is referred to a couple of times in the series, but he's never seen driving it until the final episode. Then he accelerates from zero to demolishing both the car and a lamppost in about five seconds flat. Just to make things worse it turns out that his pet hamster, Special Patrol Group, was sitting on the radiator at the time.
- Eddie Guerrero and his lowriders. One time when he and Rey Mysterio Jr were teaming, Rey got slammed onto the hood of Eddie's car. Eddie came over to see what happened, cold-cocked Rey, and embraced the car as if it could feel pain.
- Altermeta: Josephine has a late model Mustang that she's still too young to drive.
- Averted and discussed in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Commander Badass owns a lovingly restored '58 Chevy, and doesn't mind Jared backing it into a wall, since it gives him an excuse to work on it again.
- 21st Century Fox: Jack's Thunderbird, which later gets hit by a hurricane.