Somebody has a car. Maybe he owns it. Maybe he just bought it, probably blowing a fortune on it. Maybe it was "borrowed" from his dad, or belongs to his employer. Maybe it's been surreptitiously stolen and needs to be transported somewhere in one piece. In any case, there is one important rule to remember: the rarer the car is, the more expensive and exotic and classic
it is, and especially
the more a character fawns over it as though it is one of the most important things in the world to him, the less likely it is to make it through the movie or TV episode in one piece, much less intact
. In fact, it's not terribly uncommon for the car to get utterly demolished during the course of the thing, either through sheer bad luck or through the mistake of lending it to (or having it stolen by) someone who Drives Like Crazy
Compare Broken Treasure
, which this trope can turn into if the car is
demolished. When this happens with what you're wearing, you've got yourself some Doomed New Clothes
. When the car does not belong to one of the main characters, it's The Precious, Precious Car
. Dreaded Car Makeover
also has some relation, in that the person's car also ends up being given a makeover so ridiculous that they can only express shock and horror at seeing the "modifications" of the car.
See also Captain Crash
. Contrast The Alleged Car
, a vehicle whose defining quality is being terrible/hated instead of pretty/loved.
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Anime and Manga
- Britain's beloved tank in Dominion Tank Police, totaled in the very first episode (although there were only four episodes).
- If anything, Leona is actually more fixated on Bonaparte, which she made from the pieces of Britain's tank after she wrecked it. If you damage it, she'll go ballistic.
- Gunsmith Cats Vol. 4 features a nice little arc in which Misty Brown jacks Bean Bandit's pride and joy. It got worse.
- Rally seems to have a reputation for this sort of thing. Over and over in the manga Rally's classic '67 GT 500 Mustang is being scraped, shot at, battered and beaten to within an inch of its life. At one point in the manga Rally mentions she can't get a rental car because nobody will insure her.
- And then the second story arc of "Burst" came, and bad guys stole her car while she was doing business in Texas, held it for ransom (and rigged it with a bomb to be doubly evil), and it ended up totaled beyond any repair on the ensuing confrontation (on the flip-side, Rally bought a new car (a highly modified Mustang II) on the next arc).
- Tiger & Bunny has Fire Emblem's Cool Car get progressively trashed by a mecha in episode 6. He is unimpressed, and attempts to blow the robot up in return.
- Bikes belonging to female main characters in the Pokémon anime.
- Durarara!!'s Togusa may not look like it, but just one scratch on his van means that he'll drive like crazy down the stairs for you.
- Great Teacher Onizuka: The only thing Vice Principal Uchiyamada cherishes besides himself and his daughter is his Toyota Cresta (not a luxury car by any means but probably the best he can afford on his salary), but it gets destroyed pretty much once per story arc. "MY CRESTA!" pretty much becomes Uchiyamada's Big "NO!".
- In Calvin and Hobbes, at one point when Spacemen Spiff's ship is blasted yet again, he comments "It never fails. I just washed and waxed this thing."
- An old Bill Mauldin comic showed an American GI getting ready to put his mighty steed out of commission.... A Willys Jeep.◊
- Truth in Television here. The Jeep was so simple and durable that it could do just about anything. Many G Is loved the thing so much they bought their own from surplus, or bought one when a civilian model became available. When a Jeep finally did give out though, many a soldier would put it out of its misery note . This is even seen in an episode of MASH where Col. Potter shoots his jeep after Frank ran it over with an M4 Sherman.
- In Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, Soichiro panics when his car's paint gets scratched... by a nuclear bomb going off in the street.
- In the AU ''Elfangor's Folly'', Al still loves his Mustang. The Yeerks, however, are not about to let him get any satisfaction.
- Emergency! fic writers love to show how protective Mike Stoker is of "Big Red", his fire engine. An example is "Run". Big Red is shot while the crew searches for a kidnapped Gage, and Mike isn't happy.
Mike: I can't believe he shot my engine!
Cap: Aw, Mike, she'll live!
Film - Animated
- Frozen has Kristoff, who is very protective of his reindeer-drawn sleigh and chides Anna when she plants her feet on its front ("This is fresh lacquer. Seriously, were you raised in a barn?"). A few scenes later, and said sleigh falls off a cliff and bursts into flames. Kristoff had just paid it off too.
- In the animated version of 101 Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil epically trashes and eventually wrecks her own Cool Car in her increasingly desperate pursuit of the puppies.
Film - Live Action
- Maybe the most famous example, the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. ("Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion." = "this car will be horrifically damaged beyond repair for comedy/pathos purposes.") Of course, in a mild subversion, the car is not totaled by Wacky Fratboy Hijinx. All that did was suspiciously increase the odometer. What actually caused it was Cameron deliberately kicking it in anger, causing it to crash right out of the showroom and off a ledge.
- In License To Drive, Les (Corey Haim) borrows his grandfather's prized 1972 Cadillac without permission, and during the course of a very wild night, it sustains major damage. Inverted when the grandfather laughs off the damage because he had also destroyed the BMW he had borrowed from Les' father.
- Richard Hayden's Plymouth GTX convertible in Tommy Boy, which he brags about copiously near the beginning of the film, is gradually reduced to a complete wreck missing most of its bodywork. By the end of the film, the thing is barely holding together, and when they are told that they can't park it where they just did, Richard's reaction is a moment's pause, and then a flat "Keep it!"
- Charlie Croker's Aston-Martin DB4 in the original The Italian Job is established early on in the film as a prized possession which Croker maintains meticulously. Needless to say, once the Mafia ambush Croker and his gang on an Alpine pass, the DB4 is destroyed in short order by being pushed off the edge of a cliff - though not before one mobster remarks what a "pretty car" it is.
- In both versions of Gone In 60 Seconds, "Eleanor" is a Mustang (a '71 Mach 1 in the original; a '67 Shelby GT 500 in the remake) that winds up being the very last car that needs to be stolen and transported in mint condition to the buyer. Naturally, this is the car that winds up being the one Maindrian Pace/Memphis Raines can't get away with easily, so the inevitable police chase ensues. In the original, this results in the car being battered beyond recognition during the chase (and eventually replaced with an identical yellow '71 Mach 1 found at a car wash in a ridiculous but funny Deus Ex Machina), while the remake has Eleanor damaged in the midst of the chase (one rearview mirror gets knocked off) and, once it's delivered, destroyed by the villain for no good reason other than he's a jerk.
- Most installations in The Fast and the Furious franchise have some example of this, though Dominic's Dodge Charger in the first film (which was built by his late father and is revealed midway through the movie to be some sort of intimidating uber-car) getting completely pulverized by a semi truck in the movie's last drag race is the most remembered instance of this. The funniest example would be Sean from Tokyo Drift wrecking Han's S15 Silvia with a Skyline engine because he just can't drift.
- The Bluesmobile from The Blues Brothers. It receives a brief but moving moment of silence from Jake and Elwood shortly after its (hilarious) demise.
- More than one James Bond car has met an untimely demise - the most famous being the DB5, which winds up smashing into a brick wall at the end of its gadget-deploying, smoke-screening, seat-ejecting oil-slicking chase in Goldfinger. The BMW 750iL from Tomorrow Never Dies and the Lotus Esprit Turbo from For Your Eyes Only also meet bad ends. In The World Is Not Enough, the car is sawn in two (BMW actually paid for this). Bond cars usually fit the "fawned over/talked up = doomed" prerequisite of this category since they're typically unveiled by Q Division as an incredible gadget-filled marvel of technology. James Bond has long since gotten to the point of Lampshade Hanging this, as Q will, after lovingly describing the car's features, reproach Bond to bring it back in pristine order this time.
- In Die Another Day Zhao's entire rare car collection ends up raining out of the sky and into the rice paddies of North Korea.
- Other scenes to make car fans wince include a brand-new Lincoln Continental put in a trash compactor in Goldfinger and Bond crushing Volkswagen Beetles with a piledriver in Skyfall.
- Bond's Aston Martin is totaled in Casino Royale after it flips 7 times, which earned a Guinness world record for most rotations in a continuous car flip. Might have gotten something for 'highest-cost damage in a single vehicle accident' if Bugatti Veyron owners didn't tend to total their supercars.
- In A View to a Kill, a police captain bawls out some hapless officers for having wrecked their squad cars during a chase, and says the cost of the cruisers will come out of their salary, unaware that behind him his own cruiser is being crushed by the counterweight of a drawbridge.
- Averted, however, in Golden Eye; the BMW gets the usual rundown in Q's laboratory, but never once gets used in a chase scene (as the vehicle used in the film was the only prototype available, and BMW wasn't about to go trashing it before it went out to the market). Instead, we got a tank.
- The demise of the DB5 was also slightly averted as well. While it did remain out of comission for the second half of the Goldfinger movie. The car did ride again briefly for the next film, Thunderball. Some damage occurred offscreen in Golden Eye (while shooting the scene where Bond in a DB 5 chases Xenia's Ferrari, the cars crashed into each other, leading the producers to rush after a mechanic). Finally Bond drives again a fully-equipped DB 5 in the 50th anniversary, Skyfall... and the car is shot until it explodes. Bond's reaction just screams "Now It's Personal!"
- The revered white Dodge Challenger R/T in Death Proof, which Zoe and her friends go well out of their way just to get a chance to drive, winds up in pretty bad shape when all is said and done.
- Han Solo is terrified that something is going to happen to the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi. The radar dish is knocked off, but it comes back mostly intact. (Lucas actually did want to have the Falcon be destroyed, but common sense prevailed.) His fears may not be so far off—in the Expanded Universe, he was hired as a tutor for Lando, who is still not exactly the world's greatest pilot.
- Fortunately, at the Battle of Endor, Lando had a Sullustan piloting for him.
- In the Expanded Universe the ship qualifies more literally. The Falcon as we know it is not what it was at the start of its life, as it was rebuilt from the ground up with entirely new parts, effectively making it another ship. Why? Because the original owners, who cherished it very much and hoped to eventually make it theirs, got it shot to hell and eventually sideswiped a bulk freighter.
- The '79 Camaro Z-28 in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, owned by the school's star football player and crashed by a stoned/drunk Spicoli, who attempts to shrug off the whole thing: "Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it." ("Fixing it" in this case means smashing it up even more and spray-painting it to appear as though a rival high school's football team has vandalized it, which sparks the enraged star player into leading a Curb-Stomp Battle when the two teams meet on the gridiron.)
- The drive (pun not intended) behind the plot of Risky Business is that Joel needs to raise money to fix his father's Porsche 928, which he should not have been driving, after it falls into Lake Michigan. Of course, that is just the start of his problems...
- In the movie Wise Guys, Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo's characters swipe a classic '59 Cadillac belonging to a Mafia assassin, paint it pink, then eventually proceed to batter the hell out of it as part of a death wish/act of revenge.
- AZZKIKR, the 1967 Corvette Stingray from Con Air.
- Detective Trupo's Shelby Mustang in American Gangster, blown up as an act of revenge by order of Frank Lucas. A maybe-maybe not Truth in Television, since Lucas' official answer to whether or not the car bombing actually happened was "no comment".
- Dirk Diggler's treasured Corvette in Boogie Nights shows up near the end of the movie with unexplained collision damage to its front end. This is explained in a deleted scene, where he smashes it into a telephone pole while racing to save Becky Barnett from being beaten by her husband.
- Officer Carl Bentley (David Alan Grier)'s brand new police car in Jumanji gets increasingly damaged until it is finally swallowed whole by a Man-Eating Plant.
"FINE! TAKE IT!"
- In Animal House, Flounder learns that trusting Delta House with his brother's car is not a good idea. Of course, one could also question the brother's judgement on allowing Flounder to take his car anywhere near Delta House, since said brother had himself been a Delta. This is subtly lampshaded earlier in the film, when Otter and Boon remark that Fred Dorfman's mental state wasn't the best by the time he graduated.
- The Jerk Jock's obsession with keeping his car safe from his 'girlfriend' in the Transformers movie more or less directly lead to Mikaela meeting Sam properly.
- Used in Sex Drive with the Jerk Jock brother's '69 Pontiac GTO Judge, though thankfully it survives.
- Near the beginning of Star Trek, Kirk drives his stepdad's Corvette off a cliff after being warned that if he gets one scratch on the antique, he'll be in a whole load of trouble.
- Iron Man - Garage full of gorgeous cars from a Porsche to a Classic Mustang. Tony miscalculates the weight of his suit and kills power on the roof of his villa. He ends up crashing through several floors and on top of the nicest car in the lot.
- Later on, Tony for some reason wants to fly out of the hole he created when he crashed. He unceremoniously punts the car out of the way with a blast from his repulsor-thingies. More tears were shed.
- This is actually a Fridge Logic character defining moment for Tony. He lovingly cares for his collection, but once the car is destroyed, it means nothing to him, as it's now just a scrap heap. Also indicates his newfound focus.
- The Mercedes from Doug's father-in-law in The Hangover. Although in such a comedy, you'd expect the car would get totaled - and it still manages to run from Vegas to LA in the finale (albeit with a broken hood and windows, a crashed door that doesn't open, and the interior severely damaged by an angry tiger).
- The Dude's car in The Big Lebowski, a 1973 Ford Torino, is already showing its age at the beginning of the film. Over the course of events that follow, the car has its taillights shot out by Walter's wayward Uzi fire, crashes into a telephone pole, is stolen and taken for a joyride by a local youth and used as a temporary home (and bathroom) by some vagrants after it is abandoned, crashes into a dumpster, has all of its windows broken by the irate owner of a car which Walter was smashing due to a misunderstanding over the car theft, and is finally torched by the Nihilists who claimed to have kidnapped the title character's young wife.
Dude: Well, they finally did it. They killed my fucking car.
- The Mummy Trilogy: "No, no, not my CAR! Oh, I hate mummies."
- Steve Bolander's '58 Impala from American Graffiti. At the beginning of the movie, Steve goes into excruciating detail explaining to Toad how to take care of it while he's away at college, including the brand and viscosity of motor oil to use and the notepad in the glove box with all the relevant info recorded. Halfway through that night, Toad goes and gets the car stolen by leaving the keys in it. It's soon recovered, though...
- There is one scene which makes the Jackass movie worth watching: the boys rent a nearly-new car and enter it in a demolition derby. They return it on a flatbed truck with the explanation "we hit a dog." (They also forget to remove the blow-up sex dolls they had in the back seat.)
- In The A-Team film, very early on B.A.'s GMC gets crushed by a falling object.
- Archie's dad's Pontiac Firebird in High School USA!.
- In Entrapment, the characters played by Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones get in a car owned by the character played by Ving Rhames while trying to escape from other people. Later, they arrive at their destination, and the car is wrecked. The wreck is explained in a deleted scene showing a Car Chase, where we see what caused the damage. Without it, it just makes Connery's character look like a horrible driver.
- The Other Guys has Allen's Prius suffering all kinds of damage: crashing, door removing, hobo orgy, heavy gunfire...
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull give Zola the "Not a scratch" line in regards to his extremely cool Hydramobile. The car shows up again in the film, in pristine condition and with Red Skull driving it. Phillips then steals it to catch Skull's flying wing in the finale, causing it to get mildly chewed up by the propellers. Skull looks more than a little annoyed, but he isn't in a position to complain.
- Cannonball has a beautiful black Lincoln Continental owned by an elderly couple who wants it transferred from Los Angeles to New York. The driver is told to be careful, but he takes it on the cross-country race. Add to this that the driver is the movie's Butt Monkey, and that black people were Acceptable Targets in The Seventies. Of course, there isn't much left of the car when he arrives in New York. Other cars, especially the green Mustang with which Cannonball Buckman continues the race, can crash as much as they want and keep healing themselves unless the plot requires otherwise.
- In The Gumball Rally, one driver enters the race by getting a job delivering a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Hilarity Ensues as the car gets keyed by outlaw bikers, caught in a sandstorm, etc.
- Pulp Fiction. Vincent's Malibu. Possibly the one thing he's proudest of in all the world, and "some dickless piece of shit" ( heavily implied to be Butch) goes and keys it. Then, when Mia overdoses and Vincent rushes her to Lance (to whom he was complaining about the keying earlier), he ends his trip by crashing it into Lance's house (by then, his car's condition is the last of his concerns anyway).
Winston: I get my car back any different than I gave it, Monster Joe's gonna be disposin' of two bodies.
- Dean Higgins in The Strongest Man in the World becomes worried when Dexter asks him to borrow the keys for his car, in order for Dexter to retrieve the strength formula from the school, and he becomes shocked when he sees that Dexter destroyed the car after he gave it some of his strength formula to return to the weight-lifting competition in the climax.
- Exaggerated in Need for Speed, which features nine rare supercars. Only two of those don't get totaled at some point, and one of the remaining cars still has some plot-important scuffs and dings.
- In The Walker Papers, Joanne Walker's car, Petite, continues to get destroyed whenever she's dealing with mystical stuff. By the fourth book, her insurance agent is getting suspicious.
- The Dresden Files - Harry Dresden's car, the 'Blue Beetle' - a Volkswagen Beetle that started off as powder blue all over - has pretty much every body panel replaced at least once due to things like Harry's being shot at, attacked by werewolves and using it to run over/into a Chlorofiend (plant monster) and being on the receiving end of the attentions of some mold demons, and is only kept alive because his mechanic, Mike is 'the automotive equivalent of Jesus Christ. Or Frankenstein.'
- The new automobile Bessie buys in Tobacco Road.
- Gabe's Camaro in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. He specifically tells Percy and his mom "Not a scratch". It later gets destroyed by Zeus and the Minotaur
- In Danny, the Champion of the World, Victor Hazell's car ends up ruined by the pheasants. This is especially satisfying as his barking rudely at Danny to take care of the car what was established him as an antagonist in the first place.
- The Bangsian Fantasy Legions of Hell by C. J. Cherryh has a scene in which Kleopatra and female Pharaoh Hatshepsut borrow Marcus Antonius's red Ferrari — and then run into a hostile situation which gets the car pretty badly damaged. When they meet Marcus again, with a Praetorian legion behind him and the need to take serious action quickly, he still takes a moment for, "Gods, Klea, what have you done to my car?"
Live Action TV
- The Grand Theft Auto games often have missions where you must deliver a car in mint condition... within a really short time. The most notorious one is the "Grand Theft Auto" mission from the third game, where you must deliver three sports cars within 6 minutes, unscratched. Most of the traffic in the GTA games goes really, really slow, not unlike in real life. You, on the other hand, have to drive really fast, and avoid everyone else while not even taking a tiny ping. This proves all but impossible.
- Most civilians, if you take a baseball bat to their wing mirror, will either put their foot down, or get out and run like hell, but the odd Badass Bystander will refuse to take the insult lying down. The NPCs most likely to react this way are cops (understandably, as you've just earned a wanted level for property damage) and taxi drivers, who will invariably come at you with Good Old Fisticuffs even if you have an assault rifle trained on them. This isn't limited to the player's actions, though, giving an excellent opportunity for Set a Mook to Kill a Mook.
- The Warriors allows you to earn bonus points for smashing up any car you come across on the street (and stealing the radio, of course!). On some missions, you actually must destroy a car (such as in Mission 5, where you avenge yourself on a small-time gang leader by smashing up his car just outside the local body shop, or Mission 7, where you must trash a car in Spanish Harlem to goad the Hurricanes into attacking you and setting that particular subplot in motion).
- Likewise, the first Mercenaries has a side mission for the Mafia where you deliver a sports car to a buyer who's 1/3 of the way across the map. In addition to time, the car's condition affects your final reward, so every scratch and ding results in a counter on the side of the screen dropping. And of course, the quickest route to the buyer is covered over with warring soldiers and tanks who will gladly add a few bullet holes for free.
- Saints Row has the Chop Shop diversion, which works very similarly. The instant you get into a wanted vehicle in Saints Row 2 or approach the right island in Saints Row: The Third, you suddenly get a minimum police notoriety level, often three or even five stars. On top of that, the AI Drives Like Crazy at times. Good luck getting the vehicle to the chop shop in one piece, let alone getting any significant reward for it. The only good news is that there's no time limit, but given that the cops are actively hunting you down while you're taking it to the chop shop, it's in your best interest to get to the end ASAP.
- In Need For Speed Most Wanted, you have a racing-built BMW right off the bat, but you quickly loses it to the Big Bad. The whole plot deals with you making your way through street racing to get your car back. Then it's crashed and destroyed anyway in the sequel.
- Seeing as the Autobots of Transformers canon are cars, the more narcissistic soldiers will obsess with their paint jobs; Sunstreaker and Tracks are notable examples.
- One episode of Ben 10 features the RV getting stolen. The Tennysons hitch a ride in another man's RV that he bought with his life savings. They end up stealing it from him and using it to track down the baddies. In the end, it gets totaled, and the episode somehow tries to imply that the man deserved it.
- Ben 10: Alien Force has Kevin being particularly protective of his car's paint job; concerned enough that he comments on this despite having commented only seconds ago that he'd follow Gwen anywhere — until she leads him into the location that made him complain about the paint job.
- Carl's "2 Wycked" car on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Its destruction has more or less turned into a running gag, starting from the very first episode. Even before the title sequence ran.
- And his house. And his pool. And Carl.
- "Using a key to gouge expletives on another's vehicle is a sign of trust and friendship."
- In the King of the Hill episode "It's Not Easy Being Green", it's revealed that back in their high school days Hank, Bill and Dale borrowed Boomhauer's treasured Ford Mustang and took it for a joyride. Dale's attempt to drive the car backfires when his ineptitude with the car's manual transmission sends the car careening out of control ("the left brake won't work!") and he bails out, sending the car over a cliff where it sinks to the bottom of a flooded quarry. The rest of the episode hinges on Hank's efforts to keep the quarry from being drained so Boomhauer won't find out what really happened to the car.
- Extra laughs if the car isn't actually that valuable, and is fairly average looking. A good example is the superintendent's Honda in The Simpsons (though it only had its H stolen).
- Played with in an episode of Rocko's Modern Life. Mr. Wolff (Heffer's adopted dad) buys a new car and forbids the rest of the family from driving it. Mrs Wolff, who is taking driving lessons from Rocko, borrows it and ends up at a demolition derby. Amazingly enough, not only does she win the derby, but she makes it without so much as a scratch on the car. Mr. Wolff puts the car back in the garage and closes the door - wherein the shelves give way and dump everything on top of the car.
- In The Venture Bros. episode "ORB," Brock Samson accidentally provokes his Cool Car (a '69 Charger) to attempt to kill him after he digs a bit too deeply into the details of his bodyguard assignment. Though he escapes, the car shows up again at the cliffhanger ending of the episode, and it's revealed at the beginning of the next episode that he's somehow survived by dismantling the entire front end of the car piece by piece.
- Mission Hill: Andy's boss Ron is arrested for tax evasion, and chooses to sign the title of his sports car over to Kevin so the IRS can't seize it. Predictably, it gets destroyed at the end of the episode, nailed by a semi truck just as Kevin is giving an ill-timed speech about responsibility.
- Cyborg's car in Teen Titans, in the first episode it was shown and built, was stolen by hoodlums, then stolen from them by his Evil Counterpart Gizmo from the H.I.V.E., and then possessed by the living circuitboard Overload. When Overload mocked Cyborg by claiming that he couldn't stop Overload without hurting his precious car, Cyborg calmly stated that "It's not my car anymore" and blasted it.
- One sketch on Robot Chicken features the parking attendants from Ferris Bueller's Day Off taking KITT out drinking and eventually wreck it.
- In Fanboy and Chum Chum, Lenny and Boog, as part of their plot to steal Fanboy's drinking cup, decide to pick up Fanboy and Chum Chum in Boog's car in the hopes that Fanboy will put his cup in the drink holder. Unfortunately, it turns out that Fanboy and Chum Chum have just been having a competition to see which of them can step in the most gum. And now they want to pick up everybody they know for the ride. (Including a seagull.)
- In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Jared borrows the Commander's car (with his permission, mind), and when he goes to park it after returning it, backs into the wall and dents the car. Unlike most examples though, the Commander is okay with it, saying that it was an easy fix and that finishing project cars make them less fun anyway, so you might as well hand it to a teenager to bust up and keep the work going. (Besides, his bigger concern was making sure his kids made it home in one piece.)