Follow TV Tropes


Artistic License Cars

Go To

This is a listing of liberties taken with how cars are presented in fiction.

Often Acceptable Breaks from Reality, since portraying how real cars work can sometimes be considered incredibly boring. Many of these are either impossible or incredibly difficult to do in Real Life.

May overlap with Artistic License Engineering or Artistic License Physics.


  • Alcohol Is Gasoline: Alcohol does have similar combustion characteristics to gasoline, though it is not as energy-dense and pollutes more. However, cars have to be specially designed ("flex fuel") or modified to run on so-called "gasohol" with an alcohol content higher than 10%; otherwise it can damage the engine.
  • The Alleged Car: The level of decrepitude seen in most examples of this in popular media would, at the very least, render the vehicle illegal to drive, as it would not pass inspection under any circumstances. Yes, there are plenty of sketchy garages that will just sell you the sticker for an extra twenty bucks, but doing so is also illegal, you'll eventually get pulled over anyway, and the officer who pulled you over will be very curious as to why there's an up-to-date inspection sticker on a vehicle that never would have passed in a million years. Even if your state doesn't require mandatory vehicle inspections, the law still gives officers the right to pull over anything that they feel is too dangerous to be on the road. At its most extreme, the vehicle outright shouldn't even start, let alone drive. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of these on the road (and, as mentioned, plenty of shady garages that enable this), just that they're almost never as awful as portrayed in fiction.
  • Carload of Cool Kids: Although it's not unheard of to have people sitting on the rear deck of a convertible, it is unlikely, let alone while driving. It is even more unlikely that the car will be able to drive fast when the convertible is filled past capacity with people even clinging to the back. On top of all that, the cops won't take kindly to any car with this kind of seating set-up, since there's the potential for disaster in the event of a sudden stop, because none of the cool kids are wearing seatbelts.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: As anyone who has driven a car that has been in anything more than a minor fender-bender can tell you, most cars will never be quite the same after a major accident, even if fully repaired. A car that has been in multiple serious accidents will generally wind up in the junkyard, as its structural integrity has most likely been irreparably compromised (if the damage affects its crumple capabilities, it is a hazard to life and limb, as the next crash can and quite possibly will make it crunch up like a soda can), ergo it should not be back on the road after some repairs. This is also a big part of why the 80% value rule exists for insurers who are attempting to determine a car's value after an accident; anything more than a tiny scrape or dent will substantially depreciate a car's value, and if it's already taken one massive hit to its valuation, chances are that it cannot survive another one and still be a safe, structurally sound vehicle. Most often, it's cheaper and safer to declare the damaged vehicle as a "total loss" instead, which means it would cost more money to fix the car than it would be to just buy a new one.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: Driving while spending more time looking at your passenger(s) than the road? Not a good idea.
  • Driving a Desk: Often while still in Park. It is, however, becoming more common for cars to be filmed on a special-built trailer.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Cars don't actually explode in collisions, though they may catch fire. The infamous defect on the Pinto was the rear axle bolts, which would rupture the gas tank, coupled with a lack of a proper bumper on pre-1974 models, and the friction from the two cars could cause a fire. Interestingly, only the Pinto (and Mercury Bobcat) coupes were affected. The wagon and Ford Mustang II did not have the defect because they had the fuel tanks situated differently and used a different rear axle. The Mustang II also didn't appear until model year 1974 so always had bumpers that met the tough new standard introduced that year. This trope largely still lives on because it's been shown so many times on TV and in movies, leading to some people dragging victims out of cars and potentially causing even worse injuries over something that wasn't a danger in the first place.
  • Gasoline Lasts Forever: As anybody who's taken on an older car or motorcycle as a restoration project knows, if left to sit, gasoline degrades over a matter of months to a useless varnish that then has to be cleaned out of the fuel system. The useful shelf life of gasoline is about 3-5 months at most. Treating the gas with fuel stabilizer helps, and other fuel oils last longer, but not for the decades or centuries often depicted in fiction.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: Every vehicle made for the North American market since 1969 has a steering column lock to prevent this very trope. And even then, crossing two wires may start the engine, but if only two are crossed, it won't stay running unless a third wire is connected. There are better ways that defeat the column locknote , but it's probably best not to list them here.
  • Hollywood Police Driving Academy: Cops are required to pass a driving test just like the rest of us. Most cops also have to undergo special driving courses to learn how to act in a high-speed chase, as well as other police techniques like the PIT Maneuver.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Truth in Television to a point with budget used car lots and especially buy-here pay-here lots, but the excesses seen in fiction are incredibly illegal and would make them prime targets for lawsuits and criminal investigations. Buy-here pay-here lots are usually very close to the stereotype depending on how much their business model relies on consumer defaults, and it is because of this that many states subject them to heavy regulation and overall scrutiny.
  • Hummer Dinger: Large liftkits very rarely carry consistent legality from one jurisdiction to another, and sufficiently modified examples are not street legal in virtually any jurisdiction and will have to be treated as offroad and/or show vehicles. Coal rolling mods (typically a bypass device to allow for the engine to be flooded, or the removal of the particulate filter), on the other hand, are illegal everywhere and can often carry extremely expensive penalties if they are found to be installed (primarily bypass devices).
  • Kids Driving Cars: Small children can't drive normal-sized cars, as they lack the body size, strength, and coordination to control a vehicle. Driving, particularly driving very fast and with complex maneuvers, also takes practice, and rarely goes smoothly on your first time.
  • My Car Hates Me: In a new or newer used car, this is what warranties and lemon laws exist for; while the latter's scope depends heavily on the jurisdiction, it is generally based around some combination of a persistent mechanical problem that multiple attempts to fix cannot quash, and the car being in the shop for mechanical issues for an overly long length of time, and if you qualify under a lemon law, the manufacturer will usually buy back the vehicle. On the other hand, if it's an old used vehicle or a newer one that is either past the eligibility for used lemon laws or in a jurisdiction with weak or nonexistent used lemon laws, you are shit out of luck.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Emergency interior trunk release latches are standard on modern vehicles, and many also additionally offer backseat folding latches that serve the same purpose.
  • Rice Burner: Their legality varies by jurisdiction, though states that require vehicle inspections will not pass them, and while police generally have better things to do unless there's an official crackdown on vehicles with these mods (usually if they're aware of a stanced/slammed car meet in their area), these vehicles are often not street legal and need to be treated as show vehicles, and if you're uncertain of their legality in a given area, you should tow it to the destination.
  • V8 Engine Noises: Considering that most cars use an engine with six cylinders or less...
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Usually seen as cutting a brake line. Every vehicle made since the 1967 Model Year has been required to have a dual split master cylinder, which splits the braking power between the front and rear wheels (and, in newer front wheel drive cars, the left front and right rear, and the right front and left rear), for the express reason to keep half the brake power in the event one of the lines is ruptured. A light turns on when a loss of pressure is detected. Interestingly, victims hardly ever seem to try using the handbrake, changing to a lower gear, scraping guardrails, or simply turning off the engine, as ways of slowing down (though Truth in Television, as the general public can be untrained in how to handle such situations).
  • What a Piece of Junk: Just like The Alleged Car, in Real Life if the car looked too beat-up or unsafe to drive, it would immediately be ticketed, towed and maybe even ordered to be destroyed. Depending on the country, the modifications that make the car special (such as having hidden weapons) could also be illegal anywhere from fine-worthy up to a guaranteed prison sentence. The street legality of "rat rods" and similar vehicles also varies heavily by jurisdiction, and most people who own them will use them as show vehicles and tow them to their destinations rather than drive them there.

Non-subtrope examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • An ad for the Castrol Magnatec engine oil aired in 2005 in Poland proudly exclaimed that the product reduces engine wear by sticking to the upper surfaces of the pistons. Actually, if your car has oil in the combustion chamber, you should see a mechanic, because it indicates that the engine is broken. Usually due to broken piston rings- and heaven help you if it's a cracked block.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Black Lagoon it is explicitly stated that Roanapur is in Thailand. However, every car shown in the series has the steering wheel on the left side and traffic in and around the city drives on the right (like in the USA and China). In reality, Thailand's road rule is the opposite: traffic there drives on the left and most cars have their steering wheels on the right (like in the UK and Japan). It would make a lot more sense if Roanapur was in neighbouring Cambodia.
  • The final two episodes in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans's 1st season saw Tekkadan making a rush at Edmonton, Canada to escort the Prime Minister to the parliament. The vehicle they use to get there (in true Creator Provincialism fashion) has its steering wheel be located on the right side rather than on the left. Though this may be justified that the armored car they use originated from Mars and bought to Earth via the Isaribi's shuttles.
  • Shaman King: X-Law shaman Chris Venstar's spirit, the archangel Metatron, inhabits a Hummer H1 that is said to be the same vehicle Venstar drove in The Gulf War. The H1 is not an actual US Armed Forces HMMWV ("Humvee"), but rather a derivative model built by the same manufacturer for civilian sale (by request of Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less), and thus was never used in combat.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first half of That Yellow Bastard, Hartigan, after dispatching Clump and Schlubb (Fat Man and Little Boy), tells himself to think like a cop and disable Junior's 1962 Jaguar XKE. He then leans over the engine, and the next panel has him holding two spark plugs... somehow, mentioning that Junior wouldn't be getting away, even though it's a six cylinder engine (it would misfire like crazy, but nothing else). A simple solution would to show Hartigan holding distributor cap instead.

  • The "bat country" scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the Shark is clearly in Park for all of the closeup shots of the interior.
  • The Fast and the Furious (2001) has the wrong wheels powered quite a bit, accomplished by either disabling the front wheels (by removing the CV shafts) on an all wheel drive Nissan Skyline, to filming a front wheel drive car doing a powerslide in reverse, then played backwards. The CV shaft removal bit is actually justified, since many tuners convert Skylines and other AWD cars to RWD that way.
  • The Blues Brothers has several. Word of God says that the Bluesmobile is "a magic car" and left it at that.
    • The Bluesmobile 'throws a rod' halfway through the chase through Chicago and sprays oil on the windshield, which then disappears moments later. The rear window that is shot out early on also reappears throughout the film, finally disappearing in final chase.
    • While being chased through Chicago, Elwood takes a wrong turn on the highway and ends up on an unfinished portion, slams on the brakes, and shifts to reverse. The rear end dips down, causing the Bluesmobile to flip end over end, and somehow face the opposite direction. No one's figured out how.note  The Nazis chasing them drive right off the end, and crash into a street, causing a hole to break open in the road, which the second car then drives into.
    • A deleted scene had Elwood fill the tires of the police cars at the concert with an overcharged glue that would cause the tires to explode when heated up.
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) uses hotwiring almost exclusively to steal the cars.
  • The Last Stand. Ahnold jumps a Corvette onto the guard rail of a highway, slides sideways like a skateboard, hops off and drives away.
  • Near the end of Speed, the bus flies off an unfinished highway, without a ramp, and manages to land on the other side. MythBusters proved this completely impossible: it would have fallen no matter what, even with a ramp. The camera work at this part used a lot of rapidly changing camera angles to disguise what was really happening, but with high quality video and the ability to advance frame by frame, you can very easily see that for the filming sequence they very obviously used a ramp. The front end of the bus also appears to have been lifted by cables at the moment it leaves the ramp.
  • Wanted:
    • A CGI Viper and Lada1200/VAZ 2101 leap into the air without ramps, do barrel rolls, and otherwise handle in impossible ways. This is the film that gave physics the finger, but still.
    • Less excusable is that the (automatic) Corvette Fox drives at the end has a (manual) transmission taken from the aforementioned Viper in a rather obvious error.
  • Little Cars In the Big Race has a scene where Wrangler, one of the racecars, spits out a wad of gum on the racetrack. Somehow, one car manages to get stuck on the gum and can't move, despite the gum having very little to hold onto the tire with.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
    • The King of Hatay is given a 1935 Rolls Royce 20/25 h.p. by the Nazis (donated by an American traitor) to convince him to lend them equipment and the tank (which he had modified with a turret). He calls it a Phantom II, but describes the slightly newer 25/30 h.p., and even uses the taxation horsepower rating.
      Rolls-Royce Phantom two. 4.3 litre, 30 horsepower, six cylinder engine, with Stromberg downdraft carburetor, can go from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 12.5 seconds. And I even like the color.
      • The Phantom II had a 7.7 L straight six and a Rolls Royce-made twin jet downdraft carb, and never received a power rating. The 20/25 h.p. had a 3.7 L, an SU type carburetor, 25 HP rating (but actual output was closer to 70 or 80), and a 0-100 of about 14.5. The 25/30 h.p. had a 4.3 L engine (a bored out version of the 20/25's engine) and a Stromberg carb.
    • The motorcycles used to chase Indy are 1977 Honda XL 500 trail bikes, with almost nothing done to resemble a BMW.
    • There were no Kübelwagens in 1938. Ferdinand Porsche wouldn't develop them until 1940. Also, the two seen in the film are given to the Nazis by the Hatayan sultan along with the tank and trucks (they have the Hatayan symbol on them). This is likewise impossible, as Germany never exported the Kübelwagen.
  • The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Actually a fiberglass replica built on an MGB, it has a back seat (the real Spyder Californias were only available as a two seater), and an odometer with anti-tamper mechanicals to stop it from being rolled back (such devices were first mandated in the 1970s), which would not be on a 1961 model year vehicle.
  • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-X hacks into, and remotely controls, two police Crown Victorias, an Econoline ambulance and a 1985 Chevy C-30 crew cab. None of those vehicles had the type of computers that would allow this. They all used cable-driven throttles, ignition cylinders that require a physical key to operate and mechanical steering with hydraulic boost. note 
  • In National Lampoon's Vacation, Clark takes his old car, a 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, to a dealership as a trade-in on his new car. The dealership, which, for some reason, has an on-site crusher, crushes his car when he has them evaluate its value, then, having ordered the wrong model, forces him to buy it. Clark should have called the police for destruction of private property, bait and switch, and coercion. They also do not transfer the license plates from the old car to the new one, and Clark never puts a License Applied For sticker on the window. Clark would have been ticketed as soon as he left the dealership.
  • In a Bollywood film, Ra.One, we see several Volkswagens, all right-hand drive, driving along the right lane of every road in an American city. Surely, product placement gone wrong.
  • Bollywood again: this time, in 3 Idiots, the Smug Snake Chatur brags of his 'new Lamborghini, 6496cc, very fast'. He's talking of the Murcielago, but on his phone, shows an image of a Diablo, a decade-old Lamborghini, at least 500cc less, and surely not so fast.
  • Bollywood is called so because it is the film industry (like Hollywood) in erstwhile Bombay (now Mumbai), but they still make obvious mistakes pertaining to Mumbai's traffic rules. They mention southern/central city districts, but show autorickshaws (three-wheeled mini taxis) there, which do not ply in the city districts, beyond the suburbs.
  • Towards the climax of the British movie Doomsday, the main characters find a getaway vehicle that was stored inside an underground bunker... because the plot said so. The car was stored there for at least twenty-seven years. Even if it were fresh off the assembly line, most of the car parts wouldn't work from lack of use. The metal would become stiff and the rubber in the tires would start to rot, among other things. The gasoline in its tank would also have gone bad many years previously.
  • Transformers (2007) claims that cars were developed by reverse-engineering the discoveries from studying Megatron. Apparently Michael Bay has never heard of Karl Benz: the first internal combustion engine was patented in 1879, 18 years before Megatron was said to have been discovered in the Arctic.
  • Ali G Indahouse has 2 such mistakes:
    • Ali's Renault 5, a car made between 1982 and 1990, has an "RE58ECT" numberplate. This is impossible, as numberplates with "58" as the 3rd and 4th character only apply to cars first registered in late 2008 and early 2009, which, in fact, is over 4 years after the film's premiere. However, it could well be a personalized plate and the film was made in 2002, before the 58 number plate launched, so that could easily explain the 58 plate.
    • The film shows car electrical systems in models like the Volvo 940 and Vauxhall Nova as able to cause an electric shock. Such devices actually use electricity under a voltage that poses absolutely no danger to a human. However, the film does rely on Rule of Funny, so that explains why this bit of Artistic License was taken.
  • In Eagle Eye, references of Driving Stick are made when Jerry yells at Rachel to "Use the clutch" when the latter is driving the Porsche Cayenne Turbo that they're in. The Cayenne Turbo is available exclusively with an automatic transmission (Initially a 6-speed, and then an 8-speed unit from Aisin for the first and second-gen respectively, and then the now-ubiquitous ZF 8HP 8-speed unit for the third-gen). Only certain non-Turbo models (Such as the base V6 model for the first and second-gen, and the V8 GTS trim) have been offered with a 6-speed manual transmission.
  • Toy Story: Andy's mom drives with Molly in the passenger seat. It's illegal to have a baby in a car's front seat.
  • Gloriously Subverted and outright discussed in My Cousin Vinny where automotive knowledge becomes a major plot point. While testing Mona Lisa Vito's car knowledge, the Prosecutor asks her a highly technical question about a classic car ("what would be the correct ignition timing be on a 1955 Bel Air Chevrolet with a 327 cubic engine and a 4-barrel carburetor?"). Anyone into classic cars would be fooled into thinking this was a writer's error and anyone not into cars at all would not notice the problem. Vito instantly declares the question is a trick question and explains the problems with the question (A '55 Bel Air couldn't possibly have an engine that was first introduced in '62 and didn't have a 4-barrel carburetor until '64). Then she gives the correct answer assuming the Prosecutor's mistake.
  • GoldenEye: Bond's Aston Martin DB5 would never be able to keep up with the Ferrari F355 as shown in the movie.
  • Jurassic World and its sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom both depict the Jeeps and Ford Explorers from the original film as nostalgia bait in scenes revisiting sites from the first park. Somehow the vehicles still recognizable, and in the first case, drivable, despite last being maintained more than twenty years ago and sitting out in the tropical jungle climate since then. They should have all rusted into scrap in the humidity long before then.
  • In Turning Red, the streetcars in the movie show the driver holding a steering wheel. Streetcars run on rails and cannot turn freely like a bus.
  • Although Harlequin is set in the United States, all the vehicles are right-hand drive due to the whole thing being filmed in Australia. In addition, several of these vehicles are models that are not sold in America, most notably several Chrysler Valiants.

  • In Murder With Peacocks, protagonist Meg is familiar with the trope of removing a car's distributor cap to temporarily disable it. Needing to keep her best friend from leaving town without choosing and getting fitted for a wedding gown, Meg enlists friends to help her stage a daring midnight raid on her car. But first, they have to figure out, with Meg's own car, where exactly the distributor cap is, how to get it off, and then how to get it back on properly so that her car will be drivable. Which is all a lot more complicated than the movies made it seem to be.

    Live Action TV 
  • In season two of Arrested Development, George Sr. is looking at a Ford Escape at a dealership and is told by a salesman that it's the replacement for the Bronco, which was dropped to distance Ford from the "fugitive from justice" image from the O J Simpson police chase. It isn't, and it wasn't. The Bronco was discontinued because of a combination of declining sales, safety concerns regarding the removable roof note  and the increasing redundancy compared to the two-door, fixed roof Explorer coupled with the lack of a competitive product for the GM Suburban. The Bronco's replacement was the full size, four door Ford Expedition. Naturally, this was done to make a pun about George Bluth Sr.'s escape from prison.
  • The Castle episode "Ghosts" has a murder victim found in a bathtub full of motor oil, with emptied jugs everywhere. Only problem is, the oil is black. Fresh motor oil is yellow, and only turns black after it's been in an engine for a couple thousand miles (because it's picked up various kinds of gunk from circulating in the engine). Might cross over with Reality Is Unrealistic since an average person might not recognize unused motor oil as quickly as used.
  • Casualty had this as an Enforced Trope a few times, due to BBC rules on Product Placement:
  • Community has a minor example. In "Spanish As A Second Language", both Jeff and Abed refer to Jeff's Lexus being a 2002. The Lexus in question is a second generation IS making it a 2005 at the earliest.
  • In Season 3 of House of Cards (US), set in 2015-2016, the Presidential State Car is shown to be a 2005 Cadillac DTS from the Bush era, rather than the unique 2009 Cadillac limousine introduced in the Barack Obama era. The use of such a vehicle is rather justified, as the current State Car is a unique, highly classified model not based on any existing Cadillac models (it is instead an amalgamation of various Cadillac parts built on a GMC TopKick heavy truck chassis) and the White House certainly would never loan it for filming.
  • Seinfeld:
    • In "The Bris", George's car is in Park during the drive to the hospital.
    • Jerry's Saab 900 in "The Bottle Deposit". After Kramer and Newman pack groceries under the hood because they had bought so much they ran out of space elsewhere, Jerry mentions the AAA guy told him it was "this close to sucking a muffin down the carburetor." Saab 900s are fuel injected. When the police find a similar model chopped up in a a garage, he refers to the "angle of the V6" and says it was turbocharged, which a woman mentions is her 9000. Saab never offered either the 900 or 9000 with a turbocharged V6. Jerry then says his is a 900S, but the car Tony is driving when Kramer finds him is the higher up 900SE.
    • In "The Money", Morty and Helen claim to never use the Northstar System in their Cadillac Fleetwood. The Northstar System is another name for the Northstar V8 engine, which was never available on any Fleetwood; the Fleetwood was only offered with a Chevy L05 350 in 1993 and the Chevy LT1 350 in 1994-96. Earlier in "The Cadillac", they are seen driving without a license plate or a temporary registration, required by Florida law.
  • One episode of Person of Interest had a Marine vet who lost his right arm defusing an IED steal a motorcycle from a dealership and drive off with it at speed. Now granted, he had one of the fancy electronic prosthetics, but even so it's highly unlikely he would even have been able to get it moving, seeing as how 99% of stock bikes have the throttle on the right handlebar (the new prosthetics are a definite improvement over the plastic arm with a hook/claw at the end, but they're not that good). Overlaps with Artistic License Medicine—the POI is also shown aiming a gun with the thing.
  • An ubiquitous one is an actor moving the steering wheel even if they're driving on a straight road. In many Driver's Ed classes the instructor has to explain how the car will continue to follow a straight course even if the wheel isn't moved.
    • A good example of this is in the pilot of The Rockford Files, where James Garner is vigorously rocking the steering wheel back and forth, even though he's driving on a straight highway. This is especially funny because when they cut to the car he's chasing, the other actor has his hands in the 10 and 2 positions and keeps them there.
    • Also parodied in the DVD Gag Reel of one season of Burn Notice when Jeffrey Donovan starts pretending to turn the steering wheel back and forth while the car is sitting still between takes.
  • In The King of Queens, Arthur cashes in his IRA to buy Doug and Carrie a new car to replace Doug's aging '80s Toyota Tercel wagon. He buys a "Douchenburger", apparently made in Luxembourg and quite popular there. The actual car, however, is a 1970 Mini 850 Mk. III, and is even right hand drive. Luxembourg is left hand drive like the rest of Continental Europe and does not have any local automakers (their cars are from the rest of Europe). About the only thing done to disguise the fact it's a Mini is the emblem has been removed.
  • Knight Rider: Most of KITT's implausibilities can be chalked up to Applied Phlebotinum, but his steering wheel is not street-legal: US regulations require steering wheels to be full circles, rather than the airplane yoke used in KITT's cabin.
  • Mission: Impossible, when the story is set in a Soviet Bloc nation, frequently used Checker A12 Marathons in place of Soviet cars, most likely meant to represent GAZ M-13 Chaikas and M-23 Volgas (M-21 with the V8 and automatic transmission of the M-13). Both vehicles were available only to KGB and Soviet officials and not common folk (though the Chaika could be rented for weddings and special occasions, and the four cylinder standard trans M-21 could be bought by anyone), and were therefore definitely not available to Hollywood filmmakers. The three cars look nothing alike.
  • In M*A*S*H, a character tries to leave the camp to get back to his unit by hotwiring a Jeep, and in "Abyssinia Henry", Henry gives Radar the keys to a Jeep. Jeeps, like all military vehicles, were expected to be used by anyone at any time, so they had a pushbutton ignition switch instead of keys, which could easily be misplaced or lost in the field.
    • In "Welcome to Korea", Hawkeye sarcastically asks if a Jeep is olive drab and made in Detroit. All Korean War-era Jeeps were made in Toledo, Ohio.
    • Very few M38A1 Jeeps, with the distinctive rounded hood and wrapover fenders, saw service at the very end of the Korean War (production began in 1953). Around half the 4077's motor pool is made up of them, many stood-in by civilian CJ-5s, although they tried to keep the ones used by characters to the older "flat-fender" models.
  • Nash Bridges: In "Resurrection", a plotwise-dramatic collision involving main character's daughter has a set of details that don't add up. The truck runs a perpendicular course and hits the passenger door of a sedan to drag said sedan across and smash it against a big bulldozer that chilled at the other side of intersection. Sedan had to have enough momentum to not stay in place to be speared into the bulldozer. And the said bulldozer was blocking off that side of road intersection, so the truck had nowhere to travel to at such high speed. Truck driver wasn't unconcious either, per his testimony, which is milked for tears a bit later.
  • Lampshaded on Top Gear, when Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond ruin days' worth of filming on the remake of The Sweeney, due to Clarkson's inability to grasp the concept of Acceptable Breaks from Reality, and of course for comedy. Clarkson shows the director the stunts the car can do with and without the traction control engaged; the director states that he wants the traction control off but Clarkson insists that car nerds will watch and their immersion will be spoiled by the knowledge that the car in question won't do the cooler stunt work with the traction control on, and then sends said director right over the edge by adding over a minutes' worth of footage to the chase scene to show the protagonists going through the process of deactivating the traction control, which means holding down the button for ten seconds!
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Pilot episode: when Cromartie scans Cameron's truck outside the Dyson residence he identifies it as a 1988 Ford F 150, the truck is actually a 1996 Ford F 250.
  • In the MacGyver (2016) episode "Guts + Fuel + Hope", Mac and Riley are sent to Georgia (the country, not the state) to recover a truck of liquid oxygen for a children's hospital after a rebel attack caused the driver to abandon it. At one point, they are spotted by the rebels and get into a high speed chase that reaches 120 km/h. Except they're in a European-style cab-over semi, which has a speed limiter that prevents the accelerator from working if the truck is going over 90 km/h, and Mac didn't mention removing it when modifying the truck for going off-road. Also, during the chase, Mac has to fix a leak on the trailer, which reveals it's missing the placards stating that it contains a class 2.2 hazardous material.
  • Ted's Top Ten, a British Kid Com set in Northern Ireland, showed a 2013 13 registration plate on a Volkswagen Passat B5.5 stationwagon in its Halloween Episode. The Passat B5.5 was in production from 2000 to 2005, so it couldn't have been in production then, unless it was a grey import (and even if it was, it would have had a Q-plate denoting unknown, unless the owner could prove its history); this overlaps with Artistic License Law and Artistic License History. The Passat B6 would have been the proper 2013 model if they had shown their work, but presumably this show either did it for Rule of Funny or it's in an Alternate History where the 2000-2005 Volkswagen Passat B5.5 was produced for longer than in our timeline.
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries episode "Silent Scream" has Joe Hardy calling the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for information on a license plate number, and the BMV tells him that the owners are staying in the same hotel as the Hardys. Aside from the fact that no BMV in the world could possibly know that, they also would not release information over the phone to regular civilians, and there are strict paperwork procedure that the cops would have to follow to get the information.
  • An episode of Family Matters has Urkel and Myra go to a scenic lookout to make out when Urkel accidentally drives his BMW Isetta over the edge of a cliff. Since the car's only door opens over the cliff, they're forced to escape through the sunroof. After the escape, Urkel comments that he's glad he paid the extra four hundred dollars for the sunroof. In actuality, the sunroof was standard equipment on the Isetta to give an escape route in case the front door is not an option, the very reason depicted in this scene. Either somebody goofed or Urkel got swindled.

    Video Games 
  • The Driver series has several:
    • In the opening cutscene of Driver 2, Jericho is driving a Pontiac Catalina (for some reason with a 1977 Chevy front), but the interior scenes show it's in Park and has no key in the ignition (or signs of hotwiring).
    • In the cutscene before the final level, the front wheels of the 1964 Thunderbird Tanner pursues Pink Lenny's helicopter in spin when he peels out, despite the Thunderbird being rear wheel drive for almost its entire lifetime (moved to a FWD platform in 1999, then axed in 2004).
    • Driv3r has a number of front wheel drive French and Italian compact cars perform as though they were rear wheel drive.
  • Kyrat in Far Cry 4 is a fictional Himalayan country based heavily upon Nepal and Bhutan and adjacent to India, all countries which use the English right-side steering wheel. Despite this, all of the vehicles have their steering wheels located on the left.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, Lalafells are too short to reach the pedals of a car like the Regalia. So they stand on the seat instead. Somehow the car manages to drive itself and stop without issue.
  • In Forza Motorsport 4 and every subsequent game in the series it has appeared in, the rear-wheel-drive Bugatti EB110 SS is depicted as all-wheel-drive, which only the base variant had. The only game in which the car appeared with its correct rear-wheel-drive drivetrain has been in Motorsport 3. AWD SS models the Dauer EB110 (Dauer Sportwagen purchased the remaining parts and inventory of the EB110 SS from Bugatti, and the Dauer-produced EB110's were SS models but with AWD.)
    • In Forza Motorsport 7, the 1990 Mazda Miata has a 1994+ dashboard, and rather than a stick shift, uses the indicator stalks as paddle shifters.
    • In the driver's seat point of view, the steering wheel never rotates more than 90° in either direction, even if the player has a wheel peripheral with a 900° rotation range, which approximates most real-life road cars.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!: Larry is escorted from the Stallions set to La Costa Lotta in a taxi which Larry comments in awe how it's a "cherry '73 Pacer". The AMC Pacer was first introduced in 1975 and no Pacer with a 1973 model year exists. However, this could just be Larry not being very knowledgeable about cars.
  • In Mini Motorways, all cars drive on the right side of the road, even in cities where left-hand traffic is the lawnote .
  • In Need for Speed 2015 one of the hints states "Donuts in a FWD car? Forget." Except that, both in real life and the game, you can do donuts in an FWD car - you just need to do it in reverse.
    • This is an interesting case, since it is using that trope to car behaviour in the game, which also is quite unrealistic - drifting is much, much easier than IRL, Artistic License Inception?
  • In Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, all vehicles reach 600 horsepower after completing 20 stages of Story Mode, and can go up to somewhere between 800-830 (depending on the game) after completing the rest. Even vehicles that are really not designed for such engine power, like the Toyota Corolla.

    Web Animation 
  • In the GoAnimate video Dora Causes A Car Crash, Dora is able to put the vehicle in reverse while the car is going really fast, making it go in reverse and crashing into another car behind them. In reality, this would merely cause the vehicle to slowly stop, as well as the transmission being damaged.

  • In Outsiders, Siobhan Pattinson and her mother are revealed to have driven a 1975 Triumph Lynx as their own personal car. The Triumph Lynx, however, never went beyond the prototype stage, with only a single unit built which was never made available for private ownership. The author stated in accompanying blogs that this was done to satisfy his own adoration of the Lynx concept, and hypothesised a world where it had in fact entered production.

    Web Original 
  • Not Just Bikes: Points out that in GM's (in)famous World Fair diorama of the America of tomorrow that helped popularize cars and get popular support for the building of the massive highway systems in the U.S. and destruction of (mainly black) neighborhoods to build them the gracefully gliding cars didn't move like cars, they moved like trains without the delays and backups caused by having a bunch of individual vehicles on the road.
  • Even Randall Munroe isn't immune. What If? #3: "Yoda" describing Yoda's power output compared it to a Smart Car. A cartoon depicts Yoda popping out of the front hood of the car, but Smarts have the engine in the rear.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has Homer accidentally cut the rear brake line on Marge's station wagon while doing... something underneath (and supporting the car with a wicker basket), which causes the "Brakes Cut" light to illuminate while Marge was in the hill district of Springfield note  and somehow prevents the front brakes or emergency brake from being engaged.
  • Archer:
    • Although the rendering is excellent, for some reason all the GM G-series vans have mid-'70s (F-series-based) Ford Econoline front ends, and the VW Type 2s have late-'60s (snubnosed) Econoline front end. The tricked out 1970 Dodge Challenger spy car Archer receives for his birthday has very BMW style gauges — in particular, a fuel consumption gauge — which a Dodge doesn't have.
    • In "Coyote Lovely", Archer, Lana and Cyril use a 1973 Chevy Impala station wagon in a border patrol mission. With the hood open, it appears to have strut towers and an LT1 350 from a 1990s Caprice, with the home plate delete mod. It also has Impala trim all around, but a Caprice grille up front.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "We Fixed A Truck", the Banana explains how a petrol engine (with spark plugs) works as he prepares to fix the truck's engine, but the truck is very soon afterwards stated to be diesel powered (and hence with a compression-ignition engine).
  • The Magic School Bus: "Revving Up" uses the bus to teach about the workings of gasoline engines (the part in the cylinder where they have to clean off the spark plugs is a bit of a giveaway), even though US school buses are uniformly diesels. Also, even at time of airing, carburetors had largely been discarded in favor of fuel injection outside of motorcycle and yard engines. Granted, these are hardly the most outlandish things about Ms. Frizzle's school bus...

Alternative Title(s): Cars Do Not Work That Way, Somewhere A Mechanic Is Crying, Artistic Licence Cars