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Damage-Proof Vehicle

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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 Willing Suspension of Disbelief boundaries. Truth in Television when it comes to Invincible Classic Cars — back before The '50s, cars were a lot stronger, while being equally less safe to drive; modern cars shed the inertia of crashing by folding like accordions, while classics let the passengers violently decelerate against the interiors.

Contrast with Every Car Is a Pinto. See also Beauty Is Never Tarnished and Dirt Forcefield.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blues Brothers: The Bluesmobile is indestructible (except when it reaches the courthouse, at which point it spontaneously falls apart). 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. They were on a mission from God, you know.
  • Mentioned on the Transformers (2007) DVD/Blu-Ray commentary, 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!
  • GoldenEye 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The supposed invincibility of the General Lee was averted in an early Season 1 episode of Knight Rider, as part of an allusion to The Dukes, which was midway through its fifth seasonnote . In the episode "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death", a 1969 Dodge Charger, painted like the General Lee (a Confederate flag on the roof, but with the numbers 00 on the doors), and driven by two cousins — one a blonde, the other with dark hair note ; the car's engine is powered by moonshine, another clear allusion to The Dukes. About halfway through the episode — the plot itself centers on a race testing out alternative fuels — the orange car is sabotaged, crashes and explodes into flames, killing both of the young men inside. The conclusion that Knight Rider's writers perhaps hoped viewers would pick up on was that The Dukes was an outdated show, yesterday's news and that it played on stereotypes... but here was a show that was a better show with more exciting plots and a cooler, more up-to-date car than an older show that was "no longer cool."
  • Justified in Knight Rider, with the car being Nigh-Invulnerable. Even more so in the 2008 series, 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Feng Shui's "Golden Comeback" book has the Automobilus Indestructus schtick. It doesn't prevent damage to the car, 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.

    Theme Parks 
  • At Universal Studios:
    • The tram at Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour always comes out unscathed, even after being put in the middle of a flash flood, an earthquake, a dinosaur attack, and so much more.
    • The Expedition Transport vehicle in Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal's Islands of Adventure comes out completely okay despite receiving a heckuva lot of abuse during the climax when it gets rammed by several dinosaurs and climbed over by Kong himself.

    Video Games 
  • Blast Corps. Your vehicle at least, can crash through any number buildings unharmed. The nuclear carrier, on the other hand...
  • 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. Subsequent Halo games avert this trope completely.
  • The vehicle-based levels in Die Hard Trilogy feature these. Go ahead, plow right into that concrete stoop, that wrought-iron gate, or that sidewalk filled with pedestrians; your ride can handle it without a scratch.
  • 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 video games 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 Fauxrrari versions of real cars in order to get away with their insane crashes. Certain installments in the Need for Speed franchise and many others do avert this trope, however.
    • 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
    • In the games from Underground to Carbon, the closest thing to actual damage on licensed vehicles would be body scratches and broken windows. The police vehicles that appear in Most Wanted and Carbon are much, much less durable, crumpling in a few hits, being they're generic Crown Vic-esque pandas. Oddly enough, this also applies to licensed police vehicles which show up at higher heat levels, like the unmarked Pontiac cop cars.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • You can invoke this in Dead Rising 3 if you max out Nick's level and buy his final automotive related perk.

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted with Arnold’s car in Melody. When Melody “borrows” the car without Arnold’s knowledge or permission and drag-races a couple of guys, the bumper gets dented. When Arnold finds out, he kicks Melody out of the house.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Played for laughs. The B Plot of one episode has Kevin get fed up with Ben accidentally destroying his car all the time, so he and Rook get to work improving his car's resistance to all sorts of things. In the climax of the episode, Kevin and Rook have finished their work and are going over the comically long list of things Kevin's car is now impervious too. But they forgot to make it magic-proof, in an episode featuring the Dark Magical Girl Charmcaster. I think you can guess what happens next.
  • 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 (though never with anybody dying), but a crash usually involves the plane skidding to a stop (or a comic "pile-up" in midair).
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police and their invincible DeSoto.

    Real Life 
  • The Volvo company prides itself on the legendary toughness and resilience of its sedans and station wagons. They can take a truly absurd amount of damage and still function. This is partly due to the fact that they were designed to cope with Sweden's mountainous terrain, and partly due to a traditional emphasis on safety within the company because its founder's wife died in a car accident.
    • The company's image stems almost entirely from their 240 sedan and estate cars. Which were built to be exceptionally tough and survive in a country with road and weather conditions that would crumble nearly anything else in its era. Production ran from 1974 to 1993, and they can still be driven reliably for everyday driving as long as they are maintained properly. Often mentioned in conjunction with its more desirable contemporary, the Mercedes W123.
  • The 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 could be 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 could still drive under its own power to a workshop. Both headlamps survived intact. Its predecessor, the W123 chassis, takes these qualities to further extremes. It's not uncommon to find either of these cars in some working condition anywhere in North America and Europe, and it famously comprises a predominant proportion of Morocco's taxicab fleet. In fact, it's been the status quo for so long in the latter that the Moroccan government had started a program which allowed cab drivers to have their Mercedes cabs scrapped in exchange for a more modern car. With 40 years' worth of proven reliability, durability, longevity, and a reputation of high build quality paired with classic good looks, the W123 can sometimes command substantially higher prices than its predecessor for its desirability.
  • Top Gear (UK) demonstrated that the Toyota Hilux (called the Pickup 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. To a lesser extent, most Toyotas from before 2000 can fall into this trope. Many of them are still on the roads where rival companies' equivalent models are not.
    • Top Gear also performed a test involving a Saab and a BMW sedan by turtling the two cars to see if their roofs would cave in. The pillars on the BMW were badly mangled, whilst the one on the Saab wasn't as badly damaged, to the point that their rally cars didn't even need a rollcage. They still had to comply to FISA regulations though.
      • As with Volvo above, Saab heavily innovated in safety technology before it was cool for carmakers to do so.
    • More infamously, the Hilux and the related Landcruiser were commonly used during the Toyota War between Chad and Libya during the 1980s, due to their ability to withstand the harsh desert conditions.
  • If there was ever an airplane that qualified for this trope, it would have to be the A-10 Thunderbolt, better known as the "Warthog". Even the glass on its cockpit canopy is tough enough to withstand small arms fire, and the plane itself can still fly after absorbing anti-aircraft cannon and missile hits. There have been accounts of A-10s returning to their home base with huge chunks of their wings, or even an entire engine, shot off.

Alternative Title(s): Not A Scratch On It, Scratch Proof Vehicle, Car Made Of Indestructium, Every Car Is Made Of Indestructium, Indestructible Vehicles