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?. Compare Chronically Crashed Car, Priceless Ming Vase and Milholland Relationship Moment. Contrast The Alleged Car, a vehicle whose defining quality is being terrible/hated instead of pretty/loved.
- Vice-Principal Uchiyamada in Great Teacher Onizuka 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!" Reggie gets his comeuppance when he forgets to roll up the windows before a big rainstorm, soaking the interior.
- Ronnie's "tuff" hot rod that Cherry wrecks in "Hot Rod Boogie" in Cherry Comics #1.
- When you see in Mortadelo y Filemón how the "Súper" brags about a shiny new car recently bought by him, you can be sure it and probably him are going to be wasted by those two agents.
- "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.
- In Alan Alda's The Four Seasons, Dave takes obsessive care of his car including not letting his friends eat inside it. It sinks into a frozen lake at the end of the movie.
- In Risky Business, when Joel takes Lana out on a date in his father's Porsche, the car accidentally ends up rolling into a nearby lake.
- In the first Back to the Future film, Biff Tannen's 1946 Ford Super De Luxe is crashed into the back of a manure truck while Biff and his gang are pursuing a skateboarding Marty. In the second film, having paid a fortune to have the damage repaired, Biff then crashes into the back of another manure truck.
- Flounder's brother's car in Animal House is almost completely destroyed during the Deltas' hasty escape from the nightclub, and the preparations for its use in ruining the homecoming parade serve to finish the job.
- Kirk's stepfather's car in the 2009 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 (1994) 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, although 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.
- Two examples from the Star Wars films:
- 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.
- Also, the shiny yellow speeder Anakin commandeered early on in Attack of the Clones? Was the extremely prized possession of the Republic's most corrupt senator.
- 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. Fortunately, he's giving it to Vincent, who's similarly attached to his Malibu.
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.
- Although we don't really learn about the car's preciousness until after the accident, Fast Times at Ridgemont High has Jefferson's car, a gift from a college football recruitment programme, get thoroughly destroyed when a Quaalude-addled Jeff Spicoli takes it for a joyride with Jefferson's brother.
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!
- 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.
- The opening scene of xXx has Xander Cage stealing a politician's prized convertible, then ramping it off a bridge.
- The Rock sees both Mason and Goodspeed steal expensive cars from a valet stand - a Hummer and a Ferrari, respectively, both of which get banged up in the ensuing chase. As a bonus, the Hummer's owner is actually admonishing the hapless valet not to put any "dings, dents, or scratches" on the car just before Mason drives off with it.
- Casino Royale (2006) sees James Bond damage a hotel guest's SUV when the arrogant owner mistakes him for a valet.
- Barefoot has a variation; in this case, the precious car is an old (but well-cared for) RV that Jay Wheeler's wealthy father owns. When Jay and his Manic Pixie Dream Girl Daisy are sneaking out of New Orleans, they steal it because it's the only vehicle in the garage with keys. And sure enough, Daisy eventually wrecks it.
- Howard and his 1959 Jaguar in The North Avenue Irregulars.
- R.L. Stine really loves his '87 Jeep Wagoneer in Goosebumps. When the giant praying mantis destroys it, he is visibly distraught.
- Bad guy Marls owns a very nice Mercedes in Honeymoon Academy, which he is extremely attached to and spends an inordinate amount of time fussing over. After the villains capture Chris and Sean, Marls sends his Minion with an F in Evil Slack to drive them to a remote location and kill them. Instead, Slack, who is a Token Good Teammate, gives them the keys to the Mercedes and lets them go. Upon returning to Marls' house, he lies and says he pushed the heroes over a cliff in the car. Marls is so enraged he throws the snowglobe MacGuffin at Slack. A subversion in that the car is fine; Marls only thinks it's been destroyed.
- The 1967 comedy The Flim-Flam Man has the eponymous character stealing a young woman's shiny new convertible. One long chase scene later, the vehicle is in ruins.
- At the beginning of Irreconcilable Differences, Lucy is driving her fiance Bink's beloved sports car across the country because she's the only person he trusts with it. Naturally, it gets stolen while she's dancing with Albert.
- Heavily implied in Ghostbusters (2016) with the hearse Patty's uncle sends to the team, then confirmed in the end. He didn't think the Ghostbusters were going to modify it. Or send it to another dimension.
- The Abominable Dr. Phibes: When Crow drives off in a desperate attempt to save Dr. Kitaj, he takes the first car he finds, which turns out to be Superintendent Waverly's. It is in less than pristine condition when he returns it, and falls apart (off-screen) when Waverly drives off.
- Crowley's very attached to his Bentley in Good Omens. It's his favorite material possession, his full-body glove. It's also his choice of vehicle to what is probably the end of the world, no matter how much hellish flame or high water he has to drive through to get there.
- 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.
- The Origin of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith: Bruce McKechnie is a wealthy Scottish laird whose pride and joy is his expensive Range Rover, which he views as a visible symbol of his wealth and prestige. Needless to say, the giant crabs of the title trash it real good when attacking McKechnie's mansion.
- The Hearts We Sold: The Daemon is very fond of his car, to the point where one of the only times he displays any actual emotion is when he thinks someone might throw up in it and ruin the upholstery.
- Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Conklin is very protective of his car in "Brooks' New Car" and "Taking the Rap for Mr. Boynton".
- 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.
- In a later episode Jill leaves Tim's hot rod outside in a snowstorm with the top down, prompting her to wonder if she subconsciously did it as revenge for the beam.
- Later on in the series, Tim gets to watch as the remains of his first car are crushed at a junkyard.
- 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 drives it that way in the parade, having no other choice, 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's 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, and has a breakdown when an errant bullet on a hunting trip breaks one of its windows. However, she is willing to sacrifice it in a ploy for Leslie's campaign tour to succeed.
- 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 is only relevant to the story in 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.
- In That '70s Show, Red Forman is very attached his 1950's Corvette convertible and doesn't let anyone touch it let alone drive it. In one episode, Eric took the car on a joyride while his parents were out of town in order to impress a cheerleader. He accidentally drives the car into a ditch, it doesn't get damaged but it gets covered in mud and he has to clean it before his dad gets home. He succeeds but his cover is blown when his dad starts the car and finds the radio tuned to a different station.
- 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.
- MacGyver (1985): In "Three for the Road", Guy Roberts owns an immaculate red '57 Cadillac. Over the course of the episode, the car is gradually trashed due a combination of damage inflicted by the bad guys, and Mac stripping parts off the car to turn into makeshift weaponry. Mac has it fully restored for him at the episode.
- Death Rally disables the sabotage option at the Underground Market if the player is going up against the Adversary. Of course, most players beat him by blowing up his car, rather than trying to out-race him, anyway.
"What? You crazy, man? Nobody touches the Adversary's automobile and lives, nobody."
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Underground racing circuit plus bazooka = win for the player.
- Sully, the leader of the Orphans in The Warriors, can often be found at Frank's Autobody tinkering with his car. When Cleon confronts him after Sully bragged about intruding on the Warriors' turf on the radio, Sully and his men hide behind a locked gate and then taunt Cleon further. Cleon retaliates by having his "youngbloods" (rookie gang members) smash Sully's car with their fists, their feet, and giant sledgehammers. The sequence ends with a Big "NO!" from Sully.
- As mentioned above, James Bond's cars. In Everything or Nothing, he is forced to self-destruct his Porsche Cayenne Turbo as a distraction. Just before pressing the button, he looks skyward and says, "Forgive me, Q."
- In Parasite Eve 2, Aya has a muscle car she had restored, customized and named Carrie. Predictably, it gets wrecked by a group of impish monsters. She practically goes through a period of mourning.
- In a Bonus Stage from the original Final Fight, the player gets points for destroying a seemingly random car. Then a member of the Mad Gear Gang comes in when you're done and breaks down in tears to see his car destroyed.
- Harvester: Mr. Johnson is very protective of his vintage Tucker. Naturally, as one of your tasks for the Order, you have to scratch it up.
- Destroy All Humans! 2: In Takoshima, there is a salaryman with an extreme fixation on his new company car, screaming at any bystander who might touch it. So naturally, Crypto destroys it For the Evulz.
- In one mission in Sleeping Dogs, Wei is asked by a fellow Triad member to pick up his girlfriend for him while he and a bigwig talk shop, and lends him his sleek white sports car to do so. Unfortunately, said girlfriend's rich, attractive, thrill-seeking friend is there too, and with some flirting manages to talk Wei into taking the car to a street race. One that unknowingly crosses an active crime scene and draws a lot of police attention...
- 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.
- Mr. Wolffe gets a car like this in an episode of Rocko's Modern Life. It gets completely totaled after it's safely put back in the garage.
- Kevin's car in Ben 10: Alien Force. The abuse it is subjected to throughout the series (and Kevin's subsequent freak-outs) is a Running Gag.
- Happens to Bummer's golf cart in the Stōked! episode "Reef, Broseph's and Emma's Totally Stupid Adventure".
- Owned by a Jerk Jock in an episode of Batman Beyond. When he bullies a wimpier classmate, the wimp snags his dad's humongous construction 'bot and crushes it like a beer can.
- Knockout in Transformers Prime is his own Precious Precious Car, being the unusual car-mode Decepticon. He's incredibly vain and takes cosmetic damage very seriously.
"No! Not the paint job!"
- Teen Titans gives us a full episode where Cyborg builds a high-tech sports car from the bottom up, only to have it jacked by a couple of hoodlums, given an unwanted flame paintjob, then snatched again by the even more careless Gizmo. Cyborg finds the little pipsqueak and protests in horror at the sight of him munching down on fast food inside the car.
Cyborg: He'll get ketchup ON THE SEATS!!!
- Sadly, his ride gets torn apart as he tries to get it back, and then utterly ruined when it crashes into a police transport. Worse, the recently-captured Overload was sitting inside the truck, and promptly combines with the wreckage, morphing it into an evil version of the original car, egging Cyborg on by boasting that he'll have to waste the car to beat him. Cyborg says it's not his car anymore, then blasts it into oblivion. Afterward, he builds an identical replacement... which gets nothing but further abuse in later seasons.
- In one episode of Invader Zim, Gir possesses Zim's house, transforms it into a quadrupedal mecha, and rampages across the city trying to get his favorite tacos. One of the casualties is a brand new car belonging to a man who just moments before was gushing to someone on the phone about how amazing his car was.
- The Simpsons: In "The Italian Bob", Homer and his family get sent to Italy to pick up Mr. Burns' new Lamborgotti Fasterossa sports car. While tooling around Italy, the car is crushed by huge wheels of Mortadella and cheese.
- On King of the Hill, Boomhauer used to have one of these in high school; until Hank, Bill, and Dale took it for a joyride and accidentally drove it into the old quarry. They had kept it a secret from him for all these years.