Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / What a Piece of Junk

Go To

Basic Trope: An apparently-decrepit vehicle turns out to be superior in performance to newer, shinier machines.

  • Straight: Ben's 50-year-old Fiat 500 is dented and scarred with flaking paint, but its speed and power are visibly better than the other models shown.
  • Exaggerated: Ben's 100-year-old Ford Model T is covered in rust holes and sloppy jury-rigged repairs, but it can outrun fighter jets while carrying an entire refrigerator.
  • Advertisement:
  • Downplayed: Ben's 20-year-old Toyota Camry is less stylish than the others in the show, but it runs measurably faster.
  • Justified:
    • The company Ben works for is running on a shoestring budget and can't afford nonessential repairs. They make up for it with ingenuity, and their clever designs are better than the standard.
    • In a variation, Ben only cares (or can afford) about keeping his car's engine working in perfect conditiob but the bodywork barely above the limit of street-legal. If he had a few more bucks his car would look as good as it handles.
    • The other cars were all built by Honest John's Dealership, and were made to attract suckers by looking nice, since aesthetics are cheaper than quality. Meanwhile, Ben's machine looks rather weary after all its years of service, but still packs a punch because it was built to last.
    • Advertisement:
    • Ben's cars had subtle modifications on their performance. Aside, they look stock.
    • Ben's cars are his own Ace Custom with sheer amounts of modification, and he uses the dusty shell to disguise his car as The Alleged Car.
    • Ben's cars are old Super Prototype not released to the market, they are dusty, but they still run well, and he gleefully Break Out the Museum Piece.
    • Ben's car is a factory performance version that does not look much different to a base model.
    • Ben's car is a decommissioned racing car no longer in use, due to Technology Marches On.
    • Or Ben's car was made before the government passed laws that forced manufacturers to lower their cars' performance for environmental or other reasons.
  • Inverted: While Ben's car may have a cool paint job, loud pipes, a large wing, and other aesthetically pleasing modifications, none of them make up for the poor engine.
  • Advertisement:
  • Subverted: When Ben's Toyota Corolla breaks down after racing against his opposition, he switches to a Ferrari F12 like those he's been racing ... and is even faster.
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied: Ben's moped looks beat up, is missing a significant portion of its frame and a front wheel and is literally falling apart, but can overtake Emperor Evulz's Top Fuel dragster.
  • Zig Zagged: Ben's Ferrari Dino is fast, but unreliable. As such, his Dino catches flames very easily.
  • Averted: None of the cars are in apparently worse condition than any others.
  • Enforced: Ben is the Cool Old Guy, and therefore must have a cool old car.
  • Lampshaded: "Are you sure that'll still run, Ben?"
  • Invoked:
    • Ben prefers his opponents, particularly Emperor Evulz, off-guard.
    • Ben takes apart his car, and deliberatley damages the extorior panels, while leaving the vital engine parts undamaged.
  • Exploited: Claire bets on Ben in a duel, knowing that most of the people gambling will underestimate his odds.
  • Defied: Ben is slowly restoring his car's bodywork throughout the series.
  • Discussed: "The first lesson you will need to learn is a simple one: underestimate no-one. You see that heap out in the yard there? Ben, show them what it can do."
  • Conversed: "You know, I can't see why the Rice Burner drivers keep getting fooled by Ben's Yugo. Every old model you see is better than the new ones."
  • Deconstructed: Ben's Ford Transit is as fast as it is relative to the others because it was built right before new regulations banned the use of its core technology for environmental and safety reasons, and he ends up facing legal charges for continuing to operate it.
  • Reconstructed: Ben's Ford Transit is as fast as it is relative to the others because it was a development mule for the Jaguar XJ220 chassis — which explains why the aesthetics ... aren't there.
  • Played For Laughs: Ben's opponent, Emperor Evulz, is an Upper-Class Twit Jerk Jock who constantly brags about his Bugatti and gets humiliated after getting beaten by what others see as a junkyard find Geo Metro.
  • Played For Drama: Ben's friend to whom Ben has lend his modified car dies in a crash after underestimating the car's performance.
  • Played For Horror: Ben is a Vehicular Assault-based Serial Killer who prefers to make his victims believe that his Weaponized Car is a hunk of junk and they have a chance in hell of running away from him.

Back to What a Piece of Junk, and don't let the rust fool you: that link's just as fast as anything out there.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: