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The Alleged Car / Live-Action TV

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Alleged Cars in live-action TV.

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  • In Adam-12's "The Beast", Malloy and Reed are assigned the eponymous patrol car that's just a few hundred miles away from mandatory retirement. It's such a piece of junk that Malloy doesn't even want to be behind the wheel, one of the very few instances in the series where Reed drives the car. It seems to end up spending more time in the police garage than on the street. Apart from an "old taxi" smell, windows that won't roll completely down, the rear-view mirror that won't stay up, a catch in the gas pedal, and the glove box that keeps popping open, it suffers a blown radiator hose, busted tail light, and a cracked distributor cap before a brake failure finally causes it to roll downhill and crash into a light pole. It is last seen towed back to the station.
    Mechanic: Wow, what happened?
    Reed: Well, we retired her for you a little early.
  • On The Amazing Race, some of the cars the teams are given turn out to be this, and it's obviously quite deliberate. That is, when they're not doing Product Placement cars instead.
  • Barney Fife buys an alleged car (with a transmission full of sawdust) from an alleged sweet little old lady on The Andy Griffith Show. The seller claimed she only drove it on Sundays and was hoping someone could take care of it after her husband died. Everything seemed alright, until the thing literally started to fall apart as he drove...
    • A very similar plot happened on Matlock when Matlock's (played by Andy Griffith) neighbor Les Calhoun (played by Don Knotts) with the twist that Les is accused of murdering the guy who sold it to him.
  • The Bluth Company's stair-car from Arrested Development. While it runs perfectly well, it's slow, very large (wrecking banners and signs suspended high up), guzzles gas like the 1970s full-size truck it is, hitchhikers hop onto the back of the car whenever it stops, and the driver has to start braking several minutes before they need to get to a full stop.
  • An aerial variant in The A-Team episode "The Battle of Bel Air". The helicopter Face scams for Murdock to fly is clearly falling apart. One door is barely hanging in there; there are holes in the floor and its innards are badly functioning. With Murdock at the helm, they still make it, but it's clearly not something anyone could have done.
  • In Auction Kings, Paul gets a Rolls Royce in. Normally, it'd be a high-value car, but it was in such poor shape, it sold for cheap.

  • Bering Sea Gold: The dredges in this series are custom-cobbled using whatever junk can be found in remote Nome, AK. Lack of reliability of on-board air compressors and / or water heating systems is a threat to the survival of the diver searching the bottom of the Bering Sea for little flecks of yellow metal. As the season has progressed, the skills of the operators at keeping their dredges has improved.
  • Better Call Saul - Jimmy McGill drives a clapped-out, ironically named Suzuki Esteem. When a couple of scam artists try a faked injury running into it, he tells them "The only way that entire car is worth 500 bucks is if there's a 300 dollar hooker sitting in it."
  • Bones:
    • In "The Woman in the Tunnel", Booth rents a car for his trip to London with Bones and is given an Austin Healy "the size of [his] thumb". Booth is very disappointed, as he has been expecting to drive an Aston Martin.
    • In another episode, Cam and Arastoo are driving to work when they get pulled over. While the cop is walking over, they bicker about why, Cam declaring that "With this car, it could be anything," and listing problems he's had with it. The car does work fine for the brief scene it's in.
  • In the earlier seasons of Boy Meets World it's mentioned a few times that Eric has one of these, but it is never actually seen on screen.
  • Greg's first car in The Brady Bunch.
    • Similarly, Richie and Potsie bought a car together in an early episode of Happy Days. For his next car, Richie was smart enough to go to automotive expert Fonzie.
  • In Breaking Bad:
    • We have Walt's dull green 2004 Pontiac Aztek (see Real Life), which he eventually ends up selling for 50 dollars.
    • While iconic for the series, the RV "Crystal Ship" was a piece of junk—like the Aztek, it ultimately meets an ignominious fate. At one point a malfunction during a meth cook winds up stranding Walt and Jesse in the desert where they nearly die of starvation.
      Jesse: I don't even get it. I mean, we had money. Why'd we have to have the world's shittiest RV?
      Walt: Inertia?
    • The prequel Better Call Saul has Jimmy McGill driving around in the dusty, dilapidated Suzuki Esteem.
  • Satan gives Ezekiel Stone one of these in one episode of Brimstone. At the end of the episode Ezekiel realises that it's the second damned soul Satan told him to reclaim that week, and shoots its "eyes" (headlights) out to send it back to Hell. It gives us this lovely exchange:
    Detective: Nice wheels, Stone.
    Zeke Stone: The wheels are great. The car on top of 'em's crap.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Jake admits he has a terrible car, but he loves it because he associates it with the first arrest he made after graduating from the academy. The sentimental value is (partly) why he takes his bet with Santiago so seriously.
    • Captain Holt's beloved convertible Gertie, which is viewed by everyone who isn't him as one of these. For added Genius Bonus, Gertie is a Chevy Corvair, a make of car infamously highlighted by Ralph Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed as an exemplar of the American auto industry's sloppy and negligent approach to safety in the 1960s. Similarly to Jake, however, there's an emotional attachment that explains Holt's affection; Holt's husband bought him the car early in their relationship so they could keep in touch.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Giles' first car, a potentially very cool but dreadfully run-down Citroën DS, is one of these until Spike crashes it in Season 4's "A New Man." He replaces it with a Mid-Life Crisis Car, a BMW 3-series convertible (still used, but much more contemporary). The Citroën is also mocked in the Buffy tie-in novels. Oddly, it's actually totaled in one of them.
    • Xander and Oz have both confessed their own personal off-screen road-trip-gone-wrong stories that begin with their vehicles breaking down.

  • Canada's Worst Driver:
    • One of the "contestants" on the fifth season was nominated for owning several Alleged Cars. He proudly declared having never paid more than $400 for a car.
    • The show itself frequently turns vehicles into Alleged Cars. Case in point, the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger respectively from seasons 6 and 7, which became progressively worse looking every episode.
    • It has now become a yearly tradition on the show to purchase a brand new cool sports car that will be used by the bad drivers on every show, inevitably turning it into this trope assuming it's even remotely close to driving condition at all by the end of the season.
  • In one episode of Chuck, Morgan buys a DeLorean with a stuck passenger door that cannot go over 22 miles per hour. Morgan still considers it to be a Cool Car and gets a Vanity License Plate for it.
  • Columbo drives a beaten-up Peugeot 403 convertible. He seems pleased to own a foreign car, and he doesn't appreciate others telling him it's a piece of junk. Columbo's actor Peter Falk allegedly picked it out himself after seeing it used as essentially a test bed and oversized paperweight at a mechanic's shop.
  • Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show describes a terrible test-drive here.

  • The Daily Show: Jon Stewart says this about the Gremlin he had as a kid: "The car that existed only so that Pinto owners could have something to shit on." In his tribute to Bruce Springsteen during the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, he expanded a little on this:
    The Gremlin was a car that was invented for two reasons; one, birth control for young males; and two, it was invented so that the Pinto wouldn't feel so bad about itself.
  • In the Dirk Gently TV series, Dirk drives an Austin Princess which he's had for at least sixteen years (and, given when the Princess was made, was presumably not new then). It rarely starts, when it does it's always in reverse, and Richard compares changing gears to Russian Roulette.
  • Doctor Who gives us the TARDIS, the Doctor's Time Machine. To ordinary people, it's a technological marvel; in addition to time travel, it functions as a universal translator, has a built-in Weirdness Censor that allows it to disguise itself, and it's Bigger on the Inside. But other Time Lords think it's an absolute piece of junk; the Doctor basically borrowed it from a workshop where it was a literal museum piece (and by the time of the series he'd been using it for over 500 years since that point). Among the things wrong with the TARDIS:
    • It has a mind of its own (literally), but she's unable to express herself very clearly. On the one occasion she could, she proved to be fairly unhinged. She's also clearly attracted to the Doctor and lets that affect her judgment.
    • The navigation is expertly described as "knackered" before the Doctor even gets into it. It frequently takes them somewhere other than where they want to go (although often where they need to be). It's also liable to keep them where they don't want to be, often through Plot-Driven Breakdown.
      • Although in "The Doctor's Wife", it's revealed that the TARDIS usually takes the Doctor to where they need to be intentionally.
    • It's supposed to have a "chameleon circuit" that allows it to disguise itself seamlessly among its surroundings. When the series starts, the Doctor's landed in 1960s Britain, so it disguises itself as a police box. It then gets stuck like that and hasn't been fixed since. The Doctor has since grown accustomed to this appearance and now refuses to get it fixed, and out-of-universe, the police box appearance is iconic.
      • The Doctor did make a couple of aborted attempts to fix it. He gained the data necessary for the block transfer computations in "Logopolis", and in "Attack of the Cybermen" he tries to implement it, with dubious results. The TARDIS turns into an ornate girl's dresser that sticks out like a sore thumb, a pipe organ, and a large iron gateway, before finally breaking and becoming a police box again.
    • Although it's Bigger on the Inside, it's also got extremely variable architecture which can't keep itself stable; a given door could open into anything at any time. It's scarily easy to get lost inside it.
    • When taking off or landing, it makes a sound like a large animal dying of a prolonged respiratory disease. It might be because of a stuck parking brake, or the Doctor simply not knowing quite how to drive it. The sound, though, has evolved into the Most Wonderful Sound both in and out of universe, so it also isn't changing any time soon.
      • Although other TARDISes have been depicted making the same sound, so other reasons for it might be various characters taking the Mickey.
    • The physical interface is a shambles. Important functions are labeled with Sharpie or sticky notes. On occasion, very important switches will accidentally be stuck in the wrong position. It's also got missing or unintuitive safety features.
    • It's the Last of Its Kind, and only it can understand how it works or how to maintain or fix it. The Doctor himself has no idea how to maintain it, and on at least one occasion human engineers have done better with it than the Doctor has.
      • In one episode, a character found the TARDIS's manual propping open a vent, but in a later episode it was revealed that the Doctor threw it into a supernova because he disagreed with it. This was after over half a millennium of refusing to read the manual at all, as the Doctor proudly claimed (to Romana's horror) in "The Pirate Planet".
    • In Series 10, he finally found someone competent to do maintenance on it. Only problem was, that someone was Missy. Naturally, it didn't work out well.
    • It once crashed into itself, and another time it landed inside itself.
    • When a major failure or explosion happens, it's been known to cause catastrophic effects across the space-time continuum. At least once, the entire universe was threatened with total destruction just because it was exploding.
  • In the Drake & Josh episode: "The Wedding", the titular duo borrows a friend's old 1970s Chevy El Camino that is in very poor condition. The car stalls in the middle of an isolated highway and they spend most of the episode's plot trying to find help or repair the car. The car catches fire while they try to repair it and the episode ends with them walking away from it in defeat.

  • Chet Kelly's junk-heap station wagon makes an appearance in the Emergency! episode "Firehouse Quintet". He tries to give the crew a lift to the gym for basketball tournament practice, but the car breaks down partway and the guys have to push it.

  • Steve Urkel's Isetta "microcar" on Family Matters:
    Steve: Boy, I'm glad I paid the extra four dollars for that sunroof!
  • The Fawlty Towers episode "Gourmet Night" has a famous scene where Basil Fawlty's car breaks down in the middle of the road. He then starts shouting at the car, kicks it and runs offscreen, only to return a few seconds later with a tree branch to start hitting the car out of frustration.
  • Firefly: The one and only Serenity! The Firefly-class transport ship is hugely outdated by the timeframe of the story, but Serenity is a special example. When Mal bought her at a used ship lot, she was in such bad shape that she wasn't even capable of flight, nevermind space-worthy. However, as Kaylee once so eloquently put it, "it'll fool ya".

  • The Ghostmobile MK-I as seen in The Ghost Busters. It's a 1929 Willys Whippet that always has something wrong with it (usually the brakes).
  • In Good Luck Charlie: It's Christmas, when Amy manages to get both her and Teddy kicked out of the Denver Airport and the bus taking them to Palm Springs, they walk eight miles to Lenny's garage, where Daryll, who bought it out, sells them an old Yugo for $50.00. Teddy has a hard time driving it over a hill that night, especially when the headlights and the brakes don't work, and when it starts to snow, one of the windshield wipers breaks off. The next morning, when they stop at a diner for breakfast, the entire car falls apart.
  • Mr. Belding had one of these during the lone season of Good Morning Miss Bliss (forerunner to Saved by the Bell):
    Miss Bliss: "Surely you don't need approval to have a car towed, do you?"
    Mr. Belding: "Oh, you mean that broken-down Yugo that's been there for two weeks?"
    Miss Bliss: "Right. Why didn't you ever have it towed?"
    Mr. Belding: "Because it's mine."
  • Green Acres:
    • Oliver's Hoyt-Clagwell has an Alleged Tractor.
    • Oliver's car breaking down was the subject of at least one episode, in which Mrs. Douglas used her pancake batter to fix a blown head gasket, something of a great feat considering her knowledge of cars was limited to referring to the gear shifter as a "pernundel" (because of the order of gears: P R N D L).

  • The title character of Harry O drives a rust-bucket roadster that's always either prominently featured in at least one scene, or conspicuous by its absence, with Harry riding the bus because it was in the shop.
  • The short-lived Channel 4 sitcom Hippies featured the "Ginkle", an exaggerated parody of the Trabant, which was incapable of driving more than thirty miles before breaking in half.
  • Marshall's Pontiac Fiero ('the Giving Tree of cars') on How I Met Your Mother falls into this category, nearly managing to hit 200,000 miles and having a tape deck that ate Marshall's Proclaimers tape, resulting in "500 Miles" being the only music that is played in the car. The season 2 episode "Arrivederci, Fiero" revolves around the car's demise and the gang recalling some of the incidents that made it an Alleged Car.
  • John Cleese's series How To Irritate People included a forerunner of the Monty Python Parrot Sketch — a salesman (Michael Palin) insists that the car he sold is perfectly fine, while the buyer (Graham Chapman) demonstrates first that the gear lever is loose, the brakes don't work, and finally that the doors fall off at the slightest touch.
  • There's a running gag in the 1980s cop show Hunter about the title character's horrible clunkers. Da Chief loathes him and so sticks him with awful cars, and sometimes it's even had more influence on the plot than just a gag - hard to have a Car Chase when your ride won't start (or the door won't even open, or piles of parts fall out of the bottom.) This was Justified by his tendency to completely demolish cars in chase scenes: you give this guy a car, it lasts two episodes tops, so you give him the worst you've got.

  • In I Love Lucy, Fred is put in charge with buying a blue Cadillac convertible. The first tip-off is that he bought it for $300.
  • Simon's Fiat Cinquecento Hawaii in The Inbetweeners. Small, slow, yellow, missing one of its original doors (later replaced with a red one) and has a tape deck. It winds up in a lake in the finale. Still, it fares better than Neil's Vauxhall Nova which doesn't even have an engine.
  • Federal Marshall Mary Shannon drives a beat-up purple Ford Probe on In Plain Sight that is an ongoing topic of conversation.

  • From Keeping Up Appearances, Onslow's beat-up '78 Ford Cortina (the one that runs. Barely.)
  • For a couple of years, the Dutch consumer awareness program Kieskeurig note  had a segment called Het Wrak van de Weg note  where the police, along with a car mechanic and a stunt driver explained and demonstrated how dangerous driving a decrepit car can be. Queue Free Wheels and cars snapping in half. At the end of the segment the car, or what was left of it by then, was destroyed in a creative way, along with the jingle "Die zien we nooit meer terug!" note  Depressingly, one police officer stated there were an estimate of 150,000 dangerously decrepit cars on the road in the Netherlands alone and there is a very real chance you encounter one on the road. A compilation can be found here.

  • Matt's car in Life in Pieces. It's so broken that the only thing that started it was tequila. And by the end of the episode, it bursts into flame.

  • Mad Men manages to squeeze some Black Comedy out of the notorious unreliability of mid-20th-century British cars, specifically their Lucas Industries-supplied electrical systems. Throughout the Season 4-5 Jaguar arc, these cars' troubles with starting are a recurring joke, but never actually seen. Then, when Lane Pryce decides to use his brand-new Jaguar to off himself (by redirecting the exhaust to the car's interior), the thing won't start. He ends up hanging himself in his office instead.
  • The Ropers' car in Man About the House, which was always having something go wrong with it.
    • The gag continued on the spin-off George & Mildred with the Ropers' motorcycle and sidecar which was nicknamed 'Charles Bronson'. It alternately either wouldn't start or wouldn't stop.
  • The Plymouth Duster (often mistaken for a Dodge) in Married... with Children. According to various antecdotes, it was brought to a stop by an anthill, it wouldn't hit 60 mph if you threw it out of a plane, the ignition key is a bottle opener, it's a literal one-of-a-kind car as the other models have exploded, been recalled, or dissolved in the rain, it has bullet holes on it from when Kelly tried to outrun the cops, and at one point a car wash "lost" it because the brown color is actually years of dirt accumulated on it.
    Cowboy (from the Village People): Hey, sorry about the Dodge out front.
    Kelly: Why, did you hit it?
    Cowboy: No. I'm just sorry about.
    • One episode had Al on the phone with the manufacturer's automated answering system going through a long list of questions about the car and pressing a button on the phone to answer each question. After the last answer, the computer referred to him by name.
  • Axl's '75 Ford Gran Torino in The Middle met its end when a county fair official took a guess about the rusty, faded old land yacht and waved Axl into the demolition derby.
  • In The Middleman, Wendy has a Hruck Bugbear, which is made in the Balkans and described as "a poor man's Yugo". Her soon-to-be boyfriend Tyler likes it, but he seems to be the only one who does.
  • The Chevy that SClub7 got in Miami 7 and later sold in LA 7 was one of these. It had travelled nearly a million miles in its time, and when it reached that number, it unexpectedly transported itself and its occupants 40 years back in time.
  • One episode of Michael Palin's New Europe had him take a tour of Nowa Huta (a Communist-built industrial suburb of Krakow) in an East German Trabant, a Real Life embodiment of this trope.
  • Mike's Mitsubishi Galant on Mike & Molly becomes one in "Mike's Manifold Destiny". (Oddly, it never showed trouble before.) The engine loses power if the air conditioner is on (it later dies), there's a hole in the floor, the windows won't stay closed if the tape is removed from the switch, and the hazard lights don't work. And that's just in the teaser.
  • Mr. Bean's 1977 Mini, complete with latch and padlock door system and non-working handbrake, is constantly the Alleged Car in its repeated collisions with a certain Reliant Supervan.
  • Mother, from My Mother the Car is a 1928 Porter, a fake equivalent of a Model T, and considered this trope by the neighborhood.
  • One episode of My Name Is Earl reveals that Earl and Joy once sold an alleged car to someone. When Earl goes to right this wrong, he discovers that the experience left the man bitter and pessimistic about mankind.
    • Several others have shown Joy's Subaru BRAT to not be in the best condition; several episodes mention it breaking down, and it's also (due to the placement of the back passenger seats) not exactly a family car. In a Noodle Incident, the car got stuck in reverse, but since the kids still had to get to school, Joy drove them anyway and got a ticket. In the same episode that mentions that incident, we have this exchange:
      Darnell: I wish we had a car that flew.
      Joy: Hmph. I wish we had a car we didn't have to start with a spoon!
      Darnell: Seems like such a shame to waste your wish on something that small.
    • For that matter, Earl's El Camino. One of the doors went missing, and Earl had to steal a door from a blue El Camino (that's been missing a door ever since, yet still on the road). It only goes up to a certain speed, the engine coughs and sputters sometimes, the air conditioner doesn't work (and neither does the tape deck. Part of it is justified; it's mentioned that Randy once put bubble gum in the gas tank to see if the car's exhaust would blow bubbles, and (due to poverty) Earl doesn't really take care of the car.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Mike and the bots wasted no time in bashing the "Rowsdower-mobile", Zap Rowsdower's truck from The Final Sacrifice.
    • Crow apparently has a beater version of himself to loan out the the SOL crew while he gets repairs done. He shudders and constantly emits smoke, but hey — he's got a killer radio!
      Servo: "Hey, it's that old AMC Crow Gypsy's been tinkering with for years!"
      Junk!Crow: "HEY, GUYS! Are there THINGs that are HAPpenING!"
      Servo: (coughs) "Ugh, he must be runnin' rich!"
  • The MythBusters seek out Alleged Cars for their experiments. Those that are perfectly fine are generally rendered Alleged Cars after being experimented with. "Earl the Caddy" at least managed to last an entire season before it was finally destroyed by being dropped from a crane. The show has also featured alleged snow plows, cranes, cement trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, war machines, and every other kind of moving contraption.
    • The Snow Plow of Death from the episode of the same name deserves special mention due to the sheer number of issues and danger it subjected the crew to. It didn't run, its steering and brakes barely worked (to the point that they had to weld the steering in place so it would roll in a relatively straight line, at one point its steering failed completely and it veered off the track, and to top it all off, it eventually escaped its tow cable and nearly put the crew in danger. By the end of the episode, it had earned its name.

  • In the "Nanny on Wheels" episode of Nanny and the Professor, Nanny convinces the Professor that she needs a car. They go to a shady used-car dealer who tries to sell them an Alleged Car. A few scenes later, Nanny tells the Professor that she has found a car for only $25. Actually, the car was free; the $25 was the towing fee to have it towed from Mrs. Patterson's garage. It was even more of an Alleged Car than anything at the used-car lot. The Professor criticizes Nanny for thinking she can do anything with such a piece of junk (it looked like it was held together by cobwebs and one of the headlights was hanging by its wires), but with help from the Professor's kids (and some "un-help" from the family dog, who stole the carburetor), she successfully restores it and ends up with a really Cool Car.
  • Gerry's Triumph Stag in New Tricks. He keeps claiming it's a classic, but it is notoriously unreliable and when any other team member rides in it, they are always dubious as to whether it will get them to their destination (although that could just be them extracting the urine).
  • The Now Show talked about how they're saving money with the high-speed rail connection from London to Scotland by running it from London to Birmingham and having Toyota supply the brakes.

  • Only Fools and Horses:
    • The Reliant Regal three-wheeled van owned by the main characters is a famous example, the So Bad, It's Good of the car world. It's popular enough that more than one Real Life Reliant Regal owner has painted his vehicle to look like it, and it came second only to the General Lee in a poll of the best-ever TV cars.
    • The Ford Capri driven by Del in later seasons, known to Rodney as "the Pratmobile".
    • The vast majority of cars that Boycie sells are Alleged Cars.
  • In Other Space the UMP Cruiser is a spaceship version. Decades obsolete, its engine spews brain-frying radiation and its walls are "mostly decorative". Bits of it fall off when it undocks. Not helping is that the AI running it was originally designed to deal blackjack.
    Natasha: The fact that you've survived this long is crazy.
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • Miss Brooks' car, when she has one. It's almost always in the shop. In fact, the number of episodes (on either radio and television) where she gets to drive her car can be counted on one hand: "Game At Clay City", "Who's Going Where", "Four Leaf Clover", "Brooks' New Car" and "Head of the State Board of Education".
    • Walter Denton's junky jalopy is usually in working order, but Walter often drives it sans top — or even sides.
    • A one-time offender was Mr. Conklin's second automobile, mostly a Stutz. He tries to unload the lemon on the unsuspecting Mr. Leblanc in "Mr. Leblanc Needs $50".
  • While Overhaulin requires cars to be in running condition to be on the show, they've had their share of these:
    • One car had a serious oil leak as Chris drove it to the shop.
    • Another car had a colony of mice living in it.
    • More cars than can be counted have had serious rust issues.

  • The Partridge Family: Keith's car is completely covered in rust and breaks down constantly, and he ends up in debt to all his family members trying to keep it running. He eventually sells it so he can afford to take his girlfriend to the prom, only to buy an equally crappy motorcycle afterwards.
  • Pimp My Ride is entirely about turning an Alleged Car into a Cool Car.
    • The crowning example of this had to be a Ford Escort which was actually the result of the previous owner welding two Ford Escorts together. This is known in the trade as a cut-and-shut, and if you do it properly, it's perfectly safe and street-legal. This particular car was not an example of a cut-and-shut done properly: it flexed noticeably while in motion and was one large pothole from snapping clean in half. The auto-shop crew jacked it up, took one look at the chassis and refused to work on it because it was a total death-trap, and Xzibit had to negotiate a Product Placement deal to source a replacement car.
  • In Press Your Luck, one Whammy set and armed dynamite by the player's score, only to have the car break down. The Whammy got kaboomed.

  • On Red Dwarf:
    • Starbug, the transport craft, may qualify as an alleged ship; it frequently breaks down or malfunctions and the interiors are as cramped and dingy as you'd expect from something built by the lowest bidder. Granted, much of the former two may be down to the number of crashes it's survived, but there can't be too many ships where going from Blue Alert to Red Alert involves changing the light bulb. Despite this, and the fact the crew (the Cat in particular) have no end of complaints about it, the one in Seasons VI and VII manages to last several hundred years, an asteroid impact, and crashing into two different moons with relatively few problems. A small price to pay for the radio being stuck on country & western.
    • Red Dwarf itself might also count. Even when it was new, it wasn't up to spec, thanks to massive budget cutbacks. The result of three millions years of wear and tear is a preposterously large and slow ship managed by a demented computer which has a small moon buried in its underside. At one point the ship is apparently stolen, and the Cat questions who in their right mind would steal "a giant red trashcan with no brakes and three million years on the clock".
    • The original, pre-Chicken Walker Blue Midget also counts. It resembled a shabby cross between a chinook, a tank and the space shuttle, was cramped, slow and had a dodgy gearbox. Somehow. When it sprouted legs for Season VIII (and the remastered versions of I-III) it shed most of these qualities. (Although it's entirely possible that the man who designed the bits that make it fly and the guy who designed the legs never met, and only one of them was good at his job.)
  • Most cars on The Red Green Show. Many of these were repurposed on the "Handyman's Corner" segment. The show's creators have even claimed that having "an old car that barely runs" confirms its driver as a member of Possum Lodge. Examples include Red's old Possum Van (often manhandled during "Handyman's Corner" projects and in "Adventures with Bill"), this clip of two alleged cars combined to make a luxury mid-engine car, and Red cutting two cars in half and connecting the front ends' steering, gear shifting and turn signals with bungee cords (it managed to move several feet, although while drifting a lot and with the exhausts smoking up the inside).
  • After destroying two police cars in the same episode of The Rookie the only car the motor pool will assign to rookie Officer Nolan and his Training Officer is a decades-old hopelessly obsolete model.
  • On The Roy Rogers Show, there was Nellybelle, who was run down to the point she often refused to start. Hence Pat Brady's Catchphrase "Aw, NELLYBELLE!"

  • Saturday Night Live gave us the parody ad featuring The Adobe. "The sassy new Mexican import that's made out of clay!"
    • Another parody ad featured "the Chameleon", a luxury car disguised as a piece of crap as a theft prevention measure.
    • While reporting on the Toyota acceleration controversy, Seth Meyers quipped: "A highway safety spokesman said that if you have a Toyota, you should just stop driving it. Toyota owners said 'We're trying!'"
  • Schitt's Creek: Johnny and Moira use some of David's money to buy a used car for the family, which is a black 1978 Lincoln with eight cylinders. Considering the Roses' former life of luxury, this car is a downgrade but it's still a Cool Car under the right circumstances.
  • Starsky & Hutch: Hutch's vomit-colored, dented, rusting, crumbling Ford LTD (with a missing rear-view mirror, window cranks that don't stay in, and a horn that randomly blasts at top volume whenever he opens the door), in contrast to Starsky's signature Cool Car, the famous red-and-white striped Gran Torino. Hutch despises the Torino and repeatedly insists his piece-of-shit car has more "character" than Starsky's. An overly prideful car repairman is so offended by the car's very existence that when Hutch tries to bring it in for repairs, he buries it in his trash heap just so he can yell at Hutch that "Garbage belongs WITH garbage!" (Interestingly, when the LTD was totaled in an assassination attempt, Starsky bought Hutch another one exactly as crappy as the first one, though not before writing "condemned in 1827" on the windshield.)
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode The Siege sees Kira and Dax appropriate an old fighter built by the Bajoran Resistance during the Cardassian Occupation. Despite its appalling design and mechanical issues, it at least works well enough to get them where they're going. Or probably would have, had they not been shot down.
  • Cedric's Hyundai on The Steve Harvey Show. It and Steve's El Dorado are never seen in the show. With Cedric's car, it has multiple bumper stickers on it to hold the body up and cover up its many dents, it frequently breaks down because Cedric tries to listen to the radio while he drives, and once it would not start simply because Cedric rolled the windows down. When he and Lovita are expecting their baby, she implores him to sell it but in the end, he keeps it and Lovita buys a used minivan.
  • In Stumptown, Dex Parios drives a beat-up old piece of crap with a broken tape deck that's prone to starting up at weird times.

  • Mr. Roper's car on Three's Company, which he briefly sells to the trio, gets worse every time it's described. One episode says the car must always have a passenger or it will tip over on the driver's side. A mechanic recommends against changing the oil because it's the only thing holding the car together.
  • The whorehouse-on-wheels in Tin Man that Cain "borrows" from DeMilo to get DG, Glitch, Raw and himself to the North from "Central City". It breaks down in the middle of a snowstorm, then probably suffered a permanent breakdown after getting Glitch and Cain back to the Witch's Tower, since it is never seen again.
  • Top Gear naturally has a ton of these. It's particularly prominent in the show's "cheap car challenges", where they try to win a challenge by spending as little as possible.
    • The team largely considers the former Eastern Bloc as having produced nothing but these, as highlighted in a segment asking a simple question: "Did the Communists ever produce a good car?" The answer was a resounding no. Highlights included a Lada Riva and a Moskvich 408 losing a quarter-mile drag race to a dog, a car whose door wouldn't close (which Clarkson had to drive in that state), a car controlled mostly by push-buttons which fell back into the panel when May pressed them, and a three-wheeler covered in canvas. May and Clarkson came to the same conclusion with early Chinese models (although later ones were much better).
    • The FSO Polonez, a Polish-built Fiat 125 derivative, so failed to impress Jeremy Clarkson that he decreed it be used to play conkers with the aid of an electromagnetic crane. It remains one of his least favourite cars, but later models (produced after The Great Politics Mess-Up) are significantly improved.
    • The Reliant Robin, a three-wheeled rear-wheel-drive subcompact car, was so notorious for rolling over that Clarkson was challenged to drive one just 15 kilometers — and rolled over at least ten times. However, Clarkson would later admit that this was staged to make it look like an Alleged Car.
    • The Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust is an Alleged Car of the presenters' own devising; the crew wanted to see if they could build, on their own, an electric car better than the Reva G-Wiz (featured on the Real Life page). It had a top speed of ten miles per hour. It had a sharp, boxy aluminium body that could blind the driver. Its seats were plastic lawn chairs stuffed into the cabin. It couldn't go in reverse. It was insanely noisy. It had a single battery which took seven hours to charge; they tried to fix this with a portable generator in the back, which filled the cabin with fumes and defeated the purpose of building an "electric" car. The crew claimed it was street legal, but they (hilariously) falsified the tests. They gave it to Autocar magazine to review; it was described as so dangerous it could get into horrible accidents while driving in a straight line. Hilariously, though, Autocar rated it a half-star better than the G-Wiz.
    • The creations of the British Leyland company are largely considered crap. One car Clarkson tests loses two different doors at separate points.
    • Hammond's Toyota Land Cruiser (aka "Donkey") from the Bolivia special. The engine hardly ever started, its prop shaft fell out, its differential exploded, and it was a total death trap. It wasn't a poorly designed car; it just shows how bad things can get with neglectful maintenance.
    • All three vehicles in the "budget supercar" special. May's Lamborghini Urraco kept running out of electricity and required a supercar enthusiast to restore it to working condition after the episode. Hammond's Ferrari Dinonote  had all of its engine electronics fail, although Hammond was able to restore the car himself. Clarkson's, though, was the worst; his Maserati Merak's engine disintegrated into a fine cloud of metal bits. He had to scrap it in the end.
    • The Mallorca Rally challenge saw the team buy their cars at an auction. Hammond bought an early 1950s Lanchester, whose list of issues was so long it hit the floor. He admitted that he only held on to the car because his grandfather worked for the coachbuilder who built it. Then he learned that it wasn't the same coachbuilder.
    • Played with in Albania, where the trio tested which luxury car would be best for a "leading light in the Albanian mafia". Clarkson was originally supposed to drive a Bentley, but Bentley suffered a sudden humor deficiency and pulled out. In retaliation, Clarkson purchased a none-too-gently-used Yugo and pretended it was "really" a Bentley. He was quite disappointed with the "Bentley", but bizarrely, it was the only car of the three the locals knew how to fix.
    • The Botswana special saw the trio buy dirt-cheap old cars and drive them across Botswana in varying states of repair (including, at one point, removing doors, seats, and other coverings to make them light enough to cross the Makgadikgadi salt pan). Except for Hammond, who fell in love with his 1963 Opel Kadett A — so much so that he called it "Oliver", refused to modify it, saved it from drowning in a river, brought it back with him to England, and fixed it up to appear in Richard Hammond's Blast Lab. Clarkson and May thought he was rather missing the point of the challenge.
    • The crew hit this hard when trying to buy cars for under £100 (less than the cost of a long-distance train ticket). May's Audi and Hammond's Rover 416 were barely functional. Clarkson had by far the best car, a 1970s Volvo which was mechanically sound (even after a 40mph crash) even if none of the electronics really worked by the end. For a car that cost one pound, that ain't bad.
    • Clarkson tried his hand at building an even smaller Peel P50. The result had no suspension (so the driver can feel every bump), couldn't reach highway speeds, had a fuel tank too small to handle the minimum required fuel purchase, and was a hybrid — but required two hours to convert to electric power. The body covers the driver's chest and head, but not his extremities. It was roundly rejected by the investors on Dragon's Den. And Clarkson called it the P45, an unfortunate names (and eventual "Funny Aneurysm" Moment) considering that "P45" refers to a standard British termination notice — i.e., a "pink slip".
  • The American version of Top Gear has had its fair share of alleged cars. Entire episodes can be devoted to finding such cars and fixing, salvaging, or just managing to sell them.
    • In the Alaska Special, Tanner's Chevy was barely functional. It turned out that although it was labeled as having a diesel engine, it was really a Chevy Small Block V8 (and thus a gasoline engine). He still won, and it was the only truck to finish.
    • Rutledge got a Fiero/Ferrari mash-up kitcar for a "$5000 luxury car" challenge that had a leaking problem and struggled to reach 55 mph in the speed test.
    • Adam's puke-and-blood-stained former taxi cab, obtained for less than $500, had what he described as "a several-minute delay between steering input and actual turning".
    • "What Can It Take?" is a durability test for older reliable cars whose parts are gradually removed, turning them into Alleged Cars. By the final challenge, they're all stripped to their frames with various engine parts missing; Tanner's Honda Civic was cut in half horizontally.
  • Trailer Park Boys:
    • The "Shitmobile", a 1975 Chrysler New Yorker four-door hardtop. The driver's side front door doesn't open, it's missing the passenger side front door entirely, and it requires a specific method of key turning to start it. It breaks down periodically, but it's also shown to be nigh indestructible. The boys have knocked down parking meters and walls with it and still been able to drive away.
    • Most of the cars in the show start out in good condition, but usually end up this way by the end of the season. Mr. Lahey's car ended up providing parts for the Shitmobile and lost its roof in an offscreen Noodle Incident, which didn't stop any of the characters from driving it. After Lahey becomes a cop again, his cop car also ends up losing its roof.

  • As Wheeler Dealers is a show about fixing cars, there are many ones that are examples of that trope before they get work done on them:
    • The 1988 Toyota MR2 from S02E01/02 had some rust and required a screwdriver to start it up,
    • The 1985 Suzuki SJ410 from S02E05/06 not only was one before the restoration, as it had a worn engine, but also kept being one after it, due to having perforative corrosion to a level barring it from passing an inspection.
    • The 1971 VW Beetle 1300 from S02E11/12 was so derelict, China gave up restoring it as a Beetle and instead used it as a base for a beach buggy, replacing most parts and using only a few original mechanical components.
    • The 1989 VW Transporter from S03E01/02 was dented and one of its rear doors was unopenable.
      • And the only reason that episode featured an 80s Transporter was that the older ones in the price range were in much worse condition than the final purchase, being practically unrestorable.
    • The 1978 Porsche 928 from S03E11/12 was an unroadworthy non-running barn find with no service records and a non-original set of alloys.
    • S04E07/08 featured an 80s BMW 635CSi that failed its inspection due to extensive underside rust. It was used as a donor car for the episode's main focus, a 1985 BMW 635CSi being restored.
    • The 1982 Lotus Esprit from S05E03/04 had faulty suspension, a rusted exhaust and a leaking sunroof.
    • The 1971 Fiat 500L from the next 2 episodes didn't even make it from the seller in Italy tho the garage in Britain, needing to be carried on a flatbed.
    • The original car meant to appear in S05E11/12 was a 70s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, but the bad condition of the car's body led Mike to backing up from the purchase in the last minute and buying a 1984 Bentley Mulsanne Turbo R instead.
    • S06E03/04, the episode about converting a Porsche 944 into a track car, had a different example of the model being considered, but the crash damage of its body was deemed too severe.
    • The 1960 VW Beetle in S06E11/12 had a broken engine, faded paint job and a rotten front floorpan.
    • One of the Bond Bugs considered by Mike in S07E06 was missing a large portion of its parts, and the body color had faded.
      • The seller also had a rotten 1959 Cadillac 60 Special sedan.
    • The 2001 Range Rover from S08E03 had its suspension break down on the way to the garage.
    • The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air from S08E10 was actually a 210 converted into a Bel Air and caught fire shortly after purchase.
    • The 1992 Morgan Plus 4 from S09E02 had a rotten chassis that needed to be completely replaced.
    • The 1977 Alpine A310 from S09E04 wasn't able to make it to the garage, due to overheating.
    • The next episode featured a 1974 Porsche 914 that was barely able to move under its own power for a mile and had an interior full of dried plants and dust.
    • The 1963 BMW Isetta from S09E13 had its rear brake lock up, causing the vehicle to spin out.
    • The 2000 Porsche Boxster from S10E04 was originally sold as a parts car, due to transmission and exhaust problems.
    • The 1972 Lamborghini Urraco from S10E07 had its engine rendered unstartable by a loose cam belt and was unable to move, due to seized brakes.
    • The 1967 Amphicar from S11E07 broke down during the test drive (or rather float) after the restoration.
    • The 2001 Audi TT from S11E10 did not have a working 1st or 2nd gear.
    • The 1974 BMW 2002tii from S12E04 was unable to move under its own power.
    • The 1982 Alfa Romeo Alfasud from S12E11 had not had any engine service done in 17 years.
    • S13E09, featuring 1970 Ford Bronco brought about this exchange as Mike pulled into the shop.But one 2016 episode dealing with a 1970 Ford Bronco brought about this exchange as Mike pulled into the shop.
      Edd China: "Not a Bronco!"
      Mike: "Uh, yes, it is. (Points to badge) This is a Bronco. One of the most legendary, iconic American cars ever."
      Edd: "Not a Bronco."
      Mike: "Yeah, I see what you mean. It's not all a Bronco, but it's a Bronco. (Edd shakes his head) It's 90-percent Bronco."
      Edd: "I would say that's not even 50-percent Bronco. Look at the state of the body work. It looks like it's been wrung."
      Mike: "Okay, 70-percent!"
      • The vehicle later received a replacement body.
  • A running gag on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, particularly during the Sound Effect game tended to go one of two ways. If the car starting sound effect wasn't given, the guys would go and push it, while if it was given too early, it would drive off without anyone in it.
  • The car Tony bought for Sam on Who's the Boss? would qualify.
  • A hideous, badly repainted convertible sedan that's literally falling apart (front bumper falling off at a sudden stop, etc.) is featured in the opening credits of the short-lived 1979 James Belushi / Michael Keaton sitcom Working Stiffs.


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