Back in Black
The Batmobile, the General Lee, Starsky and Hutch’s Torino, Magnum’s Ferrari, Knight Rider’s KITT–cars have become icons in many TV shows. Mean, sleek, macho machines with an ability to burn rubber in the cause of a hot pursuit or getaway. Auto-erotic fixations for the heroes, valued for their grunt and stunts. However, one car is going full throttle beyond these conventions. In her break-out role on Supernatural, a ’67 Impala Chevy is showing that a car can be more than just a bitchin’ ride.
At first glance, the Impala appears to fulfill the usual TV-car stereotype. She fits the bill in the looks department: a classic, sexy and shiny, with a trunk full of weapons. Like all TV cars she never breaks down or gets covered in bird poop, and she always finds a place to park. Sure, the Impala might get dirty occasionally, but in the next episode she’s certain to be gleaming again. (Unfortunately we have never seen Dean in a pair of cut-offs, sudsing her up. Of course, Dean “doesn’t do shorts” [“Wendigo,” 1-2], but viewers live in hope.)
Like her well-known brethren, the Impala, for all her distinctive looks, flies under the radar. Despite their eye-catching appearance, it’s as if TV cars can cast a glamour over themselves to remain inconspicuous. The super villains of Gotham City never noticed the Batmobile parked on the corner and criminals never wised up to the fact that the arrival of a loud, red Torino meant Starsky and Hutch were on their …