Since the early days of cinema, cars and movies have gone together, and some of the greatest moments in American film have featured iconic automobiles. Who can think about Goldfinger without thinking of James Bond’s Aston Martin, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off without that famous Ferrari? These cars did more than just give the characters a way of getting around — they told us who the characters were and represented their dramatic essence.
For kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s, however, these classic cars don’t hold a candle to the one that was perhaps more than any other emblematic of that era’s aesthetics: the Jeep. If there was ever a movie to get you wanting to buy a used Jeep it is probably 1993’s Jurassic Park, with its utterly unforgettable red-and-grey Jeep Wrangler, but it isn’t the only one to show off the vehicle’s rugged contours. Dozens of films and television shows featured this rough-and-ready vehicle, which came to define toughness and adventure for an entire generation, but here are five of the most memorable.
Everyone’s favorite 1980s adventure comedy, The Goonies is a story of childhood, friendship, and an epic search for lost pirate’s gold. It also featured the now-famous Jeep Cherokee in a hair-raising breakout and chase scene. The Fratelli gang’s 1984 has that classic boxy look that is now instantly recognizable, and is synonymous with the style of the decade.
One of the great natural-disaster movies of the 1990s, Twister also featured one of the most muscular Jeeps ever to grace the silver screen. Storm chaser Jo Thornton’s yellow Jeep Gladiator with its immediately recognizable blue stripe became famous for its ability to stand up to anything that stood in its way.
When setting out on their adventures, Sabrina Duncan, Jill Munroe, and Kelly Garrett often opted to travel by Jeep. Maybe it was the California sunshine, maybe it was seeing three powerful, beautiful women totally in charge, but either way the Angels definitively proved that driving a Jeep — like being a private detective — wasn’t just for boys anymore.
The Dukes of Hazzard
Bo and Luke may have become famous for their Dodge Charger, but who can forget Daisy Duke’s CJ-7 “Golden Eagle,” Dixie? Dixie came to the rescue countless times, and has become just as much a symbol of youthful abandon as the General Lee.
The Walking Dead
While the Jeep was everywhere in the late twentieth century, it’s heyday is far from over — and if ever a show proved that Jeeps don’t just belong to the past, it’s The Walking Dead. If you’re fleeing zombies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, you want a vehicle that can deliver the best possible performance, and the 1979 Jeep Cherokee does that in episode after episode. Of course, its classic good looks don’t hurt either!
The Jeep is the quintessentially free-spirited vehicle, and while it is less common to see it on the silver screen now, it still evokes nostalgia for a whole generation of young adults. Perhaps this is why, for so many of us, the Jeep remains our top pick for a fun, adventurous ride.