According to the Historic Vehicle Association, May 11 is National Twilight Zone Day. To get you ready for the big celebration, the HVA has selected its five favorite cars featured in Rod Serling’s “sometimes creepy and always mind-bending” science-fiction television series, which aired from 1959 to 1964 and still can be found in syndication.
Here they are, with text from imcdb.org, a website devoted to vehicles seen in movies and on television:
1959 Mercury Montclair from ‘The Hitch-Hiker’ episode Twenty-seven-year-old Nan Adams decides to go on a New York to L.A. road trip to see her mother, only to get a flat tire that leads to an accident on Route 11 in Pennsylvania. After Nan gets the tire repaired and continues on her journey, things start getting weird when she sees a strange-looking man thumbing for a ride. The same creepy-looking man appears again and again during her journey until Nan is convinced the hitchhiker is trying to kill her. The 1959 Mercury Montclair that Nan is driving is showcased prominently in this best-remembered TTZ episode.
1939 Lagonda Rapide from ‘A Thing About Machines’ If you loved Stephen King’s Christine — and what’s not to love about stories involving ordinary people locked in mortal combat with machines — then you’ll love this under-appreciated episode from TTZ’s second season. In certain scenes, the dialogue and action can be hokey to the point of being hilarious. (The scene with the electric razor chasing the main character down the steps comes to mind.) Oh, and there’s at least one pretty obvious goof when the “driverless” Lagonda makes an appearance; keen-eyed viewers will clearly catch a glimpse of a stuntman crouched behind the wheel of the car.
1962 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster from ‘Showdown With Rance McCrew’ While Rance’s horned, Corinthian-white convertible only makes a brief appearance in this Season 3 episode, this rare Thunderbird leaves quite an impression. Thunderbird Sports Roadsters were pretty expensive back in the day; one reason, they never sold particularly well. But today the car is a coveted classic, a beautiful two-seater and a real head-turner… even without the horns.
1956 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan from ‘You Drive’ Here’s another TTZ episode where the car turns against its driver. This one, a mildly possessed Ford Fairlane Club Sedan, begins to haunt its owner after being involved in a hit-and-run accident that results in the death of a newspaper delivery boy. “All persons attempting to conceal criminal acts involving their cars are hereby warned,” says Sterling in the closing narration, “check first to see that underneath that chrome there does not lie a conscience, especially if you’re driving along a rain-soaked highway in The Twilight Zone.”
1930 American Austin Roadster from ‘Ring-a-Ding Girl’ Never mentioned as one of TTZ’s best episodes (because it isn’t), “Ring-a-Ding Girl” does offer a quick glimpse at one of the original American “small cars.” The American Austin Car Company was only in business for five years (1929-1934) before being bought out and reorganized under the American Bantam name. In that time, only about 20,000 cars were built.
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.