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TV dads have, for the most part, had pretty conservative taste in cars. While it would have been fun to imagine Ward Cleaver in a fuel-injected ’57 Corvette, it just didn’t project the image of a stable, practical family-friendly 1950s dad. Here are some of our favorites from some classic and some more recent TV shows:
- Ward Cleaver (“Leave it to Beaver”), 1959, 1960 and 1963 Plymouth Fury: Ward Cleaver (played by Hugh Beaumont) was the classic 1950s TV dad — a law-abiding, middle-class, white-collar guy with a briefcase, suit and a hat. For the majority of its run, “Leave it to Beaver” was a Chrysler-sponsored show and Ward generally drove a Plymouth Fury four-door sedan.
- Mike Brady (“The Brady Bunch”), 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible: Mike Brady (played by Robert Reid) was a slightly cooler, hipper version of Ward Cleaver (witness the hair, sideburns and watch bands), and we had more of a clue as to his occupation (architect). Like “Leave it to Beaver,” “The Brady Bunch” was sponsored by the Chrysler Corporation for most of the series. As a result, Mike drove some sort of Dodge or Plymouth until the last season, and our hands-down favorite was the ’71 Barracuda convertible. It was the closest any TV dad got to something a little bit edgy.
- Tony Soprano (“The Sopranos”),Cadillac Escalade: You could say that Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) is exactly what Ward Cleaver would have been if he had hung out at Mayfield’s local gentleman’s club plotting with his crew to whack Fred Rutherford. Perhaps not. Although Tony originally drove a humble Chevy Suburban, he eventually upgraded to driving far flashier Cadillac Escalades of varying years.
- Howard Cunningham (“Happy Days”), 1948 DeSoto Deluxe Suburban: Howard Cunningham (played by Tom Bosley) was another classic dad from the Ward Cleaver, Ozzie Nelson school of TV dads. The ’48 DeSoto with a roof rack was an unusual choice, since it would have been nearly 10 years old for the show’s setting, but it seemed to fit Howard’s personality perfectly.
- Robert Crawley (“Downton Abbey”), 1911 Renault Type CB Landaulette: The Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley (played by Hugh Bonneville), didn’t actually have a driver’s license. That is, after all, what the help is for. The 1911 Renault got the majority of its screen time in the first two seasons of the popular English period drama being driven by several chauffeurs (including the one who ran off with his youngest daughter). A similar 1912 car went down with the Titanic and a non-sunken version is actually seen being loaded onto the ship in the 1997 movie of the same name.