Top 10 Doctor Who cars: 55 years of a Time Lord at the wheel
Today is the 55th anniversary of British science fiction show Doctor Who. We pick the top 10 cars to have featured in the show
55 years ago to the day, Doctor Who first appeared on our television screens. What followed over the next five decades has shaped a generation of Sci-Fi enthusiasts and found terrified children – and adults – cowering behind the couch for safety.
Since November 23, 1963 we've enjoyed the company of no less than 14 on-screen incarnations of our time-travelling hero, with the role currently inhabited by Jodie Whittaker.
While the TARDIS will forever remain the Doctor's preferred mode of transport, there have been countless other machines employed by the Time Lord and his/her companions. We take a look at the most prominent from more than half a century of TV exploits...
This Siva Edwardian, built on the chassis of a 1954 Ford Popular, was the preferred vehicle for Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor). Banished to Earth and stripped of travel across the universe for 'bad behaviour' (but mainly because the budget had been blown converting to colour film stock), the Doctor took to tarmac for more down-to-earth adventures. Bessie was later used by two further incarnations - Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davidson.
The bright yellow Edwardian open-top car may have appeared like a fridge in drag, but the rickety-looking machine could fly in a straight line, even if only because of some high tech modifications (including sped-up film). Extras installed by the Doctor included an anti-theft force field (useful when there’s no roof), the capability to be controlled remotely, and a Super Drive.
To ensure its occupants weren’t thrown through the windscreen (and into the blinding force field) when the pace halted, there was also a minimum inertia setting. Off-screen in the comic book universe, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) pimped Bessie out and turned her into a monster truck. As you do.
It seems only fitting that a Doctor should drive a Volvo. After crashing through the roof of a train carriage and encountering alien havoc, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) was helped through her post-regenerative trauma and first adventure by a 1988 Volvo 240 GL estate. It was driven with some gusto in the episode and adds to Volvo's safety record – having saved humanity.
Boasting a 1986cc petrol engine, after taking the newly regenerated Doctor and her friends across the hillside roads overlooking Sheffield, it was presumably mothballed with its occupants choosing to travel through time and space rather than British B roads. It is still taxed for everyday use.
For a whole generation of children, the Nissan Figaro will forever be associated with investigative journalist, and friend of the Doctor, Miss Sarah Jane Smith. The Figaro appeared throughout Jane-Smith's spin-off series broadcast by the BBC, having already enjoyed a cameo in Doctor Who during an encounter with those meddlesome Daleks in ‘The Stolen Earth’.
There’s a man in the U.S.A who may well be a big The Sarah Jane Adventures fan, owning over 100 models of this iconic Japanese machine. However, he doesn't own the TV star, which was MOT’d until May of this year, and may still be out there. Preferably having run over K9. Repeatedly.
Chevrolet Corvette (C3)
In ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, the opening segment oozes classic car presence. The highlight of the bunch remains Chevrolet's third generation Corvette, finished in bright red, and stolen by Mels – an acquaintance of Amy and Rory, companions of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith).
The pair drive a Mini 1000 MkIII into this scene, where they convene with the Doctor’s TARDIS and the stolen Corvette in the middle of a wheat field, with the police in hot pursuit. To escape the situation, Mels threatens the Doctor at gunpoint, and ends up sending the TARDIS to Nazi Germany for a different tone of adventure where there are no Corvettes. However, there are a few Mercedes...
Ford Escort Combi Van
The fourth generation Escort may not be a classic to the everyday automotive geek, but in Doctor Who this British van provides character witness during the most emotional episode ever: ‘Father’s Day’.
Pete Tyler, the father of Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) companion Rose, is killed in a hit and run after getting out of his Escort, forcing Rose back in time to prevent the tragedy from happening. The changed events lead to global chaos, and millions of people are killed, but thankfully the Ford Escort van stays unharmed throughout. Sadly the car is now scrapped.
The double-decker rear-engined Bristol VR bus used in ‘Planet of the Dead’ had a hard time both on screen and off. Sent through a wormhole during one of David Tennant's final adventures, the bus ends up stuck on the desert planet of San Helios. As if that wasn't bad enough, it was also attacked by a flying-alien Stingray that looked suspiciously like Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The Bristol double-decker had to be shipped to Dubai for filming where it was accidentally dropped by a crane in the City Port, damaging the frame rather badly. The production crew reconstructed the battered vehicle slightly but decided to incorporate the damage into the story. It faced further problems though, encountering a sandstorm while in the desert and generally being a bothersome thing to film. Unsurprisingly it has been scrapped.
In ‘Mawdryn Undead’, public schoolboy Vislor Turlough crashes a blue 1929 Humber 16/50 open tourer owned by Doctor Who regular Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Turlough almost dies in the crash, and is visited by a figure known as The Black Guardian while unconcious.
The car is never seen again, but Turlough becomes one of the Fifth Doctor’s companions, spending much of that time in his despised school uniform. The vintage Humber is probably the most ‘classic’ vehicle on the list, and its age means no MOT is required. AutoClassics has been unable to find its whereabouts though.
First favoured by the Brigadier in 1987, who used a pale blue Range Rover Classic as a defence weapon during an explosives-laden escape in ‘Battlefield’, Range Rovers later became the vehicle of choice for Captain Jack and his followers during spin-off show 'Torchwood'.
Torchwood's modified Vogue V8 Auto had tinted windows, a futuristic body kit and not-very-secretive decals. It was full of computer kit and often stocked with weaponry, and is probably best known for a car chase in which it pursued a law-abiding Blowfish in a sports car. Yup, you read that correctly.
With the Torchwood Rangey being left in dodgy parts of Cardiff most of the time, it was frequently stolen by villains, and was sold by Bonhams in 2010.
This unusual looking vehicle was another of the Third Doctor’s runabouts, and appeared throughout ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. It belonged to the Doctor himself – Jon Pertwee – and was reportedly registered for the road as an ‘invalid tricycle’.
It was believed sold at auction in the 1980s, and was spotted at a show three years ago. The design of the vehicle looks very much like a miniature spaceship, which is apt as it actually has flying abilities - on TV, at least.
Military-registered Land Rovers have appeared on numerous occasions throughout Doctor Who’s 55-year history, and are often examples owned by Army personnel. Older episodes found the Doctor taking the wheel himself, often handling the Land Rovers with utmost control.
The Doctor has relied on the assistance of these rugged 4x4 machines on countless occasions, most often when used by the Unified Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). Watch out for their starring roles in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’, where soldiers shoot down a Tyrannosaurus Rex, ‘Terror of the Zygons’, where the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) shows a lack of mechanical know-how while driving a Land Rover MkII, ‘The Pyramid at the End of the World’ with the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and in ‘Doomsday’, where the Rose and her family drive to Dårlig Ulv Stranden (‘Bad Wolf Bay’ in Norway) to bid the Doctor a final goodbye where...sorry, I’m crying. Article over.
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