Of motorcycles, helicopters, and heli-choppers…


By Shawn Robare

The day job has been licking my butt lately, so posts have been sparse, but I had a few minutes today so I thought I’d get to this week’s League assignment before I get bogged down at work again.  Coming off of a more personal topic last time, this week lightens things up a bit asking what our favorite non-Batmobile pop culture ride is.  I’ll be honest, I’m going to cheat a bit and pick three vehicles.  Though I think the heart of this question is referring to ground-based mobility, my mind is usually in the air so I couldn’t help but waiver between two of my favorite vehicles, which then spurred an odd connection between that two that I couldn’t help but also include.  First, lets stick to the pavement and talk a bit about my favorite live action motorcycle, Street Hawk!

Debuting in 1985, Street Hawk was a short-lived action adventure TV series that rounded out the interesting 80s era vehicle-driven shows like The Dukes of Hazard, Knight Rider, Airwolf, and Riptide.  The show featured Rex Smith as Jessie Mach, a police officer chosen to test a new and highly secret urban crime deterrent called Street Hawk.  This attack motorcycle was capable of ripping through the streets at 300 miles an hour, enabling Mach to track down the scum of the streets no matter how supped-up their ride might be.  The bike also has a laser mounted on the front, which is pretty darn nifty.  The deep black design of the bike, with the Tron-esque embellishments on Mach’s riding suit really worked for me as a kid and even today…

 

The bike was designed for the screen by an artist named Andrew Probert, who has done a ton of vehicle designs for Hollywood including working on the 1st motion picture and Next Generation U.S.S. Enterprises, as well as some of the time-machine aspects to the Back to the Future DeLorean.  Probert also worked on my next vehicle pick, Airwolf!

As I said, my head is typically in the clouds, and in my heart of hearts when I’m up there I imagine myself strapped into the pilot’s chair of the Lady herself, Airwolf.  The sleek interpretation of the Bell 222, with its deep phantom grey/custom pearl-grey two-tone paintjob is hands down my favorite flying vehicle from pop culture.  There was a lot of helicopter-centric fun in the 80s (with the Apache attack copters making headlines on the news and awesome fictional whirlybirds like Blue Thunder), but Airwolf is the queen.

There are so many cool aspects to the Lady, not the least of which is her armory including twin retractable chain-guns and a trio of retractable, belly-mounted rocket launchers…

 

Add to this is design of the flight-suits, including the badass helmet and the winged-wolfhead logo patches and I’m in heaven.  I’ve worn this patch loving on my jacket for years…

  

All this talk of motorcycles and helicopters reminds me of my other vehicle crush, Condor from M.A.S.K.  Figured I might as well throw in a cartoon/toy vehicle, and one that converts from motorcycle to helicopter to boot!

I think if I ever tried to go the extra mile and customize an actual vehicle that I could tool around town in, it would have to be Condor.  Not sure if I can pull off a purple and yellow, all-leather motorcycle suit, but I’d at least have to try and make a custom helmet that looked somewhat like Brad Turner’s Hocus Pocus.

Hopefully I won’t get drummed out of the League for my failure to commit to any one vehicle, but I’m not sure I could choose just one, even with one of Airwolf’s chain-guns pointed at my head…

If you have a minute, might I suggest you check out some of the other League members and their favorite pop culture vehicles…

Greg, Lefty Limbo, talks about the Landmaster!

Christopher, Tupa’s Treasures, talks about the car from Condorman, and some runners up!

Fong, Haxbee, talks about the Black Beauty!

Brian, Cool & Collected, talks about Marion Cobretti’s 1950 Mercury!

Rob, Action Figure Chat, talks about Mad Max’s Interceptor!

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, talks about a few cars including the Wraith!

  • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

    Paxton – Thank you kindly sir! Manny – Yeah, I could see myself in the General Lee (I know I’ve pondered that a million times.) Oh, and about the Batmobile, there’s a reason there’s an ejector seat in that baby, when Batman scores, Robin flies… ;)

  • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

    MKenyon – Yeah, I know. If you look at what some of the other folks in the League posted you’ll see a ton more cool 80s Hero cars like Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari, Automan’s Lamborghini, and Condorman’s ride. I’m surprised no one has brought up Megaforce too. Yeah, these days, not so much…

  • http://dookie-poo.com Manny

    I ponder this question far too often myself. the 66 Batmobile is my all time favorite vehicle but if I had to have a practical order I would go with the GENERAL LEE then KNIGHT RIDER then the BARRIS BATMOBILE. The extra seating and trunk space would really make a difference. After all it’s only a 2 seater. If Batman got lucky he’d have to leave Robin behind.

  • http://www.cavalcadeofawesome.net/ Paxton Holley

    really like your choices here, Shawn. Street Hawk was a fantastic pick. And I always loved Condor and Airwolf. Well done.

  • Mkenyon

    Thank you for mentioning M.A.S.K. All three vehicles you mentioned are understated heros. It seems as if the 80s were the decade of hero vehicles. Transformers, Knight Rider, the three you mentioned… And now… we have Cars. They’re okay, but they’re no Optimus Prime!