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In a series steeped in ‘80s nostalgia, Stranger Things has been (almost) period perfect in their automotive on-screen co-stars.

(Stranger Things) In Cars 

Stranger Things - imdb.com
Stranger Things - imdb.com

With the final two episodes of Stranger Things season four dropping today, we thought to look back at the series’ coolest car cameos. Considering the series beings during the tail end of the automotive doldrums that was the Malaise Era, producers have been surprisingly resourceful in finding appropriate hero cars for the show. 

Hero cars, or vehicles used for principal photography in filming, are at their best as a reflection of the characters who drive them. Think the A-Team’s van, the Ferraris of Miami Vice, or the General Lee of The Dukes of Hazard. Cars are an extension of their owners’ personalities. Stranger Things is no different. Stranger Things is a show about the supernatural, government experiments, and alternate dimension, but it is also about growing up in the 1980s and thusly steeped in ‘80s nostalgia, and that means a ton of ‘70s and ‘80s cars.

Hero Cars

Hopper’s 1983 K5 Chevy Blazer

1983 Chevrolet K5 Blazer - imcdb.org
1983 Chevrolet K5 Blazer - imcdb.org

Jim Hopper’s K5 Blazer is probably the best-known vehicle from the series and perfectly personifies its owner. Robust, dependable, and sneakily charismatic, the Blazer is the perfect ride for the gruff but loveable Chief of Police from Hawkins.

Joyce’s 1976 Ford Pinto

1976 Ford Pinto - imcdb.org
1976 Ford Pinto - imcdb.org

The always economical, sometimes problematic Pinto is befitting the struggling single mom, Joyce Byers. The Pinto is historically known for its tendency to burst into flames in an accident and Ford’s mishandling of the issue (both PR-wise and legally). Since Stranger Things takes place in the early and mid ‘80s, we can assume Joyce’s car was part of the 1978 recall.

Steve’s 1983 BMW E23 7-Series

1983 BMW E23 7-Series - imcdb.org
1983 BMW E23 7-Series - imcdb.org

Steve Harrington’s BMW 7-Series clearly marks him as the well-off preppy kid, as if the hair didn’t give it away. That Steve turns out to be a good dude, a great friend, and often heroic, defies the classic ‘80s trope of the jerk preppy. And yet, as late as season four, Steve is still reluctant to let anyone else drive his 7-Series, not that we blame him.

Billy’s 1979 Chevy Camaro Z-28

1979 Chevy Camaro Z-28 - imcdb.org
1979 Chevy Camaro Z-28 - imcdb.org

The hotheaded, mullet sporting stepbrother Billy Hargrove naturally drives a loud, fast, and obnoxious Camaro Z-28. This one doesn’t, in fact, constitute an ‘80s trope as literally every mean stepbrother in the ‘80s drove a Z-28 (or, in West Virginia, an El Camino).

Nancy’s 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park

1987 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park - imcdb.org
1987 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park - imcdb.org

Few vehicles capture the essence of the ‘80s like a woody station wagon. Nancy drives the Wheeler family’s Mercury Grand Marquis, which gets a double ‘80s nod in the kids piling into the way back for extra seating.

Jonathan’s 1971 Ford Galaxy 500

1971 Ford Galaxy 500 - imcdb.org
1971 Ford Galaxy 500 - imcdb.org

In even worse shape than his mom’s Pinto, Jonathan’s ride is a 1971 Ford Galaxie, a logical ride for a broke teenager in the ‘80s. The Galaxie reveals more than just Jonathan’s character, the fact that Nancy doesn’t look down on Jonathan’s ride shows she’s not a superficial high school Heather.

Supporting Cast Cars

Barb’s 1986 VW Golf Cabriolet

1986 VW Golf Cabriolet - imcdb.org
1986 VW Golf Cabriolet - imcdb.org

One a few automotive anachronisms in the show, Barb drives an ’86 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet…in 1983. But if some parts of the Upside Down are stuck in the past, as we’ve learned in season four, we can assume poor Barb is stuck in an alternate future version of Hawkins, car and all.

Lonnie’s 1972 Oldsmobile 442

1972 Oldsmobile 442 - imcdb.org
1972 Oldsmobile 442 - imcdb.org

Jonathan and Will’s deadbeat dad drives the glory-days-long-past early 70s version of the Olds 442.

Argyle’s 1984 VW Vanagon

1984 VW Vanagon - imcdb.org
1984 VW Vanagon - imcdb.org

New characters mean new cars and season four didn’t disappoint with reggae/golf enthusiast Argyle and his pizza (and other sundries) delivery van.

Eddie’s 1971 Chevrolet Van

1971 Chevrolet Van - imcdb.org
1971 Chevrolet Van - imcdb.org

Another new character and another new van. This time it’s a ’71 Chevy van driven by metal head and D&D dungeon master Eddie Munson.

Jason’s 1984 Jeep Cherokee 

1984 Jeep Cherokee - imcdb.org
1984 Jeep Cherokee - imcdb.org

Clearly a born leader (of lynch mobs), Jason Carver is the captain of the high school basketball team and fervently wants to find his girlfriend’s killer (who can blame him?). Jason’s letterman jacket is perfectly complimented by his crisp black Jeep Cherokee. (Also a subtle reference to the black Cherokee from the ‘80s classic The Goonies, minus the bulbar, off-road tires, and bullet holes.)

Bonus Section – Minor Characters and Extras

Kali’s 1981 Chevrolet Van

1981 Chevrolet Van - imcdb.org
1981 Chevrolet Van - imcdb.org

From season two, the gang of fellow psychics who befriend Eleven make mischief while rolling in an ’81 Chevy Van.

Victor Creel’s 1952 Oldsmobile Super 88

1952 Oldsmobile Super 88 - imcdb.org
1952 Oldsmobile Super 88 - imcdb.org

From Victor’s flashback in season four, the Creel family ride is an Olds Super 88 from 1952.

Junkyard 1992 Blue Bird TC 2000

1992 Blue Bird TC 2000 - imcdb.org
1992 Blue Bird TC 2000 - imcdb.org

The gang’s hideout is doubly worse than Barb’s ‘86 Cabriolet, not only is the bus a 1992, its broken down in a junk yard.

Cop Cars – Ford Crown Vic and Chevrolet Caprice

Ford LTD Crown Victorias - imcdb.org
Ford LTD Crown Victorias - imcdb.org

From the many, many instances where the police get called for all the Upside Down related carnage, we get many, many Ford Crown Vics and Chevy Caprice cop cars.

TodFther’s 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz - imcdb.org
1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz - imcdb.org

From season three, Todd’s Caddy Eldorado Biarritz is “commandeered” by Hopper and Joyce while transporting Dr. Alexei.

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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