That ’70s Show celebrated the vibe, clothes, and music of the decade, but it also showcased a lot of vehicles! Relive all the cars of That ’70s Show!
We’re going back today, way back to the 1970s. You won’t find a Kia Soul or Chrysler PT Cruiser on this list. That’s because That ’70s Show, as you either know or can guess, was set in the 1970s. The cars on the show ranged from impressive to comedic to classic.
Over the course of eight seasons, the show featured cars like a 1970 Pontiac Le Mans, 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray C2, 1979 Lincoln Continental, and 1967 Chevy El Camino. There was a 1975 Plymouth Fury cop car used at one point. A 1975 Ford Econoline was used in one episode where the group of Wisconsin teenagers suspected the FBI was tracking them. Even though they weren’t mentioned, a 1970 Datsun 240Z can be seen in the background of one episode. The 1963 Rambler American was in the background of another.
That list is impressive by itself, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Several other cars were prominently featured as props or as plot points in several episodes. Keep scrolling to take a look at some of the other car cameos from That ’70s Show below.
From the very beginning (the pilot episode, in fact) the Vista Cruiser became a big part of the show. It was mostly used as a prop, parked in the garage or driveway. Even though the car was never used (the driving scenes were all shot in front of a green screen without the actual car), it certainly was special. IT was Eric Foreman’s very first vehicle, given to him by his father, Red.
Anyone who has ever been a teenager can tell you that their first vehicle, whether it’s the one they wanted or not, was a special one. To this day, the 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser is the car people think of when they remember That ’70s Show. When the show ended in 2006, actor Wilder Valderrama, who plays Fez, purchased the car. Although it doesn’t run, Valderrama couldn’t part ways with the car that meant so much to the show that got him his big break.
Red wouldn’t just give his only car away to his teenage son without an upgrade. Well, kind of an upgrade. Due to the gas crisis of the 1970s, Eric’s parents got a new car. Their choice was not an American make and model. Instead, it was a 1976 Toyota Corolla. Red, a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, didn’t want the Corolla, but it was the better choice at the time. As his wife, Kitty, said, “it gets excellent gas mileage.” She was right. The 1976 Toyota Corolla got 26 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 38 mpg on the highway! Read more about the Toyota Corolla’s origins and legacy by reading our Toyota Corolla Through The Years article.
While Eric’s first car was a Vista Cruiser, Kelso’s first vehicle was a 1965 Dodge A-100 Van. “All the doors – they open. It’s got brakes, too,” said Kelso. “Can you believe this? My uncle just gave it to me. Just gave it to me, for free!” It was not in the best condition, that’s for sure. It was Kelso’s first vehicle, and he was thrilled to have it. “Even the radio works,” Kelso said.
The Dodge A-100 was written into a few scripts. Kelso and his pals ended up taking it to Vanstock, a festival like Woodstock, in one episode. Eventually, he takes it to an ice shack in season three, and it ends up at the bottom of a lake.
Van life forever! Kelso was a fan of the van because the second car he owned was also a van. This time it was a 1972 Volkswagen DeLuxe Station Wagon, or the Samba Bus. Or the VW Type 2. Or the hippy bus. Whatever you call it, the van is a classic. As one of the originators of cargo vans, the Type 2 had a lot of space to cram in friends, belongings, or hang out in.
Kelso already learned the advantages of having a van when he drove the Dodge A-100, so it’s not surprising that he’d want to stick with a similar vehicle. When the opportunity to win this van through a ‘touch a car’ contest came along, Kelso was all in on it. The VW van lasted two seasons before it was accidentally destroyed when it rolled off a cliff after Eric forgot to put the vehicle in park.
Wait a minute. Isn’t this an entry for a show about the 70s and not the 1940s? Yep, but the show went back in time for a few flashbacks. A 1940 Chevrolet Special De Luxe Sport Sedan, filled with jazz musicians, is the car that Leo got into when he was a young, hitchhiking veteran. This beauty wasn’t featured more than once, but all it took was one appearance to make it memorable. If you don’t remember this episode, it’s because it was in season eight, the final season of the series. By that point the show was past its prime.
Red may have purchased a Toyota Corolla to save on gas and then handed over his Vista Cruiser to Eric, but he treated himself later on. Kitty was jealous of it. His neighbor, Bob, was jealous of it. In fact, Red bought it so that Bob couldn’t. Red had to beat Bob to the punch. Then, he kind of bragged about it, but if there’s a car that’s worth bragging about, it’s this one.
Like the Vista Cruiser, the 1958 Chevrolet Corvette was written into a few storylines. Eric tried, for an entire episode, to trick Red into letting him borrow the car for a date. In the end, Red sold his Corvette when he thought that Kitty was pregnant. Turns out she wasn’t, but the Corvette apparently sold before they found that out. I bet he’ll think twice before making a rash decision before having all the facts! Read more about the 1958 model and every other model year by reading our Chevy Corvette Through the Years post.
When Kelso found out he was going to become a father, he had to find the perfect baby vehicle. Turns out, it was a 1975 MG Midget Mk IV because, “it was tiny, just like a baby.” A two-seater convertible is perfect for a new father, huh? That’s some Kelso logic for you. Since Kelso was a police cadet at the time, he got this vehicle at auction. At least he didn’t pay much for it.
The sharp and stylish Midget Mk IV was basically a rebadged Austin-Healey Sprite. You can read about the rise and demise of the Sprite by clicking on our Remembering the Austin-Healey Motor Company blog post. Read about other badge-engineered vehicles in our Cars You Did Not Know Were Rebadged (and Some You Did) article.
If you get a pink Cadillac for selling a certain amount of Mary Kay cosmetics, what do you get for selling Kathy May cosmetics? In That ’70s Show, you get a 1977 Ford Thunderbird. When Kitty’s sister, Paula, returned as a self-made sales rep for Kathy May, she returned in style! With styling changes, the 1977 Ford Thunderbird sold 318,000 units. Sales for the next model year increased to 352,000 units, making that generation of the Thunderbird the most successful in terms of sales. Learn more about every Thunderbird generation by reading our Ford Thunderbird Through the Years feature.
Rather than producers using a generic car frame for the green screen driving, there were a couple of scenes with Donna’s mom, Midge, using a 1975 Cadillac Eldorado. The big, impressive front grille is visible in the scene. As the wife of a successful small business owner, it makes sense that Midge would drive a Cadillac, particularly an Eldorado Convertible. The original MSRP of the car in 1975 was $10,354. High class and high quality there.
Another episode from the lackluster final season of That ’70s Show that’s worth checking out is “Fun It,” where the group goes to Fatso Burger, the local burger joint. Various hijinks ensue while they are there. At one point, Bob drives up in a 1975 AMC Pacer. The business is closed and Donna, Hyde, Randy, and Fez are up to some teenage trouble. They don’t want to get caught, so Fez ends up standing behind the Fatso statue and takes Bob’s order.
The scene lasts about two minutes, so this Pacer got a decent amount of screen time in the show. Even though the Pacer was only in production for a handful of years, it’s a memorable car. At a time when American consumers wanted space, but not the traditional look, the AMC Pacer rolled into the showrooms. It’s fitting that Bob shared the scene with a vehicle as unique as he is.
Netflix is continuing the sitcom in the form of That ’90s Show. While Red, Kitty, Eric, Donna, and the rest of the gang are returning for the reboot, there’s got to be some ’90s hits and misses sharing the screen, too. Maybe a Volkswagen New Beetle? Could we see a 1990 Audi 100 sedan? Or maybe a 1994 Buick Regal? We published a list of The Raddest Classic Cars of the ’80s and ’90s. Any number of those vehicles could show up on That ’90s Show. Here’s to hoping this is one reboot that won’t let us down.