The two smartest cars in the universe get chained up and whipped, until they escape using their super lasers, in this scene from Power Rangers In Space. With Knight Rider zooming back onto our screens this weekend, everybody's acting as though KITT invented the super-smart car. But cars with a mind of their own have a long and awesome history in science fiction. Click through for our roundup of sentient cars that aren't called KITT or Bumblebee.
Storm Blaster and Lightning Cruiser from Power Rangers In Space. These are the two smartest and fastest cars in the universe. Storm Blaster is the Jeep, Lightning Cruiser is the sports car. They were lost inside an asteroid for thousands of years, but then the villain Divatox (best name ever!) found them and tried to control them. Instead, they decided to team up with the Power Rangers. In the clip above, Divatox's minions have the two cars chained up and are whipping them. (No, really.) But the cars bust loose, and Storm Blaster flies off into space. Wheee!
Ultra Car is the super smart (and arrogant) SUV which the alien-fighting organization SEMY created to battle the Martian invaders in It's Walky, the webcomic by David Willis. Walky has the ability to fly into space, and because he's made without using any Martian parts, the Martians can't detect him. But he has a bit of a chip on his chassis about being people's "property" when he's so much smarter than they are. Here he is motoring into space:
Speed Buggy was Hanna-Barbera's attempt at revamping Scooby Doo, except instead of a talking dog, it was a talking car. Every episode, Speed Buggy and his gang of meddling kids would get involved in another mystery. They also battled spaceships, giant robots, giant monsters and super-tanks with freeze rays. Unfortunately, Speed Buggy sounds sort of like a dirty old man, crossed with that voice Jon Stewart does whenever a joke has fallen flat. The opening credits show the gang creating Speed Buggy in some kind of workshop:
"The Devil Car" by Roger Zelazny. Cars have gained the ability to think for themselves. But some evil cars kill their drivers using carbon monoxide, so they can drive around the canyons of the West, kill pedestrians for sport, and steal fuel wherever they can. Our hero, Murdock, takes his sentient car Jenny to hunt down the meanest of these bastards on four wheels: the Black Caddy, who leads a pack of smart cars gone bad. The Black Caddy keeps a dead human in his driver's seat to fool people.
Jenny is torn between obeying her human driver and joining up with the strong, independent Black Caddy. In the end, the Caddy and Jenny wind up in a duel to death, using guns and armor and plain old car-on-car action. This story was broadcast as an episode of Mind Webs, an audio science fiction anthology broadcast on WHA Radio in Wisconsin. If you beg the webmaster of that site, you might get to hear an mp3 of it in the site's "Listening Booth."
Cars. Is it ever explained in this Pixar movie what happened to all the people? Why are the cars suddenly able to think for themselves? Could this be the world after the Black Caddy finally succeeded in wiping out all humans and creating a carefree car paradise? More importantly, what if you were transported to the Cars universe and felt sexually frustrated? Would you eventually give in and have sex with one of the cars? Here's somebody who's given this question a lot of thought.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Dick Van Dyke is a super-genius inventor who buys a broken-down old car that's about to be destroyed, and he upgrades it to the point where it can drive itself and fly. Unfortunately, the guy who played Goldfinger wants it for himself.
The Gadgetmobile. In the live-action movie version of Inspector Gadget, the Gadgetmobile is suddenly all smart, not to mention smart-assed. With the voice of stand-up comedian D.L. Hughley, the Gadgetmobile comes out with sassy one-liners. At one point, Inspector Gadget tells the car to alert him if it sees anything unusual at a science fiction convention. The car replies, "You mean like a Trekkie with a girlfriend?" Ugh.