One of the many intriguing aspects of the hugely successful and critically acclaimed AMC series, Breaking Bad, was the cars. So much effort was put into each miniscule detail of the series itself, it stands to reason that the choice of cars would be just as well thought out.
The more you think about it, the more you realise that the various methods of transportation were a large part of the series, from the A1A Car Wash, to Jesse Pinkman’s and Walter White’s Fleetwood Bounder RV meth lab, to Walter Junior’s fantastic Dodge Challenger SRT-8 – the latter used as a symbol for the luxuries that unrestrained wealth can buy. Oh, and if you’re halfway through the series, you’re safe to read on, nothing is given away here!
The much-criticised Pontiac Aztek, resplendent in a boring shade of grey/silver, was the natural choice for the downtrodden, unnoticed Walter White as we are first introduced to him in Series 1.
Described as a sport recreation vehicle, the Aztek was produced up until 2005. Of course, it would have been entirely inappropriate to find Walt driving anything other than a plain car that is no longer made. Indeed the poor downtrodden Aztek has been described as one of the 50 worst cars of all time (Time) as well as featuring in The Telegraph’s 100 Ugliest Cars. Poor Walter was destined to drive this car – and the donuts we see Walt making in the 2009 Dodge Challenger later in the series are even more relevant when you take all of this into account.
We are first introduced to Jesse as a drug-taking, disillusioned young guy making a hasty getaway from the DEA in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and of all the characters that feature in Breaking Bad, Jesse is the one that shows a genuine interest and knowledge of cars – ignoring the small matter of leaving the key in the ignition of the Fleetwood Bounder and thus draining it’s battery of course!
The customised 1982 Monte Carlo has a smile inducing, bouncing hydraulic suspension system – utterly pointless of course, but when you’re considered a dropout lowlife by your parents and virtually disowned, what do you turn to? The joy of retail therapy and big boy’s toys of course – it wasn’t the only time we would see Jesse try to offset the distance between him and his parents with some retail comfort – from the TV he couldn’t tune-in, to the massive stereo in the living room. Cars of course, are the one accepted area where adults can really be kids again, except this time, you can actually get inside your toy..
The Monte Carlo was first introduced in 1970 and remained in production until 2007 and even became a big player of the NASCAR scene, So much so in fact, that Chevrolet released several special editions inspired by NASCAR with names like The Intimidator with the name-badge leaving everyone in no doubt what sort or driver you might be – the perfect car for Pinkman, lowrider or not.
The Dodge Challenger is bought for Walt Junior twice, the first is a 2009 model, which doesn’t last long and the second is a 2012 model. The 2012 Challenger is a beautiful looking car with an almost bewildering array of 8 model choices. The Challenger of choice for Walt Junior is the top-of-the-range SRT-8 with those classic fat twin stripes from bonnet to rear. The V8 engine in the 2012 model is capable of 470hp and includes a 276-watt, 6 speaker stereo system – maybe required to be heard above the roar of that V8 engine.
Strangely, despite such cool cars like the Monte Carlo and the Dodge Challenger, the one that most intrigued me was the Jeep Grand Wagoneer driven by Skyler White. While everyone else seems to change their car for all sorts of reasons throughout the 5 series of Breaking Bad, Skyler’s 1991 Wagoneer remains pretty much a constant.
The Wagoneer is most striking for featuring those luxurious wooden side-panels. While the Grand Wagoneer might be deemed safe and homely in America – and thus the perfect fit for a woman that wants nothing more than a normal, quiet family life, I bet that I’m not the only one that took a liking to this attractive vehicle.
Of course, originally built by American Motor Company, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer shared the same abbreviation as the AMC network –another good reason to use this vehicle as the vehicular bond between all series.
As Gus Fring is gradually introduced to us, we start off believing that he is a quiet, unassuming thoughtful businessman – someone that you could trust. So it seems natural that this individual would drive a very sensible Volvo. Like Fring, the Volvo V70 has a reputation for being safe and well designed and fits the ride of such a cautious man perfectly – something to hide behind unnoticed.
While Hank Schrader’s midnight blue 2006 Jeep Commander is the perfect choice for a DEA officer, if just by name alone. The SUV was the standard issue in the series for all DEA officers. Tough and ready, the Commander was shot to bits at least twice in the series and survived.
So what of the RV? Well that deserves to be left till the end. The iconic and instantly recognisable image of the Fleetwood Bounder (or ‘the krystal ship’ as Jesse calls it) in the bleached grass of the desert will stay with people for years to come. Though the RV proved more problematic than almost any other vehicle for our duo as the battery drained (well done Jesse), it ended up stuck in a ditch with their enemies inside, it conked out to be towed to Clovis’ yard to be fixed and it even gets caught on camera which results in a long overdue lead for the DEA at last.
Finally in Series 4, the RV is destroyed without trace. Ironically and I’m sure this didn’t go unnoticed by the writers, the Fleetwood Bounder was classed as a “Class A” motorhome; very appropriate…
So there you have it, the main vehicles featured in Breaking Bad. And if you hadn’t realised that these vehicles were as carefully considered and thought out as the actual plot itself was, you do now.
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