I’ve done roundups of the cars in Stranger Things for the past two seasons, so if you were hoping I’d just forget and you could slide by without scrutinizing the cars of the show, I have terrible news for you: we’re doing season three! And, even worse news: it’s the post your reading right now! So, get ready to ponder cars that existed into the 1980s. I promise I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum. Deal?
In some ways, there’s a bit fewer cars than in previous episodes, because a good portion of this season takes place indoors, perhaps more so than in the others. Most of our main character’s associated cars are back as well, so you’ll see some familiar auto-faces, too.
This season did have a pretty prominent “hero” car, though, a car that got a lot of focus and attention. It’s a pretty good one, so come on and let’s get through this. It’ll be fun!
Here’s an old friend: Jonathan Byers’ 1971 or maybe 1972 Ford LTD sedan. He’s a bit nervous about driving it hard here, so it may not be ageing all that well. This is a good reminder of how much longer cars tend to last today—at the time the show is set, 1985, this LTD would only be around 15 years old. That’s like a 2004 car today, which still feels like a pretty modern car, to me.
I was glad to see this car getting a bit more attention in this season. It’s Dusty’s mum’s lovely yellow Volvo 244 sedan.
Based on the headlights and taillights, I think this one is a 1982? Why don’t more mid-size sedans come in yellow anymore? I miss the days when a rational, normal adult would drive a sensible family car in bright yellow and it was no big thing.
Joyce Byers’ 1976 Pinto is still alive and kicking, though it’s getting some rust around the wheel arches and fuel filler, just like they almost all did.
I grabbed this shot because it’s got a great example of a kind of car that’s almost extinct now: the massive, two-door coupe, with doors scaled like king-size bed headboards and twice as heavy. This lovely blue example I believe is a 1970 or so Cadillac Coupe d’Ville.
Once, this would have been the choice of a single person who’s doing well for themselves, and wants the comfort of a big sedan, but also wants to let everyone know they’re not saddled down with a family or responsibilities and are, as a result, fun. Or something like that. Or they just love massive doors.
I had to note that nice green 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle back there, with its beefy 8km/h federally-mandated bumpers.
There’s another Beetle there on the left, mustard yellow, ‘73, I think, but what I really want you to see is that white car. At first I thought it was a mid-to-late ‘50s Lincoln Continental, but now I see it isn’t. I’m sort of stuck on this one, but I bet one of you knows.
I’m just including this one because I didn’t realise until I saw the subtitles that the song playing isn’t the Knack’s My Sharona, but is rather Weird Al Yankovic’s My Bologna. Nice touch.
One of the main antagonists, Billy, under the thrall of some sort of gore-monster, sticks with the 1979 or so Chevrolet Camaro that we first saw in season two.
I like the touch of the California plates still, suggesting he hasn’t bothered to register the car in Indiana yet.
These GM B-body cars were absolutely everywhere in the 1980s. I’m not exactly certain, but I think this one is a Pontiac Bonneville? Big, rectilinear beasts like this formed the bedrock of almost any 1980s American street scene. Of course, now that I say this, I realise that maybe this is a Mopar M body car, like a Diplomat? Man those things looked alike.
Remember Chief Hopper’s 1980 Chevrolet K5 Blazer? Of course you do! I’m happy to say that it’s fine, just fine, throughout the entire season!
OK, now we get to the hero car of this season. It’s not the lovely purple 1986 Toyota van, but rather that butter-cream yellow 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible.
This car is interesting because before Cadillac officially offered a convertible version of its FWD, Toronado-based coupé, companies like American Sunroof Company were building them in low volumes. By 1984, Cadillac struck a deal with the coachbuilders to sell them in dealerships, which is where I suspect “TODFTHR” got his.
Oh, and I’ve already gotten an email letting me know that Indiana did not require front licence plates.
Also please note the excellent and prominent cornering lamps.
The mayor of the town drives an appropriate car for a successful ‘80s guy: a Mercedes-Benz 450 SL, likely around 1980 or so.
Also, the closed caption there is sort of a perfect encapsulation of most of the 1980s.
This little scene gives a nice look at the sort of variety of cars you’d be likely to see in a mid-’80s parking lot: an early ‘70s Chevy Nova four-door, a new (for ‘85) Ford Mustang convertible, an 1984 or so Ford Ranger pickup, and an early ‘60s Ford Falcon.
Conversion vans, with captain’s chairs and plenty of carpet, were also pretty common in the ‘80s, so I’m happy to see one around. This could be a GMC Vandura?
Another car that gets some good screen time, albeit without actually driving, is this Chrysler LeBaron convertible. These were sort of a gamble by Chrysler, but they proved successful, and brought convertibles back at a time when most automakers were thinking they were gone for good.
This big fella is an ‘84 or ‘85 Mercury Grand Marquis wagon, resplendent in the finest wood paneling silkscreened decals can provide. We actually get a look at the big V8 in this one:
I think that EFI engine might be a bit of an anachronism; I’ve read that the 5-litre V8 didn’t get fuel injection until 1986. Also, it’s worth noting that this massive engine made all of 130 horsepower, about what a modern Honda Fit’s 1.5-litre engine makes.
This is the one I’m sure everyone’s wanting to know: what are those wonderful electric box trucks the mean old Soviets bought in bulk? I’m pleased to let you know those sweet, sleek little Red Menaces are Taylor-Dunn B-210 electric trucks. You can still buy one today, under the Bigfoot name!
OK! Hopefully I didn’t spoil too much for you! Though, it’s been out over a week already. It’s on you, now.