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The CAR Top 10: infamous back seats

Published: 22 April 2016

► The CAR Top 10 infamous back seats
► From JFK's Lincoln Convertible...
► ... to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's   

1) Pulp Fiction’s Chevy Nova

A back seat immortalised in the cult Tarantino flick. While being asked his philosophical position on the influence of God in shootout situations, back-seat informant Marvin gets a slug in the face from hitman John Travolta. White vinyl seats on the ’74 Nova duly ruined.

Rolls-Royce Phantom

2) Rolls-Royce Phantom

Forget the chavvy Maybach, the finest back seat in the world is in the Phantom. Choose from Lounge, where you’re turned demurely towards your fellow occupant, or Theatre, replete with the latest electronic wizardry. And of course, ludicrous optional opulence such as drink cabinets, leather as soft as grease and carpets thick enough to lose your shoes in.

The New York cab in Breakfast at Tiffany's

3) The New York cab in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

All life has been seen in the back seat of NYC’s iconic yellow Checker Cab, but surely nobody has ever made changing into stockings and little black dress look as slinkily cool as working girl Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Yet lovelorn George Peppard doesn’t throw a single sneaky glance in the hope of seeing her knickers. Fool.

JFK's 1961 Lincoln

4) JFK’s 1961 Lincoln

No matter how warm it was in Dallas and how many people wanted to see him, John F Kennedy really should have kept the roof of his Lincoln Continental Convertible up, in case the wind ruined his all-American haircut. Cue epoch-defining shot and birth of a conspiracy industry. 

The Arrows two-seater

5) The Arrows two-seater

Various two-seater F1 cars have been built for passenger rides, but as a passenger in Formula 1 (382 races, no wins), it seemed fitting for Arrows to develop one in 2000. Young Mark Webber drove it, various passengers hurt their necks.

A back-seat cannon?

6) A back-seat cannon?

All sorts of options can make back-seat life better: TVs, fridges, massaging seats. But none surely can match the Howitzer fitted to Sgt Blast and Private Meekly’s Wacky Races’ car, to clear pesky vehicles out of their way. How many times have you wished your car had one?

The Rover SD1 from Rita, Sue and Bob Too

7) The Rover SD1 from Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Proto fat slag teens Rita and Sue find out what ’avin a jump entails from philandering dirty old man Bob on the moors above Bradford, in Alan Clarke’s classic 1980s black comedy. And never has the horn of a metallic brown Rover SD1 received such unwanted attention from cheap white stilettos. 

The most chilling back seat in history

8) The most chilling back seat in history

The shot fired into the back seat of this 1911 Gräf & Stift Bois de Boulogne killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started the First World War. The irony is earlier that day an attempt had failed – later the Austro-Hungarian prince’s driver got lost and stopped outside the café in which failed gunman Gavrilo Princip was buying a sandwich. He took his second chance. 

McLaren F1

9) McLaren F1

Two passengers sitting slightly aft of the driver – with the fuel tank between them and in front of that custom built, 627bhp 6.1 litre BMW V12 – are given possibly the greatest show in automotive back seat history. Still the fastest naturally aspirated road car ever, at 240mph. 

The zebra-skin back seat

10) The zebra-skin back seat

In 1953 the, shall we say, ‘eccentric’ Lady Docker, wife of Daimler boss Sir Bernard, specced a two-door coupé with two folding rear seats and arguably the most tasteless upholstery in history. That’s not a print, it’s real zebra skin. Earlier models had gold brocade and lizard skin.

Read more CAR magazine top tens

By Steve Moody

Contributing editor, adventurer, ideas pitcher, failed grower-upper

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