'Perry Mason' is filled with some of the most beautiful cars ever made

Perry and co. cruised in some sweet Caddies, Corvettes, Thunderbirds and more.

It's not exactly a provocative statement to say that they just don't make cars like they used to. Today, for the most part, automobiles are angular aerodynamic lumps. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a Hyundai, a Ford, a Nissan or a Renault.

Half a century ago, cars were works of art, sleek steel boats covered with flourishes of chrome, shark-like fins, and slashes of white. If you are a lover of vintage vehicles, then Perry Mason is sheer car-spotting heaven. The 1957–66 mystery series came loaded with style, from the fonts on the door of Perry's office to Paul Drake's sharp suits. But the rides are what truly catch your eye. 

Perry himself cruises Southern California in a variety of luxury vehicles. The suspects drive sweet wheels, too. Even the cop cars, buses, cabs and emergency vehicles are gorgeous mid-century modern. There are dozens of cool cars to catch on the series. Here are some of our favorites. Naturally, we begin with Perry's personal fleet…

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1. 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner


"The Case of the Restless Redhead"

In the show's first season, Perry Mason drives in a variety of vehicles, for a rather unique reason. The show had a couple different automotive sponsors — both GM and Ford. Thus, the defense attorney alternated his wheels from episode to episode. The first car we see him steer is this swooping Ford Fairlane.

2. 1957 Buick Special


"The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece"

In the second episode, Perry pulls up in this white Buick, easy to spot thanks to its swooshing line and three oval details on the front side.

3. 1958 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible


"The Case of the Substitute Face"

Later in the first season, we finally see what is perhaps Perry's most fondly remembered ride, the black Cadillac convertible. Gotta love those tail fins.

4. 1965 Lincoln Continental Convertible


"The Case of the Twice-Told Twist"

In later years, notably the final season, Perry has traded in for a fresh Lincoln Continental. Thanks to this one outlier episode in full color, we get to see its baby blue shade. Unfortunately, the pretty car gets stripped here!

5. 1957 Chevrolet Corvette C1


"The Case of the Runaway Corpse"

Apparently, Paul Drake was a rather successful investigator, or at least charged a hefty fee. He too alternates vehicles early on, zipping around in this enviable Vette for one…

6. 1957 Ford Thunderbird


"The Case of the Sulky Girl"

Drake also hunts his prey in this dark Thunderbird. 

7. 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer


"The Case of the Restless Redhead"

The first scene we ever see in the series is riddled with great cars. This top-of-the-line Dodge was briefly produced in the late 1950s, and certainly tried to out-fin the competition.

8. 1941 Mercury Eight


"The Case of the Restless Redhead"

Not all autos were brand new, of course. That would not have been realistic. Some quite old cars can be seen, even for the setting. Take this 1941 Mercury, for example. The first — and only, at the time — Mercury rolled off the production line, the Eight underwent some restyling in 1941, when it was just a couple years old.

9. 1957 Pontiac Star Chief


"The Case of the Runaway Corpse"

Pontiac awarded this whopper four stars — right there on the rear trim. That distinctive detail made this stand out.

10. 1953 Austin-Healey 100


"The Case of the Demure Defendant"

They were all massive American cruisers on the road in Perry Mason. Take this sporty British speedster, for example, which darts behind a truck to elude the heat.

11. 1958 Buick Century


"The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife"

We adore the details on the front of this beast, from the distinctive grill to those duel "V" ornaments above the headlights.

12. 1958 Pontiac Bonneville


"The Case of the Curious Bride"

As you can tell by now, it was far more of a challenge to pass the parallel parking portion of your driving test in 1958. This baby ain't exactly a Prius.

13. 1958 Edsel Citation


"The Case of the Buried Clock"

Yes, even the ultimate lemon made its appearance on the show. This top-of-the-line Edsel was made for just one production year, and undoubtedly popped up here to help push some sales, to no avail. In hindsight, it is a rather beautiful car in its own weird way.

14. 1958 Simca Aronde Océane Cabriolet


"The Case of the Shattered Dream"

Now here's one you don't see — or hear about — every day. The French Simca was a cute little coupe for the continental crook.

15. 1965 Ford Galaxie 500


"The Case of the Crafty Kidnapper"

Naturally, as the show got older, the cars got newer. The fins faded away in later seasons, but we still got some gorgeous transportation. One of the final cars seen on this show, the Galaxie was showing off its latest design feature here — stacked verticle headlights.



You are less likely to remember these — but they, too, will wow you. READ MORE

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KevinGill 26 months ago
You seemed to have missed one. Paul Drake drove a 1958 Ford Thunderbird convertible, also in "The Case of the Buried Clock".
MichaelGreene 38 months ago
Those classic cars seen in the days up to 1961 on Perry Mason would be 60+ years old. By 1961, tail fins were being phased out as fast as the designers could do so, after most of the 1959 American car models were panned by both critics and the buying public...they had very prominent rear fins, and, in the case of the Cadillacs, potentially lethal fins.
bri 42 months ago
In the last year Perry Mason was back in a dark Cadillac Convertible. I read on this that in the early shows he fluctuated between the Ford Convertible and a Cadillac Convertible depending on which company was the sponsor that episode. I always think when he pulls up in the Ford Convertible he looked best in the Cadillac. One where he was staying in a lakeside rental and a murder happened he had Della drive his black 58 Cadillac Convertible from LA to the cabin, she obviously knew how to drive that big Cadillac
MichaelGreene bri 38 months ago
In the pilot episode("The Moth Eaten Mink"), Perry's ride is in a 1953-54 Plymouth cab. in the early shows, the cabs are DeSoto Cabs of the type seen in New York City in the 1950's. Also, in those early days, check out the cars in the establishing stock shots...almost all of them have 2-piece front windshields.
ELEANOR 63 months ago
Not sure which episodes but there was one or maybe more where apparently they were on location and William Hopper had to drive up in a car (car was briefly seen) and so rather than drive to the location and change cars, he just used his own car in the scene.
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