It’s probably one of the most famous Hollywood cars of this generation

Supernatural is the longest-running American live-action fantasy TV series. It’s been around since 2005, and this season will be its last. It’s been a hell of a ride — no pun intended — for Sam and Dean Winchester, and the latter’s loyal steed, the “Metallicar.”

That’s the nickname given to the 1967 Chevrolet Impala that has been a part of the show since the beginning. The Impala has become so important to the show’s history that fans even gave it the “Metallicar” nickname. Sure, the show doesn’t revolve around Dean’s ride, but it wouldn’t be the same without it, either. And as most famous Hollywood cars go, there are a few interesting things about the “Metallicar” that you might not know about.

Origin of the name

Every name has a genesis, and in the case of Dean Winchester’s 1967 Chevrolet Impala, the “Metallicar” nickname originated on the fan board Television Without Pity. A member of that thread, identified as “Cyb,” coined the nickname because of Dean Winchester’s penchant for listening to classic rock bands while driving his Impala. One of those bands? Metallica. The rest, as they say, is television history.

The Metallicar is arguably the toughest Hollywood car in history

With respect to more famous Hollywood cars like the Batmobile, the ECTO 1, and K.I.T.T., the Supernatural car is arguably tougher than any of its contemporaries, largely because it’s been subjected to just about every crash imaginable in the 15 seasons of the show.

It has taken a beating pretty much every season, including one season where it got run over by a semi-truck and another where Dean himself took a crowbar to the hood.

And yet, through all of that, the Metallicar is still standing. It’s hard to believe a car can take this much abuse for so long — 15 years — and still work as intended. You could say that there’s something supernatural about it?

Inspired by K.I.T.T.

Supernatural and Knight Rider are two very different shows. And yet, the two cars that are considered main characters of their respective shows have a connection. I’m not talking about a weird emotional connection of sorts. That’d be too weird. The connection, if you can even call it that, largely revolves on one car — the Supernatural car — tracing its roots to the other — the Knight Rider car. Supernatural creator Eric Kripke said as much in a past interview, saying that the Metallicar that Dean Winchester drives in the show was inspired by K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider fame.

"To me, KITT was the bomb and when I pitched Supernatural […],” Kripke said. “I really wanted to introduce the Impala to bring back the idea that a car could be a main character, a trademark to the show."

Fifteen years and fifteen seasons later, Kripke can take comfort knowing that his objective has been met… in more ways than one.

One episode of the show was shown from the perspective of the Supernatural car

The Impala truly is its own character on the show. The 11th season even titled its fourth episode, “Baby,” after the Impala’s nickname and told the entire story of the specific episode from the perspective of the car. That episode received universal acclaim from fans and critics, a lot of whom named it one of the best episodes of the show’s entire 15-year run. That’s high praise for a show that has had a whopping 318 episodes.

There Are Nine Supernatural Cars

It’s one thing to have one car last the show’s entire 15-year run, but it’s another thing completely to have just one 1967 Chevrolet Impala to use in the filming of the show’s entire 15-year run. Fortunately, the show’s producers knew that they needed more than just one Impala to use in the filming of the show.

In total, there are actually nine of them, each built differently for filming purposes. Some Impalas used in the filming of the show had removable doors and windows to allow for unobstructed camera angles. There is, however, just one Impala that’s used much more often than the rest.

This car, called the “Hero 1 Impala,” is used almost every day of filming. It’s also the only Impala that’s equipped with factory air conditioning, and it’s even powered by a 502 Big Block engine that produces a stout 550 horsepower.

There are Impalas lying around on set

Supernatural is filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia. That has been the case since the beginning, so if you’re a far of the show that has lasted for 15 years, there are some scattered Easter eggs that you might find in the oddest of places. That’s what happened to Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester, a few years ago. While filming a scene for the 11th season of the show, Ackles spotted a rusted car shell somewhere in the production crew area. He took a closer look at the car shell and then realized that it was the original Impala that the show used in its first season. It was, for lack of a better word (or words), the oddest of odd reunions. 

The Metallicar has worn two different license plates

It’s not common for cars to wear two different license plates, but proving that there’s always an exception to every norm, the Supernatural car has had two different license plates in the course of 15 seasons. When the show premiered, the Metallicar had a Kansas license plate that read “KAZ 2Y5.” According to the showrunners, the “KAZ” stood for the Winchester’s home state of Kansas while the “2Y5” represented the year 2005 when the show premiered on television.

One season later, the Metallicar’s license plate was swapped for an Ohio plate that read “CNK 80Q3.” While there has not been an official statement regarding the switching of license plates, it is believed that the plates were changed to keep law enforcement authorities off their tail. The motive was attributed to what happened in the 20th episode of the second season when the boys were arrested after FBI agent Victor Hendriksen admitted to tracking them. Since then, the Metallicar has worn the Ohio license plate, and it is regarded as the car’s official license plate, even though it wasn’t the first one that was used.

The Metallicar wasn’t supposed to be a 1967 Chevrolet Impala

As strange as it is now to envision the Metallicar as something that isn’t a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, show creator Eric Kripke admitted that when he was writing the show’s original script, he wanted the Winchester’s to drive a more traditional American muscle car. "My first choice was a 1965 (Ford) Mustang," he said.

It wasn’t until his neighbor pointed out that the 1967 Impala would be a better choice because it had enough space in its trunk to put a body that Kripke decided to go with the Impala.

Seems like the neighbor was either a smart man or he had experience putting bodies in the trunk of a 1967 Impala. Let’s hope it’s the former.

The Metallicar is partly responsible for the skyrocketing prices of 1967 Chevrolet Impalas

It’s unfair to assume that Supernatural is directly responsible for the renewed popularity of the 1967 Chevrolet Impala, but it’s also unfair to say that it had nothing to do with it. Here’s what we know: when the show premiered in 2005, the average price of a 1967 Impala was at around $500.

Since then, prices have sky-rocketed to the point that, according to ClassicCars.com, a fully restored black 1967 Chevy Impala is now worth anymore from $20,000 to $50,000.

Is there a connection between the increased popularity and demand with the show? The site seems to think so because when the show returned for its 2016 season, ClassicCars.com admitted that the 1967 Chevrolet Impala became "the most searched vehicle in the website with more than 50,000 searches in the month of October 2016 alone."

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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Images: https://www.fanpop.com/clubs/supernatural/images/31507862/title/dean-winchester-with-chevrolet-impala-1967-photo

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