When I first began watching Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series (CICGC from now on; WAY easier), as a car guy, I was a little taken aback. I guess I thought it would be a little more “Top Gear Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” than “Jay Leno’s Garage” (more on the famous talk show host later on), so I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when I started seeing Larry David whine about how much he disliked pancakes.
As I watched it more and more, though, I realized what it was: Essentially, it was Seinfeld—the sitcom, not the comedian—with cars! That show’s strength was always its dialogue; how, somehow, ordinary conversations about laundry, what a certain type of handshake means, or how to properly eat spaghetti can be made to be just so durn funny.
For those of us that live our lives in cars (though not necessarily a quarter mile at a time), they are a sacred space, a place for us to unwind, to be ourselves, and to enjoy some great conversation with the feel of rubber rolling underneath. Seinfeld, in that sense, is clearly one of us, and this show is devoted to capturing that liberation that a drive with a friend can bring. Realize that, and there’s a lot to enjoy here.
These are some of my favourite moments from the series so far, one we love if only to see more of these eclectic classics out on the road being appreciated.
Larry David: Larry Eats A Pancake (Season 1, Episode 1)
Car: 1952 VW Beetle in Azure Blue
Jerry’s take on the car: “If you feel that true humility is always in short supply, this is the car for you.”
Larry’s take, upon seeing the car for the first time: “I always loved this car. Always.”
Fav line/exchange: Jerry, upon driving past a Bugatti Veyron: “This Bugatti has 10 radiators. My car has none. How’s that for progress?”
For the first episode of the series, Jerry turns to—who else?—his old partner-in-crime, Larry David. It was in a greasy spoon restaurant similar to John O’Groats (the episode’s featured diner) that the original sitcom was conceived, so it makes sense that they’d return to a similar establishment for the first episode of this project.
LD’s impression of Cosmo Kramer alone makes this one worth the price of admission, as is learning what a “semaphore” is. The car? Well, most know Jerry’s infatuation with Porsches, and we all know how important the Beetle was to the brand, so it just fits the genesis theme of the first episode oh-so-well. It was Jerry’s first car, too.
Bob Einstein: Unusable On The Internet (Season 1, Episode 6)
Car: 1970 Mercedes-Benz SEL 6.3
Jerry’s take: “Henry Waxenberger was the first guy that took a really big engine and stuffed it into a regular four-door sedan to make a gentleman’s supercar.”
Bob’s take: “Hey, this is gorgeous. And you know what I like? There’s an old saying: ‘Don’t ever get too big to use your friends.’ And you use your friends more than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Fav line/exchange: Bob, making small talk: “What’s worse: kids getting drunk off hand sanitizer, or the E! channel picking up three seasons of the Kardashians?”
Then later, Bob, responding to Jerry’s invite for coffee: “I would love to, but Larry’s coming over, and we’re doing a network show called Comics in Cabs going for Chalupa.”
For starters, Bob played Super Dave Osborne for four seasons of the show by the same name, so that alone earns him a spot on a highlight list of a show about cars and comedy. More than that, though, is the fact that as far as laughs-a-minute go, this episode is right up there. Yes, there’s the Kardashian reference, but that’s just a small nugget of the hilarity on offer. Bonus points go to Bob for constantly asking Jerry throughout the show where he ranks among the guests so far.
Michael Richards: It’s Bubbly Time, Jerry (Season 1, Episode 10)
Car: 1962 VW Split-window double-cab bus in dove blue, primer gray, and rust
Jerry’s Take: (To Michael) “I chose this car, because it’s so you.”
Michael’s take: “I love it. This is me. Hey! Look at this! I can throw my gear in it!”
Fav line/exchange: Michael, relating a story about a chess match with a homeless man: “He checkmated me in two minutes! Not even the machine can checkmate me in two minutes!”
There are many good car/celebrity fits throughout the series, but this one has to be in the top five, that’s for sure. We may not know Michael Richards as well as we think we know Cosmo Kramer, and the VW sure as heck fits the latter so well. The seats have corduroy inserts, for Pete’s sake! They could have cut the material directly from Kramer’s trousers! Not to mention that when Kramer has a sojourn in California over Seinfeld seasons 3 and 4, he actually can be seen driving a Karmann Ghia, in a similar colour to the VW Bus cast for CICGC.
Sarah Silverman: I’m Going To Change Your Life Forever (Season 2, Episode 1)
Car: 1969 Jaguar XKE S2 Roadster in opalescent blue
Jerry’s take: “In the 1960s, if you wanted to project power, grace and style, this is the car you drove.”
Sarah’s take: “It’s so wee. It’s like what Don Draper drives.”
Fav line/exchange: Jerry, upon seeing Sarah’s order: “I have never been so out-ordered in my life.”
Well, Sarah obviously knows her Mad Men well; throughout that show’s fifth season, Don Draper & Co. actually do work with Jaguar, which was just making it to the U.S. at the time the season 5 was set. She’s the first female guest of the series, and their discourse actually fits well into the Seinfeld world. As many know, Silverman is a regular on the raunchy Howard Stern radio show, and she’s no shrinking violet in that department. However, CICGC needs to appeal to a broader audience, so she has to dial it back a bit. Which she does, but if you listen—and watch—real carefully, she still manages to slip a few doozies in. It’s a manifestation of the reading between the lines Seinfeld always asked us to do.
David Letterman: I Like Kettlecorn (Season 2, Episode, 2)
Car: 1995 Volvo 960 in Regent Red
Jerry’s take: “This is a 1995 Volvo 960 station wagon. Oh my gaaaaawd—really?”
Dave’s take: “I love the car because of Paul Newman.”
Fav line/exchange: Dave, looking anxiously at the patrons in the Green Granary restaurant: “Can we just ask these people to leave?”
Jerry: “We don’t own the place.”
Dave: “Well, we can change that, can’t we?”
Dave and Jerry’s relationship goes back quite a ways; the comedian has been on the Late Show numerous times, and the former Late Show host has appeared on Seinfeld, too; once in a broadcast cameo, and once in some promotional material. As great as the discourse between these two is, the car featured in this particular episode really is the star. Which is funny, because it’s a freaking Volvo station wagon, albeit one that Paul Newman actually helped build, shoehorning in a V8 and five-speed tranny from Ford.
Jay Leno: Comedy Is A Concealed Weapon (Season 3, Episode 3)
Car: 1949 Porsche 356/2
Jerry’s take: “I love it because to me, it looks like a little alien flying saucer. Imagine how it looked in 1949.”
Jay’s take: “The thing that’s amazing about this car is how modern it feels. I would know right away I was in a Porsche.”
Fav line/exchange: There is a TON of content, here—like Letterman, Jerry and Jay pick up where they’d left off on numerous episodes of The Tonight Show—but one of the highlights has to be Jay and Jerry arguing over who gets the first Acura NSX, whenever it comes out. It even prompts Jerry to utter “LENO”, just as he did so many times on Seinfeld; just replace “LENO” with “NEWMAN”.
There’s something about two genuine car guys and collectors chatting about cars that is tough for so many of the other guests to replicate. Thing is, with this episode, we get the double-whammy of having two comedians who came up at a similar time waxing poetic about their past experiences. It’s a neat look at the behind-the-scenes life of a stand-up comedian.
Jon Stewart: The Sound of Virginity (Season 4, Episode 5)
Car: 1978 AMC Gremlin/1969 AMC AMX
Jerry’s take: “The Gremlin was built to compete with the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto, which were both horrible cars. And compete it did; the Gremlin was EVEN MORE HORRIBLE.”
“This is the AMX. The complete opposite other end of the American Motors spectrum.”
Jon’s take: On the Gremlin: “This was used for many years in New Jersey, uh, as contraception. Young men would drive it to ensure they would never, ever…”
On the AMX: “At the time, I didn’t realize there were high-end models of the company. Like, I thought that AMC basically existed for people that could only afford pieces of shit.”
Fav line/exchange: Jon, upon hearing the Gremlin start up: “That’s the sound of virginity. Did you hear it?”
Good because there are two cars that not only illustrate the AMC spectrum, but the American car climate at the time. Good because both Jerry and Jon are such good conversationalists, but interesting how one comes from a background of real conversations, the other, mostly fake ones. Good for the story (about 8:23 in) that has Stewart recounting a date that so perfectly illustrates the pitfalls of owning an AMC Gremlin. Which he did, as his first car.
Kevin Hart: You Look Amazing In The Wind (Season 5, Episode 1)
Car: 1959 Porsche RSK Spyder
Jerry’s take(s): “It is not a street car. It is not for highways. It is not for neighbourhoods. It is not for casual driving. THIS…is a race car.”
“This car was designed a half a century ago. Somehow, it looks like it’s coming out next year.”
“If you just want to go for a drive for the pure joy of it, I think it’s just about the best there is.”
Kevin’s take: “This car is very loud. This isn’t a good date car.”
Kevin, on the perils of being a celebrity father: “My daughter got right to the point: ‘Dad? Are we rich?’”
Jerry: “You know what I say to that question? I am. You’re not.”
“Because of its economy of dimension and tremendous performance,” Jerry says, “I felt like this was the perfect car for my very special guest this week, Mr. Kevin Hart.” Indeed, he is a bundle of fun, this little barrel of laughs from Philly. So much so, that this is one of the few episodes where most of the time, Jerry doesn’t have some snappy comeback for the jokes his guest is telling, because he’s way to busy laughing his ass off.
There’s that, and the fact that of all the cars featured not just here, but throughout the show’s six seasons, the RSK Spyder is one of, if not the coolest, most eclectic one. It sounds magnificent on the vid, and whether it’s because of the car’s tiny stature or not, it really looks like Jerry is hoofing the thing during the driving sequences, no holds barred. Awesome.
Jimmy Fallon: Unsinkable Legend: Part 1/2 (Season 5, episode 7)
Car: 1956 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible in Cascade Green with beige coves/1994 Land Rover Defender 90/Boston Whaler
Jerry’s take: On the Vette: “It is absolutely the essence of American futuristic positivism of the post-war society.”
On the Landie: “I find it relaxing to just get in this thing and drive into a pile of dirt.”
Jimmy’s take: On the Vette: “This is just a beautiful thing. What happened with cars? Why’d they stop making colours like this? Why’d they stop having fun?”
Good freaking question.
Fav line/exchange: Jerry, discussing the genesis of Norman Greenbaum’s hit record, “Spirit in the Sky”: “It’s a Jesus song. What’s the lyric? ‘I got a friend in Jesus’. And the guy’s name is ‘Greenbaum’. I need some more information.”
Bonus: Jimmy, wondering where the saying “new and improved” came from: “I can’t believe we keep buying ‘new and improved’; ‘New and improved Mr. Clean.’ What was the swill we were buying when you originally invented Mr. Clean?”
Talk show hosts and CICGC just seem to work, especially when, by all accounts, the guest really wanted to be on the show, which Jimmy reveals a few times during the one and only two-part episode we’ve seen thus far. It just really seems like Jimmy has always admired Jerry, and is relishing the opportunity to be on the show, as much as he relishes the flapjacks from John’s Pancake House in the latter part of the show’s second half. Oh, and to see Jerry strip down right in front of everybody—sort of—is priceless.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: I’ll Go If I Don’t Have To Talk (Season 6, Episode 1)
Car: 1964 Aston Martin DB4 in Silver Birch
Jerry’s take: “No other car could have been exactly what James Bond needed when it was time to save the world.”
Julia’s take: “Oh my GOD! It’s unbelievable looking. It’s chic.”
Jerry: “What’s your favorite place?”
Julia: “Santa Barbara.”
“You’re a thrill a minute.”
First of all, the way they introduce the car with a not-quite-but-very-close-to James Bond score in the background is oh-so-perfect. I know, I know; seems lame. Seems done before. For some reason, though, it works here. Plus, if we’re honest, it’s kinda’ hard to do a piece on a DB4/DB5 without going into the James Bond thing. Everybody knows it’s going to happen, and it would be weird if it didn’t.
Secondly, even though all four Seinfeld headliners are featured on this list, this is the one clip that really gets into the nitty-gritty of what went on behind the scenes there (tune in at about 5:00 to hear a hilarious exchange on what happened when Julia revealed she was pregnant halfway through the third season of the show). Not to mention the title of the vid is actually one of the first ever uttered by Elaine on the show. For Seinfeld aficionados, this is probably the best of them all.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that this particular Aston is one of the few Canadian-owned cars featured in CICGC; in fact, it comes from my hometown in Vancouver, B.C.
BONUS: George Costanza: The Over-Cheer (Season 3, Episode 6)
Car: 1976 AMC Pacer
Jerry’s take: “A total disaster from initial concept, to final execution.”
George’s take: “…”
Fav line/exchange: George, feeling a little put out by Jerry’s Super Bowl snack choice: “You KNOW I like the curly chip. You didn’t put it out. I noticed that right away.”
Yes, it’s another AMC, but COME ON; the only other car that would work for Costanza would’ve been a 1989 Chrysler LeBaron convertible (formerly owned by John Voight, preferably), and, well, that’s kind of been done to death.
This one falls into the “bonus” category mainly because it’s the only episode that has a member of the Seinfeld alumnus actually in character, even though the actors that play all four of the quartet do make appearances. Plus, not only do we get a Jerry vs George exchange in as classic a Seinfeld setting as you can get (the real Tom’s Diner in New York City), but we get to find out which NFL team Newman roots for, too.
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