TBT: These Fords Were the Real Stars of Holiday Film Favorites

Dec 21, 2023

With voting in our Ultimate Holiday Movie Bracket nearly complete, we’re going to take a look back at a pair of films which were featured in the contest’s early rounds. 

The Ford Taurus is probably best known as the on-screen transportation of the Detroit police in “Robocop,” but it has also served as a sleigh of sorts for two very popular holiday movies: the now-inescapable “Christmas Vacation,” as well as “The Santa Clause.”

Chevy Chase introduced the world to Clark W. Griswold behind the wheel of a heavily modified 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire (rebranded as a Wagon Queen Family Truckster) in the original “National Lampoon’s Vacation” in 1983. The family stuck with the Ford brand for the holiday-minded sequel of the series in 1988 with a Ford Taurus Wagon.

A Flying Ford

The Taurus makes its debut early in the film, as Griswold slams on the accelerator of his wood-sided “front-wheel drive family sleigh” to outrun a pair of hecklers in the (non-Ford) pickup truck behind him. The shenanigans land Griswold and his family underneath a log hauler before they hit a snowbank that sends the Taurus airborne. After escaping harm, the Griswolds then use the car to haul home the gargantuan tree – roots and all – that spans the entire length of the vehicle and then some.

The Griswolds’ Taurus scenes were reportedly filmed using a 1988 and a 1989 model with custom faux wood paneling, as that feature was not offered from the factory.

‘Christmas Vacation’ Sequel

Chase and co-star Beverly D'Angelo reprised their roles as heads of the Griswold clan in a 2020 advertisement for the Mustang Mach-E, in which he recreates another memorable scene from the movie. Clark’s massive but faulty holiday light display once siphoned all of the electricity from his surrounding Chicago-area suburb, forcing the local power station to use backup power. In the updated version of the commercial, the Mach-E outshines what appears to be a fully functional light show by an older, more experienced Clark Griswold.

Griswold would have benefitted in the aforementioned highway showdown if he had been driving the 1980s-era Taurus SHO sedan piloted by Tim Allen’s Scott Calvin in 1994’s “The Santa Clause.” Allen, a Detroit-area native and auto enthusiast who reportedly has several Fords in his garage, quickly traded in his speedy Taurus for Santa’s sleigh in this movie and its sequels, as well as a recent reboot series.  

Lastly, not to open up any discussions about whether “Die Hard” is in fact a holiday movie, but a 1988 Lincoln limousine is said to have transported Bruce Willis to Nakatomi Plaza.

We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season! And let us know in the comments if you spot any more Fords and Lincolns in holiday movies!  

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