PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Most of us don't remember cars by how well they sold, how many days they spent on the lot or by what percentage point this year's model outsold or undersold last year's. A car is memorable for reasons far more esoteric than that.
For Generation X, the Pontiac Trans-Am is the phoenix-painted hellwagon Burt Reynolds and Sally Field took bootlegging in Smokey and the Bandit, that David Hasslehoff spoke to in Knight Rider and that Dwight Schrute commuted in during The Office. Ford doesn't sell Broncos anymore because it's the car Los Angeles police chased Al Cowlings and O.J. Simpson in after the latter put a gun to his head and refused to turn himself in after being charged with the murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. There's a connection to these vehicles that doesn't get made in a showroom or during a commercial.
Hundreds to thousands of cars fly by the average person each day. Why should any of them be memorable unless their driver left grille marks on your hip as you were crossing an intersection or flipped you off while crossing five lanes of traffic to reach an exit?
Only because it somehow slipped into the garage of your subconscious. Parked there next to the van from The A-Team, Ryan Gosling's 1973 Chevy Malibu from Drive and Will Ferrell's much-defended Dodge Stratus from Saturday Night Live are a fleet of vehicles pop culture has planted there. Space got a little tighter this year, as the folks at used car pricing site CarGurus pointed out. With their help, we came up with five of the most notorious and well-placed vehicles of 2012: