Cartoon Car Spotlight: Creepy ‘Turbo Teen’ TV Show Should Stay Buried in the ’80s
Admittedly, I’m a big fan of obscure, oft-forgotten cartoons from childhood. I still think Cadillacs & Dinosaurs was criminally underrated and deserves a live-action reboot (it’d be far better than the recent Transformers and Jurassic World movies).
But there are some old cartoons that should remain forgotten and aren’t even entertaining for nostalgic purposes. In fact, some of them are just plain weird. You have to wonder how certain animated shows got green-lit, because the final product can be traumatizing to watch.
Turbo Teen was one of those shows. I know it’s developed a small, loyal cult following, but I still think it’s one of the weirdest cartoons from the 1980s.
Turbo Teen: An 80s Cartoon That Will Give You Nightmares
This Saturday morning cartoon is about Brett Matthews, a teenager who accidentally gets hit with a top-secret government lab’s ray gun. The result: he becomes fused with the red sports car he’s driving and has the ability to morph into the car, though not entirely at will; he can only do so when the temperature gets hot around him. When it’s cold, he goes back to being a human. And somehow he used this ability to help solve crimes while evading an evil monster truck driver.
As bizarre as the premise is, what really sticks with you are the transformation sequences that distort the human form. Check out some of these horrifying images below. It’s like a form of automotive body horror.
First his body stretches like a hot dog…then his butt goes square…then his hands inflate exponentially…then—WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING TO HIS FACE?!?! OMG, WHAT IN THE WORLD?? TURN IT OFF!!!
The show was produced by Ruby-Spears, which created other memorably odd shows such as Mega Man, Centurions, Mister T, Dragon’s Lair, and Heathcliff. It ran for only one season, 12 episodes from September 8, 1984 to August 31, 1985. Tracking down copies of it now is difficult, but you can watch some low-quality transfers of episodes online. If you dare.
Personally, I’ll stick with watching the Herbie movies. At least that sentient car doesn’t keep me up at night.
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.