One of the funniest scenes in the 1987 classic comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles takes place when Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) part ways at St. Louis and Page rents a car to get home to Chicago.
Unfortunately, when he is dropped off by the fictional Marathon Car Rental shuttle bus, Page discovers that there is no car in the marked spot and he has to trudge endlessly back to the car rental outlet down a snowy embankment, across a busy highway and along an airport tarmac.
Dishevelled, he queues up before an all-too-perky rental agent played by Edie McClurg and launches into a hilarious expletive-filled rant in which he drops the F-bomb 18 times. But McClurg - Herb Tarlek's wife Lucille on WKRP in Cincinnati - gets the last two words in after she asks him for his rental agreement ("I threw it away!"), informing him that he's screwed. Or words to that effect.
Griffith has no problem landing a rental car however, and almost runs over Page minutes later in his green-with-wood-panelling junker 1986 Chrysler Lebaron Town and Country convertible.
It wasn't great but it was better than nothing. Auto Rental News, however, recently surveyed owners and managers of car rental companies to determine the greatest rental cars of all time. The Lebaron wasn't on the list. Here's their top picks - high volume sedans only, no crossovers, SUVs pickups or exotics - with some dealer comments:
"Customers love it"; "People request it"
2.Ford Taurus, 1985-2006 model
"Steady and true. Seemed like the one you could always count on to get you there and back."
3.Ford Taurus, reintroduced for 2010
"Customers like to drive this car; it's comfortable, reliable and easy to maintain."
4. Toyota Corolla
"Popular, dependable, maintenance free, good resale, positive customer response."
5. Chevrolet Impala
"Good gas mileage for a large sedan."
6. Hyundai Sonata
"A great car to run in a rental fleet for 18-24 months and sell directly to customers."
7. Honda Accord
"A customer favourite."
8. Chrysler 300
"Luxurious, smooth ride."
9. Ford Focus, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Malibu (tie)
Focus: "One of the most dependable vehicles, inexpensive to repair."
Altima: "Nobody ever complains about it."
Malibu: "It's a mid-sized car that suits almost everyone's needs, and made by a great brand."