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How to Dress Up Your Car for Halloween

Want your Halloween costume to really stand out of the crowd?

Try dressing up your car.

Whether you’re taking the kids out trick-or-treating or heading out for a Halloween party with friends, making your car a part of your costume ensures you’ll arrive in style and make a big impression. After all, many people dress up as Ghostbusters on Halloween, but how many of them show up in the Ecto-1?

With the right vehicle, some craft supplies, and a little bit of creativity, you can make it happen. Below are some tips for making some specific car costumes, along with some general decorations you can use on any car.

Star Cars

Some pop culture costumes are tied to specific, recognizable cars. Since you’re unlikely to have access to, say, a 1959 Cadillac Ambulance, we’ve come up with some modern stand-ins that can be used instead.

The General Lee

The Original: A 1969 Dodge Charger stock car.

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Modern Replacement: A new orange Dodge Challenger.

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How To: This costume can be surprisingly simple: just use washable paint to create an “01” on each side, and possibly write “General Lee” above each door. Forget about including the original car’s rooftop rebel flag; besides being controversial, it’s hard to paint and hard to see from the ground. Then you just have to practice climbing in and out of the windows (as a stock car, the General Lee famously has its doors welded shut).

Goes Well With: Bo, Luke, or Daisy Duke costumes.

KITT

The Original: A modified 1982 Pontiac Trans Am.

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Modern Replacement: A black Corvette.

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How To: The one exterior feature that makes the Knight Rider car instantly recognizable is the pulsing red scanner light at the front of the hood. Some red washable paint or a strip of red masking tape makes for a quick and easy facsimile.

Goes Well With: Michael Knight’s signature outfit is a solid color shirt, black leather jacket, and jeans. Big Hasselhoff hair is a plus.

A-Team Van

The Original: A 1983 GMC Vandura.

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Modern Replacement: A GMC Savana.

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How To: The original van was black and gray, with a distinctive red stripe that ran from the front of the hood to the spoiler at the back of the roof. If you have a black or dark gray van, you can skip the two-tone and just add on the red stripe. A homemade spoiler is optional.

Goes Well With: We pity the fool who doesn’t wear a Mr. T costume.

Ecto-1

The Original: A 1959 Cadillac Ambulance/Hearse.

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Modern Replacement: Any white station wagon or low-slung crossover SUV with a cargo rack. We particularly like the ghostbusting looks of the Saab 9-3X, though that might be as hard to find as a ‘59 Caddy. We have seen a rather cool one made from a Dodge Magnum.

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How To: Put a Ghostbusters logo on the door, and then strap every old vacuum cleaner, fire extinguisher, hose, battery-powered light, weather vane, or failed science experiment you own to the rooftop cargo rack.

Goes Well With: A Ghostbuster costume, of course, though you can also bring along some ghosts to bust (it is a wagon, after all, with plenty of seats).

Lightning McQueen

The Original: A cartoon race car.

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Modern Replacement: A red Mazda MX-5 Miata, though a Mazda2 could also suffice.

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How To: We chose the Mazda because it already looks like it has a smiling face. All you need to do is add some white teeth to the grille and put a lightning bolt and “95” racing number on the side. Eyes on the windshield are nice if the car is parked, but you’ll need to leave clear visibility for your own eyes when driving.

Goes Well With: Lightning McQueen doesn’t technically have a driver, but we’d go with a NASCAR costume for yourself.

Back to the Future Time Machine

The Original: A 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.

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Modern Replacement: Any silver coupe, such as a 2-door Honda Accord. Gullwing doors optional.

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Photo Source: Concavo Wheels.

How To: The time machine has two fin-like black vents on the back, which could be made easily enough from cardboard. You can then tape some old electrical cord around the car, running below the doors, above the fenders, and along the bumpers. (Just don’t try driving 88 mph.)

Goes Well With: A Doc Brown white jumpsuit and wig, or a Marty McFly sneakers, jeans, and denim jacket ensemble (don’t forget your “life preserver” orange vest!).

Easy Decorations for Any Car

OK, so maybe your old car doesn’t work for any of these specific car costumes. That doesn’t mean you can’t still decorate it for Halloween.

  • Fake spiderwebs are easy to find in October, and can be stretched over your car just as easily as you can hang them in your apartment.
  • Any car looks scarier with pointy teeth, which we’ve seen on grilles or inside the trunk.
  • Car eyelashes are semi-popular, and actually make sense at Halloween.
  • Trying to turn your car into a modern version of the Batmobile would be futile, unless you happen to own a tank. However, you can attach some bat wings if you’re going out as Batman or Dracula.
  • It’s a bit morbid, perhaps, but we’ve seen people get creative with dummies strapped onto or smashed into various parts of the car.

What ideas do you have for dressing up your car this Halloween? Tell us or show off pics at our Facebook page or Twitter account.