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Pop Culture Drag Race: Thornberrys vs. Scooby Doo

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Lining up at the start this time we’ve got two iconic animated vans. On one side is the Mystery Machine, the transport of choice for the gang from Scooby-Doo driven by its owner, Fred. On the other side the multi-faceted ComVee from the Wild Thornberrys, driven by none other than Nigel Thornberry himself. Who’s going to make it to the finish line first? To answer this question we have to examine a number of factors. First of all, there are considerations specific to the vehicles and drivers themselves as they existed in their fictional universe. Is Fred more comfortable than Nigel in a street race? Who has better tires? From there we’ll move on to looking at real-world approximations of the vehicles and try to get a better understanding of how each one might fare if they materialized in reality based on the closest possible existing vehicles we can think of. Buckle your seatbelts, it’s time for pop culture drag race.

Speed and Performance 

The Mystery Machine, as depicted in the animated series “Scooby-Doo,” is a classic van typically used for leisurely road trips. It’s not known for its speed or high-performance capabilities. On the other hand, the ComVee from “The Wild Thornberrys” is a custom-built, all-terrain vehicle designed for adventurous travels, so it may have better speed and performance. Although the ComVee wasn’t necessarily engineered with speed as a primary priority, the sheer level of power it needed to perform its duties could potentially give it the definitive edge in a race.

Terrain Variations

The outcome of the race could depend on the terrain and the type of roads or paths they are racing on. If the race takes place on rough or off-road terrain, the ComVee would unequivocally have the advantage due to its rugged design. That said, the ComVee is an absolutely massive vehicle, built to accommodate the entire Thornberry family not just to ride but also to live within it. That means it likely can’t quite handle or corner as tightly as the Mystery Machine. In the case where the race required careful cornering on a twisting and turning road, it’s likely that the time saved by being able to maneuver a smaller vehicle would go toward the advantage of the Mystery Machine, thereby winning the race.

Driver Skill

The skill of the driver or drivers behind the wheel could also make a significant difference. If one team has a more experienced and skilled driver, they might be able to navigate obstacles and challenges more effectively. Nigel Thornberry has driven the ComVee around the world and has considerable experience behind the wheel. Fred had no less experience driving the Mystery Machine, but you could definitely make the case that he hadn’t quite had to take on terrain as varied as the ComVee. If there were any of the off-road environments that the ComVee is used to going up against, that could be the deciding factor in a race.

On the other hand, perhaps all of Nigel’s off-road experience simply hasn’t prepared him properly for the constraints of racing on surface streets or freeways. If the race circuit were set up on paved city roads, it’s possible that Fred would feel more at home and find a way to outmaneuver the cumbersome ComVee.

The Mystery Machine In Real Life: VW Bus

While the Mystery Machine from the “Scooby-Doo” series is a fictional vehicle with a unique and colorful design, if you were looking for a real-world car that somewhat resembles its style and spirit from the 1960s and 1970s, you might consider a Volkswagen Type 2, commonly known as the Volkswagen Bus or VW Microbus.

The Volkswagen Bus, especially the older models produced in the 1960s and early 1970s, shares some similarities with the Mystery Machine. Like the Mystery Machine, the Volkswagen Bus is a van with a distinctive, boxy shape. The Mystery Machine’s design is reminiscent of the psychedelic and flower power aesthetics of the 1960s, which were associated with the counterculture and hippie movements. The Volkswagen Bus was also popular among hippies during that era and often featured colorful, custom paint jobs and decorations. Both the Mystery Machine and the Volkswagen Bus have a nostalgic appeal, evoking a sense of a bygone era.

It’s important to note that while the Volkswagen Bus shares some visual similarities with the Mystery Machine, it doesn’t perfectly match the fictional van’s design. The Mystery Machine is a customized vehicle with unique artwork and details specific to the show’s universe.

If you’re looking to capture the essence of the Mystery Machine in a real-world vehicle, a well-maintained and customized Volkswagen Bus from the 1960s or 1970s, with a colorful and eye-catching paint job, could be a close approximation. However, achieving the exact look of the Mystery Machine would likely require custom modifications and artwork.

The ComVee in Real Life: Mercedes Benz Sprinter

The ComVee, the rugged and versatile vehicle used by the Thornberry family in the animated series “The Wild Thornberrys,” is a fictional creation and does not have a real-world counterpart, and anything you compare it to is going to have some serious deficiencies when you consider that this fictional vehicle is capable of going into multiple modes like hovercraft and submarine at the touch of a button. The ComVee is a unique, custom-designed vehicle specifically created for the show to suit the family’s adventurous lifestyle, wildlife documentary work, and travels in remote and challenging environments.

All that being said, for the purposes of our experiment, you can imagine the ComVee in comparison to a variety of 4×4 expedition vehicles. For the purposes of simplicity, though, we’re sort of imagining the ComVee as the ultimate Mercedes Sprinter—modified with the most luxurious living quarters imaginable as well as 4×4 capabilities, to say nothing of the hyperbolic capabilities mentioned above. While there are real-world expedition vehicles and all-terrain vehicles designed for off-road travel and outdoor adventures, none of them perfectly match the fictional design and capabilities of the ComVee as depicted in the show. Real-world vehicles used for similar purposes, such as expedition trucks, 4×4 off-road vehicles, or RVs modified for off-grid living, may share some characteristics with the ComVee but won’t replicate its appearance or functionality precisely.

Head to Head

A race between a 1960s VW Bus and a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter would likely favor the Sprinter for several reasons. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, being a modern vehicle, comes with a more powerful engine, advanced transmission, and improved aerodynamics, allowing it to operate at higher speeds more efficiently and safely.

On the other hand, the 1960s VW Bus, while iconic and charming, is not known for its speed or performance. It was designed more for comfort, utility, and style rather than racing or high-speed travel. Its older engine design and technology would also likely limit its performance relative to the more modern Sprinter.

Moreover, the Sprinter’s enhanced braking system, stability, and overall handling would give it an edge in maintaining higher speeds safely over different race conditions, making it more adaptable to the demands of a race.

However, it’s essential to consider the race’s context and conditions, such as the distance and type of track or road, as different factors could influence each vehicle’s performance. But in a generic setting, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter would likely outpace the 1960s VW Bus in a race.

In the end the winner of this race would simply come down to what kind of environment we’re racing in. In the case of a technical, corner-heavy circuit, we rate the Mystery Machine as having a slight advantage over the ComVee (although who knows what kind of technical innovations could be used to erase this advantage when we’re talking about a vehicle that can turn into a submarine). In almost any other scenario, including a straight line drag race, the ComVee is probably going to come out ahead. Even though the weight difference might mean the Mystery Machine could reach top speed faster, the sheer power that the ComVee would have to possess under the hood would probably be too much for Scooby Doo and the gang to outmatch.