Although this iconic cartoon series was made in 1968 and '69, it was repeated several times on BBC Children's TV throughout the '70s and so qualifies for a mention here.
Few people of a certain age will NOT have had this brilliant show as required viewing after school but before dinner! Focusing on a trans-American custom car race, it launched Dick Dastardly and Muttley to fame and fast acquired cult status.
Dastardly was the archetypal villain, a moustache-twirling cad - cross between Terry Thomas and Dr.Moriarty. He and his muttering, schmuttering hound Muttley piloted the lethal-looking 'Mean Machine', a rocket-powered spike-nosed supercar that had so many concealed gadgets that it made James Bond's Aston Martin look like a delivery van. Although easily in possession of the fastest car in the race and able to win effortlessly if only they played straight, Dastardly & Muttley's permanent scheming and use of dirty tricks to knock out the other competitors always backfired on them and resulted in them coming last, if indeed finishing at all!
The other racers included: Peter Perfect (all-American square-jawed hero) driving the Turbo Terrific dragster Penelope Pitstop (a Southern Belle and the only girl in the race) in the Compact Pussycat, which was essentially a cosmetics boutique on wheels with eyelashes around the headlights The Red Max (dashing WW1 air ace) in The Crimson Haybaler (a cross between a First World War fighter plane and an Austin Allegro that was able to 'hedge-hop' over the other competitors) Seargent Blast and Private Meekly of the US Army in the Army Surplus Special (which was basically a tank with a Model-T Ford front end and bristling with heavy weaponry- Meekly drove, whilst the Sarge kept lookout from the massive gun-turret) The Slag Brothers in the Bouldermobile (twin cavemen driving a boulder on wheels who used their hunting-clubs to good effect) Prof. Pat Pending (a brilliant scientist) in the Convert-A-Car, an eccentric vehicle with the body of a boat that could become a plane, hovercraft or anything else at the flick of a switch The Ant Hill Mob in the Bulletproof Bomb (tough Chicago gangsters in a 1920s roadster- when they needed to cross rough terrain, they put their feet through the floor and ran with it) The Creepy Coupe, a customised hearse with a Gothic belfry driven by the Gruesome Twosome (a debonaire vampire aristocrat and a huge, hulking 'Igor' character) The Arkansas Chugga-bug driven by Hillbilly Luke and his permanently terrified grizzly bear Blubber (with a rocking-chair driving seat, the Chugga-bug had a stove for an engine and Luke steered with his bare feet) ...and finally the Buzzwagon, a wooden coupe with circular saws for wheels that was piloted by lumberjack Rufus Ruffcut and his beaver Sawtooth
Penelope Pitstop went on to have her own cartoon series, and The Slag brothers were the inspiration for the later Hanna-Barbara cartoon 'Captain Caveman'.