Often the most compelling aspect of a movie is not the characters but rather the cars. For years, cars have been used as props in movies to enhance a character’s persona or set the scene. Without ever uttering a line, a car can capture the audience’s attention and hold it. Most of us can easily remember some of the greatest movie cars just as easily as the famous actors who star in the films also.
However, not every movie car can be elevated to being one of the greatest of all time. It takes a particular vehicle with extraordinary features and a specific appearance to be remembered. After analyzing the many movie cars that have had appearances in some of the most popular movies, we’ve learned the most extraordinary movie cars appeared in films between the 1960s and 1990s.
Whether you want to reminisce about your childhood or brush up on your car or movie knowledge, it’s always handy to know a bit more about iconic movie cars. The cars on our list have managed to transcend the movies they starred in to become a part of the greater motor vehicle cultural landscape.
Although we have chosen to omit some famous movie cars (most heartbreakingly the Interceptor from Mad Max), we have done so to ensure we speak about only the greatest of the great. So without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into discovering the 10 greatest movie cars of all time.
1. Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)
James bond movies have featured some of the most iconic movie cars, but this trend may never have been inspired without the iconic 1964 Aston Martin DB5 that appeared in the film, Goldfinger. The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is where the James Bond legacy of famous gadget-equipped vehicles began.
Interestingly, the Aston Martin brand has even attributed some of its success to the Goldfinger movie because of how the special effects in the film highlighted the classically iconic car. During the movie’s filming, two Aston Martin DB5’s were used, with one being dedicated to driving scenes and the other used for Bond’s gadgets.
Some of the more unique features the vehicle possessed during the film included machine guns, ejector seats, smoke screens, oil slicks, and a ramming bumper. However, perhaps the most exciting gadget equipped in the Aston Martin DB5 was the map screen as it foreshadowed the modern GPS systems of today.
Additionally, in 2018 Aston Martin decided to manufacture 25 recreations of the DB5 and even included some neat technological advancements such as revolving number plates and other movie-style gadgets. However, the price for one of these modern Bond cars was an outrageous $3.5 million.
2. The Batmobile (Batman)
Many people don’t know that the Batmobile was actually modeled after a Lincoln Futura concept car. Although the Batmobile is definitely one of the greatest on-screen movie cars, many versions of the Batmobile pre-date the on-screen icon.
The first appearance of the Batmobile was actually discovered to have debuted in a Batman comic book series in the 1930s. Over the years, there have notably been a few unique styles of the Batmobile that have appeared in many Batman films, such as The Dark Knight and Batman Begins. Yet the one that truly stole the hearts of superhero fans was the 1960s George Barris version.
This version of the Batmobile had a wicked front slasher blade, a U-shaped steering wheel resembling an airplane’s yoke, and 15-inch single ribbed radar wheels. In contrast, the modern version of the Batmobile is a literal machine.
The base vehicle is a Chevy V-8 with an engine capable of taking the car from an astonishing 0 to 60 mph in about five seconds. Additionally, the 37” off-road tires are mounted to an entirely independent suspension system, and the body is impressively rumored to be made of more than 65 carbon fiber panels.
The latest version of the Batmobile was most recently seen in the 2016 film Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
3. Pontiac Trans Am (Smokey and the Bandit)
Arguably muscle cars are one of the most used vehicles in film history, however, few are more iconic than the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am featured in the film Smokey and the Bandit.
Although the acting of Burt Reynolds and Sally Field was memorable, the true star of the show was the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am with its massive spread-winged firebird graphic and gold accented black paint.
The 1977 film was a massive success at the box office, but the directors could have never predicted the immense impact the Pontiac Trans Am would have on audiences. With the fierce driving action scenes, audiences were hooked on watching the car’s progression across their screens, especially during the evasion scene with Sheriff Buford T. Justice.
After the movie was released, sales for the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am soared. People were racing out to buy the Starlight Special Edition model that featured a T-Top roof and excellent handling capabilities. Additionally, approximately 30,000 cars were purchased between 1977 – 1978, and a further 24,000 bought in 1979.
Interestingly, out of the four Pontiac Trans Am vehicles provided for filming, none survived, but in 2016, an original promotional car was sold for over half a million dollars.
4. Ecto-1 (Ghostbusters)
One of the greatest movie cars ever filmed was also one of the most heavily altered. The Ectomobile, or Ecto-1 as fans know it, was featured in the 1984 classic Ghostbusters. It may seem unbelievable, but when the Ecto-1 was sent out for promotional work in New York, sightings of the vehicle caused car accidents.
Surprisingly the original idea for the Ecto-1 was incredibly different from the final version that director Ivan Reitman opted to go with. Originally Reitman wanted the Ecto-1 to be painted black with purple and white strobe lights attached to it. He also wanted the car to be equipped with features that would allow it to be capable of inter-dimensional travel with the ability to dematerialize on screen. Ultimately the idea was axed because most of the scenes featuring the Ecto-1 were filmed at night.
The Ecto-1’s base model was actually a 20 foot long, 6,500 pound 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor. This end-loader ambulance had a gas-guzzling 6.3-liter V-8 engine with 320 horsepower. Additionally, some of the alterations that were done to the Ecto-1 included added lighting on the front of the car, attached tail fins, a shiny grill, sirens, and fantastical ghost and monster detection hardware.
5. Ford Mustang GT (Bullitt)
The Bullitt film would not have existed without the incredible car scenes featuring the deep emerald green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390. It’s not often that a car company manufactures a vintage classic limited edition version twice, but the Ford Mustang GT 390 achieved this feat.
One of the more memorable car scenes involving the Ford Mustang GT that firmly placed it in the greatest movie cars of all time category also included the famous Steve McQueen. The iconic vehicle was seen speeding down roads and drifting around corners in a car chase with a 1968 Dodge Charger on the streets of San Francisco.
During the filming of Bullitt, two Ford Mustang GT’s were bought in 1968 and used by Warner Brothers. To this day, the original movie modifications remain. The cars are equipped with an extra cooling package exclusive to the GT models and American Racing Equipment Torque Thrust mag wheels. Additionally, the reverse lights were removed, the fuel cap was painted black, and the badges were removed.
The 390 engine in this model is a powerful 6.4-liter V-8 with 427 pound feet of torque and 320 horsepower. It had an impressive top speed of 105 mph and completed the quarter-mile in under 14 seconds.
6. Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me)
James Bond cars are all remarkable, but some more so than others. Although the Lotus Esprit S1 appears in a few James Bond movies, the Bond movie that made this car a true symbol was the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me.
During film production, two white Lotus Esprit’s were used, with one being for the road scenes while the other was utilized for the iconic underwater scenes. Almost unbelievably, the Lotus Esprit driven by Bond in the film turned into a submarine with equipped stabilizer fins and other nifty props when it drove into the ocean.
In 2019 the original Lotus Esprit used as the submarine vehicle in the film was sold to Elon Musk for $1 million after a couple found it in an abandoned storage unit. According to reports, Musk plans to restore the Bond car into a working submarine.
7. Volkswagen VW (The Love Bug)
Not every great movie car is a suped-up, gadget galore, vintage muscle car. The 1963 Volkswagen VW Beetle has gone down in film vehicle history for its cute appearance and distinctive character traits that fans remember fondly in The Love Bug.
Curiously, the Volkswagen VW Beetle was not the first choice for the memorable Herbie car seen throughout six films. The casting directors had two other options, namely a Toyota or a Volvo.
It’s believed the movie crew was so taken with “The Love Bug” that they began to lovingly pet it as if it were a prized mare. After that, there was never any other choice but to have the beetle star as the iconic main character Herbie. The car itself sported red, white, and blue stripes, which became synonymous with the Herbie movie franchise that spawned after the first 1968 film.
8. DeLorean DMC-12 (Back To The Future)
Surprisingly, despite the visually stunning appearance of the DeLorean MC-12 featured in the 1985 film Back To The Future, it was not very powerful. Additionally, the manufacturing company DeLorean which was behind the ultra-futuristic upmarket vehicle went bankrupt three years prior to the movie’s release.
Although the company couldn’t benefit from the vehicle’s success in the movie, they can take credit for designing the gull-wing door, stainless steel, silver sports car. Under the hood was a lackluster 130 horsepower 2.9-liter V-6 engine, but its looks and added gadgets made the fantastical futuristic time-traveling car an immediate fan favorite.
Despite the original DeLorean vehicle manufacturing company going out of business, a new DeLorean motor company restores and improves these legendary 1980s cars. Additionally, if you are interested in viewing one of the three models that made it into the movie, you can visit the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
9. Ford LTD Country Squire (National Lampoon’s Vacation)
Even unattractive vehicles can become great movie cars. For instance, the 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire that featured in the film National Lampoon’s Vacation was heavily modified to look as unattractive as physically possible. Ironically, sales for station wagon models similar to the Ford LTD Country Squire plummeted after the film’s release.
Despite its somewhat distasteful appearance, the 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire with its eight headlights, pea-green paint job, and dastardly wooden paneling is still revered by fans of the film. This is primarily because of the feats it somehow managed to achieve during the film.
Notably, the car traveled to more than 15 filming locations, survived an attack of vandalism, an unbelievable 50 feet jump, faulty mechanics, and a desert breakdown.
10. Dodge Charger (The Fast and the Furious)
The incredible Fast and the Furious film franchise has featured many classic muscle cars, but the most famous is arguably the main character Dom Toretto’s 1970 Dodge Charger. Although this superb vehicle also featured in the 1970s film Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, it was the 2000 Fast and the Furious film that highlighted the incredible feats this car was truly capable of on-screen.
For the film, three 1970 Dodge Chargers were bought with one of the vehicles acting as the “Hero charger.” Unsurprisingly, filmmakers wanted to use an original 1970 Dodge Charger as the base vehicle for the “Hero charger.”However, they were unable to, so they had to settle for using a 1969 model and modifying it to look like a 1970 model.
Some of the notable specs the car had equipped that allowed it to participate in the legendary race scenes were sliding brakes, a flame master exhaust, Continental Sport Contact tires, and Nitrous Oxide. These features allowed the car to possess superior handling and an added boost for the scenes that needed speed.
One of the lesser-known facts about this great movie car is that it featured two different engines. One engine was used during the filming, while the other was a show engine. The movie engine was incredible and managed to produce a whopping 900 horsepower.
Additionally, whenever the N.O.S. was activated, it could reach a jaw-dropping 1,100 horsepower. This was more than enough for it to surpass the other exceptional vehicles featured in the movie.
Credit: Source link