Everyone loves a nice car. And the world of film and television has given us some of the most extraordinary and memorable ones in existence. Not only have these vehicles come to represent the movie or tv show they played a part in, but they’re also pretty friggin cool. They’re so cool in fact the most serious hardcore fans have either bought or reproduced them. Wouldn’t we all love to do that?
Most of the movie/TV cars that have left an indelible impact on me personally are the ones that I would gaze at through movie and tv screens when I was little. Just a young pup who thought that particular driver and vehicle was the pinnacle of awesomeness and I could only dream of growing up tearing down the pavement in my own four-wheel ultra-cool car like theirs.
I suppose that makes sense. Most of our lasting memories come out of childhood. Everything looks bigger and more exciting when we still couldn’t manage to reach the top shelf for the cookies. So most of these cars are ones that left an impression on me when I was little and when I see replicas of them today I still get a jolt of excitement.
This could be an exhaustive, endless list and believe me This could be an exhaustive, endless list. There are plenty of other movie/TV cars that are worth mentioning, but I thought I’d just keep this list to a quick ten. Besides, ten of these cars is enough to torture myself knowing that I’ll more than likely never own any of them in this lifetime. I’ll have to settle for my Matchbox versions of them. Dammit!
In no particular order:
1. THE GENERAL LEE
It would be kind of crazy to make a show that revolved around a duo of good ‘ol boys racing around in the south avoiding the law and not give them a pretty awesome car to drive around in. Fortunately the creators of the Dukes of Hazzard did and gave television one of the most popular vehicle co-stars ever!
The General Lee stood out from the pack of cars just by its orange color, the big 01 painted on its welded doors and the Confederate flag on the roof. There’s no mistaking it from miles away.
Apparently the show used between 250 to 300 General Lee’s through the course of its run. Most of them ending up getting wrecked by the countless stunts and jumps the Duke boys would have to do to get away from the law. I haven’t seen the show in a really long time, but I still get jazzed when I see the General making one of those jumps sounding off its horn playing ‘Dixie’.
2. THE DEATHMOBILE
Never has more havoc been created by a fraternity set out on revenge by infiltrating the town’s parade. First disguised as a cheesy float appearing to be an innocuous cake with the words ‘Eat Me’ emblazoned on its side, a quick cut of a rope and payback is unleashed. There has been no better symbol of spurned college outcasts getting back at their dean and a town full of stuck-ups. A redesigned 1966 Lincoln Continental turned into the ultimate parade-crasher!
I’m not sure what you would do with it if you owned your own Deathmobile. It’s not exactly something you could use to go cruising down to the supermarket in. And it looks like it could be a real pain with toll booths. Eh, what am I saying, if you’re driving a Deathmobile you shouldn’t have to follow society’s laws! The heck with the toll booths!
3. FRANK BULLITT’S MUSTANG
Whether you think 1968’s Bullitt is a standard cop movie or not, there’s no denying that the centerpiece of the film is Steve McQueen barreling down the streets of San Francisco after the bad guys in one of the best car chases in cinema history. No music accompaniment, just gears grinding, tires screeching and engines revving!
To this day I’ll see movie fans follow the path of this cinematic chase. They might have to jump around the city a bit (as the cinematic route hop-scotches around any actual path in reality) but it’s clear this one sequence still leaves an impression on movie fans today. By the way anyone else notice that one green beetle that keeps popping up during it.
By itself the green ’68 Ford Mustang GT is as cool as could be. I’d kill to have one. But putting one of the coolest actors ever behind the wheel of it and using it as the vehicle of choice for such a spectacular car chase cements its spot as one great movie car!
4. THE BLUESMOBILE
Usually the best movie/tv cars get a memorable introduction. And the Bluesmobile really does. After being locked up for three years, the first thing Jake Blues (John Belushi) asks Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) about is “this stupid car” they’re sitting in. After a roaring example of its talents, it’s christened the new Bluesmobile and the Brothers hit the roads of Chicago.
This old Mount Prospect police car might not win any beauty pageants, but it quickly headlines in some of the most epic car chases, destruction, outlandish maneuvering and accomplishing some of the most outrageous stunts the city of Chicago has ever seen. Add some smooth music in the background, the unflappable Jake and Elwood behind the wheel and a perfect final hysterical demise – The Bluesmobile is a major cool ride in very cool movie.
5. THE LOVE BUG
Walt Disney took a white Volkswagen bug, slapped a number 53 on and it became a recognizable addition to its roster of beloved characters. This is actually the one car on this list that would probably be the closest to me actually owning.
The original Love Bug film was one I loved to watch when I was little. It was silly fun with Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett driving Herbie around in sped up film segments. I just thought it would be so cool to have Herbie as a car.
Plus, he had a mind of his own! This little VW got jealous, happy, angry. If they tossed him into one of these Fast & Furious movies then maybe I’d watch one of them!
On top of that he had that catchy 60’s hip, surfing-type of theme song. Perfect accompaniment to win a race with Michelle Lee riding shotgun.
Herbie’s adventures in his sequels got more and more juvenile (if that was ever possible) – I’ve never watched that Lindsay Lohan remake, but I’m sure Herbie is much more fun to watch than her.
6. DOC BROWN’S DELOREAN
Remember what I was just saying about an epic introduction – Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine really gets one in Back To The Future. Rolling out of a trailer in a mall parking lot, smoke swirling around, its flux capacitor glowing and it sporting a catchy license plate ‘OUTATIME’. It immediately becomes an iconic four-wheeled wonder.
The rest of the movie revolves around getting the thing to work again. The only thing that will do the trick is a suspenseful, well-timed bolt of lightning. That’s much more epic sounding than in the subsequent sequel where Doc converted it to run on garbage.
I find it hard to believe that originally the time machine was going to be a refrigerator. Somehow traveling through time doesn’t seem so cool sitting in a fridge.
7. THE ECTO-ONE
Ackroyd really knew how to make an impression with movie vehicles. For a measly $4800 and some repair work including “suspension work and shocks, brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear end…new rings, mufflers, a little wiring….”
Dr. Ray Stantz acquired the mobile transport for the Ghostbusters. It’s roomy enough to carry all the needed equipment the guys require for battling ghosts and can turn heads in the New York City streets signaling to everyone they’re on the job. Despite it getting some added dazzle in the sequel, I always preferred the simpler and less fancy Ecto 1.
8. THE BATMOBILE
Designed by George Barris who was under a three week deadline to have it ready for the start of filming for the television show, he reconfigured a 1955 Lincoln Futura into the most famous car on the airwaves.
He decorated it with bat shapes and threw in as many hokey bat gadgets and touches as the car could hold. The Batmobile immediately soared in popularity and fans were just as excited to gawk at it as they would if the Dynamic Duo was staring them in the face.
It’s become a timeless vehicle that will continue to attract new young fans as long as they keep wheeling it out around the country. I’ve seen it at many shows and conventions and it continues to be a draw to go check out.
MAD MAX’S FORD FALCON INTERCEPTOR
Really what else could an Australian cop get away with being seen in by gangs of dirty nuts with wild hair in a flat post-apocalyptic wasteland other than this monster of a car. If he tried pulling them over in say Herbie he would have been laughed off the road. I wonder what would happen if Mad Max had to pull over the Blues Brothers…..hmmmm.
Most cars look nicer all cleaned up and shiny, but in Mad Max and The Road Warrior this redesigned Australian Ford Falcon fits right in with George Miller’s bleak film series and becomes its own tough intimidating character.
Now that they’re rebooting the Mad Max franchise I have serious doubts they’ll be able to surpass Max’s original muscle car. No matter how much they dirty it up.
007’s ASTON MARTIN DB-5
Come on, you knew it was coming. Yes the most predicatable movie/TV car choice and I’m guilty of it. But really how could you have a list of great fictional cars without James Bond’s Aston Martin.
It must of been amazing to be a little kid in 1963 watching Goldfinger, hearing Q talk about all the hidden gadgets the car was packing then waiting for 007 to use them all.
Although Bond has been given quite a number of cars since then, the ’63 Aston has been and always will be the ultimate James Bond car. Four Bond’s have gotten the opportunity to drive it – Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig and if we want to count it, Roger Moore in Cannonball Run. Each time it makes an appearance it looks as cool and chic as ever.
So, what’s your favorite movie/TV car? There’s plenty worth a mention……
Enjoy one of the greatest movie car chases ever – the classic chase from Bullitt
I would like to add two to your list. Which is a great list by the way. I wanted a Bluesmobile. But 1974 Dodge Monacos are so hard to come by. The closest one I could find was halfway across the country.
I would list to give a shout out to Jim Rockford's Pontiac Firebird Espirit from the Rockford Files. It was his escape vehicle for when he needed to get out of a jam as fast as he could. James Garner said he chose the Espirit as a poor man's muscle car. The character of Jim Rockford, being always broke, need a set of wheels that was fast but a also cheap. And think its a cool looking car and if was ever being chased by the mob, it definitely do in a pinch.
Number two would be Burn Notice's Dodge Charger. Owned by burned spy Michael Weston. It was also somewhat of a poor man's alternative. It was supposed to be a hand me down from his deceased father. It seemed to be a perfect metaphor for the character. It had a low key paintjob to prevent it from drawing attention to itself. But it still looked and performed cool regardless.
I wanted to add one addendum to my Rockford Files post. The show itself was wall-to-wall car chases. One maneuver in the show was a J-turn, called the "Moonshiner's Turn", where the car would run backwards and swing around 180 degrees. The maneuver was so popular that people started calling it a Rockford. Youtube is full of people showing off how they do a Rockford in their cars. Also, I hear the Secret Service trains it agents to do this turn in case they need to get someone out of trouble. Not bad for a show that started shoe-string.
Some eye candy:
I would vote for Bullitt's Ford Mustang (I have a 1:12 scale model of it myself) but another McQueen vehicle would be my first choice: The Porsche 917 he drove in the movie "Le Mans"….and he did all his own driving sequences in that movie (other than the crash). It's such a beautiful and retro-futuristic vehicle, and the most powerful racing car ever made.
Another shout out would be Starsky and Hutch's 1974 Ford Torino. On its own, it's a cool car from that era. With the white stripe on it, it becomes iconic.
Dishonourable mention: The Cody Coyote from Hardcastle & McCormack. It so wanted to be an iconic car, but it just didn't leave much of an impression on the viewer.
Great list. I would personally add the 1970 Dodge Challenger from the little seen but greatly loved by those who have, Vanishing Point. Tarantino thought it so iconic he revolved the second half of his Death Proof around a nearly identical version of the car.