What makes a car ‘one of the best’ movie cars? For me, it’s not the fastest or even the most stylish car; it’s the car with the greatest impact on film fans and car lovers. There are cars that were made popular because they were used by specific characters or given a larger stage in certain movies, others were made specifically for a film, performing impossible feats and given unrealistic additions. There are also times when a car plays a specific role in the film, a character all to itself.
For any or all of these reasons, the cars on this list deserve to be here. The automobile has played such an integral role in film that the car chase has become a staple in most action films. We have stunt drivers to perform the crazy car crashes and special effects to help with the impossible. Film and automobiles have been inseparable since their inventions and that won’t change any time soon.
While there are a countless number of films that feature beautiful vehicles, the cars on this list are those that are held in the highest regard, even above their films in some cases. Several of the films on this list are all about cars, driving and racing, others have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, they just happened to feature an amazing car. Undoubtedly, some amazing cars have been left off the list. There are just too many to count and too many to include. The ones that did make it, however, are the ones that have left a mark on Hollywood and film fans and will continue to be remembered for years on end.
15. The Dukes of Hazzard – The General Lee
The General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard (TV and Film) is one of the most beloved cars around. The, now pretty awkward, confederate flag painted on the roof, the 01 painted on the side, the doors welded shut so its drivers have to hop in through the window, like the cool dudes they are, and the horn playing the song “Dixie,” are all iconic things about the car and all completely unpractical. Regardless of the odd makeup of the car, it really is a thing of beauty. Even though the film changed the General Lee’s color from Corvette “Flame Red” to “Hemi Orange”, it was still passable and very recognizable.
14. Smokey and the Bandit – 1977 Pontiac Trans Am
When Smokey and the Bandit first blasted away on screen in the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, sales for the car in real life exploded, increasing as much as 70%. That shouldn’t surprise many because Burt Reynolds made the car look super cool in the high speed action flick. When, in 2014, Reynolds put up his own 1977 Pontiac Trans Am (valued at $80,000), it sold for a whopping $450,000. That’ll pay some of your debt down ol’ Burtsky.
13. Starsky and Hutch – 1976 Ford Gran Torino
Not the flashiest and not the best-selling car, the 1976 Ford Gran Torino is still a beauty. Made popular by the television show Starsky and Hutch, the red Torino with a large vector stripe is still recognizable by TV fans (or fans of the Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson remake). Apparently, even with the increased advertising from the TV show, the 1976 Ford Gran Torino is not even the highest selling version of this car. The massive boat of a vehicle, though unlovingly called the “striped tomato” by many, is still an icon for car lovers and movie/TV-lovers alike.
12. Christine – 1958 Plymouth Fury
While just over 5,000 of these beauties were produced, Steven King fans and film fans still know and love the 1958 Plymouth Fury. For the owners of this sentient automobile, it’s a dream car. It not only gets you from A to B, but it also kills anyone who messes with you or the car. Known to everyone as Christine, the Fury is a mixture of old-school style and art. If old cars like this aren’t your thing, just keep it to yourself because, if Christine hears you talking smack about it, there’s nowhere you can run.
11. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Paragon Panther
Unfortunately for all of us, you can’t buy the Paragon Panther from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s a mash-up of two cars, a Standard Tourer and a customized Mercedes called the Chitty Bang Bang. The movie car flies, hovers, has a mind of its own, looks amazing and is the size of a modern school bus. What’s not to love about it? The car was the brain child of Ian Fleming too, the author of the James Bond series, so you now he’s got style for days.
10. Grease – 1948 Ford DeLuxe
This car in Grease is built and beautified for the sole reason of impressing girls, how much more 50s can you get? This 1948 Ford DeLuxe, impresses more than just females though, it impresses everyone (especially the dream version from the end of the movie). A few hours before race time, the car is completely fixed up all during the length of only one song, so you know the work that was done was top notch. The lightning decals on the side surely give it the extra horsepower they needed to win the race against those no good T-Birds. Even if you never liked the film, the Greased Lightnin’ car was a charmer and still one of the coolest hot rods on the big screen.
9. Speed Racer – Racer Motors Mach 5
While there are cars that the Racer Motors Mach 5 resembles in real life, sadly, the real Speed Racer car does not exist. If it did, a lot of people would own one right now and the roads would be a lot more dangerous. That’s because this car is tricked out beyond belief; the steering wheel has seven buttons that make the car perform amazing feats, like dumping out jacks to jump the car into the air, change the tires while on the move and even send out a bird. For the movie Speed Racer, 100 replica cars were made (without the tricks unfortunately), costing collectors between $75,000 and $100,000 USD.
8. Gone in 60 Seconds – 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500
Though it was a 1971 Ford Mustang Sportsroof that was first named “Eleanor” in the original 1974 Gone in 60 Seconds, it’s the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 “Eleanor” from the 2000 remake that makes this list. The crazy beautiful fastback is an amazing sight to behold and it makes no wonder why Nic Cage was so enamored by it in the film. You may not see very many of these on the road, but, if we learned anything from this film, you should probably try to boost it if you ever do because it looks crazy easy to do.
7. The Fast and the Furious – 1994 Toyota Supra MK IV
So many of the cars from The Fast and the Furious franchise could have made this list, but only one will, and that is the 1994 Toyota Supra MK IV. Paul Walker’s orange Supra caught the eye of street racers and wannabes everywhere and became a highly sought after car. This 10-second car, which in reality could never do a quarter mile in under 10 seconds, looked and sounded great on screen, unlike the cars that it inspired in real life, basically just normal cars with decals, a body kit, silly lights and whiny muffler.
6. James Bond Franchise – 1964 Aston Martin DB5
After the release of Goldfinger, the first of the James Bond films to feature this car, the Aston Martin DB5 quickly became the world’s most popular vehicle. Though in real life the car is not fit with bullet proof glass, revolving plates or an ejector seat (unfortunately), the car is still a beauty and very recognizable, even if you’re not a car person. Exuding class and style, the DB5 is a treasure by itself, with James Bond at the wheel, it becomes a masterpiece.
5. Mad Max – Doof Wagon (Morale Machine)
Easily the coolest vehicle in Mad Max, the Doof Wagon is a MAN KAT I A1 (8×8), a German high mobility off-road truck fit with a wall of speakers and a blind guitarist named the Coma-Doof Warrior. This baby is meant to send morale to the caravan and it’s just crazy. The guitar doubles as a flamethrower and the sound of the guitar thrashing through those speakers is just awesome. Tell me you wouldn’t get pumped up hearing this baby blare down the highway. Man, what I would give to have the chance to drive this through my old town. I’d show them.
4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB
Ok, so the car in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off isn’t a true 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB, it’s a replica. If it was a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB, the film would never have made it in under their budget. The real car is insanely expensive. About 55 were made in total and a few have been sold in auction for astronomical prices like £5.5 million, $15.9 million USD and $17.16 million USD. This value just adds to the auto crime that takes place at the end of the movie.
3. Batman – The Batmobile
The Tim Burton or the Michael Keaton Batmobile is the most memorable Batmobile ever made. By this point, even after the success of the Christian Bale Batman franchise, the Batmobile driven by Keaton is still the one that fans picture. Unexplainably massive and fit with an intense amount of gadgets, the Batmobile doesn’t need to make sense to be awesome. If today, I saw a Tumbler driving down the road, I might think, is that a Tumbler? If, however, I saw the Batmobile drive down the road, I’d say “that’s the friggin’ Batmobile”, because it is the friggin’ Batmobile.
2. Back to The Future – The DeLorean
The little car that is recognized everywhere. The DeLorean with its gull wing doors and stainless steel body became iconic in the Back to the Future franchise. Car lovers everywhere were gunning this baby up to 88 after they saw it travel in time on the big screen, but, unfortunately, the DeLorean wasn’t nearly as cool as the modified version from the movies. When, at the end of Back to the Future, the DeLorean became able to fly, it really cemented its place in the movie car Hall of Fame.
1. Bullitt – 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback
The iconic 1968 Ford Mustang from the high speed Bullitt will go down as having one of the greatest car chase scenes in film history, involving one of the coolest cars in film history. Whether it was the 110MPH speeds through the hilly San Francisco streets or the throaty purr from the Mustang’s engine, the primary 10-minute chase is about as memorable as a car chase gets, also considered the father of modern car chases. Ford’s 1968 Mustang became one of their more popular models after Steve McQueen put his stamp on it.