As one of the most effective forms of advertisement, product placement helps make our big-budget film possible. For instance, Transformers: Dark of the Moon featured 71 on-screen brands and Iron Man 2 subsided $100 million of its budget. It comes to no surprise that the most valuable placements in both films are cars.
If there’s one thing about advertising that makes sense to us all, it’s why manufacturers choose to spend millions placing their cars in movies. Steve McQueen‘s performance in Bullitt did more to sell Mustangs than any television ad could. Though a Super Bowl spot may boost sales of Audis for a year, watching Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Start drive an A8 could turn a child into an Audi fan for life. By the way, the original 1968 Mustang GT used in Bullitt was recently found in a junkyard in Mexico and will likely break several auction records if it’s sold.
Whether destroyed, missing, or physically impossible to recreate, some of our favorite iconic cars don’t and won’t exist. While some of the cars on this list do exist in the form of replicas or are the actual cars used in the films, each of the available versions are missing some key attributes. Sadly, until cars can take sharp turns at 3,500 mph and instantly become invisible, driving these fantasy machines will never happen. So, if we could make any of our favorite fictional cars in movies a reality, then which would we choose?
20. Optimus Prime Is The Best Transformer
When the original Shia LaBeouf Transformers movie opened in 2007 to earn $300 million, Paramount stamped it a franchise. By the fifth film, Transformers: Age of Extinction, production costs exceeded the domestic gross (though it soared in China), and Mark Wahlberg wasn’t enough to breath new life into the series. The truth is that it wouldn’t matter how many A-listers Paramount hired. At this point, even bringing back LaBeouf wouldn’t resurrect it. It’s likely the awe of these larger-than-life machines wore off, and the sooner Michael Bay realizes this, the better – considering the scheduled production of Transformers 7, Bay is either delusional, greedy, or both.
Of all the Transformers movies, no moment was more powerful than when Optimus Prime first appeared on screen. Prime is still voiced by Peter Cullen, and fans of the toys and TV series rejoiced when they finally heard him in a theater. To perfectly match the ruggedness of Cullen’s deep voice, a Peterbilt 379 (one of the largest trucks on the road) was used to represent the Autobot leader. Sure, you can buy a used 379 for about $50,000, but Peterbilt never offered a version that could transform into a giant alien robot.
19. What Could Be More Useful Than A Time Traveling DeLorean?
We can’t have a list of fictional cars from movies without including Doc’s (Christopher Lloyd) DeLorean from Back to the Future. Back to the Future was the most successful movie in 1985 and is the epitome of a blockbuster. Of the many records the film holds, the most exceptional being is that it was the slowest movie to reach $200 million. This statistic means that Future was number one at the box office for 11 non-consecutive weeks and it became an instant classic. This Robert Zemeckis masterpiece deserved its many praises for using a DeLorean DMC-12, the most futuristic time-machine looking vehicle ever. Sadly, DeLorean was bankrupt by 1983 due to John DeLorean’s arrest – he was found not guilty, but it was already too late. Fortunately, a company in Texas started producing new DeLoreans as a result of the demand stemming from the movie. There’s no word on if a Flux Capacitor comes standard with the $100,000 price tag; but, even if it does, plutonium fuel is so expensive right now.
18. The Spinner From Blade Runner Is Still Cool In The Sequel
2017 was a sad year for science fiction movies. Aside from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the sci-fi genre suffered through disappointments like Alien: Covenant, Ghost in the Shell, The Dark Tower, Life, and whatever Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was (its budget was over $200 million, it grossed less than $50 million, and it doesn’t make a lick of sense). As bad as these were, Blade Runner 2049 was the most unexpected failure. The original Blade Runner is widely considered to be a sci-fi masterstroke, and the sequel was highly anticipated. Critics loved 2049 and so did the fans; there just weren’t enough of them. As a result, the Ryan Gosling redux didn’t gross as much as its big- budget price tag. Despite 2049’s box office issues, the reboot included a revamped version of Harrison Ford‘s flying machine from the original, the “Spinner.” The Spinner is in fact a Peugeot which isn’t readily available in the U.S., but there’s no reason to get jealous. The flying version isn’t available in Europe, either.
17. We Still Wish For The White Challenger From Vanishing Point
Quentin Tarantino fans appreciate his filmmaking style which often embraces pastiche and homage. Every one of Tarantino’s films includes several references to other directors, classic movies, and moments in cinema’s history. It’s because of Tarantino’s own fandom that he made Death Proof, an homage to the “grindhouse” films of the seventies. The term “grindhouse” refers to mostly low-budget exploitation films which theaters would run back-to-back throughout the day for cheap admission fees.
Grindhouse movies were known to be subpar, but some of them were actually pretty decent, such as the cult classic, Vanishing Point. Vanishing Point was distributed by Fox, so it wasn’t exactly bottom-of-the-barrel. However, it’s still considered to include some of cinema’s best chase scenes amidst distinguishing B-movie grit. These chase scenes wouldn’t be so cherished if it weren’t for Kowalski’s 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T in Alpine White. Four white Challengers were manufactured by Dodge for the film and they weren’t modified in any way (several actors and stuntmen praised the cars’ durability and performance). As well-built as the Challengers were, not one of the four R/Ts used for the film was considered worth salvaging after the damage they took during production.
16. An Inconspicuous Van Made Of An Illegal Substance
For those who plan to become smugglers, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong‘s Up in Smoke offers supremely accurate insights into how it’s done. Up in Smoke is one of the early examples of a genre of comedy about the use of illegal substances, and it inspired many others that followed, e.g., Friday, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and Dude Where’s My Car? Amazingly, Cheech and Chong’s debut film is good enough that it still holds up after forty years and the opening scene is one of the all-time funniest. Most importantly, Up in Smoke offers an in-depth look into how real-life smugglers transport illegal things across the border. All this time we thought it was stashed in secret compartments or stuffed into the tires, when it was actually the case that the vans themselves were made out of the substance. From the looks of the van in this movie, there’s virtually no way to tell what it is made of. However, it is supremely flammable.
15. If Anything Could Replace The Batmobile, It’s The Tumbler
Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy is just about the finest example of a film reimagination (a term used to describe a remake with mostly original concepts). Christian Bale became the first Batman accepted as a worthy successor to Michael Keaton from the Tim Burton versions – Val Kilmer and George Clooney were both still better than Ben Affleck. Just as Nolan needed to cast a successful Bruce Wayne, he needed to adapt an acceptable Batmobile. Production designer, Nathan Crowley, modelled the new Batmobile from a Play-Doh version crafted by Nolan himself. Described as a cross between a Lamborghini and a tank, “The Tumbler” succeeded everyone’s wildest expectations. The Tumbler is a vigilant utility belt on wheels. Accessories include stealth mode, a grappling hook, missile launchers, and a jet engine for boost-jumps. Best of all, if the Tumbler takes too much damage, the front wheels eject and it transforms into a two-wheeled “Batpod.” The Batpod still includes the grappling hook, cannons, and a machine gun. Until a real-life Tumbler is created, we’ll have to stick with conventional ramps when we jump our cars across buildings.
14. Nothing Will Replace Tim Burton’s Batmobile
Of all the fictional cars in movies, only the Batmobile deserves two spots on our list. The Tumbler from The Dark Night Trilogy is only so awesome because its predecessor, the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s Batman, became the most iconic superhero car of all time. 1989’s Batmobile introduced the grappling hook for 360-degree turns, a jet turbine engine, a “Batmissile-mode” (similar to the Batpod), and a super-intelligent computer. Updated versions of all these traits were used for the Tumbler, but the original retained a few unique abilities. The most notable trait that’s unique to 1989’s Batmobile is its shielding system seen in Batman Returns. When Wayne leaves the Batmobile unattended, he activates a shield which is basically a sleeve of armored panels that cover the vehicle like a slinky. It’s likely that the Tumbler’s stealth mode serves as a replacement for the Batmobile’s shield mode, but what good is owning a Batmobile if your neighbors can’t see it in the driveway?
13. Vin Diesel’s Dodge Charger Does What?!
The Fast and the Furious is now the sixth-most successful film franchise, with a total gross of over $5 billion. Universal’s goldmine action series is so impressive because it brought underground racing to the masses and popularized a new form of car-tuning culture. We had no idea how much we needed to tune a Toyota Supra so it could do a quarter-mile in ten seconds until Paul Walker did. There are countless modified cars from the Fast series that fans wished existed, but Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) customized 1970 Dodge Charger R/T is the crème de la crème.
At the end of the first film, Toretto races his cherished Charger against O’Conner’s Supra in a display of mechanical pageantry. The story goes that Toretto built the Charger with his late father; it has a 426 Hemi V-8, a supercharger protruding through the hood, and boasts 900 horsepower. O’Connor’s Supra barely keeps up with a tank of nitrous. The lesson learned is that a 900-hp Charger provides enough torque to do what every Hot Wheels owner always dreamed of: car wheelies.
12. Today’s Ghost Hunters Wish They Had An Ect0-1
For some reason, reboots or remakes of comedies often struggle more than other genres, e.g., Vacation, The Pink Panther, Arthur. Somehow, one of history’s worst comedy reboots was one of its more recent ones. Released in 2016, the all-female version of Ghostbusters wasn’t necessarily the worst movie, but its high expectations pretty much sealed its fate. The bar was set too high. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Paul Feig just had a hit with Bridesmaids, several Ghostbusters scripts were infamously reworked over a period of decades, and everyone was hyped for the idea of an all-female cast. Instead of nostalgia, the reboot was a big-budget snore-fest and even the new Ecto-1 fell short. The original Ecto-1 was just too cool for school. It was a 1959 ambulance/hearse combo with room for Proton packs, a signature Ghostbusters alarm to wave through traffic, and its own Muon Trap for catching ghosts outdoors. The Ecto-1 is also marked with “No-Ghost” logos on the doors and hood, which is now one of the world’s most recognized badges.
11. The Best Spies Drive Aston Martins
Ian Fleming’s James Bond series was adapted to become one of cinema’s longest-running and most successful film franchises. They’ll be making Bond movies for our grandkids’ great-grandkids’ grandkids, which is fantastic because every generation deserves their own array of Bonds, villains, and tricked-out spy cars. Whether it’s Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, or Daniel Craig, we each have a favorite 007. Regardless of opinion, we all must accept that Bond wouldn’t be Bond if it weren’t for Sean Connery. Equally important to Bond’s image is Connery’s 1963 Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger. Bond’s iconic English roadster included radar, a bulletproof shield, dual machine guns, and a retractable tire slasher. The DB5 became the prototype for every spy car that followed and influenced every model of Aston Martin that followed, as well. An original DB5 in decent condition will fetch at least $1 million and Connery is directly responsible – although visually stunning, classic Aston Martins are notoriously troublesome and unreliable. The last thing a spy needs is for the ejector seats to be jammed.
10. Where Can We Find Jason Statham’s BMW?
The Jason Statham-led Transporter movies were a delightful surprise from writer, Luc Besson: they were straightforward, action-packed, and just over-the-top enough to be tongue-in-cheek. As homage to classic getaway driver movies, The Transporter launched Statham’s action movie career. Just as electric a performance as Statham’s is his co-star’s, a Euro Model 1998 BMW 750iL. In the film, the BMW was portrayed as a 1999 735i because the 750iL wasn’t available in the U.S. market, but Frank Martin’s 7-series was extra special. The luxury sedan was fitted with a six-speed V-12, which is likely impossible to find in Europe, so good luck finding one in America. Statham’s Beemer isn’t loaded with gadgets like most other spy cars. Instead, it’s more refined to suggest that Frank is more of a “regular” guy than a Bond-type; however, the license plates do flip over, just like Bond’s DB5. In Transporter 2, Frank upgraded to a 2005 Audi A8 with a 600-hp W-12, but the Audi didn’t have nearly as much personality as the original digs.
9. Every Dog Fan Wants A Dog Van
While we want fictional cars from movies to exist because they’re extraordinarily fast or destructive, we also wish some movies cars existed because of their adventurous designs. Few, if any, movie cars will challenge the exceptional style and aerodynamics of Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd’s (Jim Carrey) “Mutt Cutts Van” from Dumb and Dumber. This customized 1984 Ford Econoline from the Farrelly Brothers’ classic is a one-of-a-kind full-size van that doubles as a business. This van’s 114-hp engine is guaranteed to get you and a buddy from Providence to Aspen at least once and its fur exterior is so cozy, you’ll forget your gloves. The radio doesn’t work, so make sure to learn a few songs to sing with your travel-buddy. Tragically, the Mutt Cutts Van reappeared in the sequel only to be destroyed upon trying to ramp off a hill, again. With that said, if you happen to stumble upon a Mutt Cutts Van, know that it’s only good for one jump and its trade-in value is a 70-mpg road hog.
8. Jurassic World Wishes It Had The Original Tour Vehicles Back
Jurassic World is a good movie, but Jurassic Park is so much better. Maybe we’re already too desensitized to seeing giant dinosaurs, or maybe Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard definitely don’t compare to Laura Dern and Sam Neill. One thing that didn’t help Jurassic World were those silly plastic balls they used for tour vehicles. They’re called Gyrospheres and they fail in comparison to the Dinosaur-Camouflage Ford Explorer XLT’s used in the first Jurassic Park. These Explorers were modified to follow along an electric grid and they could self-navigate. That’s right; they’re early examples of the self-driving, electric Google cars of the near future. The original “Tour Vehicle” came with cup holders and an extended sunroof to get a better view of the already very close dinosaurs, which also happens to be just enough glass for stopping a T-Rex from eating you and your sibling, thank God. If that isn’t cool enough, each Tour Vehicle comes standard with a pair of the slickest night-vision goggles you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom looks like they’re sticking with those Gyro-whatevers, but we should still cross our fingers for an original Tour Vehicle cameo.
7. We Need Greased Lightin’ To Drag-Race Our Foes
In 1978, Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) taught us that falling in love is fruitless without catchy pop songs and elaborate dance routines. Until the 2017 release of Beauty and the Beast, Grease was the most successful film musical. Accordingly, the soundtrack is largely responsible for Grease’s recognition and it wouldn’t be the same without the hot-rod hit, “Greased Lightnin.'” Okay, maybe “Greased Lightnin'” wasn’t as beloved as “Summer Nights” or “You’re the One That I Want,” but what is?! Both of those songs are simultaneously stuck in all of our heads most days. Despite its song, the 1948 Ford Deluxe Convertible known as Greased Lightnin’ is one of the most beloved movie cars. An original Deluxe will go for about $50,000 but it won’t include a custom cream-white paint job with lightning decals. A stock Deluxe will win a drag race, though. The Ford’s Flathead V-8 is on the Ward’s “10 Best Engines of the 20th Century” list and is still a coveted gem in the hot-rod community.
6. Would The Fun Ever Stop If We Had Garth’s Pacer?
One of the most righteous icons to grace the silver screen is Garth’s (Dana Carvey) “Mirth Mobile” from Wayne’s World. Including Garth’s car on this list is questionable because this car technically does exist and recently sold at auction for $37,400. Assuming the tape-deck still works, $40,000 is a steal for this vintage 1976 AMC Pacer with flame decals. Garth’s classic can comfortably seat five and includes two hubcaps. Don’t sleep on its speed, either, because this baby roars with a 4.2-liter V-6. This roomy two-door also has an automatic transmission, which makes it easy to safely rock-out to Queen. While the accessories do include an overhead liquorice dispenser, there is no soda-gun in the center console as was seen in Wayne’s World 2, so it’s technically imperfect. Before selling at auction, the car was completely restored both inside and out. This is important because we must assume that whoever bought the Mirth Mobile will drive it constantly with four other passengers, blasting cassette tapes.
5. In A Zombie Apocalypse, Which Vehicle Do You Choose?
We each have a plan for surviving the zombie apocalypse. When the inevitable zombie outbreak does go down, one of the most important keys to survival is to find proper transportation. Great choices would include decked-out motorcycles, speed boats, and armored trucks. Obviously, each of us will only have enough time to pick one vehicle, so which do you choose? After thorough research of decades of horror films, the modified Shuttle Bus from Dawn of the Dead (2004) should be on everyone’s short list. This armored Ford Shuttle Bus has everything needed to comfortably evade zombies – it comes complete with various metal siding found in a mall garage, a wedge-plow that tears through zombie crowds, and side-slits that allow just enough room to fit a chainsaw or machine-gun. The most compelling feature is the barbed-wire roof, which is surrounded with spot lights, and includes an emergency escape hatch from which you can throw explosives. Hopefully, Ford gets with the program and starts manufacturing this post-apocalyptic version of the Shuttle Bus, ASAP.
4. George Lucas Secretly Owns A Landspeeder (Probably)
The crown jewel of Star Wars vehicles will always be the Millennium Falcon, but we can’t classify Han Solo’s freighter as a car. In the Star Wars galaxy, the closest resemblance to cars would be the various forms of hovercraft. As fun as “podracing” looks in The Phantom Menace, it’s Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) “Landspeeder” that we wish to exist the most. As an example of the Landspeeder’s influence, know that they released a very enviable special edition battery-powered version of it for kids. While there were a few different forms of Speeders throughout the Star Wars chapters, like the “Speeder Bikes” they race through the forests in Return of the Jedi, the most iconic version is the X-34 which Luke drives in A New Hope. The X-34 is what Luke drives through town with R2-D2 and C-3PO when Obi Wan Kenobi brainwashes the Stormtroopers into believing “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” It’s more likely than not that George Lucas owns a functioning Speeder in one form or another.
3. Two Cadillacs Are Better Than One
It took about twenty years for George Miller to finally create his masterpiece, Mad Max: Fury Road. All of Miller’s frustration paid off when Fury Road opened to high praise resulting in TEN Academy Award nominations. The world of this Mad Max installation is a post-apocalyptic desert where water is sacred and the gods are extravagant roadsters and trucks made for war. We wish we could rage war with every car from this movie, especially “The War Rig” that Charlize Theron pilots; but, among them all, Immortal Joe’s “Gigahorse” is the most outrageous. The Gigahorse is two 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville’s stacked on top of each other with two 500-hp Chevrolet V-8’s and superchargers bumping it past 1,200-hp. The four rear tires are 70″ in diameter. The smartest move made by anyone was made by the production designer, Colin Gibson, who found additional money so they could build a functioning engine (all the cars in Fury Road function). During production the Gigahorse had problems overheating and was so heavy that the tires kept deflating. Hopefully, the Gigahorse remains operational and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
2. Nicolas Cage Made Us Want To Steal A Million-Dollar Mustang
To maintain absolute accuracy, there were actually two “Eleanors.” The 2000 version of Gone in Sixty Seconds is a remake of the 1974 H.B. Halicki movie of the same name. Both films have similar plots where the main character must steal dozens of cars for a mobster boss, but only one of them has Nic Cage. The Nic Cage version also includes the better model of Eleanor, a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. The exact car was never produced for the public but similar models of this American muscle car will set you back at least $125,000 in good condition. Some differences in Cage’s Eleanor include bullet side mirrors, custom rims, and a body-kit designed by famous hod-rod illustrator, Steve Stanford. Undoubtedly required, Cage’s GT500 comes with a “Go Baby Go” button on the gearshift to initiate nitrous for that extra boost needed to get away from police helicopters. It’s too bad Ford didn’t make more Eleanors, because one used in the movie sold for $1 million.
1. The Mach Five Is The Least Attainable And The Most Desired
The Wachowski siblings are among the most creative minds in Hollywood, and the Matrix franchise grossed over $1.5 billion. Aside from The Matrix and V for Vendetta, the Wachowskis made terrible movies with overly-complicated screenplays and massive budgets (Warner Brothers pretty much broke even with the duo). Amidst their box office defeats was the long-awaited film adaptation of the pioneering anime series, Speed Racer, (originally Mach GoGoGo).
Starring the family favorite, Emile Hirsch, the film version of Speed Racer is most comparable to staring at the sun with a kaleidoscope for 165 minutes except it’s worse for your health. As bad as it was, seeing the “Mach Five” on the big screen was still satisfying. Speed Racer’s driving machine has it all: cutter blades to slice through obstacles, gripping belt tires, a deflector mode which makes the cockpit impenetrable, and a deployable homing-robot to deliver messages while traveling thousands of miles-per-hour. Several unofficial replicas of the Mach Five were built, but none of them produce anywhere near 5,000-hp like Speed’s does. The most similar available car to the Mach Five is a 1960’s Ford GT40 – as one of the rarest and most expensive American cars, the cheapest GT40s go for $5 million.
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