Many movies have not just benefited from unique-looking cars, but in many cases, the cars have become synonymous with the movie they were in. The following cars are undeniably some of the most iconic ones in movie history!
1992 Ford Explorer XLT UN46 – Jurassic Park
Sure, there have been a lot of Jurassic Park movies over the last 30 years, but nothing can quite compare to the original Spielberg classic from 1993. It was a truly unique experience seeing the T-Rex attack those 1992 Ford Explorer XLT UN46s. At any given time, it felt like virtually any character in that epic movie could have been eaten by a dinosaur, of some kind. The six Ford Explorers used were all demolished by the end of production.
GEN 11 – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Unlike many of the movie cars on this list that were actually based on real-life vehicles, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is inspired by the novel of the same name. Roald Dahl envisioned a magical car that resembled the Mercedes models that Count Louis Zborowski designed and built in the 1920s. Designers produced six models for the film, all registered as GEN 11. In 2011, one model sold for a staggering $805,000 at auction, making it one of the most expensive movie props ever sold.
1967 Austin Mini Cooper S 1275 – The Italian Job
One of the oldest iconic movie cars on this list is without a doubt, the Mini Coopers from The Italian Job. Contributing to one of the most memorable car chase scenes in cinematic history, the British Motor Corporation apprehensively donated a handful of their coveted small cars for the production company to use, with the rest coming at trade price. Also, it turns out that Michael Caine never actually drove a Mini Cooper during production as he was unable to drive at the time.
Greased Lightning (1948 Ford De Luxe Convertible) – Grease
Anyone who is a fan of Grease knows how important cars are in this classic musical movie. One of the most memorable scenes in the entire flick sees Danny Zuko and the T-birds taking a washed-up 1948 Ford De Luxe Convertible and transforming it into the beauty that is…Greased Lightning! It plays such an integral part in the final chapters of the movie that Danny ends up flying away with Sandy in the stunning vehicle.
1976 Lotus Esprit Series I – The Spy Who Loved Me
While the Aston Martin DB5 is synonymous with James Bond, it’s not the only car that 007 is famous for driving. In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond drives this 1976 Lotus Espirit Series I, which in the movie transforms into a submarine when he submerges it into water. Then, when it returns to land, it reverts back to its original self. This car came at a time when futuristic designs were the automobile trend.
1984 Ford Econoline – Dumb and Dumber
It seems miraculous that Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne managed to get themselves a car that was just as ridiculous as their decision-making! The stars of classic 90s comedy Dumb and Dumber drove this 1984 Ford Econoline, covered in a dog-motif around America in order to return a briefcase to Lloyd’s love interest, Mary Swanson. Since then, the Mutt Cutts vehicle has been recreated by many dynamic duos. With the windshield acting as the dog and driver’s eyes, it almost seems too clever for these guys.
The Gigahorse – Mad Max: Fury Road
While the original Mad Max movie starring Mel Gibson had plenty of memorable cars, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road took it to a whole new level. What is essentially one of the most epic car chases of the last couple of decades, Tom Hardy’s titular character is at one point surrounded by weird, new vehicles in a post-apocalyptic world. The most striking car of them all is probably the Gigahorse, which is a combination of a truck chassis and double ’59 Cadillac bodies.
1977 Pontiac Trans Am – Smokey and the Bandit
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field’s chemistry is undeniably off the charts in Smokey and the Bandit. However, the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am used in the movie might be just as integral to the movie’s success as the two leads. Anyone who saw the movie was determined to snatch up their own Trans Am and paint it in black and gold. Sales rose dramatically by over 50,000 cars in just a couple of years after the movie’s release.
1970 Dodge Charger – The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious was a movie that literally nobody saw coming. Seeing such ferocious car races and car-related action sequences was something Hollywood had desperately been missing for a few years and this 1970 Dodge Charger harked back to a bygone era. While we are mainly shedding light on the Dodge Charger that Vin Diesel drove in the movie, it’s also important to give Paul Walker’s Supra a worthy mention. The two gave their all in that final race.
1968 Mustang GT 390 – Bullitt
Steve McQueen might be best known for his role in The Great Escape. However, his car-based action movie Bullitt is also a career highlight. He was at the center of some incredible car chase scenes, with a 1968 Mustang GT 390 tailing a 1968 Dodge Charger across the streets of San Francisco. What gave the car even more of an attitude were the magnesium American Racing Torque Thrust wheels. The movie made the car so popular that Ford made two limited-edition versions of it.
Subaru Impreza WRX – Baby Driver
One of the most recent movies to feature a car worthy of being included on this list has to be Baby Driver. Edgar Wright’s instant classic sees Ansel Elgort’s character block out the white noise with classic songs of all genres. While doing this, he drives this stunning Subaru Impreza WRX to complete a number of life-threatening missions. It is reported that Baby was originally supposed to drive a Honda for the movie, but the production went with the Impreza WRX last minute.
2007 Chevrolet Camaro Replica – Transformers
What makes the following movie car so cool is that it looks just as stunning as a car as it does when it “transforms” into one of the Transformers’ most iconic characters – Bumblebee. While Transformers originally developed a following through its toys and animated series, Michael Bay has since turned the property into a huge film franchise. Bumblebee first appears in the movie as a 1977 model of the Camaro and then as a 2007 edition. However, since the car wasn’t even out yet, designers needed to create a replica.
1985 Modena GT Spyder California – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
An important element of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sees Matthew Broderick’s titular character travel around the streets of Chicago with his friends in a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. However, it turns out that it wasn’t even real. The design team managed to use three 1985 Modena GT Spyder Californias and pass them off as Ferraris after a combination of modifications. They even give an in-universe explanation for why it looks so unique. Two of the cars sold at auction for $235,000 and $407,000, respectively.
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T – Vanishing Point
It’s hard to tell what is more beautifully simplistic – the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T in Vanishing Point or the movie’s premise. Barry Newman’s Kowalski bets that he can drive all the way from Denver to San Francisco in under 15 hours. This means that he has to drive an average speed of no less than 80 mph! The same team that put together Steve McQueen’s Bullitt created this high-paced car masterpiece. The copious amounts of stunts paved the way for many future car-based action flicks.
1969 Mustang – John Wick
It feels like Keanu Reeves single-handedly resurrected the action film genre with his film series John Wick. That is in large part due to the actor’s brooding nature, the movie’s awesome fight scenes and of course, the thrilling car chases. Although Wick’s Mustang is referred to in the movie as a Boss 429, producers actually used a ’69 Mustang Mach 1 instead. Reeves was determined to perform most of the driving stunts himself, which is refreshing in a time when many movies rely on CGI for car action sequences.
1971 Chevrolet Nova SS – Death Proof
While it might not be Quentin Tarantino’s most popular movie, Death Proof is another strong entry to his filmography, paying homage to old car-based action movies such as Vanishing Point. Kurt Russell plays a psychopathic retired stuntman who gets a kick out of stalking young women and doing sinister things to them with his 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS. Iconic these days for the skull and bones on the hood of the car, Stuntman Mike makes his car “death proof,” but only for the driver…
1932 Ford Coupe – American Graffiti
George Lucas is obviously synonymous with Star Wars. But the visionary filmmaker actually made a pretty down-to-Earth kind of movie just a couple of years before making A New Hope. American Grafitti starred the likes of Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, and Richard Dreyfus, and also included a number of cool cars. However, probably the standout vehicle in the entire movie is this 1932 Ford Coupe. One of the most iconic Deuce Coupes on the planet, it smoked Harrison Ford’s ’55 Chevy in the climactic race.
1971 Volkswagen T2 Microbus – Little Miss Sunshine
While Little Miss Sunshine might not be the highest-grossing movie on this list, it certainly stole the hearts of millions. The story about a dysfunctional family determined to take their daughter across the country to a beauty pageant is one for the ages. However, the movie wouldn’t be the same without the vehicle the family use for their road trip. The producers decided to use a sunshine-yellow VW T2 Microbus. One of the models is on display at the Petersen Automotive Musem in L.A.
Batmobile/Tumbler – Batman Begins
While the Batmobile has had a long-standing reputation as an iconic fictional car, Christopher Nolan took things to the next level with his iteration of Batman’s crime-stopping vehicle. The Tumbler made its first appearance in Batman Begins and created its own legacy with its militaristic design. Believe it or not, but the car uses a 350-cid Chevy V-8 engine, which allows it to reach 60mph in about five seconds. Christian Bale has probably never driven something as cool as the Tumbler.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 – Back to the Future
One of the most important cars in movie history, the DeLorean is almost like a third main character in the Back to the Future movie franchise. Despite flopping during its initial 80s release, this DeLorean has earned a strong following due to its futuristic look.
1964 Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger
Has there ever been a car more synonymous with a fictional character? Sean Connery’s James Bond had some truly death-defying scenes in the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. 007 drives the classic car in both Goldfinger and Thunderball and in true Bond fashion, the car has plenty of modifications perfect for an international spy. These included an ejector seat, oil-slick sprayer, and many more. Not only did the navigational map in the movies pave the way for modern navigation systems, but one of the models recently sold for $4.6 million!
Monkeemobile (Pontiac GTO) – The Monkees
There are not many bands out there with their very own car named after them. However, The Monkees are certainly one of them. Designer Dean Jeffries modified this Pontiac GTO, which is iconic due to its larger than life design. Two models were produced, with one acting as the official vehicle of the band’s TV show. The second one was used to tour around the U.S. to numerous car shows. Over the years, a variety of replicas with unique features have been made.
Ectomobile (1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor) – Ghostbusters
Where would Dr. Venkman, Ray, Spengler, and Winston be without their beloved Ectomobile? The Ghostbusters were able to get around in the original movies with this awesome 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor, which they converted (in-universe) into a ghost-busting machine. With a 6-3-liter V-8 and 320 horsepower, this hearse/ambulance combo can really get places, which is handy for a team dedicated to tracking down ghosts. After years of neglect, fans signed a petition to restore the remaining models of the cars, which included the ECTO-1 and the ECTO-1A.
1966 Ford Thunderbird – Thelma & Louise
Thelma & Louise is certainly a unique movie in that it sees two female characters go on a road trip with unexpected twists and turns. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon’s characters embark on their epic journey in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird. However, it turns out that the producers chose this specific car as it was easy to drive when filming all of the scenes. The car received no customizations and in 2008, the T-bird, including Brad Pitt and Davis’s signatures on it, was sold at auction for an impressive $71,500.
Mirthmobile (1976 AMC Pacer) – Wayne’s World
The two rock fans Wayne and Garth took this 1976 AMC Pacer and had it painted in a baby blue and flames on the sides. Then, they ended up naming the car “The Mirthmobile.” Arguably the most iconic scene from Wayne’s World sees Mike Myers, Dana Carvey and some their friends hanging out in their Pacer, singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” That scene was so influential that the classic Queen record ended up making a comeback, reaching #2 in the U.S. charts!