David Hasselhoff and his customized 1982 Pontiac Firebird. Vin Diesel and his 1970 Dodge Charger. Burt Reynolds and his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. What do these three things have in common? These are men of varying degrees of talent who all gave lukewarm acting performances alongside iconic rides. Say what you will about these cash-grabby movies; they exist because producers understand that no matter how bad the final product, a hot ride on the silver screen will never fail to fill box office seats. Though the actors have faded away like a Polaroid picture left in the sun, their cars have remained a part of our collective consciousness.
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It doesn’t matter if your taste runs to the original 1968 version starring Michael Caine or the 2003 remake with Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Donald Sutherland The Italian Job was a set of movies that showcased how cool Minis are. Running through the London underground or L.A.s subway system these nimble little speed demons steal the show with their high-performance maneuvering in very tight spaces.
The Knight Industries Two Thousand, KITT for short was one of the biggest stars in show business from 1982 to 1986. While many people were running around saying “don’t hassle the Hoff” those in the know understood all too well that it was the high tech KITT with its endless supply of gadgetry and just pure over the top cool styling that really made the show a hit. David didn’t really mind though he just kept releasing love songs in his native German.
As Doc Brown tells Marty McFly, “if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?" There were few cars on the road in the mid-80s that had more style than the DeLorean DMC-12. Without a Flux Capacitor, the DeLorean had 130 BHP and 153 ft lbs of torque. Not exactly super numbers for a supercar, but you have to admit that its brushed stainless exterior and gullwing doors gave it flash.
The spy car that all others are judged by, the 1963 Aston Martin DB5 first appeared as James Bond’s car in the 1963 film Goldfinger. The DB in the name stands for Sir David Brown, the owner of Aston Martin from 1947 to 1972, and a real-life Bond during his days in the British version of the OSS in WWII. This car was last seen in 2012 when it was sold to a private collector for 4.6 million dollars, and that was without all of the “Q” upgrades that made the car so special to movie fans around the world.
It is never a good idea to piss off the po-po but when the policemen in question is a young Mel Gibson, and he has access to a 351 cu in powered 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon complete with a Weiand 6-71 supercharger it can definitely shorten your life expectancy. The original Mad Max was a low budget, post-apocalyptic Australian film but it launched Mel to stardom and was the foundation of one of the most successful movie franchises in history.
Who can forget Sally Fields stripping off her wedding dress while Burt Reynolds watched and drove at 100 plus mph? One of the greatest comedies to come out of the 70s, Smokey and the Bandit launched a hilarious series of movies and created Trans Am mania across the United States. While other movie cars were one-offs that required heavy customization to recreate, anyone who wanted a Bandit of their very own needed to look no further than their local Pontiac dealership.
A movie cop’s car that actually looked like a cop’s car; Steve McQueen drove his roughed-up 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 through the winding streets of San Francisco in what many consider to be the greatest car chase scene in cinematic history. This car is so iconic that Ford has released special Bullitt edition Mustangs on three different occasions. In 2001, the Ford Motor Company released the Bullitt edition Ford Mustang GT, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the film in 2008 they brought it back and then once again 2018 to celebrate 50 years of Bullitt history.
Most people have forgotten the original 1974 independent film by H.B. "Toby" Halicki, but it was this version of Gone in Sixty Seconds that originally introduced us to “Eleanor” a 1967 Shelby GT500 Sports roof. In fact, the car plays such a pivotal role in the film it was given star credit ahead of the title. When the movie was remade in 2000 starring of Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Eccleston, Robert Duvall, Vinnie Jones, and Will Patton, it was only fitting that Eleanor was brought out of retirement.
Some cars are just so cool that it takes more than one movie to do them justice. That is definitely the case with the 1955 Chevy 210 complete with solid front axle, a 454 with tunnel ram, glass nose, and deck lid, Plexiglas side windows that Harrison Ford drove in American Graffiti. If the car looked familiar it was the very same car that starred in the cult classic Two-Lane Blacktop with James Taylor, the Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates, and Laurie Bird.
OK, a Volkswagen Beetle isn’t the sexiest or most muscle-bound car to make our list but who didn’t fall in love with Herby and dream of having a friend like him. Dean Jones may have never made it big outside of Disney classics like The Love Bug and the rash of sequels that followed it but give the man credit; it is not every actor who can be constantly upstaged by a car and still keep smiling all the way to the bank.
We are the first to admit that this may not be the perfect movie for motorheads, but you have to admit that the 1966 Ford Thunderbird that the two title characters ride through the desert in and eventually destroy is a pretty sweet ride. To be honest, we never had any issue with the girls knocking themselves off but taking the car with them was a crime beyond anything else that was in the script.
One of the greatest car movies to ever grace any screen of any size, Vanishing Point stars Barry Newman as car delivery driver Kowalski who leaves Denver Colorado in a supercharged white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum headed for San Francisco. It doesn’t take long for the police to get involved as they try to stop the hopped-up war hero and former race car driver from making his delivery. Sounds simple, but if you have never seen this movie you wouldn’t believe the drama.
Leave it to director John Carpenter to take horror to a whole new level with his 1983 adaptation of the Steven King novel. In the movie, a 1958 Plymouth Fury comes to life and falls in love with her owner. As you can imagine, mayhem ensues as the car kills everyone it sees as competition for his affection. Most scary is the fact that over 20 classic Plymouths were destroyed in the making of the movie.
Intended as a teen comedy, Ferris Bueller's Day Off starring Matthew Broderick in the title role has become a classic that still delights people of all ages. Its an old storyline of three best friends skipping school for one last hurrah but told in a way and with outrages happenings that culminate with the destruction of a rare 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California that they borrowed from one of their fathers. Rest easy though, while a true GT California was used in the shooting, it was a replica that was maltreated.
The Dukes of Hazzard was a television show that ran from 1979 to 1986 and spawned a hit song, movie, several spinoffs and specials. Most importantly, since none of the stars ever did much before or after the hit was it introduced us to the most recognized automobile in show business. The General Lee was a souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger that came flying across our television sets every week without the benefits of CGI or other FXs. Supposedly over 100 cars would eventually be used to keep enough repaired for a week’s shooting.