In the soon-to-be-released film, Need for Speed, the Ford Mustang will earn its 3,000th credit in movies and television programs. Over nearly 50 years, it has appeared in films ranging from Goldfinger and Bullitt to such TV shows as Spencer and Kojak.
Not to be outdone, the Chevy Corvette sports a similarly long resumé, and is rumored to be adding to it with an appearance in the 2014 action film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The truth is, though, there’s nothing unique about cars playing big movie roles. It’s been happening for decades with countless vehicles that are fast, slow, elegant, and ugly. Car chase scenes in such films as Bullitt and The French Connection are now considered classics. And 40 years after its release, automotive buffs still talk about the role of the classic cars in American Graffiti.
We’ve collected photos of vehicles that played major movie roles. There are, of course, countless more. Tell us about your favorites in the comments section below.
Click the image below and cruise through movie history.
According to movie legend, Aston Martin was initially reluctant to part with its Aston Martin DB5 for the filming of the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger. As a result, the producers had to pay for the prototype used in most of the scenes. The vehicle, considered to be the most famous in movie history, provided Bond with an assortment of gadgets, including revolving license plates, a GPS dashboard, armrest controls, smoke screen, oil slick, rear bullet-proof screen, front-wing machine guns and, of course, the ejector seat. (Source: Aston Martin)
Off all of the Bond films, Skyfall held the most symbolism. They really used that movie as a vehicle (pun intended) to move the Bond franchise into the 21st century by reinventing some characters, killing off others, facing Bond's childhood and destroying the car.
Very cathartic. But, that has set up high expectations for the next film.
I have to say that if Bond ends up in a Telsa, I'll be a little upset. That is no follow up to the DB5.
Any reference to Bullitt makes me happy. I grew up in San Francisco and learned to drive in my mom's '68 Mustang. I'd lower my eyes to look cool and have one those fake candy cigarettes hanging out of my mouth. In my heart, I WAS Steve McQueen.
To this day, I drive a little too fast over certain hills in the city, catching air. But now, I loose my cool and giggle when I do.
Of course the Aston Martin had to be the first one you mention, Chuck! It is still the movie car of all movie cars, I think. Though I do love the scenes of the Mustang zooming around San Francisco in Bullitt. This was a fun one to look through, thanks!
Thanks for clarifying that, far911. Seems like the BMW switch was just as forgettable as Pierce Brosnan's turn as Bond! ;) (Sorry for people who liked him.) Although wasn't there some other guy after him that was even more forgettable? I think most agree that Sean Connery, Roger Moore and now Daniel Craig make the best Bonds.
While the Deuce coupe may suggest Southern California, the woody suggests surfing and the Southern Califonia beach. Some artists like Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys helped make many of those classic images through their songs.
An under stated car was the Munster mobile and Get Smart's Sunbeam Apline which fit them both perfectly. On the 32 Ford from American Graffiti it should have stated 2-4 barrel carberators. Surely Superman's cars should enter in - esp. the Barris modified Lincoln. Granted all TV cars but I think they all had spin off movies as well.
There's been a link to Herb Gordon's driving record in Design News the last couple of days, he's got 'The Saint''s car (a 1966 Volvo 1800 coupe), and will cover 3 million miles by September, God willing! Also - 'Drowning Mona' was the Yugo's big screen splash. With Bette Midler and Danny DeVito, EVERYBODY was driving Yugos. (No info on how many back-up vehicles were used...:-)
The Alfa Romeo's use in "The Graduate" is also a classic. Definitely one of the best stylized uses of a car ever in a film. I can still see him winding his way up to Northern California in search of a girl in my mind. That said, there is only a subtle difference between these two car classics, so I can see why you would think they were the same, JimT.
You get the Obscure Fact of the Day Award, Nadine. You are absolutely correct. According to the Internet Movie Car Database, Taylor drove a 1960 Sunbeam Alpine Series 1 in the movie. By the way, there's no way I would have known this. I looked it up here:
Charles, I'm laughing over here, at -- "By the way, there's no way I would have known this." You can add: "...because I was a mere toddler in cloth diapers that year! – why, just how old do you think I am ?!?! "
Gee, I didn't realize I was making an age-related comment, JimT. I just meant that I had never seen the movie. I am old enough to have watched it, by the way, but I didn't see it because I didn't think it would have enough car crashes.
He drove one in Dr. No and many other Hillman/Humber Rootes Group vehicles were featured in Dr. No. My mother had an IDENTICAL Series I Alpine repainted to the same color of the Bond Car. My first car was identical to the Get Smart Tiger ( Actually a Series V Alpine for the howitzer sequence ) and obviously the Rootes Group was more cooperative in letting Cubby use their vehicles Humber, Commer, Hillman and of course, an Alpine ).
I should note that in Gumball Rally, The AC Cobra was featured along with a Ferrari with Raoul Julia making the famous first rule of Italian Driving statement:
" What is behind me is not important " as he rips out the rearview mirror and tosses it away...
The owner of the several Cobras were NOT amused at the conditions of the very damaged AC Cobras that the film makers " Borrowed " from them when they were returned. In the later scenes of the movie, you can see the heavy front end damage of one of the last Cobras used. ( It is in the LA Aqueduct, but only for a few seconds )
I had a Sunbeam Alpine in the late 60's. It was a wonderful car -- fun to drive, amazing cornering (it was light and well-balanced). 1600cc aluminum head inline 4 with dual downdraft carburators (tuned by ear). I once spun out on a wet curve and stripped several lug nuts, causing one wheel to come off completely. I limped into the next town on 3 nuts/wheel and found replacements... ah, the things we survive in our teenage years ;-).
The biggest downside of the car was how hard it was to find repair parts in a small town in the midwest -- this was before Fedex and UPS. The Rootes Group didn't have much of a footprint in the US in those days. But it still makes me want to go shopping for one every time I remember how much fun it was!
For me De Lorean DMC 12 stands out. It has also to do with the fact that, I as a Kid used to think that this is the fastest car there can be in the world, which can manage to change the course of time. And other than that, Its rusty and rough look makes it an ideal hollywood car.
Although it was 0on TV, not in the movies, the car that I think was the neatest is the "general Lee", from "the Dukes of Hazzard". Not because of perfomance, but because the car could race hundreds of miles on dirt raods and always arrive perfectly clean. I really want a car that can do that!
Yes, there is probably another collection of the less famous cars ready for comments.
And a lot of those cars had really neat features, and now that I consider it, maybe Bond's car never got dusty, either. But I don't believe that he ran up and down all those dirt roads. The clean "general" is still amazing.
Had two close friends with GTO's. One still has his..... a '67 GTO ragtop, with a scraped out Chevy 427 & four speed. Dark blue metallic w/ white interior & ragtop. The other was a 1970 JUDGE in orange..... That one is long since departed by accident! The other one is relegated to "show-duty" only.....
I'm almost embarassed to admit this Charles but I've seen all of those movies. The cars are definitely classics but my favorites are the "rides" from Bullett, Back to the Future and the Bond movies. It's amazing how autos play into action movies and sometimes carry the movie itself. The best "chase scene" ( in my opinion) is the one from Bullett. Excellent post.
I, too, have seen all these movies, bobjengr (except for the two that haven't come out yet). Admittedly, I've seen several of them multiple times. And, yes, I can't get enough of the Bullitt chase scene.
Who can forget The California Kid? Or The Prisoner's Lotus?
A jewler in my hometown bought James Bond's Aston Martin and for years after drove it in the local parades, with the shield in back going up and down, and the machine guns popping out of the headlights with a tacky recorded machine gun soundtrack.
Interesting link, Nancy. I'm not sure the Flintstones car is completely fictional, however. Many years ago, I owned a '65 Chevy Bel Air with a rusted-out floor in the back. I could have put my feet through it and pushed it forward like Fred Fintstone.
Charles, Two Lane Blacktop is a bit of a cult film from 1971
but when you have the singer James Taylor as the driver of a '55 Chevy street rod and Dennis Wilson (the drummer of the Beach Boys) as his mechanic, and they are racing a 1970 GTO across the United States for pink slips, you've got yourself a car movie! :)
Did you forgot, in my opinion anyway, the greatest detective car of all time? Columbos 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible. If a car could define one's personality, that one certenally did Columbos.
Wikipedia says this about the car:
"While on duty, Columbo does not drive an official LAPD car; he prefers to drive his own car, a French automobile, a 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible which is equipped with a police radio. In the earlier series, the car used was clearly royal blue at one time although faded and sun-damaged. In the later series the car seems to be "primer"-colored. Columbo says he parks his car in the shade because the sun ruins the paint. The California license plate is damaged in later episodes, but is clearly shown undamaged in episode 1 of season 1 from both the front and back as "044 APD"."
"Peter Falk selected the car personally, after seeing it in a parking lot at Universal Studios. In season 5 episode "Identity crisis", Columbo boasts that the car is a rare automobile, "only three like it in the States". From June 1956 to July 1961 only 2,050 were produced, and only 504 were produced for model year 1959. Columbo's car frequently has mechanical problems."
"When the series returned on ABC, James and Connie Delaney of Findlay, Ohio owned the car but were unwilling to sell it, though they lent it to Universal for filming."
Yes, wealthy characters did have car phones in some of the old movies, Tweet. I recently saw an old Bond movie (I think it was Goldfinger) and Sean Connery was talking on a car phone from his Aston Martin.
Those who like the Bullitt chases scene should watch a 1973 film called "The Seven-Ups." That movie has a a similar chase scene, directed by the same director. It even uses the same (very easily recognizable) stunt driver as Bullitt.
The second Bullitt picture is not the 1968 but the 2008-9 Bullitt Mustang that Ford produced to honor the film. It's a great car I own Serial number 6001 and have had it since new. edit: Oopps didn't see slide 9....
A half century ago, cars were still built by people, not robots. Even on some of the country’s longest assembly lines, human workers installed windows, doors, hoods, engines, windshields, and batteries, with no robotic aid.
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