In many films the car has played just as memorable a role as the actors and this list celebrates those cars which have at some stage upstaged the leading actors and actresses.
Some of the cars featured in films throughout the decades have attained iconic status which has led to a boost in car sales and an increase in popularity for the car model and companies concerned.
It is therefore only fitting that a list of the top ten cars which have featured prominently in cinematographic history is made.
The DeLorean DMC-12 found fame in the Back to the Future trilogy. In the film the car famously travels through time, can fly but can not stand the impact of an express train. Developed by Doc Brown the car is used by Marty McFly to travel back to 1955, forward to the 21st century and then back to the Wild West frontier.
In reality, the Texan-designed Northern Ireland-built car had a five speed manual gear stick and three gear automatic gear sticks which allowed the car to race from 0-60 miles per hour in 10.5 seconds. Named the DMC-12 due to its original cost of $12,000, the DeLorean has become an iconic part of pop culture in America due to its role in the Back to the Future films.
The next star car offering comes from Volkswagen, whose Beetle became one of the most iconic cars in the 1960s thanks to the model’s leading role as Herbie in a series of films about a racing car. Wolfsburg’s favourite son was only eclipsed locally in popularity by the VfL Wolfsburg Meisterschaft in 2009.
Herbie’s anthropomorphic characteristics struck a chord with the cinema-going world in the late 1960s and early 1970s leading to five films and a television spin-off series being created. Sadly the car was never able to replicate Herbie’s feats, meaning that motorists were reliant on their driving skills to navigate with the help of a 1.6 litre H4 rear engine, rear-wheeled drive and three gear manual gear operative.
The Batmobile has featured in many different guises since its début in 1941 as a red Cord 812 in the Batman comics. The most iconic Batmobile is from Tim Burton’s double bill of films; 1989′s Batman and 1992′s Batman Returns.
Ranked alongside the 1966 Batman TV series car as the most iconic Batmobile, the film car was powered by a Chevy V8 engine with a two seat cockpit and heavily rounded body at the rear of the vehicle. The car had a vocal-recognition command, CD recorder, side monitor, self-diagnostics system and a host of artillery to defend herself and her passengers.
An automobile which managed to steel the movie limelight despite it not being able to time travel or being fitted with gadgets or armoury was the 1968 Ford Mustang. This motor vehicle appeared in the film Bullitt and made the US model one of the most popular cars in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to one legendary chase scene in San Francisco.
The 1968 Ford Mustang was available with three manual three speed gear change and equipped with a Ford Thunderbird FE engine which allowed the car to reach speeds of 105 miles per hour. The 1968 model was specially modified for the Bullitt film although many features remained such as the deluxe interior service.
In 2005 the Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee was introduced to the cinema-going world. The 1969 modified Dodge Charger model was the same model as the one which was made famous in the television series which ran from 1979-85. The car took its name from the Confederate’s General Robert Lee and in many ways embodies the southern states of America who fought the Civil War.
Eleven cars were used in the making of the Dukes of Hazzard movie with The General Lee powered by V8 engines of various sizes. Usually the tyres were made by B.F. Goodrich Radial, although on occasions Winston Winners tyres were used. The General Lee was famous for not having any doors, leaving the Dukes with little option but to slide into the car through the windows.
In homage to the E-type Jaguar came the Shagular, featured in the Austin Powers films complete with the Union Jack Flag painted on the bodywork. Voted as the number one sports car in the 1960s, this two door coupé was developed as a two seater, a 2+2 seater and as a two door convertible. The car could reach top speeds of 149.1 miles per hour and could race from 0-60 miles per hour in 7.1 seconds thanks to its 3.8 litre engine.
The E-Type had an independent coiled spring rear suspension, whilst the insides of the car contained leather upholstery and a Moss 4 gearbox. The ’2+2′ version of the E-Type offered the driver the chance to use automatic transmission as opposed to manual.
Minis have had their fair-share of promotion and exposure throughout their history, whether it be Leeds United striker Duncan McKenzie hurdling one at Elland Road in the 1970s or via cinematography of films such as The Italian Job. The Mini Cooper S models used in the film found fame from the numerous car chases and daring stunts which gave the movie its allure.
With a 1071cc engine and 55 brake horse power the car was able to win in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967 and finished in the top three positions in 1966. However the cars were controversially disqualified by French judges, leading to the Citroen driver who was announced as the winner reluctant to accept the award and promising never to drive for the French firm again.
Very few films are actually named after a car but Ford’s Gran Torino is one of the vehicles which can claim that honour. The Gran Torino in question is a 1972 model which in the film belongs to Clint Eastwood’s character Walt Kowalski. A neighbour fails in trying to steal the vehicle but the incident eventually draws the neighbour and Kowalski closer.
Despite the car being a key component of the film, the motor vehicle is only seen being taken for a run during the final credits. Gran Torino’s 1972 design gave the motorist a chance to drive a car with Magnum 500 wheels and a choice of a four speed manual or a three speed manual or three speed automatic.
Ghostbusters’ Ectomobile is a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor and was one of the stars of the film which saw four paranormal investigators don suits and proton packs in order to capture ghosts, before storing them in an Ecto-Containment unit. The car is seen in both Ghostbusters I and II and also appears in the spin-off Ghostbusters cartoon series.
Technically an ambulance, the Ectomobile was used to transport the Ghostbusters team and their proton packs to and from base on missions. It was decorated on the roof with various gadgets which were rarely or never used. At least three versions of the car were used during the filming, with two of them currently being restored in Universal Studios.
It would be impossible to mention any famous car films without discussing at least one vehicle from the James Bond franchise. The Aston Martin DB5 is still one of the most iconic cinematographic motors ever filmed on the silver screen. Famously making its début in 1964′s Goldfinger, the car reprised its role in Thunderball a year later. After a 30-year hiatus, the Aston Martin reappeared Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
A luxury car which could reach speeds of up to 145 miles per hour, the DB5 could also travel from 0-60 miles per hour in 7.1 seconds, aided by 282 brake horse power and a four litre engine. The car’s enduring appeal comes from the fact that no matter how many other firms’ models have been used, the public still associate the Aston Martin DB5 as the car of suave super-spy James Bond.