From high-speed chases to dreamy sequences of open-road adventures, cars have always played pivotal roles in cinema. They become characters of their own, with distinct personalities that can sometimes even outshine the plot itself. Whether it’s James Bond’s Aston Martin or the DeLorean from Back to the Future, these popular cars in movies capture our imagination and often make us wish we could take them for a spin.
In the vast landscape of cinematic automobiles, brands strive to showcase their vehicles. An example is global automobile manufacturer Hyundai, whose legacy of cars in movies can be traced by y looking up Hyundai vin lookup: you’ll find familiar titles like TV series The Walking Dead. But without further ado, here is a list of 5 popular cars in movies, from cult classics to modern blockbusters!
1. The DeLorean DMC-12
Back to the Future
The DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future is one of the most iconic movie cars on this list, and it has also become synonymous with time travel. Who can’t forget the first words uttered by young Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) when he discovers that his eccentric friend, scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) has mastered the art of time travel? “You Built A Time Machine … Out Of A DeLorean?,” he asks, not long before Doc stumbles upon a fuel issue – since the car runs on plutonium, which is not exactly easy to come by – and, before he knows it, our young protagonist finds himself in 1955, with no way of going back home, to the titular “future.”
Back to the Future is a fantastic film where director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gale constantly defy our expectations and seamlessly blend genres to bring us one of the best sci-fi flicks ever made. But the car itself has become iconic too, as not only is what sets everything off, but it also evolves in the rest of the trilogy, adapting with the times and accompanying our characters in their adventures. And if you ever find yourself in a Delorean, take our advice: don’t mess with the flux capacitor!
2. The Ford Mustang GT
The 1968 Ford Mustang GT from Bullitt also deserves to be on this list, as it’s what made Steve McQueen’s 1968 film so popular and beloved. Why? Because it’s featured in what RottenTomatoes describes as “the greatest movie car chase scene ever.”
The film is about a senator (Robert Vaughn) who’s trying to get mob boss Pete Ross (Vic Tayback) incriminated by using a testimony from said mob boss’s impulsive brother, Johnny (Pat Renella). So impulsive, in fact, that he’s in protective custody in San Francisco, which leads our senator to police lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen). But things become more complicated when some hitmen get involved, and Bullitt finds himself entangled in a web of deceit and betrayals.
The thrilling car chase scene in the film takes place through the streets of San Francisco. McQueen drives this iconic 1968 green Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback and chases a Dodge Charger. If you’re after a breathtaking, action packed chase scene that will have your eyes glued to the screen for its entire runtime, this is the film for you.
3. The “Ecto-1” Cadillac
No list of popular cars in movies would be complete without Ghostbuster’s Ecto-1, or Ectomobile, a car whose legacy is surpassed only by its captivating history and fun facts. In Ghostbusters, “doctors” Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) get fired from their high profile, comfort jobs at a university in New York City. Acknowledging that it’s time for a career change, they start doing just what the film’s title suggests: going around chasing ghosts. How? Wearing ridiculous outfits and driving around in their car. But one day they stumble upon an actual supernatural threat and end up having to save the world.
Among the many famous props from Ghostbusters, the Ecto-1 is definitely one of the most iconic, not only because of its unusual design – a Cadillac that pretty much looks like an ambulance – but also because it changes and evolves in the film’s many sequels. It also has a fascinating history: according to The Drive, only 400 Cadillacs of this model were made, and the one that was conceived for the film was initially meant to be a sinister-looking ambulance.
4. The Aston Martin DB5
James Bond Movies
If you’re a James Bond fan, you’re probably dreaming of owning a 1964 Aston Martin DB5, the car that is immediately associated with the beloved spy. Though it first appeared in Goldfinger (1964), starring Sean Connery as Special agent 007 as he tries to defeat the titular villain (Gert Fröbe), it made other appearances in future Bond movies, such as GoldenEye (1995) and the recently released Skyfall (2012), starring Daniel Craig as the notorious agent.
5. The Volkswagen Beetle
Herbie: The Love Bug
Let’s not forget the underdogs: this little car with a big personality captured hearts with its playful antics and surprising speed in Robert Stevenson’s Herbie: The Love Bug (1968) The film is about a car racer named Jim (Dean Jones) and a mechanic named Tennessee (Buddy Hackett) who one day find themselves owner of said little car: a white Volkswagen Beetle. But this specific car is not like the others: in fact, it seems to have a mind of its own, and it soon turns Jim and Tennessee into local celebrities. Needless to say, this draws some enemies too, and our heroes will have to team up with their resourceful car to come out on top.
Cars in movies aren’t just about moving characters from point A to B. They can be symbols of freedom, expressions of a character’s personality, or vital tools in a protagonist’s quest. Think about Thelma & Louise and their 1966 Ford Thunderbird, which became a symbol of their rebellion and freedom. The Audi R8 in Iron Man was used to describe Tony Stark’s personality, while the Batmobile has become a superhero of its own in countless Batman movies. The Mini Coopers in The Italian Job further improve its elaborate heist scenes, while the Ford Anglia in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets even manages to rescue the film’s characters at the end.
Cars have been, and will continue to be, an integral part of cinematic storytelling. The list above contains 5 popular cars that made their already great movies into even better ones, but there are countless more to add to the list. Happy watching!