Hollywood has given us some of the most iconic automobiles in history. Their influence has been so great that they span generations. We associate these classic cars with the actors and stories we’ve grown to love. Here are some of those unforgettable machines that are now forever part of pop culture.
1. 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 – Bullitt
Steve McQueen was named “The King of Cool” for his demeanor and style. A car and motorcycle aficionado, the role of Lt. Frank Bullitt was a perfect fit. Though the film was not a commercial success, Bullitt’s car became synonymous with McQueen.
The 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 was the perfect fit for Steve McQueen. It exuded confidence with its Highland Green paint, grey Torq Thrust rims, and punchy 390 cubic inch Ford V8 engine. In the film, its exhaust note sounded sweetest when the throttle was pushed wide open during the seven-minute car chase with a 1968 Dodge Charger 440 R/T.
2. 1967 Austin Mini Cooper – The Italian Job (1969)
Younger generations may know The Italian Job as the 2003 heist film starring Mark Wahlberg as Charlie Croker, but the original 1969 film was a comedy which starred a young Michael Caine.
Using three modified 1967 Austin Mini Coopers, Charlie Croker and his team drove through a shopping center comically grabbing food from servers as they were pursued by the Italian police. Capping off this car chase was the iconic scene where the three Austin Minis drove through a large sewer pipe. Unfortunately all 16 Austin Mini Coopers which were used during the original film were destroyed during that scene. However, Newcastle resident David Morton bought what’s left of the cars and resurrected the three Minis. These cars were put back on public display in 2011 with Michael Caine in attendance.
3. Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger
The Aston Martin DB5 cemented itself in automotive history as one of the most collectable, and commercially successful vehicles for the British brand. Though customers of the Aston Martin DB5 could not fit their vehicles with the gadgets Q outfitted for James, it still drove 1,021 customers to purchase it during the short two-year lifespan of production. After making its debut in Goldfinger, 007 retained the DB5’s services for Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, and Skyfall.
4. Volkswagen Beetle – The Love Bug (1968)
Jim Douglas, played by actor Dean Jones was a washed out racing driver, competing with younger drivers in the demolition derby. He then befriends Herbie, a car that has a spirit of its own.
Herbie the Love Bug was a white 1963 Volkswagen Beetle that adorned the #53 livery. During the 1960s, the Volkswagen Beetle already had a mass appeal from the hippie culture.
5. 1969 Ford Mustang BOSS 429 – John Wick
Lo and behold the Baba Yaga, John Wick. This action movie starring Keanu Reeves has once again redefined action movies. John Wick drives a 1969 Ford Mustang BOSS 429. At the time it was produced, this model had the biggest engine. The car is the perfect example of a tasteful restoration. It preserved the original body lines and trims of the car. Even the classic rally wheels wrapped in Firestones are there just like the original!
6. DMC DeLorean – Back to the Future (1985)
Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown were set to change the course of history in Back to the Future. The travel from 1986 to 1955 required them to gather 1.21 gigawatts of power.
Doc’s car of choice was the DMC DeLorean. The car would have passed off as a spaceship in the 1980s, making it the perfect time machine to put a flux capacitor on. However, its production was short-lived. The news of DeLorean Motor Company’s bankruptcy was announced in October 26, 1982. It might not be a coincidence that the film was set on the same date three years after.
7. 1976 Ford Gran Torino – Starsky and Hutch
Starsky and Hutch was a television series about detectives David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson. The show aired weekly on ABC and ran from April 1975 all the way to May 1979. During its run, the duo’s car gave a more lasting impression on pop culture than the actors.
The 1976 Ford Gran Torino was the crown jewel of the Starsky and Hutch series. It was painted bright cherry red with huge white hockey stripes on the side. It had chrome bumpers, trims, and wheels that made the car a true 1970s street machine.
8. 1984 Ford Econoline “Shaggin’ Wagon” – Dumb and Dumber
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels made people laugh with their slapstick comedy in the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber. This film made comedian Jim Carrey the very first actor to headline in three box office number one movies in the same year.
The only thing wackier than the duo was their 1984 Ford Econoline Shaggin’ Wagon. The van was covered in carpet to make it look like a mutt. These days, there are car lovers that build tribute Shaggin’ Wagons out of their own vans. These tributes still give off that fuzzy and wacky appeal that the original Shaggin’ Wagon had.
9. 1969 Dodge Charger “The General Lee” – The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard, was a television series filled with all sorts of car stunts. During its seven season run, Warner Brothers had wrecked close to 300 cars.
The 1969 Dodge Charger in the series was more fondly known as “The General Lee.” It was painted orange with the Confederate flag on its roof and “#01” on both doors. Aside from the distinct livery, what made it memorable was the Dixie horn. Only a number of the original Chargers used during the filming of the show made it to this day. Despite the scarcity of a 1969 Charger, people still build tribute models with their own subtle modifications.
10. 1970 Dodge Charger – Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious was a box office success when it came out in 2001. It featured themes about family and code immersed in the underground car culture. But one of the more memorable parts of the movie were the cars. With a roster filled with tuner cars, one definitely stood out.
The 1970 Dodge Charger was Dominic Toretto’s gem. It was fitted with an exposed blower for the supercharger, roll cage, and modern wheels. All these goodies were serious modifications for a street able muscle car. Pairing them with a black paint job gave the Charger a very serious attitude synonymous with the movie.
11. 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34) – 2 Fast 2 Furious
After the first Fast and the Furious film, Brian O’Connor portrayed by Paul Walker found himself giving up his police badge and fleeing to Miami. He worked his way up the underground street racing circuit with a 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34). Brian’s car ran impressively on races and attracted eyes with its grey and blue color livery.
Beyond the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, the car is monumental as it is the last Nissan GT-R to carry the Skyline badge. Its RB26 engine produced a lot of horsepower which made the previous generation Skyline look modest. The car is sought after by collectors and car enthusiasts to this day. Even Paul Walker kept a Skyline till his untimely death.
12. Audi R8 – Iron Man
Tony Stark loved cars as much as he loved creating new technology. Despite his many vehicles, Stark chose to drive the Audi R8.
In 2008, Iron Man became a milestone as it signalled the beginning of the decade-long chain of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Likewise, the inclusion of the Audi R8 as Tony Stark’s car of choice propelled the car into the market. Although this European supercar was formally launched in 2006, Iron Man helped it reach a bigger following two years after.
13. 1997 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 “Pussy Wagon” – Kill Bill Vol. 1
Quentin Tarantino is known for his quirks in the film industry. His films typically gain a cult following years after they release. As for Kill Bill Vol.1, the “Pussy Wagon” also made a lasting impression as much as the story itself.
Tarantino created the “Pussy Wagon” out of a 1997 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 which is a weird concoction of old school and modern appeal. The body was painted in bright yellow, and decorated with hot rod flames and psychedelic text on the tailgate reading “Pussy Wagon”. To add to the 1970s vibe it had, the hood had ram air scoops similar to Pontiac Firebirds. The truck’s supposedly old school theme is broken by the wide chrome wheels and huge bed spoiler.
14. Chevrolet Camaro – Transformers (2007)
When Hollywood decided to make a live-action film based on the classic series, people saw a more dynamic version of the Autobots battle against the Decepticons.
Bumblebee’s first disguise in the live-action movie was a yellow 1977 Chevrolet Camaro. It showed the viewers that there was more to love in an old beat-up muscle car. As the movie progressed, Bumblebee morphed into a fifth-generation Camaro filled with a renewed sense of determination. This version of Bumblebee was carried on to the next movies of the live-action Transformer films.
15. 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – Smokey and the Bandit
Smokey and the Bandit was one of the most memorable movies for many car enthusiasts. Despite having been released in the late 1970s, the movie continues to influence the automotive culture to this day.
The 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was as integral in the movie as Burt Reynolds’ hat and mustache. The car was painted black and gold that made Burt look like he won a million bucks. But the most distinctive piece on the car was the gold screaming chicken on the hood. Burt Reynolds drove like a breeze on that car. It looked especially awesome with the “T-top” roof left open.