It’s a rare thing when a piece of machinery comes on to the screen of a blockbuster film and captures the mind of the audience just as well as the leading man or flashy stunts could hope to. Still, when it does, that machine becomes immortalized in the way the famous names and faces of cinema do . And of all the machines, vehicles that exist in the real world and those conjured up by movie magic, none roll on to the scene the way a well-made car does. These are some of the best cars to ever grace the silver screen.
Back to the Future – 1981 DeLorean DMC-12
Never has there been a vehicle more closely tied to a film franchise than the DeLorean and the Back to the Future series. It was never intended by the manufacturer to be a feat of mechanical engineering, but it did succeed in capitalizing on an obsession with futurism that was prominent in the American psyche from the late 1970s and throughout the 80s.
A commercial failure by any estimate, this vehicle lives on with the power of fandom that allowed it to be revived from the dead to produce exact replicas for today’s consumers.
The Fast and the Furious – 1970 Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger is no stranger to media attention. This piece of American muscle has been all over film and television since the 1960s. However, the first in the Fast and Furious franchise revived a respect for vehicle in films, as well as the dangerous world of illegal drag racing.
Perhaps the film’s protagonist Dominic Toretto holds some responsibility for treating the Charger like a co-star rather than a prop piece for giving the movie credibility with car enthusiasts. From the moment the Charger shows up on the screen, right up until the movie ends, the gorgeous vehicle dominates the audience’s attention, pumping them up for that final race.
Goldfinger – 1964 Aston Martin DB5
MI6 agent James Bond is no stranger to style or commanding authority with his presence, and a big part of that presentation has always had to do with his choice of vehicle. What lethal spy wouldn’t look at home in the driver’s seat of an Aston Martin? But the DB5 is a machine crafted with elegance and luxury in mind. Granted, the many weapons and tools of tradecraft is what gave it a spot in the action film, but its timeless style is what makes it one of the most coveted cars to date. Purchasing one of these beauties, even one in lackluster condition, would cost collectors upwards of $4 million.
American Graffiti – 1932 Ford Coupe
While the English may have preferred style and class surrounding their masculine icons of cinema, in the US the celebration of the automobile is done with bravado, a loud and proud display of tough engineering and raw engine power. On an open stretch of highway, two gearheads face off–Chevy versus Ford in a race to settle a score. The danger and excitement that comes from seeing a bright yellow Coupe peel down the road is something that cannot be matched. The film itself, being a work of master film making, is a love letter to car enthusiasts everywhere.
While Hollywood and television have a long history of celebrating the automobile, there never seems to be enough to truly encompass all that is right, and wrong, with the machine’s design, its possibilities, its limitations. With the evolution of film, one would think it will only be harder to make a similar list in the future.