In order to create some of cinema’s greatest masterpieces, a lot of elements are brought together in just the right way. The cast of talented actors and actresses that bring the characters to life; the director who gets exactly what they need to flesh out the script, churned out itself by a dedicated scribe.
But few films would be complete without the level of design that helps bring out the realism and the fantastical and peppers a plot with visuals that satiate a hungry audience.
One such way this is done is through transportation. No, not the bus that takes the actors to set, but the cars that are used in the film.
So, here’s a look at some of the most iconic cars in movies, and how they almost stole the show.
One of the most iconic cars in cinema history has to be the 1963 VW Beetle Herbie, star of Disney’s 1968 comedy caper, The Love Bug.
The film was the 3rd highest grossing of the year, and scores 75% on aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Spawning cars such as the VW Beetle GSR as late as 2016, shows the enduring love that Herbie helped inspire.
The film was even rebooted as Herbie: Fully Loaded in 2005, starring Lindsay Lohan. Herbie’s iconic status also stems from the popularity of the VW Beetle, which has been referenced in film and on TV since as an iconic car.
The Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman 1988 road-comedy/drama was also notable for the car used, the Buick Roadmaster. The 1949 convertible as seen in the film was restored in 2015 and debuted at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
The car’s use in the film, which was granted the Best Picture at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989 and is also celebrated as containing some of the most iconic casino scenes in cinema, would play a part in the notability of the film as a whole, as well as the elements of the casino.
Tom Cruise even stars as a Lamborghini dealer, which feature in the film.
The DeLorean is also one of the most iconic cars in cinema, with its ability to traverse the depths of space and time.
Since the use in 1985’s Back to the Future, The DeLorean Motor Company folded before the iconic car hit the big screen due to financial difficulties, but that didn’t stop their creation, the illustrious stainless steel DeLorean DMC-12 sports car with gull-wing doors from engraving itself in cinematic history.
The car itself has become a collector’s item, and replacement parts can fetch a high value.
Boiling down 24 Bond films into just one paragraph may seem simplistic, though we have already addressed which car would be James Bond’s best ride.
Arguably the Aston Martin DB5 takes the cake (appearing in some capacity in 8 of the Bond films – either as driven by Bond or parked visibly in the scene).
1964’s Goldfinger broke the mould with the GPS tracker, revolving number plates, tyre slashers, and perhaps the most remarkable feature: the ejector seat.
The original car used in Goldfinger and Thunderball went for $4.6million at auction in 2010.
James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s other masterpiece, 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has a car that steals the show.
The eponymous vehicle helps the Potts family, and the widowed inventor’s love interest Truly Scrumptious (yes, really) escape the clutches of the evil Baron Bomburst (played by Goldfinger).
The car can fly and deploy floatation devices, but it was actually based on the aero-engined racing cars built by Count Louis Zborowski in the 1920s.
For the film, 6 vehicles were created, one of which was fully functional with an added Ford 3000 V6 engine, and a real UK licence plate.
No compilation of famous cars in films can be complete without a mention of Christine, the sentient car straight out of a Stephen King novel.
The 1958 Plymouth Fury that protagonist Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) buys ends up changing the life of him and everyone around him. Though the film states that Christine was a 1958 Plymouth Fury—and the radio campaign promoting the film stated, “she’s a ’57 Fury”—two other Plymouth models, the Belvedere and the Savoy, were also used to portray the murderous motor.
By the close of the film, only 3 mint condition versions of the car existed – and 15% of the film’s budget was spent on cars!
While there are hundreds of notable movie cars and scenes involving cars, very few eschew the plot and stars to take a role of their own to become the star of the show.
The above films are all examples of pieces of cinema where the car is almost (and sometimes actually is) another character, and adds to the plot as a memorable device.