In some films the ‘car is the star’ in a big way, while in others the car is certainly an iconic part of the whole.
Think of the various cars that James Bond has driven in the 007 franchise. Many people probably think of the Robert De Niro classic Taxi Driver when hailing a New York yellow cab, and who doesn’t think of American action movies like Bullitt when they hear that Ford is bringing the fabled Mustang to the UK?
Here are five classic cars immortalised in celluloid…
Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger (1964)
Perhaps the first car to feature what we now know as sat nav? The map screen was one of a plethora of gadgets that make 007’s DB5 such an iconic movie car.
An oil-slick sprayer, ejector seat, machine gun and ram bumper aren’t the sorts of equipment you’d find on many manufacturers’ optional extras lists, but they set the tone for future Bond films and the gadget-laden cars to follow.
Of course, the DB5 is a design classic without all the gadgetry and it suits the debonair James Bond to a T.
Ford Mustang GT 390 – Bullitt (1968)
Already a desirable car, many people dreaming of the open road might have visions of a Mustang as their mode of transport.
The fact legendary Steve McQueen was behind the wheel in this action film enhanced its desirability still further.
Dodge Challenger R/T – Vanishing Point (1971)
Another muscle car, featuring in a film from the same team who produced ‘Bullitt’, the Dodge was at the centre of a plot involving a wager made by the film’s hero Kowalski (Barry Newman) that he can drive from Denver to San Francisco in under fifteen hours.
To do so, he has to average 80mph so cue plenty of crazy driving.
Pontiac Trans Am – Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Pontiac must still be sending Christmas cards of thanks to the director Hal Needham. Although the car had been around for about five years before the film, once audiences had seen it leap over bridges and hare round corners sales jumped by 30,000 cars from 1977 to 1978 and another 24,000 the next year.
Even the film car’s black finish was a must-have for car buyers at around this time. It wasn’t all style though, as the Pontiac was quicker and better handling than the Corvette of the same generation.
Lotus Esprit Series 1 – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Another Bond car and, apart from the Aston Martin DB5, arguably his most memorable. The distinctive wedge-like lines of the Esprit were at the vanguard of sports car design of the time along with cars like the Lamborghini Countach, so it was very much the ‘car of the moment’ for this ‘70s Bond film.
The moment most remember is when the Esprit turns into a submarine sprouting fins and a stabiliser before changing back to a car again as it emerges from the sea much to the amazement of the sunbathers.
Many more cars have captivated film audiences: who can forget the bright yellow ’32 Ford Highboy in ‘American Graffiti’ or the various sinister black Batmobiles in the Batman films? There’s also the gull-wing DeLorean in Back to the Future – a striking stainless steel sports car doomed to failure as a production car but one that’s achieved cult status now.
These cars are all ‘characters’ in their own right. They have a star power that can inspire. From the up and coming learner who is eager to pass their test and get out onto the road to the experienced driver with a passion for their motor, we can all but dream about these stars of the silver screen.
What’s your favourite iconic Hollywood car? Let us know below…
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