Cars have been a major part of the film industry ever since their inception, bringing the thrill and high-speed chases to the mix. In several cases, the cars themselves have become stars of the movie, earning them a cult following, making them just as important as the people. From iconic additions like James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 to the Ford Mustang from John Wick, let’s take a look at 10 of the most famous movie cars of all time and see what made them special.
1 – 1964 Aston Martin DB5, James Bond, Goldfinger
With auction prices crossing $1 million and a huge cult following, the Aston Martin DB5 is undoubtedly one of the best cars to grace the big screen. This was also the first Bond film to feature an Aston Martin and give the brand a lot of recognition. Aston Martin eventually became a mainstay in the Bond series of films. What made the DB5 even more special was the added gadgets and technological wizardry in the film. The DB5 remained the star for several sequels including Thunderball, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and more. It was also featured in the latest film No Time To Die. One of the reasons for its fame was the performance on offer, and of course, the stunning design. Under the hood, the DB5 has a 4L Inline-6 engine producing a staggering 282 hp back in 1964, making it one of the fastest production cars of the time. The DB5 was also capable of speeds up to 145 MPH.
Some other notable additions for the first Bond Car include a map screen that reflects the navigation systems in modern cars, bulletproof tires, ejector seats, and more. The cars used in the Bond films are still around and one was sold at auction for $4.6 million. Aston Martin also decided to make 25 examples of the DB5 following the original blueprints, selling them at $3.5 million each.
2 – DeLorean DMC-12, Back To The Future Series
Since its launch back in 1981, the DeLorean DMC-12 was termed a failed sports car for several reasons. While it looked the part with a unique stainless steel body and gull-wing doors, the performance on offer was average at best. Plans for the DMC-12 started back in 1975 and even after years of research, the initial models were plagued with quality issues that made them unreliable and slow. The underpowered powertrain also made it one of the slowest sports cars of the generation. Soon after, the company went bust in 1982. In its limited production run, only 9000 DMC-12s were made, out of which a significant number are still around today because of its popularity in the Back To The Future series of movies. The DMC-12 time machine was undoubtedly one of the biggest stars of the movies, making an appearance in all three additions with its futuristic styling that fit the theme perfectly. Ironically, the small V-6 engine with just 130 hp on tap struggled to hit 88 MPH which was required to activate time travel in the movies. The situation was so bad that one of the cars used was swapped out with a more powerful Porsche V8 to improve its performance. Unfortunately, while the Movies pulled the DMC-12 into the limelight, the company already went bankrupt by then.
Half a century later, the DMC-12 still has a huge cult following for its movie appearances and the unique wedge design that was the definition of the 1980s forward-thinking and futuristic designs. The DeLorean Motor Company is also back in action today, restoring and refurbishing all the DMC-12s in existence with original parts secured from the company. Prices have also shot up significantly over the years, and mint examples are selling for as high as $100,000 in auctions.
3 – Ford Mustang, Bullitt, John Wick, Gone In 60 Seconds
The Ford Mustang is undoubtedly one of the most famous American cars to grace the movie screens, becoming the star of several movies over the years, the most recent one being John Wick. Some other notable movies include Diamonds Are Forever with a 1971 Mustang Mach-1, Gone in 60 Seconds with a 1971 Ford Mustang Sportsroof, and the legendary 1967 Shelby GT500, a souped-up version of the Mustang with work done by Shelby. Focusing on the GT500, the Mustang was named Elanor and has a cult following behind it, Several replicas were made since then, selling for high amounts. The hero car for the movie fetched an impressive $1 million back in 2013. The GT500 used a 428 V8 engine with 355 hp on tap, making it one of the fastest cars of the time.
Coming to the 1968 Mustang GT used in Bullitt, the Highland Green Mustang was famous for the high-speed chases and onboard cameras, a first for the time. The Bullitt Mustang also had several other notable modifications including a 390 V8 engine and a steering wheel from the GT500. The original Mustang from the movie was sold for a whopping $3.74 million back in 2020.
The Mustang also stole the limelight in the recent John Wick series of films which featured a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 as the priced possession of the retired assassin. Although its screen time is limited compared to others, the Mustang plays a vital role in the original movie and the following sequels.
4 – Dodge Charger, Fast And The Furious, Bullitt
Another famous muscle car alongside the Mustang is the Dodge Charger. The Fast and the Furious series features some of the most iconic cars of the era, ranging from sleek Japanese sports cars to American muscle. But, the 1970 Dodge Charger featured in the first movie is arguably the best one yet. It has made an appearance in several sequels since then, becoming a part of the franchise as a whole. Along with the black body, this specific Dodge Charger is also known for several notable modifications including the Roots-style supercharger at the front, increasing the total output to 900 hp. A modified version of the Charger dubbed the Charger Daytona is used in the 6th movie with a body kit and other modifications over the standard R/T models used before.
Other than the Fast series, the Dodge Charger also starred in several other iconic films including Bullitt, Christine, Dukes of Hazzard, and more. Because of its fame and cult following, the Dodge Charger has also blown up in value, similar to the Mustang, with some sold at auction for over $100,000.
5 – 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S, The Italian Job
The Austin Mini Cooper is one of the most famous movie cars of all time for the chase scene in the original Italian Job movie. Its small dimensions and robust handling gave way to some insane car chase scenes, giving it an entry into the hall of fame. Several decades since, the original British Mini still has the popularity it deserves, featuring in several movies and TV shows like Mr. Bean, The Bourne Identity, Austin Powers, and more. The mini was initially introduced back in 1959 and has seen several revisions since then, ending with the Mark VII at the end of the century.
Unlike most other models on this list, the Mini also has a lot of motorsport pedigree under its belt, winning several Monte Carlo rallies in its initial years. The short wheelbase and potent powertrain gave it excellent handling and performance for rally driving.
Along with the popular saloon body style, the Mini was also launched as a convertible, estate, van, and utility coupe, catering to a wide range of audiences.
6 – Lotus Esprit, The Spy Who Loved Me
The second notable Bond car on this list is the 1977 Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me. Moving away from flashy Aston Martins, the Lotus is built for speed and chosen for its wedge-shaped design, which helped it traverse the water with ease. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Esprit transforms into a submarine at the press of a button. The Q branch does several modifications to the British sports car to make it work underwater. In the actual movie, the submarine used a bodyshell of a Lotus Esprit S1 with fins for wheels and four electric motors for propulsion. The submarine was dubbed ‘Wet Nellie’. The actual submarine was bought by Elon Musk in 2013 at an auction for $650,000. Coming back to the hero car, the Lotus Esprit S1 was known for its design, done by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who is also famous for designing the DMC DeLorean on this list. Like the Delorean, the Esprit features sharp edges and a low front, giving it an aerodynamic advantage. The S1 produced just 160 hp from its 2.0L engine, but the low weight helps it achieve better performance.
7 – Pontiac Trans Am, Smokey and the Bandit
Coming back to the realm of fast American cars, we have the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. The Trans Am features as a star in the movie, attempting to transport alcohol from state to state. The movie was a hit, raking in over $120 million in North America. The particular car used in the film was a 1976 Trans Am modified to look like the 1977 model. Other notable additions also include a 6.6 decal at the front to signify the engine displacement. The Trans Am was launched as an improved and faster version of the Firebird, well known for its hood decal. The 6.6L V-8 produces well over 300 hp. Unlike the DeLorean DMC-12, the movie’s success improved sales significantly, jumping to over 100,000 units. Pontiac even delayed the launch of the third-generation model because of its popularity. A replica once owned by Burt Reynolds himself was just sold at auction for $317,500.
8 – 1994 Toyota Supra, The Fast And The Furious
Alongside the 1970 Dodge Charger, another hero car of the original fast and furious movies was the Toyota Supra. Like most other cars in the series, the Supra also went through some serious modifications like a flashy orange paint job, body kit, spoiler, and more. The MK4 generation of the Supra was highly tunable, with several producing over 1000 hp. The Supra used in the movie was recently auctioned off at the Barret-Jackson auction house in Las Vegas for $550,000. Famously known as the 10-second car, the Supra featured in the first two movies, quickly becoming an icon in the motoring community.
The movie car was built by Eddie Paul in California, adding in modifications like the candy orange paint job lifted from the Lamborghini Diablo, and includes decals on the side dubbed “Nuclear Gladiator”. The extensive body kit includes additions from Bomex, a TRD-style hood, a huge aluminum bi-plane rear spoiler, 19-inch Dazz Motorsport wheels, and some minor engine mods.
9 – Chevrolet Camaro, Transformers series
Because of its unique storyline, several generations of the Camaro came into the limelight through the Transformers movie series. As the vehicle version of Bumblebee, one of the main characters of the story, the Camaro starts off in its second generation as a 1977 model finished in yellow. The original car has lots of patina and rust, giving it a lot of character. The second generation of the Camaro was popular in its day, propelled by a potent V-8 engine putting down nearly 200 hp. However, the second generation soon gives way to a spanking new fifth-generation model with the same livery. The fifth-generation Camaro was only slated to launch a full two years later, and the movie had a significant role to play in its success. The car used in the movie used the body panels from the 2006 concept and used a Holden Monaro as a base for better performance.
The Camaro also returns to the big screen in the following movies, although this time, they used the actual production car with several modifications. The Camaro was also updated to the SS model in the third movie, giving it a sportier look, while the final movie gave it another update with a more muscular design.
10 – Tumbler/Batmobile, Batman Begins
No list will be complete without including a batmobile, and the Tumbler earns this spot for being the most unique and functional design yet, neatly reflecting the theme of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. Unlike the other cars on this list, the Tumbler was built from the ground up without a donor car. The initial prototypes took over a year to build and used newly fabricated pieces. Despite its look and unique design, the Tumbler is functional and can reach speeds up to 90 MPH on set. Weighing in at 2.5 tons and with a 5.7L GM-derived V-8 under the hood, the Tumbler produced 500 hp. In addition to this, a jet engine was mounted at the back for vertical jumps and extra performance. Like most batmobiles of older movies, the Tumbler also gets a long list of unique gadgets and armor plating to protect the dark knight from foes. The unique design also made it a battering ram with extensive armor plating at the front. A street-legal replica of the Tumbler went on sale for $1 million.
These are some of the most iconic movie cars to grace the big screen. Some other notable mentions include the Chevrolet Corvette from Disney’s Cars, the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, and the Volkswagen Beetle from Herbie.