11 cars we think deserve the recognition.
Once cars became a cultural symbol of freedom and expression, they quickly became important symbols in movies. Cars were carefully chosen to go with the character that drove them, and sometimes became characters of their own. Movies started to popularize specific makes and models by integrating them into the plot or making them part of a character's persona. Sometimes, the cars became as iconic as the star of the movie or the role they played like James Bond and his Aston Martin DB5 or the Duke boys and their Dodge Charger.
It wasn't until the end of 2019 that the Chevrolet Suburban became the first vehicle to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That got us thinking as the Suburban doesn't spring to mind as a movie vehicle icon. Sure, Chevy claims it has been featured in at least one film every year since 1960, but we can't think of any that you could genuinely describe as iconic unless it's featured as transport for a president. These are just some of the cars we think are actually so iconic they deserve their own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
The DeLorean DMC-12 wasn't very good, it didn't sell well, and we probably wouldn't all know what it looks like if it wasn't for the first Back To The Future movie in 1985. In the film, the time machine car isn't just powered by the stock 130 horsepower gas-fueled 2.85-liter V6 engine it came out of the factory with, but also a plutonium-fueled nuclear reactor. Before the movie went into production, Ford was prepared to pay for the Mustang to become the featured car. However, the co-writer of Back to the Future, Bob Gale, opted for the Delorean on the basis it fit the eccentric nature of Doc Emmett Brown. Thus, a Hollywood legend was born.
In the first five James Bond books by Ian Fleming, Bond's pride and joy was a supercharged 1929 Bentley. It wasn't until the fifth book, Goldfinger, that Bond drove a battleship-grey Aston Martin DB III. In the first movie adaptation, Dr. No, Bond drove a Sunbeam Alpine, and, in the second, he drove a Bentley Mark IV. We didn't see the Aston Martin DB5 until the third movie, Goldfinger, in 1964. From there, it became an on-screen and pop-culture icon that has been featured in one way or another in several Bond movies since, including Thunderball (1965), GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Casino Royale (2006), Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015) and No Time To Die (2020).
The supernatural comedy movie Ghostbusters was released in the summer of 1984 and instantly became a cultural phenomenon. One of its plot elements was the (deep breath) 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex limo-style endloader combination car with an ambulance conversion. In the movie and to fans, it's more commonly known as the Ectomobile, or Ecto-1. While it didn't get equal billing with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis, Ecto-1 has cemented itself as an icon of cinema, even though we still don't exactly know what the gadgets mounted on the top did.
The 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit propelled Burt Reynolds into stardom due to his charismatic depiction of Bo "Bandit" Darville. The road chase movie follows the adventures of two bootleggers as they evade the cops on a booze run from Atlanta to Texarkana and back again. Also propelled to stardom was Bandit's black 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with the gold livery. It wasn't actually a 1977 model as they hadn't gone into production yet, though. Instead, it was a 1976 model with a 1977 front end.
Before shooting the movie, director Hal Needham was tossing around ideas for the lead car, but it was when he saw an advert for the Trans Am that he knew it was the perfect car. Needham was also known for referring to the Trans Am as one of the movie's star characters next to Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Sally Field, and Jackie Gleason. It did Pontiac a world of good as well - sales increased by around 30,000 units from 1977 to 1978 and then up another 24,000 in 1979.
The movie Bullitt hasn't aged particularly well but the chase scene that propelled the Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT 390 still holds up as a masterpiece. In one of the coolest pieces of cinema history, Steve McQueen's character stalked a 1968 Dodge Charger through the streets of San Fransisco and created an icon. Any car that Steve McQueen sat in automatically became cool, but the stripped-down green Mustang GT 390 has become a pop culture and automotive icon that's spawned privately built replicas and two special editions from Ford. One of the movie cars also just sold for $3.4M at auction, which is incredible for a car in a movie shot over 50 years ago.
The Dodge charger has one hell of a cinematic career under its belt, and if you go by quality as well as quantity, it's a more significant contender for a Hollywood star than the Suburban. The most famous Charger from the screen is the 1968 'General Lee' that caught a generation's imagination in The Dukes of Hazzard TV show. Proceeding that was the custom colored 1969 Dodge Charger R/T 440 driven by Peter Fonda in the 1974 cult chase movie Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. The most famous Charger in recent cinematic history is the over-the-top black supercharged model Vin Diesel's character Dominic Toretto drives in the Fast And Furious franchise.
Keanu Reeves' John Wick character and his 1969 Mustang is further evidence the first-generation pony car deserves a Hollywood star. In the first movie, the Mustang is identified as a Boss 429, but that's a remarkably rare and expensive car to get beat up and destroyed in chase scenes. Chances are it's a modified Mach 1, but, either way, Ford fans don't mind reminding Chevy enthusiasts that John Wick didn't kill all those people for a Camaro.
Wick's Mustang is already becoming iconic in its own right, and part of that is down to the gritty car chases that eschew CGI. Also helping up the cool factor, Reeves went through a performance driving school so he could do most of the stunts himself.
Of all the quotable lines from the seminal 1980 comedy movie The Blues Brothers, petrol heads tend to remember: "It's got a cop motor, a four hundred and forty cubic inch plant. It's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters, so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say? Is it the new Bluesmobile or what?"
Jake Blues describes the Bluesmobile as a decommissioned Mount Prospect, Illinois, patrol car. In reality, the movie used 13 different cars purchased from the California Highway Patrol. Due to the crazy action sequences in the movie, some were modified for speed, some for high-speed maneuvers, and some were dramatically strengthened for the jumps. One was also rigged to fall apart upon its arrival at the Cook County Building.
"The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. Less than 100 were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love. It is his passion," said character Cameron Frye shortly before its gut-wrenching destruction. In reality, it was a replica car by Modena Design and Development that sped backward through a glass window and into a ravine. Three were used during the filming of the 1980s coming of age comedy movie to portray the car, who's other most memorable moment is being taken for a wild ride by parking attendants when Bueller leaves them the keys.
The reason you only see the Volkswagen logo twice and very briefly in the film is that the German automaker refused permission for Disney to use the name. That changed after the success of the first movie featuring the sentient car named Herbie. Volkswagen was then more than happy to be associated with the following four theatrical releases featuring the car, as well as the five-episode TV series and following made-for-TV movie.
The car was not specified before production as a Volkswagen Beetle. It could have been a Toyota, TVR, a Volvo, or an MG, but during auditions, the Beetle was the car that elicited an emotional response from the crew.
At this point, the Batmobile must be the best-known movie car on earth. It first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in 1939 as a nondescript red car and in the TV series as a Cadillac Series 61 convertible. Its evolution over the next 80 years in TV and movies has made it a household name. The most iconic is the heavily customized 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car from the 1960s TV adaptation starring Adam West as Batman. Four "official" replicas exist and were used for the show circuit, but the original sold for $4.62 million in 2013 at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale, Arizona, auction. Since then, the Batmobile has been re-imagined for Batman movies by Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan. In the TV series Gotham, Alfred presents 17-year-old Bruce Wayne with a heavily armored Ford Mustang as a proto-Batmobile.