Johannesburg - Many a good action movie has been enhanced, or even saved, by a good car chase scene or a cameo appearance by an exciting vehicle.
Starry-eyed directors have exploited humans’ love affair with cars in countless thrilling depictions on the silver screen, and sometimes the cars even out-act their human counterparts (though we aren’t mentioning any names).
To celebrate Hollywood’s long-running relationship with cars, we herewith list our top ten movie cars of all time (in no particular order):
Okay, it wasn’t a movie but we would be remiss if we left out the talking Pontiac Firebird Trans Am from the Knight Rider TV series of the 1980s.
Apart from David Hasselhoff’s hairstyle, the starring role was played by Knight Industries Two Thousand – Kitt for short – an artificial intelligence car that was almost indestructible, could drive itself, and chatted with its driver.
This anthropomorphic Beetle has been charming movie audiences since the original Love Bug movie in 1968, and in several sequels culminating in Herbie: Fully Loaded in 2005.
The car has a mind of its own and is capable of driving itself, usually very rapidly in humorously hair-raising stunt scenes.
Throughout most of the franchise Herbie is distinguished by red, white and blue racing stripes and a racing-style number 53 on its nose.
Apart from the cool costume and gadgets, what would the caped crusader be without his most prized accessory, his car?
Bruce Wayne has driven a number of exotic wheeled wonders in the numerous Batman remakes, some of the more memorable ones being Michael Keaton’s Batmobile in Batman (1989) which was a game-changer in terms of style, cool factor, and technology; and the tank-like cars in Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).
Probably the most recognised movie car of modern times, Nicolas Cage’s ride from Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) is the coolest Ford Mustang ever.
The Shelby Mustang GT 500 which Cage’s character stole in the movie’s big heist was a 1967 Mustang fastback with a customised body kit, and it spawned a raft of replicas in the real world.
What you might not know is that the movie was a remake of the 1974 original cult movie in which Eleanor was portrayed by a customised 1971 Mustang sportsroof.
5. Bullitt Mustang
Another famous ‘Stang was the 1968 GT fastback driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt (1968).
In a car chase scene that has become the stuff of Hollywood legend, the Mustang duels with a Dodge Charger through the hilly streets of San Francisco in a hubcap-flying, tyre-screeching fest of mayhem.
6. Aston Martin DB5
Although he’s driven (and smashed) countless different cars, Agent 007 has enjoyed a special bond with British brand Aston Martin, and the most iconic of these was probably the DB5 that first appeared in Goldfinger (1964), and subsequently in other James Bond flicks too.
Sean Connery’s Goldfinger version was equipped with the essential fare for the well-prepared spy: a smoke screen, revolving number plates to avoid speeding fines, an ejector seat for the passenger, tyre-shredding blades in the wheels, and it dispensed an oil slick.
7. Ferrari California
“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.” Those were the words of character Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), moments before he and his friend Ferris take it for a joyride.
And then they promptly destroy it when they put it on stands and stick it into in reverse to wind back the odometer - and it goes crashing out of the second-storey parking garage window.
8. Delorean DMC-12
It was only in real-life production from 1981 to 1983, but this gull-winged, Irish-made car with an unpainted stainless steel body was immortalised in the Back to the Future film trilogy.
After all, what’s cooler than a time-travelling car?
As every car-movie nerd knows, Marty McFly had to accelerate the Delorean to exactly 88 miles per hour (141.6km/h) to activate the flux capacitor that engaged the time-travelling function.
9. Lightning McQueen
Yes, it’s a cartoon car but no such list would be complete without the cocky but likeable main protagonist from Pixar’s Cars movie trilogy (2006-2017). Lightning starts off as an obnoxious, fame-obsessed racing car who learns humility from the ‘folks’ of the small desert town of Radiator Springs - and becomes besties with a buck-toothed, rusty old tow truck named Mater.
Though not based on any particular real-life car, Lightning’s design is inspired by a racing stock car with some Lola and Ford GT40 styling cues.
10. Toyota Supra
There were many exotic street-dicing machines in the Fast and the Furious movie franchise (2001-2017) where the cars ALWAYS had an extra gear, but probably none more famous than the 1994 MK IV Supra that was able to smoke Ferraris in street races.
One of the most famous scenes in movie one was the drag race between the Supra (driven by the late Paul Walker) and Vin Diesel in his 1970 Dodge Charger, which involved some intense high-speed action including a train at a railroad crossing.