Sometimes a movie is “made” by the actors or the special effects, but sometimes it’s a non-human element that leaves an impression on us. While only one movie on this list is about a car specifically (can you guess which one?), most of them feature at least one particular car very prominently. We’re not going to lie -- we’d love to see all these famous cars with HID or LED head and tail lights! But since we can’t go back and change movie history, we can give you a list our favorites.
10. The Italian Job (1969, 2003) - 2003 Mini Cooper S
The 2003 remake of this movie did not follow the original story, but was made as a tribute to it. The director and cinematographer drew inspiration from car chase sequences in The French Connection, Ronin, and The Bourne Identity to achieve the look and feel they were going for. The movie culminates in a chase scene featuring 32 Minis, which in the story were small enough to smuggle gold through L.A. sewer tunnels in a heist. BusinessWeek reported that sales of the Mini in 2003 — the year The Italian Job remake was theatrically released — had increased 22% over the previous year.
9. The Love Bug - 1963 Model 117 Volkswagen Beetle (“Herbie”)
This Disney movie, about a car that had a mind of its own and could drive itself, spawned three movie sequels through 1980, a made-for-TV movie in 1997, and a theatrical remake in 2005. It was supposedly the last live-action film that Walt Disney had personally authorized for production before his death in 1966. The Volkswagen Beetle holds the distinction of being on the Top 10 list of best-selling cars of all time, along with two other Volkswagen models, the Golf and the Passat.
8. Smokey & the Bandit - 1977 Pontiac TransAm
This movie featured crazy stunts, high-speed chases, and was one of the highest-grossing movies of 1977, second only to the original Star Wars. The original movie and its two sequels also introduced two generations of the Pontiac TransAm, which became one of the hottest selling cars of that time. If you own a classic Pontiac and want to upgrade it with HID headlights (and why wouldn’t you?), check out HIDeXtra’s site here.
7. Batman Series - the Batmobile
Who can deny the cultural significance of the Batmobile? Not unlike James Bond's movie cars, the Batmobile is always being upgraded with the latest gadgets and weaponry. While special effects and models have been used in filming, many real Batmobiles have been built based on a Chevy Impala chassis and Chevy 350ZZ3 engine. A military-type Batmobile called "the Tumbler" - described as "a cross between a Lamborghini and a tank" has also recently been used.
6. The Fast & the Furious - 1970 Dodge Charger
What do you get when you combine a fleet of fast cars and a young, good-looking cast? A movie series that is currently on its seventh installment and has grossed over $3 billion worldwide, that’s what. Centering on illegal street racing and heists, it is Universal's biggest movie franchise of all time. The tragic death of actor Paul Walker likely contributed to Furious 7 being the highest-grossing chapter of the series and the #3 highest-grossing film of all time worldwide.
5. Bullitt - 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback
This classic movie starred the world’s coolest actor driving the world’s coolest car, and features one of the best-known car chase sequences in film history. The cars (two Mustangs and two Dodge Chargers were used to film the two-car chase) reached speeds of over 110 mph in the streets of San Francisco. The chase scene took three weeks to film, resulting in only 9 minutes and 42 seconds of footage.
4. Transformers - 1997/2009 Chevrolet Camaro, “Bumblebee”
This phenomenally successful movie franchise based on a line of toys (and a cartoon series) featured a variety of vehicles, ranging from cars, helicopters, and jets to Army vehicles and big rigs. But the hero of the movie was “Bumblebee,” a yellow Camaro that transforms from a 1977 model to a 2009 model in a key scene in the first movie installment. While Transformers’ tagline is “robots in disguise,” some called the movie series a “General Motors commercial in disguise” when GM secured licensing to provide most of the vehicles used in the original movie, including the Corvette, various GMC trucks, the Pontiac Solstice, and Pontiac GTO.
3. Gone in 60 Seconds - 1973 Ford Mustang Mach I; 2000 Shelby Mustang GT 500, “Eleanor”
The original version of this movie wasn’t known for its plot or acting, but its influence on the popularity of Mustangs cannot be denied. The story revolves around 50 cars being stolen in one night and builds to the ultimate prize: the theft of a Ford Mustang, nicknamed “Eleanor.” There’s now a cottage industry selling kits to make Eleanor replicas, like this one here.
2. James Bond Series - Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger, Thunderball, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall)
James Bond was known for his gadgets and cars, no matter what actor portrayed him. He has driven an “invisible” car (Die Another Day) and even Lotus Esprit that becomes a mini-submarine (The Spy Who Loved Me). Bond’s best known vehicle by far, the Aston Martin DB5, appeared in no less than six movies. The original movie car used in Goldfinger and Thunderball was sold in 2010 for $4.6 million.
1. Back to Future - 1981 De Lorean DMC 12
“The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”
Doc Brown’s time machine required 1.21 gigawatts to power its way back to the future, but in real life, the De Lorean and had only 120 horsepower. It would’ve taken a lot more pavement than the Twin Pines mall had available to reach 88 mph! The De Lorean, with its trademark gullwing doors, brushed stainless steel exterior, and rear-mounted engine, was sold for only two years before the company went bankrupt. Just for fun, get a Flux Capacitor USB car charger here.