There's nothing like a hot car in a movie. Sleek and sophisticated, swift and mysterious, when one drives onto the screen, we sit up, pay attention… and maybe even drool a little.
After all, what is a modern-day film without cars? Vehicles in a movie are more than just eye candy — they provide us with economic clues about the characters riding in them and help to identify the time period in which the story takes place.
Hollywood certainly has covered a wide range of subject matter over the years, from current events, to people, places, and of course, cars. Some vehicles earn starring roles, while some are merely extras in a box-office smash.
Here are a few notable movies — and cars — we think you'll want to remember the next time you sit down in front of your television with a bag of popcorn, daydreaming of a long highway and the wind in your hair:
1. Bullitt (1968): Super-cool 1960s' film star Steve McQueen cemented his Hollywood legend status by starring in this classic crime thriller, known for its famous San Francisco chase scene between McQueen's Ford Mustang and the killer's black Dodge Charger. McQueen often said that playing Lt. Frank Bullitt was his favorite role — whether it was because of the chase sequence, we'll never know.
2. Smokey and the Bandit (1977): Sheriff Buford T. Justice would have gotten the best of Burt Reynolds' "scum bum" character Bo "Bandit" Darville, had it not been for the spritelike turns and quick acceleration of a certain black 1977 Pontiac Trans AM. Bandit and the Trans AM's "complete lack of respect for the law" ultimately made them heroes in the eyes of gearheads everywhere, and made the rest of us want a fast car really badly.
3. Thelma and Louise (1991): This ultimate movie about female camaraderie had a shocking, yet fitting, end for its main characters and supporting car star, a white 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible. People who love classic cars might be a bit squeamish at how the Thunderbird meets its demise, but at least it went down — literally — in a blaze of woman-powered glory.
4. The Fast and the Furious (2001): If you're looking for a slow-moving movie, this flick is not for you. However, if you're into speed and sports cars, you should definitely get in the driver's seat for this film. With at least six chase sequences — one involving an 18-wheeler — and several racing scenes, "The Fast and the Furious" packs weeks' worth of LAPD vs. The Bad Guys action into 106 performance-driven minutes.
5. Christine (1983): This Stephen King film about a sleek car that takes over a high school nerd's brain might be the silliest of all horror movies, but man, is it enjoyable. The evil Christine in the flick was said to be a 1958 Plymouth Fury, but she was actually a combination of sixteen 1957 and 1958 Fury and Belvedere models, 13 of which were smashed during filming. As a movie-watching bonus, pay attention to the main character Arnie's clothing style over the course of the movie — it gradually morphs from the 1980s into the style of Christine's glory era, the 1950s. Spooky.
6. The Love Bug (1968): Herbie the Love Bug was a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle deluxe ragtop sedan with a big heart and a zeal for racing. From showroom to racetrack, he was a real class act, even when pitted against evil racing rival Peter Thorndyke. Herbie made us all want to wear the number 53 — and realize that one day, the round, kooky-looking car in the bunch might be the coolest one around.
7. Back to the Future (1985): Something about the car in this movie, the DeLorean DMC-12, made us all believe in time travel. Maybe it was the gull-wing doors, sleek body style or (ahem) just the simple way it disappeared into a burst of fog and light when it peeled off, but some aspect of it made us desperately want that car. It turns out the DeLorean used in the film actually belongs to some lucky soul other than eccentric scientist Doc Brown — it's a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California, though the real plates don't actually read "OUTATIME."
8. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000): Bentleys, Rolls Royces and Ferraris — oh my! Legendary former car thief Randall "Memphis" Raines (played by Nicholas Cage) is yanked out of retirement to pull off one heck of a job — stealing 50 specific cars within five days in order to save his brother's life. In his quest, see some real vehicle jewels throughout the cinematography — a 1990 Lamborghini Diablo, 1962 Aston Martin DB1 and 1950 Mercury Custom, for starters. One car, the McLaren F1, was so rare that even the producers couldn't get their hands on it, so it was replaced with a 1994 Jaguar XJ 220 in the film.
9. Transformers (2007): Originally touted as one big General Motors advertisement, "Transformers" is the ultimate multi-car movie — the directors took as much care in casting the cars as they did in casting the human actors. In their first starring roles, the then-concept 2009 Chevrolet Camaro, a Saleen S281, a Hummer H2, a Chevrolet Uplander and a GMC cab-over semi-truck aren't just in the action; they are the action. Look for them and nearly 150 other vehicle types throughout the film.
10. The Blues Brothers (1980): What could be wrong about a musical that, until its own sequel was released 18 years later, held the world record for most cars destroyed in one film? And to the delight of wannabe lawbreakers everywhere, "The Blues Brothers" movie production didn't just demolish regular old vehicles — it saw nearly 60 police cars and thirteen 1974 Dodge Monacos meet their demise, the latter of which was the make and model of the infamous Bluesmobile.
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