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Cars We Grew Up Loving in Movies

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author photo by Autotrader February 2011

For many, our first memory of love on four wheels came in the form of a tiny VW Bug named Herbie. For me, it happened one rainy Saturday morning when my dad took me to see the 1968 Walt Disney Classic, The Love Bug. Not only was the film’s star a car, the little German coupe proved as irresistibly lovable as my own dog, Rusty.

That same year, another classic car, this time a reworked GEN 11, collectively captured millions of hearts in the MGM classic Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. Both Chitty and Herbie demonstrated that a car could love us as much and we loved it, and it could even save us from all manner of evil doing.

There are many onscreen love affairs where a car, not an actor, has played the roll of Dr. Ruth. It was, after all, a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am that introduced Burt Reynolds to Sally Field in Smokey and the Bandit, and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California that helped a love-sick Ferris Bueller finally get the girl in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Let’s not forget the 1936 Rolls Royce Phantom II that dutifully shared with us the lives and loves of its many owners, including Ingrid Bergman, George C. Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Rex Harrison and Omar Sharif, in The Yellow Rolls Royce.

Thelma and Louise used a 1966 Ford Thunderbird to take the boundaries of friendship and love a bit too far, while Jake and Elwood Blues discovered that a 1974 Dodge Monaco police car complete with “a cop motor of 440 cubic inches, cop tires, cop shocks, and no catalytic converters so it runs good on regular gas” was willing to lay down its life to get them to the county assessor’s office in time to save the local orphanage.

Love’s dark side has also found its way to the silver screen, best exemplified by a vengeful 1958 Fury named Christine who proved Hell has no fury like a Plymouth scorned. Steve McQueen’s 1968 Mustang fastback stilled our hearts and stole our breath with the death defying chase scenes throughout the film Bullitt, and a sinister black on black 1970 Dodge Charger served as the evil Domenic Toretto’s ride of choice in the Fast and the Furious.

Even the ugly ducklings of the automotive world proved they could worm their way into our hearts. Just think of the back-firing 1974 Mercury Marquis driven by John Candy in Uncle Buck, or the 1959 Cadillac Ambulance that dutifully carried the Ghost Busters to their supernatural assignments. Nerds everywhere found vindication when Garth and Wayne made it cool to be seen in a Powder Blue 1977 AMC Pacer–complete with flaming decals and a roof-mounted Twizzlers dispenser–in the comedy sensation, Wayne’s World. But, perhaps the most celebrated odd-romance cars were the retrofitted DeLorean sports car that ushered Michael J. Fox back to the future in the film of the same name, or the horribly wood-clad Pea Green Ford Country Squire Wagon that dutifully got the Griswold family to Wally World at the end of National Lampoon’s Vacation.

The power of the star car stays with us long after the theatre lights go up. Forever after when we see that car on the road, we are reminded of the emotions the film evoked….love, happiness, fear, joy. And sometimes, we simply get to relive a happy childhood memory of an afternoon spent with your Dad at the movies on a rainy afternoon. Now that’s star car power.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Cars We Grew Up Loving in Movies - Autotrader