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Famous Movie Cars: 10 of the Best

Chris Kaiser

How we scored them: Instead of just providing you with an overall rating, we at Daily Driver decided to compare the coolness of particular movie car against the quality of the film in which it was featured. Additionally, we’ve added bonus points (positive and negative) to those vehicles that differed from their street originals.  

1. Back to the Future

1985 DeLorean DCM-12: +5
Flux Capacitor and Hover mode: +5

Car Score: 10 (5+5)
Film Score: 9

Overall Score: 19

85 DeLorean DCM – 12
85 DeLorean DCM-12 from Back to the Future - @BacktotheFuture on Twitter

The original DeLorean, while high on 80s style with its sharp angles, stainless-steel body and gull-wing doors, left much to be desired when it came to drivability. The 2.85-liter V6 could only muster a paltry130hp and a 0-60 time of around 10 seconds (for context that’s roughly equivalent to my Prius). By contrast, Doc Emmet Brown’s DeLorean in Back to the Future received some alterations that significantly improved its track time. The addition of a Flux Capacitor and the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Rector boosted the DeLorean up from that base 130hp to the whopping 1.21gigwatts necessary for time travel. The hover mode upgrade came in Back the Future II and pushed our aftermarket upgrade score to a plus five and giving the DeLorean a full ten points.

Possibly Robert Zemeckis’s best in a line of deservedly popular films from the 1980s, Back to the Future proved a movie could center around the friendship of an eccentric local scientist and a teenage boy and not come off as weird, ahh the 80s…. The movie also paved the way for Gordian-level twists of time travel logic we would later see taken to extremes in the Terminator series and Hot-Tub Time Machine.

2. Goldfinger

1964 Aston Martin DB5z: +9
Ejector seat, rear window bullet shield, & quick flip license plates: +1

Car Score: 10 (9+1)
Film Score: 9

Overall Score: 19

Aston Martin
Aston Martin from Goldfinger – @zyiteblog on Twitter

Few cars so closely embody the character of their driver as the Aston Martin DB5 does for James Bond. Powerful, stylish, and with plenty of tricks up its sleeve, the DB5 perfectly complimented the world’s most dashing and charismatic spy. Special features included a bullet-proof rear window shield, oil slick gun, quick-flip license plates, and a passenger side ejector seat among its many modifications. 

Goldfinger remains the most Bond of Bond films and set the mold for the next 22 movies in the franchise. This one has it all, the iconic villain with a flair for the dramatic (laser circumcision!), an intimidating heavy in the bowler-welding Odd job, the sexy female lead with a cheeky double-entendre name, and all of it centering around a vague and poorly executed plot to steal, extort, and/or assassinate someone or something, it’s never all that clear.  

3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cali / 1985 Modena GT Spyder Cali: +10
High mileage: -1

Car Score: 9  (10-1)
Film Score: 8
Overall Score: 17

61 Ferrari 250 GT Cali
61 Ferrari 250 GT Cali from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – @JohnSiegman on Twitter

Though it wasn’t actually the 61 Ferrari 250 GT the film made it out to be, we still have to award this spitting image replica a solid nine points. It’s got great pickup, a lipstick red paint job, the love of Ferris Bueller, the love of joyriding service technicians, and all the love Cameron’s dad never gave to him.  

The film made a star out of Matthew Broderick and Ben Stein (“Bueller…Bueller…”) while also leading to a truancy spike the likes of which the nation hadn’t seen since the publication of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 

4. Bullitt

1968 Ford Mustang

Car Score: 10
Film Score: 6
Overall Score: 16

68 Ford Mustang
68 Ford Mustang from Bullitt – @NigelSanders5 on Twitter

Before we were Fast and the Furious or Gone in 60 Seconds, Steve McQueen and his 68 Mustang were roaring over the hills of San Francisco in Bullitt, the quintessential car-centric action thriller. They really don’t come much cooler than this dark highland green fastback Mustang. A rare and sought after trimline, beautiful and distinctive paintjob, and driven by original blue-eyed badass (eat your heart out Ryan Gosling!) means this classic muscle car gets a full ten points.  

To date, McQueen stands as the only movie star to have successfully made a turtleneck sweater look cool.  

5. Thelma & Louise

1966 Ford Thunderbird

Car Score: 8
Film Score: 8
Overall Score: 16

66 Ford Thunderbird
66 Ford Thunderbird from Thelma and Louise - @cars_az on Twitter

Without question Louise’s pristine ’66 Ford Thunderbird is the most road trip worthy of all the cars on our list. It had it all: the gorgeous turquoise paint job, the white pearl upholstery, the convertible top, the .38 Special in the glove compartment, and an irresistible Brad Pitt in the back seat. Of course, it was bitter-sweet to see our two protagonists heroically hurtling themselves off a cliff and into the Grand Canyon, but was I the only one to also shed a tear for this magnificent T-Bird? Surely not.  

I’ve never been able to neatly pin down this movie, was it a buddy comedy, a tragedy, a feminist milestone? Perhaps all three. Beautifully shot across sections of California and Utah, impeccably acted by Gina Davis and Susan Sarandon, Thelma and Louise was yet another movie Ridley Scott didn’t know how to finish properly. As Pres. George W. Bush said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice … a fool can’t get fooled again.” At least until the next Prometheus sequel comes out.  

6. Mad Max

1974 XB GT Ford Falcon Coup: +7
Supercharged and armored up against the post-apocalypse: +2

Car Score: 9 (7+2)
Film Score: 6
Overall Score: 15

74 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe
74 XB GT Ford Falcon from Mad Max - @VictoryAutoServ on Twitter

This muscled-up Ford Falcon XB GT was only available only in Australia so whatever you planned on driving post-apocalypse, it probably won’t be this. The additions of a black-on-black paint scheme, roof and trunk spoilers, and a supercharger (upgraded to fully functional for the sequel) gave ol’ Max a good head start against the baddies when he drove this “Last of the V8 Superchargers.”  

Mad Max is one of those curious cases, like that of perhaps Batman Begins or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, where the first film proved to be far inferior to the subsequent films in the series. While Mad Max brought us to the brink, it was The Road Warrior that threw us right into the wind-blown, grease-stained, petrol-starved post-apocalypse. The third film upped the ante with a villainous turn for Tina Turner and added the term “thunderdome” to the modern lexicon. Mad Max: Fury Road, if you’ll recall, was nominated for an Oscar for best picture in 2015. Yes, these films are over-the-top, and yes, three of the four will remind you of Mel Gibson’s depressing career/life trajectory, but they are also among the greatest of all car movies. Just not the first one. 

7. Cars

Lightning McQueen

Car Score: 8
Film Score: 7
Overall Score: 15

Lightning McQueen
Lightning McQueen from Cars - @Petersen_Museum on Twitter

Lightning McQueen may not be a “real” car, but he has an auspicious automotive pedigree, nonetheless. An amalgam of a Porsche 911, a NASCAR, a Corvette, a Lola prototype, and a Ford GT40, Lightning McQueen’s final and most important component was Owen Wilson’s voice. Sounds like one awesome machine, right? Heck, if BMW can help Toyota to make the new Supra, why can’t we have half a dozen manufacturers team up to deliver the what would undoubtedly be a real monster on the track (not least of which because of the giant mouth stretching between the headlights).  

As for the movie, I have my reservations about taking life lessons from a talking car, especially one with stickers for headlights. But hey, it’s better than life lessons from a talking dog, right? And don’t get me started on life lessons from airplanes that sound like Dane Cook.  

8. The Blues Brothers

Dodge Monaco: +4
Cop tires, cop suspension, and cop shocks: +3

Car Score: 7 (4+3)
Film Score: 7
Overall Score: 14

Dodge Monaco
Dodge Monaco from The Blues Brothers - @SnowClassicCars on Twitter

As Elwood Blues explains to his brother Jake, the Dodge Monaco “Bluesmobile, while humble in appearance, was quite the capable machine, “It’s got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters, so it’ll run good on regular gas.” Oh, and don’t forget the gigantic PA speaker mounted on the roof.  

Both a classic and a hot mess, The Blues Brothers combined comedy, a record 103 wrecked cars in its many frenetic chase scenes, and, of course, a whole lotta blues with musical cameos from James Brown, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles. Forever after our hearts would remain no further than 106 miles from Chicago.  

9. Jurassic Park

92 Ford Explorer: +5
Spotlights and a sick paint job: +1
Bubble-window sun roof for easy T-Rex access: –3 

Car Score: 3 (5+1-3)
Film Score: 10
Overall Score: 13

92 Ford Explorer
92 Ford Explorer from Jurassic Park - jurassicworld3.net

Because the Jurassic Park Explorers were autonomous vehicles (albeit following a track), it’s the only car on the list that wasn’t actually driven by any character in the movie. Indeed, the only off-roading for the Explorer came curtesy of a grumpy Tyrannosaurs. While the spotlights and totally rad paintjob garnered this ride style points, the extra-large sunroof, perfect for dinosaur viewing, proved to be yet another of Jurassic Park’s glaring safety oversights. 

A watershed for movie special-effects, Jurassic Park spawned a hugely lucrative franchise, established the indisputable greatness of Jeff Goldblum, and inspired an entire generation of dino-geeks to pursue PhDs in paleontology.  

10. Ghostbusters

Cadillac Miller Metero “ECTO-1”: +3
Fully equipped for Ghostbusting: +3

Car Score: 6 (3+3)
Film Score: 7
Overall Score: 13

Ghostbusters-ECTO-1
Cadillac Miller Metero from Ghostbusters - @VictoryAutoServ on Twitter

The ECTO-1 was a mod-on-mod; beginning life as a 59 Cadillac Fleetwood and converted by the Miller-Meteor company to serve as an ambulance/hearse, it was then further modified by one Dr. Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) into the ultimate ghost-wrangling station wagon. The original ECTO-1, after languishing on a studio backlot for years, was restored to all its silver-screen glory for the release of the Ghostbusters video game. Sadly, with only around 400 ever produced, you’ll probably have to settle for an unmodified Fleetwood for your replica project.  

Ghostbusters gave us sexy pillow-talk between Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver (Dana: “There is no Dana, only Zuul!”) and introduced us to the surprisingly scary Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Hooking us with the greatest of all movie song earworms was just ectoplasmic frosting on the spectral cake. Seriously, I didn’t even have to phonetically write out the bass line and its already bouncing around in your head, isn’t it? 

Honorable Mentions

11. Mad Max: Fury Road

1959 Cadillac Deville: +8
GigahorseIf only our scale went higher: +2

Car Score: 10 (8+2)
Film Score: 10
Overall Score: 20

As mentioned above, the Mad Max movies broke the mold for the post-apocalyptic genre and were perhaps just as influential when it came to the macabre moto-mutations driven by its heroes and marauders alike. Immortan Joe’s Cadillac Deville “Gigahorse was just one of the dozens of mind-bending creations from George Miller’s production team.  

12. Smokey and the Bandit

1977 Pontiac Trans Am

Car Score: 7
Film Score: 6
Overall Score: 13

Another instance in which the car, a genuine classic in the Pontiac Trans Am, edged out the movie. I’m sure I’ll hear from a few die-hard Burt Reynolds fans who will quibble with the six-point rating for this romp. High on chemistry between Reynolds and Sally Field and low on plot, Smoky and the Bandit was certainly fun even if it didn’t demand much from its audience.  

13. The Big Lebowski

1973 Ford Gran Torino: +6
Jeff didn’t really keep up on the maintenance schedule: -3

Car Score: 3 (6-3)
Film Score: 10
Overall Score: 13

What was, in the hands of Clint Eastwood, a symbol of the American males’ almost religious devotion to muscle cars, the Gran Torino was given an entirely different spin by the Coen brother’s in their classic film about the White Russian loving ur-slacker Jeff Lebowski. The car goes from bad to worse as it is stolen, likely peed in by a vagrant, crashed thrice, thrashed with a crowbar by Larry Seller’s neighbor, and finally burnt to a crisp by nihilists. 

14. Dumb and Dumber

1984 Ford Ecoline: +2
Complete Furrification, including having to lift the leg to fill the gas tank: +4

Car Score: 6 (2+4)
Film Score: 6
Overall Score: 12

As far as the movie goes, I’m pretty sure I “liked it a lot” more when I was twelve years old. But the overly serious Jeff Daniels’ surprisingly successful comedic debut was nice to see. The van gets high marks for being the only know modified Ecoline that ended up cute and charming instead of straight creepy.  

15. Wayne’s World

AMC Pacer: +3
Licorice dispenser and Queen blasting on the
stereo: +1

Car Score: 4 (3+1)
Film Score: 6
Overall Score: 10

What is there to say about the AMC Pacer…? Other than the maximum rear visibility curtesy of the huge wrapping passenger windows…gosh, I’m stumped. I guess this is why it ended up a punchline, huh? It is, however, important to note that Wayne and Garth knew the power and majesty of Bohemian Rhapsody long before the Rami Malek movie came along.  

 

So, what do you think? Were there any glaring omissions? Our scores totally out of whack? Let us know in the comments.  

*Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are indisputably correct. Popular opinion and those of office co-workers have been completely disregarded as the feeble workings uninformed and deeply troubled minds. I’m right, you’re wrong, so sayeth the internet.  
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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Chase July 9, 2019

    This is a pretty good list but you forgot John Wick’s Ford Mustang Boss! He loved that car.

    Reply
    1. Carsforsale.com Team
      Carsforsale.com Team July 9, 2019

      Love the feedback, Chase! What is your favorite car?

    2. Avatar
      Brian McCollum July 9, 2019

      That wasn’t a mustang boss. It was a fastback. But he did love that car! I guess they covereed mustang already tho

      1. Carsforsale.com Team
        Carsforsale.com Team July 9, 2019

        Boy did he love that car…

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