There’s no shortage of cool movie characters, but when the car that character drives becomes just as iconic as the character himself, you know you’ve got the makings of a great car.
A few of these movie cars are true legends, just as much as their drivers if not more so. From beauty to speed to insane modifications, here are a few of our personal favorites in no particular order.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12, Back to the Future
Come on. The only reason you even remember the DeLorean is because Marty McFly rocketed to stardom aboard Doc’s famous time machine. This stainless steel machine designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro wasn’t so hot under the hood, however. It featured a slow 130-hp 2.9-liter V6 generally though the movie replaced that with a V8 from a Porsche.
Despite these underperforming specifications, this car remains a legendary movie sports car capable of jumping through time when it hit 88 miles per hour. Despite being a flop in the 80s overall, there’s a company now dedicated to restoring this movie classic.
1973 XB GT Ford Falcon, Mad Max
The post-apocalyptic landscape of Mad Max might have been bleak, but the car was not. Australia experienced a similar desire for muscle as the United States did during the 60s and 70s, but in true Australian fashion went to the extreme.
The result was the Ford Falcon, a model not seen in the United States. Falcon XB GT got its power from a 351-CID V8, but the movie set went even further for speed by creating a fake “supercharger” and modding the front hood to showcase the contraption. Though it was entirely artificial, that doesn’t keep this car from burning in our minds whenever we imagine a quick escape.
1964 Aston Martin DB5, Goldfinger
The beautiful Aston Martin from Goldfinger might be more classy than the previous two cars, but it doesn’t lack in speed or outrageous gadgets. Even without these modifications, the vehicle itself is indeed a study in aesthetics.
A long list of tricks makes this car one of the most beloved movie cars of all time. It included machine guns, an ejector seat, and smoke screens to name just a few gadgets packed in by Bond’s technical support crew.
Probably the most satisfying part of the car was Bond’s navigation screen which only made their appearances in real life about a decade ago. Talk about being ahead of its time (as Bond has always been.)
1982 Pontiac Trans Am, KITT from Knight Rider
The Knight Industries Two Thousand, or KITT for short, is a famous bit of AI that first appeared in the tv series Knight Rider. KITT was an electronic computer module placed in the body of a very advanced robotic car.
The robot was embodied in a modified Trans Am and used to fight crime and further its creator’s humanitarian efforts. Audiences will remember KITT fondly as the gentle-voiced car able to resist fire, bullets, explosions, and could be driven on autopilot even through water. Truly an all-purpose vehicle.
Though KITT went through a few modern transformations as the series was rebooted, the original Trans Am stands as the coolest embodiment of KITT.
1977 Pontiac Trans Am, Smokey and the Bandit
Speaking of the Trans Am, a far less sophisticated but no less powerful version appeared in the Burt Reynolds classic Smokey and the Bandit.
Though the car hadn’t seen much change in the years since it was first debuted on the market, when audiences got a look at this car leaping over bridges, turning corners, and leaving the sheriff in the dust, sales increased by the thousands.
And no wonder, the sleek black design with open windows, handled better than the most classic American muscle car of all time, the Corvette. The movie raised its bad-boy appeal and vaulted it into the classics hall of fame.
'32 Ford Coupe, American Graffiti
The Ford is probably the quintessential American car. And in the movie, American Graffiti, a truly classic version modded out for speed and beauty showcases America’s love of speed and design creativity.
The bright canary yellow coupe is powered by a Chevy 327 V8 and sits a little taller in the back. The classic showdown between this car and a newer (in the movie timeline) ’55 Chevy ends with the older car completely smoking the newer.
1969 Dodge Charger, Dukes of Hazzard
Another brightly colored car is the orange Dodge Charger, otherwise known as the General Lee. The TV show was a hilarious look at the antics of the Duke Boys as they drove around causing good-natured trouble and continually irritating the local law.
The car itself is a classic muscle car with a 383 V8 in most versions. To handle larger jumps, the nose was raised, and ballast was placed in the rear to keep trajectory. It was painted with the Virginia Confederate battle flag, and the doors were welded shut as this was standard in street racing cars. It was often used for comedic effect but inspired a generation of riders to exit through the windows just as the Duke boys.
1968 Mustang GT 390, Bullitt
No list would be complete without a Mustang entry, and although any car driven by Steve McQueen is destined to be a classic, this Mustang needs no such boost. Leaner and meaner in the stripped down movie version, it was part of some of the greatest film car chases of all time.
And you know when Ford can successfully release a special edition not once but twice, this is a truly iconic car. The highland green and the original magnesium American Racing Torque Thrust wheels combine to make this car a menacing, powerhouse muscle car.
Batmobile/Tumbler, Batman Begins
This list could easily be made up of only cool versions of the Batmobile. The most famous billionaire superhero of all time made sure that each car was just as cool as his bat-suit, but the version seen in Batman Begins revamps the look of the classic batmobiles to suit the harder aesthetic of the modern Batman universe.
Underneath the car is a beefy 350-CID Chevy V8 that powers the tank-like Tumbler. Its body is made of carbon-fiber panels and can reach speeds of 60mph in around 5 seconds despite its tank-design.
The Gigahorse, Mad Max: Fury Road
In the final entry of the list is a car that looks like it’s all CGI but in reality is just one cool modded car. It features double '59 Cadillac bodies ride atop a massive truck chassis powered by twin Chevy big block V-8s.
If that’s not enough for a post-apocalyptic powerhouse, both engines have been supercharged, and the body is finished out by resting on massive tractor tires. What it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in sheer power. It’s fascinating to watch it maneuver through the desert of the movie landscape as easily as it might on a smooth highway.
About the Writer
Scott Mason has always loved cars ever since he was a child. So when an automotive blog named Chicmoto offered him a job as a writer he immediately pounced on the opportunity. He is passionate about classic cars but is also a huge film fanatic. When he is not writing new content you will find him spending his free time watching classics like Star Wars, Predator, and Scarface.