Sometimes, the most compelling characters in a movie don’t utter a line at all — instead, they burn rubber. Most of us can rattle off our favorite cars from movies and TV shows as easily as we can the names of the stars or the places where they were filmed. Here are 10 movie and TV cars that are among the most iconic ever. Did your favorite famous set of wheels make the list?
1981 DeLorean DMC-12, Back to the Future
Visually, John DeLorean’s DMC-12 was a stainless-steel stunner designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro. Under the hood, though, the DeLorean wasn’t quite the supercar that flashy bodywork promised, carrying a pokey 130-hp 2.9-liter V-6. No matter. Its futuristic looks combined with a bit of movie magic gave the DeLorean legendary status, and because it was a time machine in the film, the real-life specs didn’t really matter, with one exception: Reportedly, the prop staff replaced that sluggish V-6 with a V-8 from the Porsche 928, which went a long way toward helping Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) hit 88 mph, fire up the Flux Capacitor, and shoot back to 1955.
Despite its movie celebrity, the DeLorean flopped on the market in the 1980s. But the car’s unique, retro-futurist design has earned it a cult following today. There’s even a new DeLorean Motor Company restoring and improving the cars.
1964 Aston Martin DB5, Goldfinger
James Bond’s legacy of famous cars and far-out gadgets can be traced back from one car—the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 007 driven in Goldfinger and Thunderball. Without any Bond spy modifications, the Aston Martin DB5 is a work of art. But it’s the special effects that have made this car quite possibly the most beloved movie car of all time.
The long list of cool tricks included ram bumper, machine guns, ejector seat, smoke screen, oil-slick sprayer, and more. Looking back on the Aston from today’s perspective, the most interesting feature may be the map screen in Bond’s car, which foreshadowed today’s navigation systems.
So just how influential and significant is the original Bond car? One of the few Astons used in those movies sold last year for a whopping $4.6 million.
1973 XB GT Ford Falcon, Mad Max
When it comes to cars, Australians are historically just as power-hungry as Americans. So in the 1960s and 1970s, the Australian arms of American car companies created some fairly brutal muscle machines—cars we never saw in the States. One of them was the Ford Falcon. In its third generation, the Falcon XB GT got its power from a 351-cid V-8. But for the movie Mad Max, the filmmakers transformed the already cool Falcon into the “Pursuit Special” or “Interceptor.”
The crew plastered a new nose on the front end, emblazoned the body with huge flares, and tucked seriously fat tires underneath them. The centerpiece was under the hood—or, more precisely, sticking out of it. In the movie, the switch-activated supercharger boosts the power of the interceptor any time Max needed to skedaddle. But, alas, it was only a movie and that supercharger was a fake.
Batmobile/Tumbler, Batman Begins
Like Bond cars, Batmobiles, in all their permutations, have transcended generations and remain cool. But the tough, militaristic Batmobile Tumbler that has appeared in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight is the most visually and technically significant Batmobile since the George Barris–designed 1960s version. A beefy 350-cid Chevy V-8 powers the tank-like Tumbler to 60 mph in around five seconds, even with 37-inch off-road tires, according to the filmmakers. The front tires are mounted to an independent front suspension with around 30 inches of suspension travel. And the body is said to be made of more then 65 carbon-fiber panels.
What makes the Tumbler cooler than most movie props these days is, simply, that it’s a real thing, not a computer-animated fantasy. We certainly dig that.
1970 Dodge Charger, The Fast and the Furious
The classic 1968–70 Dodge Charger is a TV and movie superstar. The most famous of all was the ’69 Charger “General Lee” from the The Dukes of Hazzard TV show. Another Charger starred in the 1970s cult hit Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. But in 2000, the venerable Charger took to the screen again, this time built as a menacing black street-racing machine for Vin Diesel. With a wicked stance, giant rear tires, and a humongous engine and supercharger sticking out of the hood, the Charger was insanely cool.
It was the climactic action scene of the movie that made this car so memorable. As Vin Diesel’s character Dominic Toretto lines up against Paul Walker’s character, who’s driving a Supra, he floors the throttle and the Charger does a sick wheelstand and burnout at the same time. Movie magic for sure, but still fun to watch. Later in that same race, the two cars jump a set of train tracks just as a locomotive passes, and a heartbeat later Diesel flips the Charger in a spectacular finish to the chase scene.
1969 Mustang, John Wick
Keanu Reeves’ most memorable on-screen vehicle just may be a Los Angeles city bus. But his coolest is the Mustang in the movie he made 20 years later—John Wick. The Mustang in question is identified in the movie as possibly being a “Boss 429,” but that’s not the case. A real Boss ‘9 is rare and highly collectable—one sold at auction back in 2015 for $550,000. It’s likely the film crew used a ’69 Mustang Mach 1 with either a 390 V-8 or a 428. Both are plenty potent for on-screen antics and look absolutely badass.
The cool thing about this movie is that it’s clear this is a real car doing the driving without any CG. It’s also reported that Reeves did most of the stunt driving himself after going through a performance driving school. And one of the best scenes is watching him fishtail the Mustang around a wet airport parking lot, sliding it closer and closer to a row of dump trucks. The Mustang reappears in John Wick Chapter 2.
1992 Ford Explorer XLT UN46, Jurassic Park
old onto your butts, we are now entering Jurassic Park, circa 1993. Though the cars appear to be Jeeps, they’re really Ford Explorers, and a solid portion of the movie takes place in and around them. While these Touring Vehicles didn’t see much off-roading, they are an integral part of the Jurassic Park experience—I mean before the dinos got loose and the characters realized they were stuck on Isla Nublar. Customized by Hollywood pro George Barris, many fans have been inspired to replicate the car, taking years to painstakingly re-create the ’90s icons.
The cars were modified to give the illusion of automation by hiding the driver in the trunk, where they watched a small TV that was fed outside images via two cameras. Six cars were used in the film, charged at, stomped on, flipped over, and buffeted by prehistoric predators. Some were completely destroyed and at the end of filming three dumpsters had been filled with parts.
Ectomobile, 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor, Ghostbusters 1 and 2
The Ectomobile, or ECTO-1 and ECTO-1A, from the Bill Murray era mind you, is just as famous as the men riding inside it, maybe more so. Made from a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor, it’s an end-loader ambulance/hearse combination with a 6.3-liter V-8, good for 320 horsepower. The original idea for the cruiser was more sinister, painted black with purple and white strobe lights to give it a glow. It would have been more than a pedestrian car, though, it would have had supernatural powers, mainly interdimensional travel and the ability to dematerialize. Once it was pointed out how often the car would be shot at night, the idea was nixed.
Two of the cars were initially purchased, but the final converted version was primarily used during filming. We first see the Miller-Meteor in black and without modifications, the secondary vehicle, Dan Aykroyd prescribing “some suspension work and shocks, brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear end, new rings, mufflers, and a little wiring” before it can go out on calls. In New York City, sightings of the ECTO-1 during promotions after the film’s release caused car accidents.
After this, the second vehicle was converted into a fully equipped Ectomobile, garnering the name ECTO-1A. After being mistreated and left to the elements on a Sony backlot, both cars were refurbished. ECTO-1 was fixed up and used as a promotional tool for the video-game release in 2009, and ECTO-1A was resurrected after a group of dedicated fans started a petition to purchase the car from Sony, ultimately restoring it themselves.
1963 Volkswagen Beetle Model 117 Deluxe Sunroof Sedan, Herbie: The Love Bug
Long before Kit from Knight Rider, we had a sentient car in Herbie. Herbie is never referred to as a Volkswagen in the first film, all branding had to be removed. VW was on board for the second film, Herbie Rides Again.
In each of the five films, Herbie appear slightly different and upward of 100 cars were used in all five. Walt Disney Studios built 11 cars for the first Herbie movie, and of those 11 only three are known to exist today. Normally, the interior of this beetle would have been white but for the film they painted it a gray color so it wouldn’t reflect the studio lights.
One of the VWs in the film was outfitted with a Porsche Super 90 engine for extra performance. Herbie #10 resides at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, if you’re suffering from a different kind of Beetlemania and need a quick fix.
2007 Chevrolet Camaro Replica, Transformers
In the first film of the Transformers series, we’re introduced to Bumblebee as an old 1977 second-generation Chevy Camaro. He eventually converts into a fifth-generation, but remember this is 2007 and it’s two whole years before the car would go into production. A replica would need to be made, slick enough to fool viewers and do the toy line justice. The car needed to be able to survive the rigors of filming a Michael Bay movie, so body panels made from the same molds as the 2006 Camaro Concept were used.
Two Bumblebees were made by Saleen, who built the Cobras in xXx: State of the Union, out of two 5.7L, LS1-powered Pontiac GTOs. Talk about creating buzz for the forthcoming Camaros.