Our Picks for Top 10 Movie Cars of All Time
Moviegoers don’t need to be car lovers to appreciate the legendary vehicles that have graced the big screen over the decades. These automobiles have helped to tell the stories and define the characters; sometimes, they become the “star of the show.”
With this in mind, let’s explore our favorite picks of the best car movies and best movie cars of all time (in no particular order):
1. Goldfinger (James Bond) / Aston Martin DB5
Ask anyone to mention a famous movie car; chances are it will be the Aston Martin DB5 from the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. Outfitted with gadgets like machine guns, a bulletproof shield, and a handy ejector seat, this sleek silver coupe helped 007 dispatch the bad guys with ease.
In the real world, this Bond car is based on the Aston Martin BD5, with less than 1,100 built from 1963 to 1965. Twelve were modified initially for film use, including appearances in subsequent films ranging from Golden Eye in 1995 to the most recent No Time To Die. A DB5 used to promote the Thunderball movie sold for $6.4 million in 2019.
2. Back to the Future / DeLorean DMC-12
While the DeLorean DMC-12 led a short and tortured life as a production car, it would have far greater success as an iconic movie vehicle (and mythical time machine) thanks to the Back to the Future trilogy from 1985, 1989, and 1990. Only about 9,000 DMC-12 examples were built from 1981 to 1983, but the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown helped cement the stainless-steel-clad coupe’s legacy in popular culture.
Although underwhelming in the performance department, the DeLorean DMC-12 remains sought after by car collectors and movie buffs alike. A resurrected DeLorean Motor Company is promising new-design electric vehicles later this decade.
3. Smokey and the Bandit / Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
The black and gold 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE in Smokey and the Bandit has just as much screen time as Burt Reynolds. This memorable car movie helped restore the popularity of muscle cars (especially Pontiacs) when concerns over fuel economy and emissions crushed the performance vehicles of the early 1970s.
Since the Pontiac Trans Am was discontinued after 2002 (and the Pontiac brand went away after 2010), the only way to enjoy the Smokey and the Bandit lifestyle is by watching the movie or collecting one of these memorable muscle cars.
4. The Love Bug (Herbie) / Volkswagen Beetle
Each Herbie movie is one of those films where the actors take a backseat to the car. In 1969’s The Love Bug, an ordinary Volkswagen Beetle, undoubtedly convinced many children that cars do have personalities. It’s a theme carried on with four more Herbie movies and the beloved Type 1 Beetle with the rear, air-cooled engine.
And although the most recent film in the series, Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005), could have incorporated the New Beetle (a front-engine couple based on Volkswagen Golf components), it stuck with a classic Bug to keep the movie authentic.
5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off / Ferrari 250 GT
Spoilers are part of most movies, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is no exception. The secret here is that the shiny red car used to transport Ferris and his friends was a replica of the V12-powered 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder. No wonder the Italian automaker only built 56 examples from 1960 to 1963. These vehicles regularly garner eight-figure bids at auction.
A 1984 Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet chassis was used for the underpinnings of the movie replica, so Ferrari fans may still shed a tear when the car crashed through the glass of the Bueller’s stylish home.
6. Transporter Series / Audi A8 W12
Action over words is the overarching theme of The Transporter movie trilogy, and the sleek and powerful Audi A8 helped in many scenes. Its potent 12-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive helped Jason Statham’s anti-hero character, Frank Martin, stay ahead of his adversaries in the second and third films (a BMW was used in the debut movie). Did someone say, “car chase scene”?
Unlike the BMW, which exploded in The Transporter, the trusty Audi A8 survived The Transporter 2 and The Transporter 3 with only a few bumps and bruises.
7. Cars (Pixar Movie) / Lightning McQueen
While some movie-going race fans may think Days of Thunder or Talladega Nights gets the nod for a memorable track-themed film, millions of children (or former children) will argue the 2006 animated film “Cars” is most deserving of recognition.
Voiced by Owen Wilson, the movie’s star is #95 Lightning McQueen. This character takes the audience through the ups and downs of racing life. No single real-life car serves as the basis for the Lightning McQueen vehicle, but it’s easy to see the influences of NASCAR Generation 4 cars and their paint jobs, which appeared on racetracks from 1992 to 2017.
8. Fast and Furious / Toyota Supra
Fans of the Fast & Furious franchise may find it hard to believe that it’s been more than 20 years since the first movie, the Fast and the Furious, appeared on the big screen. But in the more than a dozen car-heavy films, few vehicles have created an impression like the 1994 Toyota Supra driven by Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner.
But given this is an F&F car, it’s far from stock. Besides the widebody treatment and orange paint, this Supra holds its own thanks to a turbocharger, performance exhaust, and ready-to-race suspension.
9. Batman / Batmobile
The idea of the Batmobile goes back to the 1940s and the early days of the comic series. Yet all of Batman’s rides had a basis in hot rods and production automobiles, including the Batmobile from the campy TV show from the 1960s (which used a Lincoln concept car).
But Tim Burton’s 1989 film, Batman, helped establish the need for the dark knight to have a larger-than-life car. Although based on a Chevrolet Impala chassis and powered by a Chevy V8 engine, the first modern Batmobiles offered a unique jet-like street presence. The evildoers likely didn’t appreciate the machine guns and the rocket launcher.
10. Ghostbusters / Ectomobile
Only a handful of movies manage to turn a street-legal vehicle into a cultural icon, and 1984’s Ghostbusters is one of these legendary films. Thanks to some creativity and a bit of Hollywood magic, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance was transformed into a trusty sidekick that helped the Ghostbuster team take on the haunted spirits.
The Ectomobile, also called the Ecto-1, featured a unique siren derived from a recorded leopard snarl played backward. Original concepts for the car featured glowing strobe lights, but the effect couldn’t be adequately captured on film. Nonetheless, the Ectomobile is still an on-screen head-turner.
Endurance: Real-Life Auto Protection
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Other options include coverage for high-mileage vehicles or commercial-use cars. There are also plans similar to what new car manufacturers offer, or the Advantage plan, which adds in routine maintenance services. Best of all, every Endurance auto protection plan comes with 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car support, and trip interruption protection. You can also benefit from a 30-day money-back guarantee, flexible payment options, and the ability to choose from any ASE Certified mechanic.
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Review the Endurance blog for valuable advice on car maintenance, DIY repairs, vehicle reviews, and more.
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Alex has worked in the automotive service industry for over 20 years. After graduating from one of the country’s top technical schools, he worked as a technician achieving a Master Technician certification. He also has experience as a service advisor and service manager. Read more about Alex.