Movies go hand in hand with cars. Cars are dynamic, they're loud and fast an kinetic. They are the perfect thing for moving pictures. Nothing establishes a hero, how cool they are, or what kind of person they are, more than the car they drive. Often the car is as big or bigger star of the movie than the actors who drive them. There are movies we know by their car chases and the car involved more than the plots or the characters who drive them. For the average gearhead, The Italian Job (both of them) stars Mini Coopers and is about Mini Coopers involved in crazy chases. Mini Coopers! Cars become even bigger objects of desire once they're on screen. Manufacturers have launched models by having them star in movies or driven by heroes whether it's Black Panther in a Lexus or Tony Stark in an Audi R8.
Not all movie cars are created equal, however. Some cars star in movies that would be a hassle in your day to day life. Some might actually make life downright unlivable. What might make a good hero car in a hero situation isn't always the car you want to get your groceries in or parallel park. Here are 10 cars we would love to have and 10 we wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.
20 Love: Bullitt's Mustang GT390
Steve McQueen is the king of cool and Bullitt is the gold standard of car chases. Coming in at roughly 46 minutes into the film, Steve McQueen takes on a Charger through the streets of San Francisco in a Forest Green Mustang GT 390.
The fire-breathing beast was meant to cross the Golden Gate Bridge at over 100mph, but the parks department found out how fast they planned to go and said no.
The car is so desirable McQueen himself wasn't able to buy it back from its owner, the second car only recently resurfaced in time for Ford's release of the Bullitt edition Mustang.
19 Never Buy: Cameron's Dad's 1963 Ferrari California Spyder from Ferris Bueller's Day Off
There are two ways you can look at this. The actual Ferrari California is a rare Ferrari that sold recently at auction for $17 million dollars and that the pursuit of such a rare car and the care that would go into having it not only as an investment but as a piece of rare automobilia might alienate you from your troubled teenager. This, in turn, might lead to him being pressured into taking it for a day-long joyride that ends with him kicking your $17 million car out a window. Or you could look at it as the Modena replica that the crew hated because it was unreliable and difficult to operate.
18 Love: The Driver's 1955 Chevy 150 Gasser from Two Lane Blacktop
Dreamy art movies involving car chases aren't a new things. Before Drive and Baby Driver there were movies like Two Lane Blacktop. The plot, if we can call it that, involved The Driver (James Taylor...the singer) and The Mechanic (Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson) who drag race across the country in a hopped up 1955 Chevy 150 Gasser. Plus something about a GTO and a hitchhiker, but who cares, it's the car that's the star. Nothing is left stock on this lightweight powerful dragstrip shootout car and it makes the guy who sung You Got a Friend seem cool. Bonus points, one of the same Gassers used in this movie later went on to be driven by Harrison Ford in American Graffiti.
17 Never Buy: The Striped Tomato from Starsky & Hutch
Nothing says 70s cop show more than Starsky & Hutch. Bell bottoms, an informant named "Huggy Bear", and a 1976 Gran Torino in bright red with a big white swoosh on the side.
Hutch gave the car its nickname 'The Striped Tomato" on the show. The show was made into a parody with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller. While it seems like it'd be cool, with its 351 Cleveland, it's also a product of post-gas crunch muscle cars. It's hampered by early smog and gas-saving, meaning that the lumbering beast gets to 60 in an embarrassing by today's standards 12 seconds. With all that brightness it doesn't have the go-to justify it. Plus I don't think they let you have to cherry siren to put on top so you can go through red lights.
16 Love: 1969 Mustang from John Wick
Two things you don't mess with: Someone's dog, and someone's car. Especially if that someone is the assassin you send to take care of assassins. In this case, that "Baba Yaga" as he's referred to at one point in the movie, is John Wick, and that car is a 1969 Mustang. Here's where it gets muddy, in the movie it's referred to as a Boss 429, a double-dip homologation car that established a racing production chassis for Trans Am and the NASCAR bound 429 cubic inch engine.
Although, Mustang fans are quick to point out that it has the hood scoop and wing of a Mach 1.
Either way it's a pretty cool car, and thieves might be wary of the owner of such a gnarly ride.
15 Never Buy: Joe Dirt's "Superbird" from Joe Dirt
Speaking of cars that aren't what they seem they are, enter another homologated pretender, this time in the form of Joe Dirt's Dodge Charger "Daytona" that he has to buy for $450 after he can't get his GTX out of hock. Now, even in sloppy condition the extremely rare Daytona would have been a trade up. But instead it's an ill-conceived dress up Daytona that's seen better days. This is the car equivalent of showing up to prom in a torn up tuxedo print t-shirt. The Joe Dirt mullet might be a requirement for getting in it.
14 Love: Crockett's Testarossa from Miami Vice
The TV show Miami Vice brought a lot of things to television and while horribly dated feeling now, it was a revolution in its time. Often it was cited as bringing an "MTV" aesthetic to television drama, but it was one of the first cinematic shows that ultimately was decades ahead of its time. In contrast to Tom Selleck's smiley Ferrari driving, Don Johnson's troubled Crockett brooded in his fast and slick white Testarossa that gave the car a dark coolness that was hard to resist. It almost makes you want to stop wearing socks.
13 Never Buy: Crockett's 'Ferrari Daytona' from Miami Vice
It's not all car magic from Miami Vice. Arguably the more iconic car from the show is Crockett's original black Ferrari Daytona. There are two problems. First is the conceit for a vice cop driving a car like that. The idea was that he was supposed to be 'undercover' and needed a car that reflected that. But the Ferrari Daytona was not only too expensive for that, valued at $400,000 at the time, it was extraordinarily rare. So rare that there are people who knew who had all of them. That's not undercover. The second was it wasn't real.
It was a C3 Corvette dressed up as a rare Ferrari.
Turns out that was a problem for Enzo Ferrari, too. So he gave them the Testarossa and the show shot the Daytona with a rocket launcher. Seriously.
12 Love: Kowalski's 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 from Vanishing Point
There's a lot to be written about the esoteric car chase movie Vanishing Point. But the real star is that car. So powerful that it ended up being the centerpiece to another movie altogether. To be sure, Kowalski is a problematic hero. He makes a bet that he can make it from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours, runs a motorcycle cop off the road, and becomes a folk hero thanks to a DJ with the widest broadcast range in the country. Honestly, though, what gearhead hasn't sat behind the wheel of a powerful car and thought, "Man, I just want to go for it."
11 Never Buy: Lamborghini Countach from The Cannonball Run
Sure, it's the poster car of the 80s, and it's driven by two beautiful women whose only weakness in getting out of tickets is an equally beautiful Highway Patrol officer.
Even in the movie, though, the Lamborghini proves troublesome. They end up ditching it and constantly trading up for other modified cars they run into the ground in an attempt to win the race. Watch James May's drive in a Countach for an object lesson in why you never meet your heroes. Then there's the U.S. spec ridiculous front wing to meet bumper regulations. Sure, the Babes win the race (spoiler...), but it wasn't in the Lambo.
10 Love: Dodge M4S from The Wraith
Speaking of over the top 80s car movies, The Wraith is a crazy car horror? Thriller? Racing movie? Here's the wild premise. A gang of street racers force people into canyon carving street races for pinks, where they cheat, and this gives them their car 'nice and legal' somehow. Their leader, obsessed with a local girl, kills her boyfriend who returns from the dead to exact his revenge by street racing the gang in a phantom race car based on the Dodge M4S concept car.
The movie is delightfully silly car porn from the gang leader's C3 Corvette to the centerpiece 'Interceptor' driven by the eponymous 'Wraith' played by pre-Tiger Blood Charlie Sheen. The best part is its main superpower appears to be exploding and then coming back together.
9 Never Buy: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Not all magic cars are the same. Every car owner will tell you that their car has a personality, especially owners of older cars. My own mother refers to my VW Bus as her daughter-in-law. That comes with a price, however. Sure the idea of a car that will suddenly sprout wings to get you out of traffic seems alluring. All that personality comes at a price, however.
Based on Ian Fleming's children's novel (that Ian Fleming) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a pre-war grand prix car that children convince their eccentric father to save from the scrapyard.
If you haven't driven a junkyard car before, let me tell you, it has its drawbacks.
8 Love: MI6's Amphibious 1977 Lotus Espirit from From the Spy Who Loved Me
Speaking of Ian Fleming, his most famous creation, James Bond, has had some spectacular cars capable of some spectacular things. While the Aston Martin from Goldfinger is perhaps the most iconic, nothing tops the crazy Lotus Espirit that can turn into a submarine.
The story of how the Lotus became a Bond car is just as cool.
Lotus wanted the car in a Bond movie, so they took their new Lotus Espirit prototype stripped of badges and parked it in front of the production offices and waited for someone to go, "What is this?" Thus the legend of the Espirit was born, and every kid with a Hot Wheel Lotus took played with theirs in the tub dreaming of being a spy with cool cars.
7 Never Buy: Doc Brown's DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine from Back to the Future
Okay, sure. That movie made the DeLorean cool. Without it, the DeLorean would be a footnote car of the 80s with a very 80s backstory involving money laundering and cocaine. Hear me out. First of all, most of the problems in the movies stem from the car breaking down and stranding its driver in a different time. Then there's the issue of Bif and the dangers of the car falling into the wrong hands. At some point the timeline shifting gives Marty an aversion to being called 'chicken' which causes even more problems. Most importantly, though...they Libyans are still out there looking for it for their stolen uranium.
6 Love: Black Moon from Black Moon Rising
It would be generous to call Black Moon Rising a cult classic but it's part of that 80s car-centric movies around a bizarre one off cars. In this case it's the 1980 Wingho Concordia II. What? Well, there was only one so you can be forgiven for not knowing it.
One of John Carpenter's lesser known movies, the movie revolves around the prototype "Black Moon," with seriously 80s stats like a 325mph top speed and running on water.
The best part is that's the side story. The reason Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton want the car is something hid in the bumper before the car is stolen not for 325mph hydropowered car reasons. The whole movie is a set up for a building to building jump set piece. It's Fast & the Furious from an earlier age.
5 Never Buy: The Hoover Family 1971 Type-2 from Little Miss Sunshine
Let me say from the outset, this hurts. A first generation Type-2 has been such a part of my life for so long that my Instagram is named for it, not me. I want to be honest, though, the life isn't for everyone. Over the course of the long road trip to Redondo Beach the plucky Bus experiences a number of Buslike problems, including a stuck horn (mine has never worked), a broken clutch (the first thing that broke on mine), a finicky starter (so...so many times), and a door that falls off (not yet...). Plus, you know, someone dies in it. Split windows are better anyway. (Note:Author's bias)
4 Love: Xander Cage's 1967 GTO from XXX
Spy cars are cool and all, but classic British sports cars are just so...posh. Mincing around the European countryside is too fancy for a tough American-style extreme sports super spy. For that you need beef, you need muscle.
You need a 1967 Pontiac GTO loaded with rocket launchers and flamethrowers. That's right, frickin' flamethrowers.
All in a giant beast made of steel and testosterone that can take the hard hits a proper car chase can dole out. What's best, according to Jalopnik you can actually rent the movie car. You can live the (flamethrower-less) dream.
3 Never Buy: Herbie from the Herbie Movies
We've talked about cars with a personality, and about Volkswagens with quirks. As friendly and loving as Herbie is, ultimately it's the worst of all worlds. More of a trickster car than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it's also prone to running off with Lancias or a modern Beetle. On the plus side, when he falls apart he'll pull himself together. For the real evidence that this well meaning little Bug isn't for you, consider this.
There are five movies and a TV series staring the car and every one begins with someone finding him abandoned somewhere. Everyone decides eventually that he's more trouble than he's worth. Maybe hold out for the new/old Bumblebee. He can transform.
2 Love: Max Rockantasky's 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Interceptor "Pursuit Special" from Mad Max
It's the gear head movie series of gear head movies series. Sure The Fast & Furious series has a reputation for bonkers car stunts, but creator George Miller came back with Mad Max:Fury Road to show the upstarts where it's really at. While it is destroyed twice in three movies, the "last of the interceptors" is the runaway star of the series. No gearhead has seen this movies and not fantasized about ruling the wasteland in this tricked out Australian muscle car. Plus it's apparently pretty resilient, coming back from the dead as often as it has.
1 Never Buy: The Batmobile
Again, hear me out. Sure, it seems cool regardless of whether it's the long low Burton era Batmobiles or the big bruiser 'tank-buggy' Batmobiles of the modern era starting with the Nolan movies. However, it comes with some issues. First of all, no matter which one, they're an unwieldy beast. I actually had to transport a Burton replica one from Sonoma to Los Angeles once (because my life is awesome like that) and just getting it on the trailer is a chore. Nevermind how hard it would be to get the "Tumbler" down Gotham's alleys without causing more destruction than the getting to the person you're chasing. Not to mention that the car does have a tendency to attract Jokers....
Sources: jalopnik.com, imdb.com, imcdb.com