Summer is the season for blockbusters, when moviegoers hit the theater to escape the heat and watch the latest flicks Hollywood has to offer. Sometimes summer brings hit after hit, with theater revenue thriving. Lately, it’s become more of an iffy industry. In 2017, summer box office revenue was down nearly 15%, the worst it’s been in ten years. Could it be that audiences have grown tired of the endless run of prequels, sequels and spin-offs? Or maybe movie fanatics would rather enjoy films in their own home, without the expense of a $20 bucket of stale popcorn. Either way, there are a few genres that consistently see success; action and adventure movies.
In 2017, adventure movies made up almost 20% of North America’s box office revenue. And action movies ranked first with over 34% of ticket earnings. What do both of these movie types often have in common? Cars.
The data doesn’t lie and one thing is for sure; films with excitement, violence and crazy car chase scenes are consistent money makers. Many of these high-stakes movies have some element of car culture and car destruction to keep audiences engaged.
While making a movie with car sequences, the film industry employs stunt drivers, “hero” cars, and “doubles.” The hero car is the primary car used by the actors in scenes with close-ups and dialogue. Generally the double is the car used by stunt people that gets destroyed. Sometimes these are functioning cars, while other times it’s just the body. Regardless, it’s always sad to see a car meet its end. Here are 20 movie cars that didn’t survive filming.
20 Jurassic Park
Anyone who grew up in the 90s recalls a movie with multiple terrifying escapes via car from an angry Tyrannosaurus rex. With the coming release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and the recent success of the Jurassic World Evolution video game, it makes sense to revisit the classic film that these are based on.
The 1993 film gave moviegoers the sweats, as a 1992 Ford Explorer XLT with the custom park paint job, is flipped over, crushed and sent reeling over the dinosaur enclosure wall. After the vehicle plunges from tree branch to tree branch, it narrowly misses little Timmy and Dr. Grant, giving us the famous line "Well...we're back...in the car again."
19 Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
To this day, the title for the most cars totaled in movie history is still held by Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. The third film in this franchise was not the most successful of the series. It maintains a 35% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes. Regardless, no one can deny the staggering number of cars destroyed in this film.
There's no point in picking a specific car from Dark Of The Moon, as many of them had little to no value. Director Michael Bay received over 530 cars as a donation. The cars were all meant for scrap, having been flood damaged, and production was more than happy to put them to use before they met their bitter end.
Steve McQueen is a hero amongst car enthusiasts. Himself a lover of cars and motorcycles, he was more than thrilled to participate in Bullitt, a film about a police detective that involves one of the most famous car chase scenes in movie history. Bullitt's 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT Fastback has become an icon, and was highly sought out by car collectors for years.
There were 2 identical Mustangs used for filming, but when production wrapped, only one survived.
The surviving car was sold to Robert Ross, a Warner Brothers employee. However, the totaled car was off the grid for a number of years. In 2017, the stunt car was pulled from a backyard in Mexico, and vin numbers prove its authenticity.
We all know that guy who cares just a little too much about his car (you know, the one who makes you take your shoes off before climbing in). But no one comes close to the relationship between Arnie Cunningham and his 1958 Plymouth Fury. John Carpenter's thriller, Christine, tells the story of an unpopular guy who has an unhealthy bond with his car.
The Fury was mangled in multiple scenes throughout the movie, but managed to repair the body damage magically. This movie magic was accomplished with the use of 17 cars, hacked to bits and used for their parts. Only 3 of the Furys survived filming.
16 The Hangover
Everybody loves a good laugh out loud summer comedy, and movie audiences roared with the release of The Hangover nearly 10 years ago. In a tale of bachelor-party-gone-wrong, we see 3 best friends and a baby involved in wacky hijinks. Of course one of these outlandish events involves a car.
There were five 1965 Mercedes-Benz 220 SE cabriolets used during the filming, and of them, only two survived. That survival rate would have been higher, but one of the cars meant to be saved got swapped for a stunt car. Oops. Since there were only 5,000 of these Mercedes made, that extra loss is a sad one indeed.
15 The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight, of 2008, ushered in a brand new, gadget-filled vehicle to Batman's fleet. The film made a name for itself by its casting alone. Christian Bale and Heath Ledger's performances as Batman and Joker, respectively, were considered the most impressive of the franchise. But the stellar directing by Christopher Nolan, a well-written script, and an exciting chase sequence involving a Lamborghini Murciélago LP640, set the movie apart from its predecessors.
The fitting name, Murciélago, means "bat" in Spanish. The sleek car is one of less than 500 made.
Lamborghini saw the value of having a car featured in a film, and was willing to donate 3 to Nolan for production. Only one Lambo died in the making of this film. Of course, don’t forget the 80,000 pound semi that was flipped on its head.
14 Vanishing Point
If you're looking for a tough-as-nails car, look no further than Vanishing Point's 1970 Dodge Challenger. Of the 5 matching cars used for filming, none of them were modified. All those wild stunts and jumps were performed by a stock car. The Challenger was so abused by the end of filming, the crew was stealing parts off the double cars to keep the hero car operational.
According to the director, Richard C. Sarafian, the cars were on loan to the studios from Chrysler (they thought it would be good advertisement). When the heads at Chrysler saw the film, they were appalled at the criminal activity portrayed in the film. The carmaker had all 5 of the cars crushed after filming.
13 Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Another piece of comedy gold hit theaters in the summer of 1986. Two high school friends decide to ditch class and steal an overprotective parent's sports car, and of course, the car is totaled in the end (spoiler). Car lovers cringe when they watch the Ferris Bueller car careen out of the garage and into the woods below. Thank goodness it wasn't a real 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder.
The 2 "Ferraris" used were actually Moderna Spyders. The replica that flew off the ledge wasn't even a running vehicle, it was simply a matching fiberglass shell. Car enthusiasts can rest easy knowing the Ferrari's valued at $11 million are more than safe.
In 2006, the James Bond franchise was revived with a new lead, and new exciting spy gadgets. But they really topped themselves with 2015's Spectre. The film made a final box office tally $880 million. Good thing, because production destroyed over $37 million worth of Aston Martins.
These custom Aston Martin DB10 sports cars were made specifically for the movie, at around $400,000 a pop, destroying 7 adds up quickly.
The famous scene was shot in one night, and the destruction only resulted in about 4 seconds of footage. Although it’s sad to see that many cars go, there are still 3 from the film that remain.
11 Fast And Furious
Any article referencing movies and cars would feel pretty lonely without mentioning the Fast And Furious films. Over the course of 10 movies, this franchise has destroyed over 1,500 cars to the enjoyment of gear heads and movie fans alike.
Of 1,500 cars, how do you choose just one to mourn the loss of? So many of these were desirable, rare and valuable.
The most notable death to a Fast And Furious car goes out to the Lykan Hypersport in the 7th film. The Lebanese limited production supercar was used to jump from building to building in Abu Dhabi. This was the most expensive car smashed during the series, and was worth $3.4 million.
10 Dukes Of Hazzard
One of the most recognizable cars in television and movie history is the good ol’ General Lee. That 1969 Dodge Charger with the head-turning orange paint and rebel flag was like another part of the cast; an inanimate friend to Bo and Luke. And boy, did they put it through hell.
In the TV series alone, the boys went through approximately 2 Chargers per episode.
There is no exact number of totaled cars over the 7 seasons, but production estimates somewhere between 220 and 300 cars went to their graves. In the 2005 movie, 26 were destroyed, a minuscule number when compared to the television show.
9 Risky Business
In 1983, Tom Cruise made a name for himself when he slid across a slick floor in sunglasses and socks. Risky Business is said to be the career making movie for Cruise, but if you're a car lover, you remember the movie for different reasons.
In the film that taught us to always use the emergency brake, Cruise’s character enjoys a romantic night with a 1979 Porsche 928 and a hooker with a heart of gold. Unfortunately, their night ends in misery when the car rolls out onto the dock when it’s bumped into neutral. Just as the car rolls to a stop, and we think the beautiful 928 has survived, the dock collapses.
8 Mad Max: Fury Road
In 2015 we saw Mad Max return to theaters with Fury Road, boasting a new cast and a new storyline. The explosion-rich movie used primarily practical stunts and as a result, most of the unusual, custom vehicles didn’t survive the few months of filming.
Production spent over a year selecting and designing the wild cars, bikes and trucks for the film. Of the 88 vehicles used, over 60 didn’t last until they wrapped. Most of them were engulfed in some form of fiery explosion. Although all those cars were built for rough riding in the desert, very few survived. Only one of Max’s Interceptors made it back, after being turned into Razor Cola and sacrificed to the Namibian sand.
7 Iron Man 2
The hot, summer months are always a reminder of waiting in long lines for the midnight release of any given super hero movie. In 2010, the big draw was Iron Man 2. All super heroes come with their own specialty car, that is essentially an extension of themselves or their abilities. One of Tony Stark's cars that went out in a blaze of glory was the formula-esque 1970s Wolf WR6.
The car is destroyed in a battle against Ivan Vanko and his deadly electrified whips. Also in Whiplash's wake were 2 Rolls Royce Phantoms. Rolls Royce vehicles are like snowflakes, no two are identical. Except when it came to the identical models used in the film. Both cars, worth $400,000 apiece, met their whip-cracked end at the hands of Iron Man and Vanko.
6 The Blues Brothers
Another notable mention makes the list for its record for the number of cars wrecked during filming. For many years, the title was held by the 1980 film The Blues Brothers, a musical comedy based on a few characters from Saturday Night Live. In a massive car chase sequence involving 60 police cars, 103 cars were totaled.
The film made use of over 40 stunt drivers, and the cars were actually racing at around 100 miles per hour. Funny enough, in 2000, the film got a sequel (as so many movies do). The crew set out to break their own record. They accomplished this with 104 cars
5 Death Proof
Quentin Tarantino's 2007 horror double feature, Grindhouse, has some of the most brutal wrecks in movie history. Kurt Russell, as Stuntman Mike, murders flirty young women in faked car crashes in Death Proof. His "death proof" stunt cars were a 1970 Chevy Nova, a 1969 Dodge Charger and a 1970 Dodge Challenger (in a nod to Vanishing Point).
There were 4 Novas used in the making of the film, but only one made it out alive.
The car was sold for $500 to the stuntman who drove it. He then passed it along to his teenage son. Pretty sweet ride for a high schooler.
4 Gone In 60 Seconds
One of the longest car chase scenes is the 40-minute devastation in the original Gone In 60 Seconds. The 1974 film's unforgettable scene caused the death of 93 cars. Many of the crashes were not planned. And the remake in 2000 had it's own impressive car stunts.
In the Nick Cage version, there were 11 Eleanor Mustangs used for filming, but many of them were non-working doubles. Of the 3 functioning cars, only 1 survived. That final one was used as the hero car for close-ups in principal photography, as well as for promotional events before the film's release. The one remaining car was sold in 2003 for $1 million.
3 Need For Speed
The 2014 Need For Speed movie, based on the video game of the same name, was kind of a let down by movie standards. But it was satisfaction guaranteed for car fanatics and speed junkies who love a good chase scene. There were multiple big wrecks in this film that mirrored the action of the game, and almost every car in the movie was destroyed in these scenes.
Fortunately, all those super cars were just movie replicas. Budget is a big factor when shooting films with these types of stunts, and sometimes its just not realistic to total a Saleen S7, a McLaren P1, and a Koenigsegg Agera R all in one go.
2 Talladega Nights
A laugh out loud comedy, and a glimpse into the South's infatuation with oval tracks, was the summer of 2006 movie, Talladega Nights. The film is all about a boy and his desire to go fast. Sometimes he goes fast, and other times he comes to a screeching, metal crumpling halt.
29 cars were built for Ricky Bobby's hero car, its duplicates, and other race cars in the various Nascar scenes. The car made famous in the multi-flip crash (ending in an invisible fire) was actually one of the non-functioning stunt cars.
The Wonderbread car had no engine under the hood, and was being pulled behind another vehicle. At the command of the stunt coordinator, an attached cannon would force a steel cylinder into the ground, projecting the faux race car into the air.
1 Back To The Future
Everyone knows the Back To The Future car, but in this article, we’re not referring to Doc Brown’s famed DeLorean. The car that got destroyed in this 80s hit was Biff’s 1946 Ford Super De Luxe. The high speed chase in the first movie sees Marty McFly frantically trying to evade Biff and his goons.
After Marty McFly pops the bully in the face at Lou's Cafe, they speed all over town, finally ending with Biff pile driving his vehicle into a manure truck. The body of the car was at least slightly crushed by the weight of animal excrement, but the real issue is getting that smell out of it. Kind of ironic that Biff opened his own detailing service in the second film.
Sources: statista.com, bestmoviecars.com, autofocus.ca