Hollywood has been known to create wild and fantastical props for exclusive use in film productions, but none of these props are as amazing as custom-built vehicles!
As detailed in an article from The Hollywood Reporter, the Petersen Automotive Museum has recently compiled a number of these vehicles together in one exhibit, entitled "Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy." The exhibit houses fifty plus cars used in the making of popular films and television series, with an emphasis on science-fiction and fantasy-based properties.
While these vehicles represent key cornerstones in American popular culture, they also have their own interesting origins and histories. If you're wondering what sorts of cars you might expect to see in the exhibit, here is a sneak peek at ten cars used in classic Hollywood cinema that are available for viewing at the Petersen right now!
10 Duesenberg II Model GS - The Great Gatsby (2013)
Though Jay Gatsby owns a 1922 Rolls-Royce in the beloved novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, director Baz Luhrmann decided to use a 1930s model replica Duesenberg II in order to maintain authenticity while keeping mechanical upkeep to a minimum.
The Duesenberg II was produced in very small batches by Elite Heritage Motors Corp. and was painstakingly recreated from original Duesenberg models used as measuring templates. The cars may have retailed for around $125,000, but they included modern day comforts like air-conditioning, cruise control, and power brakes!
9 Gypsy Rose - Chico and the Man (1974-1978)
Gypsy Rose is a 1964 Chevrolet Impala that helped to fully realize low-rider culture. This beautiful rose-colored vehicle became famous for its trip down Whittier Boulevard in the opening credits of '70s sitcom Chico and the Man, starring Freddie Prinze.
Though the original Gypsy Rose was lost in an accident, the recreation is nothing short of sublime. The exterior is adorned with a rainbow of ornate roses while the interior is decked out in luxurious crushed pink velvet throughout!
8 Toyota 2000GT Roadster - You Only Live Twice (1967)
The Toyota 2000GT was first introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965, and since then has made its mark on the world of collectible automobiles. Though popularized by the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967, the car was produced until 1970.
The vehicle is frequently compared to the sleek Porsche 911, and some have even been sold for astronomical values at auction (think in the millions!) The two used for filming were fashioned into roadsters and apparently reached a top speed of 135 MPH!
7 Ferrari 308 GTSI - Magnum P.I. (1980-1988)
This Ferrari is not only famous—it is also uniquely modified for its main man! The red vehicle, used for the shooting of 1982-1983 episodes of the popular detective drama Magnum P.I., has had seat padding removed to accommodate the size of actor Tom Selleck, who wasn't comfortable driving it otherwise.
The Petersen notes that this model Ferrari was perfect for Hollywood, as it was an S model, indicating that the roof panel could be removed. This created a better chance for more detailed shots of Selleck in the vehicle, and hence more footage of the interior of the sought-after car.
6 Knight Industries Two Thousand/K.I.T.T. - Knight Rider (1982-1986)
The powerful, unique K.I.T.T. was based around a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM but had a number of special fictional "modifications" such as a hydrogen-powered engine and an arsenal of weapons. Oh, and it could talk, of course.
The Petersen currently displays a K.I.T.T. model that was driven in the pilot of Knight Rider, and is one of four that was used for this purpose. Unfortunately, many of the K.I.T.T. models were destroyed as instructed by Pontiac, but some lucky private collectors have managed to keep K.I.T.T.'s legacy alive for future generations!
5 Black Beauty - Green Hornet (1966-1967)
Green Hornet may not have been a household name like Batman despite sharing some crossover episodes with him, but he sure did have a sweet ride. Dubbed "Black Beauty," this wicked Chrysler Imperial was finished in only four weeks and was customized with a number of helpful add-on features.
According to the Petersen, Black Beauty "could create a smoke screen or spread tacks on the road to puncture the tires of pursuing vehicles, and it was fitted with a television camera that could see many miles ahead." The show only lasted one season, but the car found its way back into the hands of the man who originally built it, Dean Jeffries, and was restored and cared for in the years that followed!
4 Spinner - Bladerunner (1982)
Based on the 1972 Super Beetle, this specific spinner was used by former LAPD officer Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford in the film.
In the context of the fictional world, a spinner is a patrol car used by the police force that can fly and also drive normally as a ground vehicle. Gene Winfield, a car customizer, used the original concept art created by the crew who worked on the film in order to create a number of vehicles that were used for props and street shots. Unfortunately, a couple of these spinners ended up at Disney, in which they were junked, but luckily some have survived the test of time in private collections!
3 Batmobile - Batman (1989)
Though this Batmobile is built upon parts of a Chevrolet Impala, it definitely has a style all its own! Set designers for the Tim Burton-directed production first studied a slew of vehicles, trying to pull the best of many into one cohesive super-car.
Set designer Anton Furst said that they looked at "jet aircraft components...war machines... [and] all sorts of things. In the end, we went into pure expressionism, taking the Salt Flat Racers of the 30s and the Sting Ray macho machines of the 50s." The Batmobile is around 20 feet long and composed of parts from Rolls-Royce and a Harrier fighter jet.
2 Christine - Christine (1983)
Be careful when viewing this beauty—she may still be bloodthirsty! While we're only kidding, this model of Christine was one of the only Plymouths to survive the filming of the horror classic in running condition.
According to the Petersen, there were around 24 Plymouths that were used for filming purposes. This Christine contains a composite of parts from other Christines, and was thankfully restored by a careful owner instead of being junked as originally planned!
1 DeLorean - Back to the Future (1985)
If you're in the mood for some time travel, might we recommend to you the famous DeLorean from the sci-fi comedy Back to the Future? As possibly one of the most well-known cars in the biz, it's a can't miss an opportunity to see the original time machine used to transport Marty McFly and Doc Brown back to 1955.
DeLorean was such a short-lived company that even the Back to the Future model couldn't help its sales, as the business was shuttered in 1982 amidst controversy and financial problems. Nonetheless, the gull-wing doors live on to this day in all three successful films in the franchise!