Action movies and action machines go hand in hand, for obvious reasons. Planes, helicopters, fast boats, motorcycles, and especially cars, are fun to watch do their thing, especially if explosions and/or gunfire is involved. A staple of the movie-industry action-set-piece menu is the car chase, something as relatable as it is fantastic. A good car chase can underscore the tone of a movie and, in terms of simple excitement, even make or break it. The John Wick series has had a lot of serious car chases and has also had many serious machines participating in the film directly in those scenes or in supporting roles to fill out the world John Wick punches, kicks, shoots, and drives through.
His personal cars are of obvious importance and power, as they represent some of the best of classic domestic muscle. But other vehicles say very apparent things about their characters' personalities as well, from the government-style SUVs wielded by antagonists, the sea of civilian taxi cabs hustling and bustling, or a powerful businessman’s luxury cruiser skulking silently in the dark. The cars help make John Wick into John Wick. And John Wick, like us, is a car guy. He prefers the old school, with particular attention given to the great V8 muscle cars that so many find intoxicating but hard to control while pushing them at speed. They're bucking broncos, untamed horses, wild steers. They require a cool head and a steady hand. John Wick, of course, can handle it.
18 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback
These days, the Chargers built to resemble their forebears are built on an old Mercedes platform, leading to their monstrous weight. Of course, this wasn’t true back in the day when muscle cars were very much their own, original, incredibly domestic machines.
The Mustang was a standard muscle car of the era—utterly gorgeous.
But while it had quite a lot of power, the only thing keeping that power under any semblance of control was the driver, which, for those who could handle it, was how it should be—no driver aids, no ABS, and terrible suspension. Such was the era whose hardcore nature led to as many crashes as one would expect but also some amazing cars and stories.
17 2008 Ford F-Series Super Duty
Big pickup trucks serve an obvious purpose in action movies, the extreme toughness provided by their heavy-duty full-frame construction allowing them to survive things that would just disintegrate any car. 2 Fast 2 Furious’s scramble scene is a very good example of that with a series of lifted Dodge Ram support vehicles blasting through and over a massive police cordon. In John Wick, the big truck is a Ford Super Duty and is only used to backup a character instead of being used in a chase. The presence of a heavy-duty truck by itself has a message in a movie, like many other types of vehicles.
16 GT40 Replica
As a legendary Le Mans-winning prototype race car, the GT40 has earned millions of admirers around the globe. Ford has even built a series of successful supercars to carry on the original racer’s lineage. But for those wanting the classic, raw-form racecar, they'd need to pay quite literally millions for certain examples. However, several companies around the world have taken to building replicas of varying closeness to the original. Some just have the look, while others are a bolt-for-bolt reproduction of the original '60s racecar. So, for the comparative bargain of only a couple hundred thousand dollars, fans of the GT40 can own their own brand-new example.
15 1968 Dodge Charger
The Charger’s impact on domestic and even worldwide automotive culture is hard to overstate. With burly, menacing looks and a big-block Mopar roar to match, many a car has been left in the wake from the Charger’s buttressed rear end, both in real life and on screen. The muscle car’s filmography is extensive.
Dirty Harry Crazy Mary, Bullit, and the seminal Dukes of Hazzard are just some of the early bullet points in the car’s dominance of the screen.
All these credits helped bring the Charger nameplate back in the modern era, cementing it as a nigh-immortal icon of cool.
14 Blue Bird TC 1000 School Bus
The TC 1000 isn't an icon of cool but rather what the cool kids rode to school in. The TC 1000 is a variant of the TC 2000 series, which, through a lifespan of a couple decades, served in a wide variety of roles: custom coach bus, interstate transit, prison bus, mobile business, and even military transport. The TC 1000 is a factory-modified variant for special needs children, the modifications including a different interior layout, a smaller size, and squared-off bodywork. Also included were smaller wheels, which helped enable the bus to have a flat floor and thus more wheelchair access.
13 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Perhaps the best example of the wayward nature of the domestic muscle car is the classic Chevelle. In the film, John drives what appears to be an actual SuperSport model equipped with the rumbling 396 6.5-liter V8. Many shapes and sizes of the Chevelle—including sedans, a station wagon, and even a pickup if including the El Camino—were built in this era.
However, what's less known is that a 1969 model was converted as a prototype to run as a steam-powered car from the factory.
Known as the SE 124, it was a white sedan that had a 50 hp Bresler steam engine under the hood, and it was incredibly heavy and underpowered.
12 2011 Dodge Charger
The LX and LD platform Chargers are the most common modern interpretations of the classic muscle cars. Bringing classic-inspired styling back but this time for the masses, the Chargers make for respectable performance cars with a lot of V8 power for very little money, especially if one goes for the $200-a-month lease deal. The vehicles were basically built to be leased and tend to fall apart after or even before the lease time is up. This lack of longevity and the hulking weight of the Charger is the price paid for style and cheap power in a new car.
11 2013 BMW 750i (F02)
When it comes to higher-end villainy, however, especially from the likes of corporate masterminds or powerful dictators, long-wheelbase luxury sedans are the way to go. Both in real life and in the movies, this has been the case with a variety of world leaders and many business moguls, whose wealth and status afford them access to the world’s premier luxury platforms and models.
BMW’s offering in this arena is the 7 series, which, in the form seen in John Wick, produces over 400 horses and has more optional gadgets and luxuries than can be counted here.
In real life, however, BMW produced a special “F03” High-Security model featuring underbody, roof, door, and bulkhead armor and bullet-resistant multi-layer glass.
10 2014 Mercedes S550
While BMW is very much a common and appropriate choice among Hollywood villains and real-life dignitaries and dictators, the true master of the long-wheelbase luxury segment is Mercedes—at the very least, among the bad guys of the world. High-end Mercedes sedans have been used by dictators for nearly a century now, mostly as status symbols but also as a security measure. Up-armored S-Guard variants of the already solidly built automobiles can tank almost any type of small arms fire and even some explosives such as low power IEDs or hand grenades. If you ever wanted to cruise through the middle of a firefight and not know it happened, this is the car for you.
9 1981 GMC RTS Bus
Riding the bus is generally not an enviable adventure, but this just makes it a good storytelling device for a movie.
Buses have an interesting place in main-character-focused movies like Jack Reacher and John Wick, forming a principal facet of how the former character interacts with his world and as an element to help add to the tone of John Wick.
Mechanically, the RTS is interesting because GMC genuinely tried to make it good-looking—for a bus, at least. The side of the bus tapers as it rises, similar to a car. Most modern buses are just straight-up boxes.
8 Ford Crown Victoria
Some fleet vehicles are iconic by default. The venerable Crown Victoria is most certainly one of those, the design, in some ways, staying the same for over three decades. The most basic tenets of the car were never changed—V8 power, rear-wheel drive, four doors, lots of space, and comfy seats.
The cars are legendary for their durability, as they're essentially a car body plopped on a light truck frame.
Police models were made even tougher, with heavy-duty suspension and brakes plus an array of cooling upgrades designed to keep the 4.6-liter Modular V8 happy even when being run ragged during a high-speed pursuit.
7 2014 Range Rover Sport
When considering what the optimal getaway vehicle is, most focus on things that aren’t actually important. Top speed, agility, and armor are a lot less useful than one might think, depending on the situation. As Michael Westen, the main character of Burn Notice, posited, escaping in a car chase requires doing something the guy pursuing can’t. And when you’re being chased on the road, the best way to do this is going off the road. And what better vehicle to go off-roading in than a Range Rover? Especially one with a 500-horsepower supercharged V8 and a drivetrain just at home off-road as on road.
6 Suzuki GSX-S
Sport bikes have a long, storied, and death-defying history in action movies.
Incredibly fast and able to perform maneuvers in spaces cars would never fit, bikes provide action heroes with a set of moves they would otherwise never have access to.
And this is all while looking and sounding awesome, drawing comparisons to the heroes of old and their trusty steeds. An action hero on a motorcycle is a modern gladiator, taking on opponents with a flick of the clutch and a twist of the wrist. What's also awesome about these dangerous beasts is that they're cheap to buy and maintain.
5 Rolls-Royce Ghost
BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes make wonderful long-wheelbase executive sedans, but these are businesslike machines. If one wants more panache, more style, and more flash, there's one British outfit that has everything you need. Look no further than Rolls-Royce, home of the vaunted stainless steel grille. Designed by artisans and constructed from only the finest materials, the Ghost was devised to be a step above cars built by makes who also build cars for the only moderately well-off. Those cars are for those who simply have wealth and/or power—a Rolls is for those who want to show it off.
4 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class W212
For those only mildly rich, Mercedes has you covered. A mid-level offering from the German powerhouse manufacturer, the W212 generation of E Class came in a wide variety of body styles with an array of engines to match.
The E63 AMG is the variant most known to car enthusiasts as the 500+ hp powerhouse equally capable of cruising town or tearing the autobahn asunder.
The W212 generation marked the first time the AMG version had an all-wheel-drive system available, enabling the car to take full advantage of its explosion of power. The car in John Wick is, however, just the basic E Class, simply for cruising in comfort.
3 Ford F550 Wrecker Tow Truck
These days, tow trucks are serious business. Even before adding the towing equipment, the F550 base truck is more expensive than a Z51-optioned Corvette. When decked out with everything needed to grab a vehicle out of any number of situations, the F550 can cost upwards of ninety thousand dollars. These vehicles make for good tow trucks, but most of the short wrecker versions aren’t used to tow away broken-down vehicles but as repo trucks. In the dead of night, they pull up to the house of somebody who hasn’t paid for their car and simply tow it away right from up under them.
2 2007 Nissan Maxima
This is a very boring traffic car in a very exciting movie. Well, some parts of it aren’t boring. The styling is quite decent, being one of the better-looking mid-size sedans of the early 2000s.
However, the real strength of the car is the engine: the same punchy VQ35 as the 350Z and G35 sports car and grand tourer.
With exhaust work and a tune, the same potential can also be wrung from the engine, making it into a sonorous howler like it is in the cars it comes from. The Achilles heel of the Maxima is its soul-sucking CVT transmission—but in some rare cases, they can also be found with a six-speed stick.
1 Chevrolet Suburban
While the US Government and other organizations with very serious mission statements often make use of the short variant of the Chevrolet SUVs in the form of the Tahoe, they also make use of the longer and heavier Suburban.
Through the history of this full-size full-frame monster, pretty much every US paramilitary organization has made use of them, from the FBI to the DEA to the CIA and their underlying intelligence agencies.
The police have also made some use of them, though standard civilian law enforcement agencies normally stick to the smaller Tahoe. These developments have made the stout vehicles a staple in action movies, especially political thrillers.