Although many might believe that the Fast and Furious franchise popularized movie cars, films such as The Love Bug, Le Mans, and Smokey and the Bandit were some of the early productions that attracted viewers and paved the way for The Transformers, Death Race, and The Transporter.
What's there not to enjoy about watching death-defying stunts that involve the protagonist fleeing from the bad guys in a sports car to save his princess? A car movie has the perfect combination of what we all seek in a film. Many people have wondered what happens to the cars once the director completes the production. Some movie directors donated them to charities while others found their way to the actor's garage, as he could not part with it after filming.
The most prominent movie and television cars ended up at the auction. The cars became superstars, which collectors wanted to get their hands on and were prepared to pay exorbitant amounts. We wanted to see how much collectors valued movie cars, so we gleaned auction prices of movie and television cars. The numbers were astonishing.
25 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters - $88,000
The original Ghostbusters movie was a massive success. The 1984 supernatural comedy starred Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray. When the trio started a ghost-catching business in New York, they used a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor named the ECTO-1 to bring down the spirits.
The movie grossed more than $295 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing comedy film at the time. When the ECTO-1 went on auction, it sold for $88,000. Considering the success of the movie, that is a low price to pay for the car.
24 1972 Oldsmobile 442 from Sopranos - $61,000
Fans of the popular mafia program Sopranos who wanted to feel like Tony could have owned his ride. The late James Gandolfini played Tony Soprano and owned the 1972 Oldsmobile 442. Gandolfini dubbed the car Bada Bing.
The car was Gandolfini's vehicle during the filming of the television program. After Gandolfini's passing, Bada Bing went to an auction and fetched for $60,000. The car is a stunning classic that suited an incredible actor such as Gandolfini.
23 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM from Smokey and the Bandit - $450,000
Burt Reynolds helped to catapult the Trans AM to legendary status. A replica from the movie went to Burt Reynolds, who wanted the car to look as much as possible as the one featured in the movie. The car had a few extras such as an air-conditioning system and a custom-built automatic transmission.
The engineers also rebuilt the engine with brand new parts from Butler Performance, according to Top Speed. The car had an impressive 6.6-liter V8 engine, capable of pumping out 200 horsepower.
22 DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future - $541,000
Back to the Future was a science fiction that was way ahead of its time. The special effects were sublime, the cast acted well, and the car looked like a speed demon. The movie might have given you the impression that the DeLorean DMC-12 was fast, but it wasn't.
The manufacturer built seven models for the movie. One of the cars ended up at an auction and sold for $541,000. Proceeds went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
21 Chitty Chitty Car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - $805,000
For a product or a service to exist in the market, there has to be a demand for it. Who would've thought that a collector was prepared to pay $805,000 for the Chitty Chitty Car?
Although the car served as a prop in the movie, it was functional. The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang plot revolved around Caractacus Potts, his family, and the flying car. The producers placed the car on auction, but after a few failed attempts, they decided to sell the car privately. The Chitty Chitty Car sold for $805,000.
20 1965 Shelby Mustang GT500 from Gone in 60 Seconds - $1 Million
This car is one of the best cars to appear in a movie. The Mustang GT500, nicknamed Eleanor, appeared in Gone in 60 Seconds. Nicholas Cage was scared of the car for a good reason. The car was capable of blistering speeds due to the engine that pumped out 400 horsepower.
Shelby built three models for the movie, but only one survived. That car went to the auction and fetched a million dollars. The entire car is immaculate and a classic muscle car that is a collector's edition.
19 1929 Duesenberg Model J from Spinout - $1.2 Million
What happens when you cast one of the biggest music icons in history and feature a luxury car such as the Duesenberg Model J? You make a hefty profit if you auction it, as the featured car appeared in the movie alongside Elvis Presley.
After the restorers pulled off a magnificent job, the producers sent the car to an auction. A collector thought that the movie, the main actor and the car were iconic, so he forked out $1.2 million for the car. The Duesenberg is a luxury car that rivals Rolls Royce.
18 1970 Porsche 911 S from Le Mans - $1.3 Million
The closest way to feeling like a movie star such as Steve McQueen is to drive the 1970 Porsche 911 that the manufacturer delivered to McQueen on the set of Le Mans. The car has a six-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission, as well as independent front and rear suspension, according to RM Sotheby's.
What makes the car more special is that McQueen was also an amateur race car driver and had an extensive collection of classic roadsters and sports cars, according to Finances Online.
17 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona from Joe Dirt - $900,000
David Spade's performance as the mullet redneck Joe Dirt, who searches for his estranged parents, was one of his best. One of the cars featured in the movie was the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, according to Top Speed.
When the director filmed the production, Spade didn't want to part ways with the vehicle. Dodge built only 503 Charger Daytona rides and restored the one that Spade drove in the movie. At the Mecum Auction, Spade had the highest bid for the car at $900,000. The car was one of 24 vehicles sold as part of the Wellborn Musclecar Museum Collection.
16 1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe from The Gay Divorcee - $2.3 Million
If you wanted a car that provided the same luxury as a Rolls Royce, then you would have opted for the Duesenberg Model J. The car was U.S.'s version of a Rolls Royce that wealthy people such as royalty, celebrities, and mafia bosses bought.
King Alfonso XIII of Spain chose one of his Duesenbergs to take with him into exile, according to The Journal. The manufacturer produced a limited edition run of the car, and one of the vehicles ended up on the set of The Gay Divorcee, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
15 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider from On The Beach - $2.5 Million
Collectors who wanted a rare vehicle that Ferrari produced would have gone for the 750 Monza Spider from the movie On The Beach, starring Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Gregory Peck. The car looks spectacular and has a four-cylinder engine that is capable of spurting out 260 horsepower, according to RM Sotheby's.
Considering the car is more than 60 years old, it has proven that it can stand the test of time. Pininfarina and Scaglietti did a magnificent job on the coachwork and the body design. Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby also drove the car.
14 1969 Porsche 908.02 ‘Flunder’ Langheck Group 6 Prototype from Le Mans - $2.7 Million
Driving a spectacular racing vehicle is possible if you have $2.7 million to splurge. Collectors who wanted to feel what it was like to get behind the steering wheel of the Porsche featured in the 1971 movie Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, had the opportunity to purchase the car at an auction.
When the gavel slammed at the auction, a fortunate collector purchased the car for more than $2.7 million. The car placed third at the 24 Hour of Le Mans race. That is a hefty price to own the superb vehicle.
13 1928 Mercedes-Benz S 26/180 Boattail Speedster from Sylvia Scarlett - $3.7 Million
Paying more than $2 million for the Duesenberg Model J is a lot, but what's more exorbitant is the $3.7 million that a collector paid to get his hands on the 1928 Mercedes Benz featured in Sylvia Scarlett.
Zeppo and Chico Marx challenged agent Phil Berg to a race against his 1931 Duesenberg Model J. The Mercedes won and appeared in the 1935 film Sylvia Scarlett, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The car is an absolute stunner, but $3.7 million is a lot of money.
12 1964 Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger & Thunderball - $4.6 Million
Sean Connery had no idea how precious his DB5 was at the time he shot Goldfinger and Thunderball. Goldfinger came out in 1964, and Thunderball premiered the following year, but the Aston Martin wasn't worth $4.6 million at the time.
James Bond became a phenomenon throughout the subsequent decades, and fans become infatuated with his car. A lucky fan picked up Connery's ride for a few million dollars and felt like Bond while cruising down the highway. The 1964 DB5 was one of best designs Aston Martin has released in my opinion.
11 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta from La Fortuna di Essere Donna - $4.6 Million
As with most of Enzo's car, he built it for racing. That wasn't an exception for the 375 MM Berlinetta. Collectors who couldn't get their hands on the magnificent DB5 had a chance with the Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta from the movie La Fortuna di Essere Donna, shot in Rome and starred Sophia Loren.
The two cars look similar, but the 375 MM Berlinetta has a V12 engine that pumped out 340 horsepower. The car was in the care of the first owner when it appeared in the 1956 movie.
10 1966 Batmobile from Batman the Movie - $4.6 Million
Bruce Wayne fans will be delighted to know that a few Batmobiles have sold at auctions. Fans who have a few million dollars to spare for a Batmobile can be the proud owners of Bruce Wayne's car. Lincoln Futura started as a concept that Ford and the Lincoln Styling Department developed. Lincoln unveiled the prototype at the 1955 Chicago Auto Show.
The car ended up in George Barris' hands, who developed the car for the Batman TV series. Barris transformed the car into one of the most iconic superhero cars of all time.
9 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta from The Love Bug - $6.7 Million
Some people have too much money. When you pay $6.7 million for an iconic movie car two things are certain: you have a lot of money and you love cars. What's there not to love about the spectacular 250 GT LWB Berlinetta from The Love Bug?
If you thought $6 million was a lot for the 250 GT, then you'll be flabbergasted to find out that one of the models sold for $38 million and another set the record for the most expensive car sold at auction, $52 million to a collector who wished to remain anonymous.
8 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe from Red Line 7000 - $7.6 Million
Carroll Shelby outdid himself when he built the legendary cars. My favorite car of all time is the 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra, but I would settle for the Daytona Coupe if it cost a lot less than the $7.6 million a collector paid at an auction.
Shelby built the car to compete at the GT race class of the FIA World Manufacturers Championships against the dominating Ferrari, according to The Journal. Director Howard Hawks wanted to feature the car in Red Line 7000, which Paramount Pictures leased from Carroll Shelby.
7 1968 Ford Gulf GT40 from Le Mans - $11 Million
Ford spawned the GT40 after Enzo Ferrari angered Henry Ford. The two automakers were in agreement for Ford to buy Ferrari, but Enzo backed out at the last minute. Ford retaliated by instructing his engineers to create a car that would beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The GT40 beat Ferrari and won the event four consecutive times. Steve McQueen featured the car in the 1971 movie Le Mans. Some collector thought that the car was worth $11 million, so he forked out the cash.
6 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider from Ferris Bueller's Day Off - $10.9 Million
Who would've thought that a teen comedy about angst and rebellion would make $70 million at the box office? Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, and Mia Sara starred in the 1986 movie. Although the actors went on to have a successful career, it was the car that got most of the attention when it went on auction in 2008.
Chris Evans, a radio personality, thought that the car was worth $10.9 million, which he paid. This 250 GT looked like the 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra and priced higher, but I would choose the Cobra any day.
5 1986 Ferrari Testarossa from Miami Vice - $151,800
Don Johnson proved that you could own a Ferrari, though you earn a policeman's salary. While that might be the case in movies, if you wanted to own one of the Ferrari's from the popular '80s television program, you would have had to pay $151,800, the sold price at an auction.
One of the models that ended up on eBay failed to sell at $1.75 million, then failed to sell at an auction for the second time. The car is going to the auction for the third time. Fans who want to purchase it can bid at Barrett Jackson's Scottsdale, Arizona taking place between January 15 and 22.
4 1970 Plymouth Barracuda from Nash Bridges - $151,200
Another Don Johnson car makes it onto the list. It seems that Johnson has driven a vast collection of cars. Johnson moved from the scorching summer in Miami to the steep hills in San Francisco to play detective Nash Bridges.
One of the cars that Johnson drove was the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, otherwise known as the Hemi Cuda. Vin Diesel and Chris Morgan are working on a reboot for television. I wonder if they'll feature the popular yellow Hemi Cuda that Johnson drove in the '80s?
3 1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am from Knight Rider - $150,000
Anything was possible in the '80s, as cars could talk and fly. Michael Knight was a crime fighter who used a technologically advanced, artificially intelligent automobile to catch the bad guys.
David Hasselhoff played Michael Knight, who drove the 1986 Trans Am known as KITT. Hasselhoff received a KITT replica and decided to put it to good use. He sold the car at an auction for $150,000 and donated the proceeds to charity. That was a wonderful deed that Hasselhoff did for the less fortunate.
2 1963 Volkswagen Beetle from The Love Bug (Herbie) - $126,500
The most popular Volkswagen Beetle to emerge from the German manufacturer's production plant was Herbie. Walt Disney Productions made several Herbie movies, contributing to the Beetle's popularity. When Herbie went to an auction in 2015, the car sold for a massive $126,500, making it the most expensive Beetle at the time. At an auction in 2018, Herbie reached a new record at $128,700. That is a lot of money to pay for a Beetle that is fifty-five years old.
1 1976 Lotus Espirit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me - $997,000
The Lotus Espirit, otherwise known as Wet Nellie in the James Bond film, was a custom-built submarine for the 1977 movie The Spy Who Loved Me. The cost of the production was $100,000. When the car went on auction, it fetched for almost $1 million.
Billionaire tech businessman Elon Musk was the recipient of the car. "It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater," The Guardian quoted Musk.
Sources - Top Speed, The Journal & RM Sotheby's