The 8 Ball 3.11.14: Top 8 Movie Cars
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 03.11.2014
From the DeLorean in Back to the Future and Steve McQueen's Mustang in Bullitt to the Ghostbusters' Ecto-1, The Fast and the Furious' Dodge Charger and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 movie cars!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
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Top 8 Movie Cars
Welcome back to another edition of the 411 Movie Zone 8 Ball! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas as always, and this week the movie adaptation of Need for Speed hits theaters. The film version of the popular racing game franchise stars Aaron Paul and, of course, a wide variety of bad-ass looking cars. The film is the latest in a long lineage of films which includes cars as more or less co-stars; cars have a long and storied cinematic history. There have been times when an otherwise-terrible film has been worth watching just because of the great cars that are contained therein. As such, this week we're going to be looking at the best cars in movie history. No neutral gear this week; it's time to put the pedal to the metal and go full speed ahead.
Caveat: All right, so it must be said before we get started: I am not a car guy. I know, that makes this seem like a topic that is doomed right from the start with that in mind, but it's okay because I'm not looking at the flat-out best vehicles in terms of maneuverability or speed or anything like that. For the purposes of this list, we're looking at the cars that had the greatest impact to the point that they became their own iconic characters within movie history. I'm hewing closely to the word "car," which means no trucks, vans, motorcycles, ATVs or what-have-you. We're looking for cars that stood out and carved out their own niches in movie history.
Just Missing The Cut
• 1964 Austin Mini (Italian Job)
• 1962 Volkswagen Beetle (The Love Bug)
• 1932 Ford Coupe (American Graffiti)
• 1967 Shelby GT500 (Gone in Sixty Seconds)
• The Batmobile (Batman/Batman Returns)
#8: 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon (Mad Max)
First up on our list is "Mad" Max Rockatansky's faithful motorized steed. The Mad Max franchise is a legendary one, with several entries (including one coming up) and dozens of imitators. One of the most imitated aspects is the idea of the post-apocalyptic road chase and for Mel Gibson's hero only the best would do. In this case the car was the "Pursuit Special," a modified 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon that gave Max the muscle power to compete with motorcycle-riding psychopathic bandits. There's nothing quite like a supercharged car to really get across the idea of power and style, and the badass attitude of the car--reinforced, of course, and fitted with all sorts of traps and concealed weapons--fit that of Mad Max perfectly. It cut a striking image during the film's iconic chase scenes with its sleek body and black paint job; the no-nonsense style was perfectly befitting the idea of a post-apocalyptic world and it perfectly fit with its hero and the film as a whole. No post-apocalyptic film has ever had a car quite as cool as the Pursuit Special.
#7: 1970 Dodge Charger (The Fast and the Furious)
Another muscle car on this list, and it's not the last one either. The Fast and the Furious franchise is one of the most notable car-centric movie franchises out there and there has been no shortage of memorable vehicles. For my money though, none of them stand nearly as tall as Dom Toretto's 1970 Dodge Charger. The Charger stands out so much in the first film for a very simple reason: it's a classic amidst a bunch of neon, nitro'd-up toys. Sure, you throw some NOS in a car and it's going to be badass for a little while. But the Charger was a car so tough that Dominic himself was afraid to drive it. The car, sort of in a similar way to the Pursuit Special, has an undeniably intimidating bent to it and it really works in how it helps Toretto stand out from the crowd. Sure, Brian Walker and most the rest of the cast are street racers, but Dom is the true badass and he needed a badass car for at least part of the film. It features in the single-best race as well, with Dom and Brian lining up and taking off and narrowly missing being smashed by a train before the poor Charger flips. Anyone else can take their overpowered day-glo Matchbox cars, but I'll happily take the Charger any day.
#6: 1958 Plymouth Fury (Christine)
How can you talk about all-time great movie cars and not talk about Christine? Most of the time, we talk about an important car like it's a character in the movie but we don't really mean it. With Christine, we literally mean that she is a character in the film. I don't anthropomorphize a lot of cars, but the 1958 Plymouth Fury in the adaptation of Stephen King's horror story is most definitely a she. Not just because of the name, but because of what we know from her in the film. This is Fatal Attraction with a tailpipe; it's a case of a possessed, demonic car that loves its owner just a little bit too much. The Fury was already described in the original source novel of course, and John Carpenter made sure to fit exactly what King had in mind. The car was an evil, demonic creature but damn if it wasn't gorgeous too. To use another analogy, this car was the automotive equivalent of Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled; yes, you know it was evil but it was so gorgeous that you wouldn't be particularly opposed to eternal damnation (or at least death) if you could go for a ride. This particular model of car would never be the same after this film and it certainly helped make the movie as good as it is.
#5: 1959 Cadillac Ecto-1 (Ghostbusters)
Few cars are more instantly recognizable as movie cars than the Ecto-1. It's not hard to figure out why, after all; when you take a converted ambulance car and throw all that gear on the top before painting the iconic Ghostbusters logo on the side then you're certain to turn some heads. Where most of the cars on this list are cool and badass, ultra-performing vehicles, the Ecto-1 is the exact opposite. It's a lumpy, ugly sort of thing with an unwieldy amount of distinctly non-aerodynamic equipment attached to the top and a whiny-sounding siren; suffice it to say that no one would race this against any other car on the list. But that's why it works so well; it fits exactly where the Ghostbusters were at when they bought it. It's down on its luck and doesn't have much of a chance at--well, achieving anything. But it has personality to spare and it's instantly recognizable (if primarily for its weirdness). It was a perfect ride for our motley crew of supernatural jailers and--dare I say it--by the end of the film this incredibly uncool vehicle has managed to transcend its limitations and become very cool indeed. If the ill-advised Ghostbusters 3 ever does get up off the ground, they'd better bring the Ecto-1 back or I will be a distinctly unhappy camper.
#4: 1961 Ferrari 250 GT (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
Most American kids of my age were introduced to the idea of European cars by virtue of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the Ferrari that belonged to Cameron's father. As Alan Ruck's best friend explains, there were less than one hundred ever made...which of course inspires Ferris to joyride in it all the way to Chicago. The truth is that the car wasn't even as common as Cameron implies; there were less than 100 of all Ferrari Spyder models between 1958 and 1963. It is the rarest of things and man, I'm not a fan of European sports cars because of how douchey they come off but this one is a thing of absolute beauty. The Ferrari Spyder was the ultimate fantasy car...the car that you could drive off with because "It is his fault he didn't lock the garage." It wasn't so much the car itself as much as what the car represented: telling an uncaring authority figure to go screw himself and taking a passport to the ultimate day off. And of course there is the famous scene in which Cameron loses it and kicks repeatedly at the car, which results in the vehicle speeding backward through the window and down to its doom. As Ferris says, in shock, "You killed the car." Its legacy, however, will live on.
#3: 1968 Mustang GT 390 (Bullitt)
There has never been a cooler car than the 1968 Mustang GT 390. And why is it cool? Because it's driven by Steve McQueen, possibly the coolest actor in the history of film, in the equally-cool Bullitt. Peter Yates's 1968 crime drama is a very good movie, but there is a reason that your average filmgoer knows it more for the vehicle than anything else. Part of that has to do with the chase scenes in which McQueen's titular cop races through the hills of San Francisco, which are some of the greatest chases ever committed to celluloid. But the car itself is also just incredibly iconic. The car was stripped down a bit, making it look that much sleeker and more dangerous which befit McQueen. The car attained such a reputation thanks in enormous part to this film that Ford has created not just one, but two limited edition versions. It takes quite a vehicle to take the focus off of Steve McQueen, but the GT 390 in Bullitt truly found itself up to the task. McQueen attempted, years after, to purchase the only of the two used in the film that wasn't scrapped but the owner wouldn't sell. That's a smart man right there.
#2: Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)
James Bond and cool cars go hand in hand. From the submarine/car in The Spy Who Loved Me all the way through to the Audi in Skyfall, nearly every Bond car could argue for a spot on this list. We have to go with the original however, and show our love for the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger and Thunderball. There is a reason that the Aston Martin became 007's car of choice for most of the fifty years he's been on screen; it fits him like a glove. In fact, I would venture to say that through all the actor changes, the different eras, the move from one studio to the other and everything else, the Aston Martin is perhaps the most consistent character in the Bond franchise. And it all comes back to this classic beauty. It introduced the now-cliché idea of superspy vehicular weaponry and probably did it best by keeping it simple. The Aston Martin is as essential to James Bond as shaken-not-stirred Martinis or the Walther PPK. Everyone has probably imagined at some point that they had an Aston Martin, and wished it were so with a deep sigh. It's very nearly the top of the list and I couldn't disagree with those who wanted it higher.
#1: DeLorean DMC-12 (Back to the Future)
Why does the DeLorean rank at #1 on the list of movie cars? It's simple to me. All of the above cars are iconic, but you could look at them (at least in their natural, unmodified forms) and conceivably not think of them as a car in a movie. When you look at the DeLorean DMC-12, there is no other thought that first enters your mind than "It's the Back to the Future car." Doc Brown's motorized time machine is a hallmark of cinematic vehicles whether you have a flux capacitor or not. The gull-wing doors, the distinctive 1980s-esque body design, the silvery color; if 1.21 jiggawatts doesn't immediately enter your head upon seeing one of these cars, you need to go to time travel school. Back to the Future is one of the great sci-fi comedies of all-time and a big part of that is the presence of this LCD console-controlled vehicle. This car is the reason you always want to go 88 miles per hour; what's more, the DeLorean owes its legacy to this film, as it nearly became a non-entity after founder John DeLorean was arrested on drug charges in 1982. A film and a car have never been so tightly interwoven as this pair, and that makes this the big winner in my book.
Disguise of the Episode
Current Series/Season:Season One (2001 - 2002) Episodes Watched: 13 Last Serial Completed:The Box (Part 2) - Sydney and Jack find themselves in the ironic position of having to save SD-6 as former agent McKenas Cole tortures Sloane in order to obtain a mysterious item stored inside the SD-6 vault, while Will finds new leads into his story about the organization. Episodes Remaining: 92
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.