The car chase is one of the most fun, action-packed scenes in any film. We all love a high-speed chase and to be wowed over near misses and cool moves. But which cars made scenes like this iconic? We take a look through the five best movie cars ever:
5. Smokey and the Bandit’s Pontiac Trans Am
There’s no doubt that the black and gold 1977 Special Edition Pontiac Trans Am was the star of the show. Directed by stunt performer Hal Needham (who once claimed to be the world’s highest-paid stuntman), Smokey and the Bandit actually contained four Pontiacs. The muscle car’s engine wasn’t strong enough to power the car for the bridge jump sequence, so a Chevrolet engine was fitted into the jump car.
Unfortunately, Pontiac went out of business in 2010 after 84 years. At the height of its fame, one million Pontiac models were sold in 1968.
4. The Italian Job’s Mini Coopers
Ok, so this could be seen as cheating as there was more than one Mini Cooper in The Italian Job but they have to be in the list. The three Mk1 Austin Mini Cooper Ss, in the iconic red, white and blue became legendary because of their roles in this film.
The cars were designed for racing so actually didn’t need too many modifications for the renowned chases. Starring low key Minis rather than something faster and flashier added to the appeal: by adding a touch of British nonchalance it helped to generate a cult status for the film.
Find out more about the cars used in the movie here.
3. Goldfinger’s Aston Martin
The third film in the Bond series saw the introduction of a new car for James: the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Achieving 0-62mph in 8 seconds, this was the ultimate in sophistication and a relationship we would see spanning 50 years.
One of the four original cars (made for Goldfinger and Thunderball) sold for £2.6m in auction in 2010. We see the model return for the latest offering, Skyfall, but it is destroyed in the final scene.
2. Bullitt’s Ford Mustang Fastback
An original review of Bullitt by the National Observer said “Whatever you have heard about the auto chase scene in Bullitt is probably true… a terrifying, deafening shocker.”
The 1968 Ford Mustang GT had a 325hp V8 to keep up with the bad guys’ 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum and the car chase is widely recognised as one of the best in history. Stunts for Steve McQueen were performed by Carey Loftin, while bad guy Phil was played by stunt driver Bill Hickman. The cars were modified by Max Balchowsky, a stunt performer and former racer; with the Mustang in particular needing considerable modifications to withstand the filming. He reinforced the shock towers, replaced suspension parts and added a high performance ignition system to the engine.
1. Vanishing Point’s Dodge Challenger
There was no way we could talk about movie cars and not mention the 1970 Dodge Challenger in Vanishing Point. It is, without a doubt, the coolest piece of American muscle to ever star in a movie.
This film saw a reunion of Bullitt’s Carey Loftin, Max Balchowsky and Bill Hickman as a stunt trio. Loftin requested a Dodge Challenger for the film, known for its strength – combined with Torsion-Aire suspension. Apart from heavy-duty shock absorbers, the five Challengers bought for the film were – amazingly – unmodified.
If you fancy getting your own Challenger, you can build one on the Dodge website. If you want to take it a step further, see how much it would cost to get car insurance and buy one! You wouldn’t be the first; fellow Challenger lovers include Carmen Electra, Snoop Dogg and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So many have been awe-struck by the Challenger: it’s now so iconic that Primal Scream dedicated an album to the car and Quentin Tarantino paid homage with his 2007 feature, Death Proof.