Best Cars On Film

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC James Bond: Licence To Drive


When a vehicle eclipses the flesh-and-bone actors and becomes the superstar of a film—that’s when it’s a great movie car. There are dozens of memorable cars in film that have influenced a generation, inspired car culture and become the stuff of every kid’s dreams. As The Transporter: Refuelled arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on 26th December this Christmas, we take a look back at the best cars to have graced the silver screen.

The Transporter: Refuelled (2015) – Audi S8

Frank Martin (Ed Skrein), a former special-ops mercenary, is now living a less perilous life – or so he thinks – transporting classified packages for questionable people. When Frank’s father (Ray Stevenson) pays him a visit in the south of France, their father-son bonding weekend takes a turn for the worse when Frank is engaged by a cunning femme-fatale, Anna (Loan Chabanol), and her three seductive sidekicks to orchestrate the bank heist of the century. Frank must use his covert expertise and love for fast cars (namely the slick Audi S8), fast driving and fast women to outrun a sinister Russian kingpin, and worse than that, he is thrust into a dangerous game of chess with a team of gorgeous women out for revenge. Frank bleeds cool, always garbed in a smart black suit, complemented by the sleek yet powerful black Audi S8. The S8 features in some mind-blowing chase scenes, with the awe inspiring French Riviera backdrop.

Goldfinger (1964) – 1964 Aston Martin DB5

Sean Connery made the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 the most recognised cinematic Bond car of all time when it first appeared in Goldfinger – to many, the quintessential Bond film – and arguably the most famous car on film in history. A brilliant third entry in the series, Bond gets his Aston Martin, spars with two statuesque British beauties (Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore and Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson) and pits his wits against a memorable villain, Auric Goldfinger. Add the first Shirley Bassey theme song and some exciting action sequences and the result is an explosive cocktail. The DB5’s iconic nature meant that it reappeared for cameos in other Bond movies. Among the more memorable moments in recent Bond films was the time Daniel Craig’s 007 used the car to escape Silva in Skyfall, and employed the car’s front-mounted machine guns to defend Skyfall Lodge.

The Italian Job (1969) – 1968 Mini Cooper S

The Mini is one of the most iconic British cars in automotive history, and its reputation was cemented when three Minis starred in the classic movie, The Italian Job. Used as tools for an enormous gold heist in Turin, the red, white and blue Mini Coopers dip and dive through streets, a shopping arcade and even an enormous sewer to escape the police. The fast paced action and amazing capabilities of the little Italian Job Minis only increased the level of cool attached to the production cars.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – Ferrari 250 GT California

For Ferris Bueller, the 250 GT California was the epitome of cool. For many of us, it still is – the Ferrari’s gorgeous lines, beautifully crafted engine and intense Italian charisma are exquisite. When Ferris Bueller decides to feign illness and skip school, he embarks on a wild adventure with his girlfriend, Sloane Peterson, his best friend Cameron Frye, and the Ferrari. From Wrigley Field to the Art Institute of Chicago to a Polish Pride parade, Bueller and friends intend on making the most of their day off. However, Ferris’ sister and the school dean, Ed Rooney, suspect that Ferris is simply pretending to be ill. Both Rooney and Ferris’ sister Jeanie are hot on Ferris’ trail and are determined to catch him and his friends in the act of class-cutting.

Back to the Future (1985) – 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

Made in Ireland to be sold in America, the De Lorean DMC-12 looked head of its time with its Giorgetto Giugiaro designed body and gull-wing doors: a perfect ride to use as a time machine from the future. The stainless steel bodywork, wedge shape and gullwing doors cemented it as an icon, as did its starring role in the Back to the Future franchise. In Back to the Future, Doc and Marty used the DeLorean as a time machine to travel back and forward through time, famously having to accelerate to 88mph to activate the ‘flux capacitor’.

Herbie (1968) – Volkswagen Beetle

As the only car on this list that has a mind of its own, the affectionately named Herbie stole millions of hearts when it was first seen on screens in 1968. Not only does it have a mischievous personality, but it is loyal, competitive and stubborn, too. Finished in cream, with red, white and blue racing stripes, Herbie wins countless races, helps to stop a widow’s house from being demolished and it even falls in love with a Lancia Montecarlo. We last saw the love bug when Lindsay Lohan starred in Herbie: Fully Loaded – a reboot funded by Disney. The car had a particular boom during the sixties, as it, along with the VW Camper, became symbols of the ‘hippie’ movement and Volkswagen has since revived the Beetle name, in order to keep the spirit alive and modern versions adhere to the basic shape of the original.

The Fast and The Furious (2001) – 1970 Dodge Charger

When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) reignites his feud with agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker). But, as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to outmanoeuvre him. And, from convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what’s possible behind the wheel. Despite a wealth of beautiful and powerful cars on show through the 7 Fast & Furious films, we go back to the very beginning with Dom’s 1970 Dodge Charger. Towards the end of the film, Dom challenges Brian to one final, exhilarating race. Dom’s Charger wheelies from the start line and zooms through the streets of L.A., missing a moving train by a whisker, which would have been sure to flatten them both. However Dom’s luck runs out when he crashes into a truck, spinning the car over Brian’s roof and destroying the Dodge Charger. Rest assured that the car destroyed in the jump wasn’t a real Dodge Charger. Four Chargers were constructed for filming; using a 426 Hemi for close-ups, and other, more readily available (and less expensive) big-block 440s for crashes.

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) – 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

The remake by Jerry Bruckheimer may not have been as good as the original, but the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 of the 2000 film just edges the yellow Ford Mustang Mach 1 of H.B. “Toby” Halicki’s 1974 version. In both films, the customised Mustang is named Eleanor. In Halicki’s film, Eleanor is the only Ford Mustang in history to receive star title credit in a movie. In Bruckheimer’s film, the Mustang is a pewter, 1967 Ford Mustang fastback, depicted as a Shelby GT500, with a customized body kit designed by Steve Stanford. Nicholas Cage stars as automobile aficionado Randall “Memphis” Raines, a car thief of legendary proportion. No fancy lock or alarm could stop him. For years, Memphis eluded the law while boosting every make and model imaginable. When the heat became too intense, he abandoned his life of crime and left everything and everyone he loved to find a different life. Now, when his brother tries to follow in his footsteps, only to become dangerously embroiled in a high stakes caper, Memphis is sucked back into his old ways-in order to save his brother’s life.

Mad Max (1979) – 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon

In a not-too-distant dystopian future, when man’s most precious resource – oil – has been depleted and the world plunged into war, famine and financial chaos, the last vestiges of the law in Australia attempt to restrain a vicious biker gang. Max (Mel Gibson), an officer with the Main Force Patrol, launches a personal vendetta against the gang when his wife (Joanne Samuel) and son are hunted down and murdered, leaving him with nothing but the instincts for survival and retribution. Max embarks on his revenge mission in his V8 Interceptor, an impressive 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon. The same Falcon model can be seen in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, but it’s been beat up, sandblasted, rusted, and left to rot in the most gloriously cinematic of ways.


The Transporter: Refuelled arrives on Blu-ray and DVD from 26th December, courtesy of Icon Film Distribution

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

  • last.caress 9th January 2016

    Got to include the Batmobile in any discussion about great movie cars, Shirley? 🙂 I’d also like to nominate the 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback from Bullitt (1968), the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T from Vanishing Point (1971) and the 1958 Plymouth Fury in Christine (1983).


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