Written by Hejab Azam
12 July, 2019
Cinema and TV have never shied away from memorable motors, with many iconic cars getting their start on the silver screen. With plenty of films this year set to feature some seriously impressive models, including the McLaren 720S in Hobbs & Shaw and the Audi e-tron in Avengers: Endgame, we thought we’d take a look at some of our favourite fictional cars and their top features to date.
Whether you like trying to spot the Pizza Planet truck in Pixar films or are a die-hard The Fast and the Furious fan, read on to discover our top ten pop-culture cars.
A staple of the Ghostbusters franchise, the original Ecto-1 was a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance conversion, measuring nearly 20 feet in length and boasting the largest tail fins to have ever appeared on a production car. Only about 400 vehicles were made in the Miller-Meteor run, utilising a 6.3-litre V8 powertrain that offers 320hp. Ecto-1 was replaced with Ecto-1a after it broke down on the Brooklyn Bridge during Ghostbusters II, and later swapped for a revamped 1984 Cadillac Fleetwood hearse for the 2016 female-led film. Promo posters for the upcoming 2020 Ghostbusters 3 tease the return of Ecto-1a, but it remains to be seen if the team will trade the Cadillac in for a modern model.
The Aston Martin DB5 was first released in 1963 and rose to fame after appearing in the 1964 Goldfinger James Bond film. As a sibling to the DB4 Series V, the DB5 featured an enlarged all-aluminium 4-litre engine and was fitted with a new ZF five-speed transmission that propelled the car to 145mph. Author Ian Fleming had originally placed Bond in a DB Mark III in the novel, but the DB5 was the newest model on the market when the film was in production – and so history was made. Standard equipment on the luxury grand tourer included reclining seats, twin fuel tanks and even a fire extinguisher, with the DB5 confirmed to be featured in the next 2020 Bond film.
Another iconic car stemming from Ian Fleming’s novels, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was inspired by four 1920s racing cars owned by Count Louis Zborowski. Named Chitty Bang Bang due to the sound they made, Zborowski’s first car in the series featured a chain-driven customised Mercedes chassis and was powered by a 23-litre, six-cylinder Maybach engine. For the 1968 film, six cars were created, including a fully functional roadworthy car fitted with a Ford 3000 V6 engine and an automatic transmission. Each movie car measured 17 feet and seven inches long and stood at six foot three inches high, with horsepower capable of propelling the car to speeds over 100mph.
The plutonium-powered time machine featured in the Back to the Future franchise was a DeLorean DMC-12 that had to reach 88mph in order to time travel. Six DeLorean chassis were used during production, including one manufactured of fiberglass for when the vehicle ‘flew’ on screen. Originally manufactured from 1981 to 1983, the DMC DeLorean stood out for its gull-wing doors and brushed steel outer body, with claims that it could achieve 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds when equipped with a manual transmission and 10.5 seconds with automatic. Only three of the original cars used in the film still exist, with one being destroyed in Back to the Future Part III.
In the original Knight Rider series, the fictional computer K.I.T.T (Knight Industries Two Thousand) controls the high-tech black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am T-top car. As the third-generation Firebird, the Pontiac had been dramatically restyled with electronically controlled retractable headlights, a rounded hoodline and a sloping windshield. In the series, the car was fitted with a Knight 2000 microprocessor brain, a trajectory guidance system and a molecular bonded shell that reinforced the body against firearms and explosive devices.
Automatic, systemic and hydromatic, Kenickie’s dilapidated car was actually a white two-door 1948 Ford DeLuxe Convertible. Although it was undoubtedly modified in its Kandy Red fantasy finish, the real-life model offered rear-wheel drive, a manual three-speed gearbox and a top speed of 80mph. The Convertible came with a V8 239.4 cid engine that produces 100hp and featured overhead lifters, four barrel quads, chrome-plated rods and a leather interior. Film and car enthusiasts can go see one of the cars used to film the ‘Greased Lightning’ scene at the Illinois’ Volo Auto Museum, which specialises in veritable vehicle history.
The enchanted light-blue car that featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was an authentic 1962 Ford Anglia 105E. There were 16 different models used throughout the film; most had their engines removed to make the car easier to lift on a crane, while others had racing engines for high-speed scenes and some were cut in half to allow the crew to film inside. Although Ford never really released a flying car, the real-life Ford Anglia was introduced in 1959 and offered American-inspired styling reminiscent of the 1958 Lincoln Continental, a four-speed manual gearbox, an instrument panel displaying oil pressure and a 997cc overhead valve straight-four “Kent” engine.
In most Transformers lore the self-configuring modular robot Bumblebee takes the form of a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, but he generally appears as various Chevrolet models in Michael Bay’s live-action films. The original Bumblebee as seen in the first and second Transformers films takes the form of a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, fitted with either a 3.6-litre V6 or 6.2-litre V8 engine and optional automatic transmission. Notable features include a six-way power driver’s seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, remote engine start and Bluetooth, complementing the standout sporty styling and comfortable interior.
As arguably the most recognisable car when it comes to superhero movies, the Batmobile has taken many forms since its comic conception in 1939. One of the most iconic models was the highly stylised one-of-a-kind 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, which featured in the 1960s Adam West TV series and 1966 film. Even the unmodified model had some distinct features, including a clear plastic canopy top, outward-canted tail fins and pearlescent colour, which was swapped for bat-black for the Caped Crusader. Three fiberglass Batmobile replicas were built using 1966 Ford Galaxie cars for the show circuit, with one still on display in the Peterson Auto Museum.
As the main transportation of Mystery Inc., the Mystery Machine remains a nostalgic sight for many. In the cartoon series, the Mystery Machine’s shape is reminiscent of a 1960s era panel van, such as a Volkswagen Camper, but there’s no clear indication that places the van as a particular model. In the 2004 Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed live-action film, fans believe a 1985 Chevrolet Chevy Van was used. This model boasted swing-out doors and a standard sliding side door in a 60/40 split, with a redesigned grill and fuel-injected engine. As to what specific model the cartoon car is based on, the mystery remains.