Lusting over a sleek car that you’ve seen on the big screen? Who hasn’t? No matter what your flavour of flick is, cars have been the recipe for success in many movies. And we’re not talking about some scrub indie film that’s plotline involved the protagonist driving their mum’s clapped out Corolla. Nah mate, we’re talking about the honchos of car film history. Think Transformers. Think Fast and Furious. Think James Bond.
Anyhoo, like all of Hollywood’s hot rods, they were once thought to be run-of-the-mill. But after being featured in a sensational movie, they were catapulted to fame and fan-fixation and have had gearheads shell out big bucks to bring ’em home. On this list, you’ll find the most iconic vehicles to grace the silver screen and even bump into some quaint and quirky ones. Here are the most iconic cars in film history.
1. James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5
Remember, this isn’t just any famous film car – this is the ultimate collector’s item. The Aston Martin DB5 is veritably one of the most iconic cars in film history and was famed by 007 in 1964’s Goldfinger at the hands of Sean Connery. Considered to be the quintessential vehicle of the character, the slightly souped-up version of the DB4, which preceded it, is a high-performance and striking vehicle that made Aston Martin a luxe brand among elite European car brand names.
Film: Goldfinger (1964)
Franchise: James Bond
Designer: Ken Adams & John Stears
Engine: 4.0 L V6
Horsepower: 282 hp
0-100 kph time: 8 seconds
Top speed: 233 km/ 145 mph
2. The Batmobile/ The Tumbler
There’s no vehicle more marvel than Batman’s Tumbler — it’s every superhero’s dream ride. Featured in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the Tumbler is the halfway house between a tank and a car. This beast is equipped with weaponry and ammunition and is formidable enough to boost into a rampless jump. Although a movie prop, its armour is supposedly strong enough to break through concrete barriers without sustaining significant damage.
Film: Batman Begins (2005)
Franchise: The Dark Knight
Designer: Christopher Nolan & Nathan Crowley
Engine: 5.7 L V8
Horsepower: 500 hp
0-100 kph time: 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 257 km/ 160 mph
3. DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine, Back to the Future
Who can forget Doc’s legendary time machine from Back to the Future? The DeLorean DMC-12 was the brainchild of former General Motors executive John Z. DeLorean, who decided to start his own car company after a successful career at GM. While the DeLorean initially swept away the world with its revolutionary gull-wing doors and rebellious design, it was a financial flop. Luckily, the Back to the Future franchise revived DeLorean from an ill fate and immortalised the supposed plutonium-powered time machine.
Film: Back to the Future (1985)
Franchise: Back to the Future
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro
Engine: 2.8 L V6
Horsepower: 130 hp
0-100 kph time: 10.9 seconds
Top speed: 175 km/ 109 mph
4. 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, Bullitt
Mustangs have been a motif to many classic and contemporary films. But it wasn’t always a notable car type. Thanks to the movie Bullitt, and its protagonist Steve McQueen, the 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback got a popularity boost. In the movie, McQueen drove a souped-up 1968 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback chasing a Dodge Charger through the high streets of San Francisco. On January 10, 2020, the car that was driven by McQueen was sold at an auction for a record price of USD$3.7 million.
Film: Bullitt (1968)
Designer: Ross Humphries
Engine: 6.4 L V8
Horsepower: 325 hp
0-100 kph time: 8.9 seconds
Top speed: 169 km/ 105 mph
5. 1970 Dodge Charger, The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious franchise has forever redefined the culture of street racing and interestingly given rise to a generation of criminals on car heists. The Charger 500 model was purpose-built to help Dodge be more competitive on the big tracks of NASCAR. And although the vehicle is almost a spitting image of its predecessor, the car saw itself morph from NASCAR entry to mid-tier trim level. Its flying buttress roof design, horsepower and rarity are what gave reason for this baddie to be in the first Fast and the Furious movie and one of the best in film history.
Film: The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Franchise: Fast and Furious
Designer: Carl Cameron
Engine: 7.2 L V8
0-100 kph time: 5.5 seconds
Top speed: 220 km/ 137 mph
6. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider is famed for being featured in teen comedy flick Ferris Beuller’s Day Off and is one of the more prized Ferrari models to date. With only 56 ever made, 37 of which had desirable covered headlights, this beaut has had legions of collectors fork out millions for its possession. 2016 was the first time the car was ever offered for sale to the public in its 55-year history, and it fetched USD$17.16 million at a Florida auction. But that’s not quite enough to strip the record for this highly lusted-after model that sold for over USD$18 million.
Film: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Designer: Scaglietti (company)
Engine: 3.0 L V12
Horsepower: 275 hp
0-100 kph time: 6.3 seconds
Top speed: 233 km/ 145 mph
7. 1969 Mustang Boss 429, John Wick
The hitman’s 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 is recognised as being among the rarest and highly valued muscle cars to date. During it the car’s two-year production, a total of 1359 original Boss 429s manufactured. And compared to other Mustangs from the era, the 429’s hood scoop was much wider and functional. This phenomenal vehicle has become of the John Wick movies and catapulted the car into the canons of the best movie car on our list.
Film: John Wick (2014)
Franchise: John Wick
Designer: Larry Shinoda
Engine: 5.0 L V8
Horsepower: 354 hp
0-100 kph time: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 206 kph / 128 mph
8. 1976 Lotus Esprit Series I, The Spy Who Loved Me
An S1 Esprit was featured in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, where a car converted into a submarine after a road chase. The car used in the underwater scenes, nicknamed “Wet Nellie”, was bought by businessman Elon Musk in September 2013. Thanks to the Esprit, Lotus entered the modern supercar market for the first time. Its exotic shape was up to snuff for it to extend production from 1976 all the way to 2004. Styling-wise, the Esprit is distinguished by sharp angles and a wedge shape, crisp edges and modern looking.
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Franchise: James Bond
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro
Engine: 2.0 L 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 160 hp
0-100 kph time: 8.1 seconds
Top speed: 214 km/ 133 mph
9. 1966 Ford Thunderbird, Thelma & Louise
You know that idyllic scene from movies where cops chase a couple driving a classic Ford convertible down the desert highway? You can thank Thelma & Louise for that. Part chick flick, part outlaw movie, part road movie. The Oscar-winning film has one of the most memorable car scenes in Hollywood history. The Thunderbird was chosen mostly as a matter of practicality. Convertibles are popular because it’s easy to shoot the actors, and have the classic cruising aura perfect for a road trip.
Film: Thelma & Louise (1991)
Designer: Frank Hershey
Engine: 7.0 L V8
Horsepower: 345 hp
0-100 kph time: 9.3 seconds
Top speed: 216 km/ 134 mph
10. 1969 Dodge Charger, General Lee, The Dukes of Hazzard
Anything that’s laced with a Confederate flag is a big no-no. But thanks to two law-enforcing dipsticks from the deep-south and their 1969 Dodge Charger, they’ve comfortably secured a spot on this list. Their vehicle featured a 375-horsepower and a whopping 7.2L V8 engine. It had been souped-up with bright orange paintwork, racing carburettor, heavy-duty suspension parts, custom wheels and tires and comfortably performed high-speed chases and stunts. Its glass-pack muffler also helped give the General its signature roar.
Film: The Dukes of Hazzard (1977)
Designer: Andre & Renaud Veluzat
Engine: 7.2 L V8
Horsepower: 375 hp
0-100 kph time: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 224 km/ 139 mph
11. Ectomobile, 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor, Ghostbusters 1 and 2
It’s a car. It’s a herse. It’s an Ectomobile. This quaint vehicle is a hell of a conception and is truly magical. In the movie, the Ectomobile was a piece of American automotive junk that was revived by an almost bankrupt Ghostbusters. And surprisingly, its V8 engine churned out 325 hp, but its floaty suspension and curb-weight design crippled its performance. The appeal of the Ectomobile has always been a double-edged sword in the view of car enthusiasts. Love it or not, it’s one of the tops of this list.
Film: Ghostbusters (1984)
Designer: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis & George Barris
Horsepower: 325 hp
0-100 kph time: 10.9 seconds
Top speed: 201 km/h / 125 mph
12. 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Pursuit Special, Mad Max
The Mad Max saga features a Ford Falcon XB GT Pursuit Special that’s one of the most coveted pieces of movie history, and deservedly so. The car was officially named the Pursuit Special and is also known as the Last of the V8 Interceptors. The car used in the first film was an Australian-built 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Hardtop that had been extensively transformed to fit the post-apocalyptic universe. If you’re seriously into movie memorabilia, the Pursuit Special is one of the tops on this lineup.
Film: Mad Max (1977)
Franchise: Mad Max
Designer: Peter Arcadipane, Ray Beckerley, John Evans & Rod Smythe
Engine: 5.8 L V8
Horsepower: 300 hp
0-100 kph time: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 203km/ 126 mph
13. 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, Herbie
Who would’ve thought that this eyesore would become one of the best cars in film history? Introduced in 1938 as a small people’s vehicle, it was only after World War II that this toy-like car’s popularity soared. By 1960 the Beetle’s design had improved immensely. In the series of Herbie movie, the Beetle has a mind of its own and has won the hearts of generations through its scamp-like and go-getting character, strangely. And by dint of Herbie, the beetles of the early ’60s are a strong collector interested due to their flamboyant and lovable design.
Film: The Love Bug (1968)
Designer: Ferdinand Porsche
Engine: 1.2 L 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 41 hp
0-100 kph time: 15.4 seconds
Top speed: 100 km/ 62 mph
14. 1967 Shelby GT500, Eleanor, Gone in 60 Seconds
The Eleanor is a beefed-up version of the 1967 Mustang Shelby GT500 that was put together for Gone in 60 Seconds. In the movie, this is the car that Randall Raines uses to pull off his most daring heists. While that alone adds to the car’s myth, its sinister design is what seals the deal. Many of its striking features include its central-mounted driving lights, pumped fender flares and unique hood. Its iconic aesthetic comes from its bubble hood and dramatic aerodynamic elements that give it an even more muscular aesthetic.
Film: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Designer: Charles McHose
Engine: 5.0 L V8
Horsepower: 355 hp
0-100 kph time: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 206 km/ 128 mph
15. 1971 Volkswagen T2 Microbus, Little Miss Sunshine
Volkswagen has been part of the movie and television business since the ‘60s and the 1971 Volkswagen T2 Microbus in Little Miss Sunshine was one of the reasons for the movie’s success. The vehicle was already a sensation since the psychedelic and hippie ear of the ’70s, but the escapades of a family trying to get their daughter across the country to a pageant in a microbus were what gave the vehicle a foothold on this list. Its yellow, beach bum and en route-to vibe were what won it not one, but two Oscars.
Film: Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Designer: Ben Pon
Engine: 1.6 L
Horsepower: 60 hp
Top speed: 100 km/ 65 mph
16. 2008 Audi R8, Iron Man
The R8 was the personal vehicle for Tony Stark throughout six films in the Marvel Cinematic blockbuster and was a successful launch of a global marketing campaign aimed at highlighting Audi as a luxe model. 42 models of the R8 were used in the Iron Man Trilogy and other Audi models appeared in proceeding Marvel Studios movies; the Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming. And although Stark’s superpowers are the result of the high-tech armour; when he’s without his suit, the billionaire relies on his R8.
Film: Iron Man (2008)
Franchise: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Designer: Walter de Silva & Frank Lamberty
Engine: 4.2 L V8
Horsepower: 420 hp
0-100 kph time: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 298 km/ 185 mph
17. 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S 1275, The Italian Job
Good things come in small packages. The Mini Cooper became an icon of 1960s British culture and was featured in the 1969 film The Italian Job. Alec Issigonis’ mini sedan can lay claim to being one of the most significant automobile designs of the 20th Century. The vehicle’s simple design broke all the rules for an auto of its size. It offered a surprising interior, 45-hp, and a 848 cc engine. In one step, Issigonis had replaced every three-wheeled microcar, as well as every motorcycle and sidecar, with a real family sedan. It’s a stroke of genius.
Film: Italian Job (1969)
Designer: Alec Issigonis
Engine: 1.0 L 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 45 hp
0-100 kph time: 27.7 seconds
Top speed: 117 km/ 73 mph
18. 2007 Chevrolet Camaro Replica, Transformers
What was supposedly a fictional character named Bumblebee — a member of the Autobots and a group of extraterrestrial robotic lifeforms — set the streets of North America buzz with Camaros. When the first Transformers movie hit cinemas and was raking in the moolah, Chevrolet had legions of customers line up to purchase the Bumblebee Camaro. In the movie, the Camaro with its iconic black stripes, bewitching body and aggressive motor are just some of the striking features that make its design the most arresting car in film history.
Film: Transformers (2007)
Designer: Tom Peters
Engine: 6.2 L V8
Horsepower: 426 hp
0-100 kph time: 5.1 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/ 155 mph
19. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was inspired by a series of 4 real-life race cars named Chitty. The Bang Bang was built and raced by Count Louis Zborowski in the 1920s and were oddly long shaped. And the movie, which was based on the novel by author Ian Fleming, made the vehicle of the most quicky, magical and memorable in film history. The old racecar was brought from a junkyard, restored, and destroyed in an automobile accident during a race. The car could fly, float and drive on the road like a normal car.
Film: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Designer: Louis Zborowski & Caractcus Potts
Engine: 18.8 L V8
Horsepower: 140 hp
Top speed: 160 km/ 100 mph
20. 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, Smokey and the Bandit
Arguably the most iconic Pontiac Firebird in history. Launched on the big screen in 1977, Smokey and the Bandit is the story of two bootleggers attempting to illegally sneak beer from Texas to Atlanta. The film was a sleeper hit but went on to gross $126.7 million. It was the second-highest-grossing movie of 1977 after Star Wars. Famed for the Pontiac Trans Am that Renold’s drove in the film, the vehicle is a high-performance package for the Firebird, Pontiac’s take on the Camaro.
Film: Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Designer: John Schinella
Engine: 6.6 L V8
Horsepower: 200 hp
0-100 kph time: 9.6 seconds
Top speed: 215 km/ 134 mph
What movie has a Delorean in it?
A DeLorean DMC-12 is driven in the movie Back to the Future by Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown.
What's the most famous car of all time?
The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond franchise is the most famous car of all time.
What car does James Bond drive?
James Bond drives several cars in his movies. But the 1964 Aston Martin is the most iconic and driven vehicle.