What makes a movie car great? Is it speed? Looks? Gadgets and gizmos? Or, is it some combination of the three? Over the last century or so, there have been thousands of cars featured in car-centric movies like those from the Fast & Furious franchise and cars in movies that have no specific focus on them or car culture. In either case, cars have played an important role in hundreds of films over the years. Yet, not all movie cars stand out. Only some are memorable enough to reach car stardom. Of these many amazing machines, the following cars are the eight at the top of the ranking of the best movie cars:
8) Herbie: The Love Bug
Herbie the Love Bug is a somewhat sentient 1968 Volkswagen Beetle. Although Volkswagens are German, Herbie is all American. This bug is adorned with red, white, and blue stripes and ultimately a product of the Walt Disney Company. Unlike most race cars though, Herbie is capable of driving himself, making him a tough opponent to beat. Though he may not be the fastest on this list, Herbie is an iconic, lovable vehicle that is among the most famous cars in the world.
7) Bandit’s 1977 Pontiac Trans Am
One of the coolest and fastest cars of its day was the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am featured in Smokey and the Bandit. This classic film saw Burt Reynolds’ Bandit tearing it up in his Trans Am as a means to distract law enforcement while his partner smuggled hundreds of cases of beer from Texarkana to Atlanta. There are few films that handle vehicular shenanigans better, and part of what makes the film so iconic is the car itself. Bandit’s 1977 Pontiac Trans Am is an undeniable classic and definitely the best car for running from the law.
6) The Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1
Not all movie cars are the fastest or even made from the coolest models on the market. A great example of this is the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1. Before becoming the iconic, battle-ready vehicle viewers see in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Ecto-1 would have been an average late 1950s and early 1960s ambulance — hardly the kind of vehicle featured on a poster in a teenage boy’s bedroom. Although the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 was not born iconic, it became iconic with the help of some clever theming and useful capabilities from Ghostbuster Dr. Ray Stantz.
5) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Roads and cars go hand in hand. Simply because cars often need roads. However, there are a few cars across movie history that do not require roads to get where they are going. One of which is the magical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Once used as a race car in the European racing circuit in the early 1900s, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a spectacular machine capable of immense speed and flight. This car also gets a few bonus points for its driver, Caractacus Potts, played by the charming legend Dick Van Dyke.
4) Bullitt’s 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390
Few cars are faster and look better in a chase scene than Lt. Frank Bullitt’s 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390. In fact, the car chase in Bullitt is arguably the greatest ever put to film. Steve McQueen’s character burns rubber, whips around corners, and catches air on the streets of San Francisco in this mean, green machine. As amazing as the entire sequence is, it is hard to imagine the production using any car other than that speedy, stylish, green Mustang.
3) The Batmobile (Any Movie/Model)
No movie hero or superhero has a vehicle quite as iconic and useful as Batman’s Batmobile. Whether it’s being driven by Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, or Christian Bale in a batsuit, the Batmobile is a fearsome force for justice in Gotham City. When roaming the streets, there is no telling how much damage it can cause. The Batmobile is quick, deadly, and sometimes stylish — depending on the movie. There is no doubt that the Batmobile is an iconic vehicle that is more than worthy of placing highly among the best movie cars.
2) Marty McFly’s 1981 Delorean DMC-12
Few cars are as capable as Marty McFly’s 1981 Delorean DMC-12 featured in the Back to the Future films. Marty’s Delorean has an abundance of 1980s style and speed, an ability to run on garbage, flight capabilities, and the ability to travel through time. It is a remarkable piece of engineering and an instantly recognizable icon. The only issue with Marty’s Delorean is its tendency to break down, especially at the worst times. Although it is the only car on this list capable of time travel, it is also the most frustrating for its driver, keeping it out of the top spot for the best of the best movie cars.
1) James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5
James Bond is a character defined by class, swagger, charisma, sophistication, and an ability to best whomever he encounters. Naturally, his car of choice shares these specific qualities. Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is an icon of cinema and without a doubt the best movie car. This car is perhaps the quickest, most stylish, and most capable to handle an adversary or challenge of any kind. From its ejector seat to bulletproof windows and built-in machine guns, Bond’s DB5 can do it all and most importantly, look good while doing it. This car never fails to deliver or impress. For those reasons, James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is the best of the best movie cars.
Best Movie Cars: Honorable Mentions
There have been dozens of amazing cars featured in movies over the years. Unfortunately, there was not enough room in this ranking for all of them. Some honorable mentions for great movie cars include Dominic Toretto’s 1970 Dodge Charger, the Eleanor Mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds, the possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury from Christine, Mad Max’s Pursuit Special, and nearly every Bumblebee variation from the Transformers franchise.