1982 DeLorean DMC-12 - back to the future

Buckle Up! 20 Iconic Movie Cars That Stole the Show!

By: Matt

Movie nerds and auto buffs rejoice! Cars play a huge role in modern society, so most don’t give them a second thought when they appear on-screen. But every once in a while, a great car makes an appearance and steals the show! Whether it’s the filmmakers’ intention or not, great rides can be just as recognizable as a film’s stars.

The most iconic movie cars are a character in itself, creating a pop culture moment that people remember for decades. Here are some of the most recognizable cruisers that stole the spotlight.

1. The General Lee – “Dukes of Hazzard” (2005)

The General Lee - Dukes of Hazzard

“The Dukes of Hazzard,” a film released in 2005, wasn’t a huge hit, but this iconic car’s history goes back further than the movie. It was a major star in the original show that aired in the late 70s and early 80s. The orange 1969 Dodge Charger is heavily featured in all “Dukes” media. Affectionately known as “General,” this car is known for its incredible feats, including jumping over rivers and obstacles. 

2. Batmobile – “Batman” Series (1943- Present)

Batmobile car

The Batmobile is how the caped crusader, Bruce Wayne, made his way around Gotham. Many iterations of this vehicle exist, and each one is better than the last! One of the most recognizable is the car that appeared in the original TV show.

Producers designed the car after gaining inspiration from the 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept. All iterations are quintessential to the antihero, sporting aggressive features and tons of power under the hood.

3. The Pussy Wagon – “Kill Bill Volume 1” (2003)

The Pussy Wagon kill bill

While the Pussy Wagon isn’t a car, it’s well worth its place on this list. This head-scratching Chevy Silverado is adorned with an over-the-top paint job and a pretty offensive name on the back. We see The Bride driving it after her first kill, but a flashback shows the truck’s gross origins.

Nonetheless, Quentin Tarantino’s use of the truck made it an interesting reminder of the gruesome movie tale. He even lent it to Lady Gaga for one of her music videos, making it a pop culture icon.

4. 1963 Aston Martin DB5 – “Goldfinger” (1964)

1963 Aston Martin DB5 - James Bond

When you think of 007, your mind likely goes to martinis and Aston Martins! The most iconic Aston Martin to appear on the silver screen debuted in “Goldfinger.” The original novels had 007 driving a different Aston Martin model, but the film’s producers went with the DB5 from 1963.

There’s no denying this car’s swag. It’s perfect for the smooth-talking agent, and James Bond has driven an Aston Martin in most iterations throughout the series. 

5. The Ectomobile – “Ghostbusters” (1984-Present)

The Ectomobile - Ghostbusters

The Ectomobile is the ride of choice for the “Ghostbusters” squad. It’s a souped-up 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor. The car is all-white and has the signature “Ghostbusters” logo. It’s also outfitted with sirens and gear the team used to take out those poltergeists.

The real car behind the Ectomobile came from Miller-Meteor, a company that outfitted Cadillacs for specialty use. In the real world, this car has a history of being used as ambulances, hearses and more.

6. The Interceptor Pursuit Special – “Mad Max” Series (1973-Present)

The Interceptor Pursuit Special mad max

The Pursuit Special is the name of the car driven by the “Mad Max” protagonist. Mel Gibson originally drove the car in the first film. However, it appeared in every movie after that, including the most recent releases.

The ride is a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT coupe. It was the last Falcon model produced by Ford Australia. However, it returned in 1992. Today, its aggressive styling is most associated with the post-apocalyptic world of “Mad Max.”

7. 1968 Mustang GT 390 – “Bullit” (1968)

1968 ford mustang gt 390 bullitt

“Bullit” is an action-thriller that starred the late Steve McQueen. It’s a staple in the genre and is most known for its thrilling car chases. McQueen uses a 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 clad in all black to pursue an assassin driving a 1968 Dodge Charger. Many regard the film as one of the best car chases in cinematic history, and we can’t argue with that!

It’s an impressive scene with breathtaking stunts and amazing cinematography. The movie is so beloved that the particular model became synonymous with the late actor and his legacy.

8. 1976 AMC Pacer – “Wayne’s World” (1992)

1976 amc pacer wayne's world

“Waynes World” managed to turn a cheap vehicle into a cinema star! At the time of the production, the AMC Pacer was an ultra-affordable “junk” car that the filmmakers could get for cheap. It was perfect for the film’s main characters, and the distinct flame paint job makes it even more true to their personalities.

Dubbed the Mirthmobile, this car is in one of the film’s most hilarious and recreated scenes, where the two main characters sing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

9. Mutt Cutts Van – “Dumb and Dumber” (1994)

Here’s another bigger vehicle that you’d likely do a double-take if you saw it on the road! The Mutts Cutts van is what Lloyd and Harry use to take a cross-country road trip in “Dumb and Dumber.” 

The vehicle is a 1984 Ford Econoline van. However, the producers covered it in carpet, forming the shape of a shaggy dog! It even has a face on the hood and a tail in the back.

10. 1970 Dodge Charger “Fast and Furious” (2001)

1970 dodge charger fast and furious

There’s no shortage of amazing cars in the “Fast and Furious” film franchise. There are ten movies in the main series, after all. However, the first movie introduced the world to the souped-up 1970 Dodge Charger.

This isn’t your average Charger. The car used is a 1969 Charger that received parts from a 1970 charger. It has a supercharged engine that gives it a whopping 900 horsepower! The movie features the car heavily. While the franchise moved to other great rides, this one started it all.

11. 1976 Ford Gran Tarino – “Starsky and Hutch” (2004)

1976 Ford Gran Tarino starsky and hutch

“Starsky and Hutch” is another film that many fans and critics panned. But if you loved the show, it’s well worth the watch. Both the film and the original TV show feature a Ford Gran Torino. The show used models from 1974 and 1976, and the movie that came out decades later used replicas.

Either way, it’s an iconic part of the franchise. The two buddy detectives use it to drive around LA. While not exactly subtle, it became a huge part of the storyline and served as a prop for pursuits.

12. The Shaguar – “Austin Powers” Series (1997-2002)

The Shaguar - Austin Powers

The “Austin Powers” films were a brilliant parody of James Bond. Naturally, you can’t poke fun at 007 without an equally awesome car as the Aston Martin DB85! Instead of going for an Aston Martin, the film’s producers went with a 1966 Jaguar E-Type.

It’s a sporty car full of personality, and Austin Powers made it even more recognizable by giving it a custom paint job complete with the Union Jack flag!

13. Herbie – “The Love Bug” (1969)

herbie the love bug

Volkswagen Beetles are some of the most recognizable on the road. Does anyone remember the “punch buggy” game? While they’ve appeared in many films and TV shows, one of the most recognizable Bugs is Herbie, a sentient car that takes people for joyrides.

The white 1963 Beetle first appeared in “The Love Bug.” Subsequent sequels and remakes have also featured it, the latest being “Herbie: Fully Loaded” from 2005.

14. KITT – “Knight Rider” Series (2001-2008)

kitt the car from knight rider

We may be cheating here, but KITT is such an iconic car that we couldn’t leave it off the list! KITT stands for Knight Industries Two Thousand. It’s a sentient car that originally appeared on the “Knight Rider” television show. However, it also made appearances in the made-for-TV films.

KITT is a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. It’s a gorgeous car on its own, but its conscious nature made it play a huge presence in the film and TV series.

15. 1948 Ford Deluxe Convertible – “Grease” (1978)

1948 ford deluxe convertible grease

Who didn’t want to be a Greaser when they first watched this film? The story is a classic, and the songs are still popular today. But one thing many fans remember the most is the car! Throughout the movie, the Greasers are rebuilding a 1948 Ford Deluxe convertible.

It starts as a huge rust bucket, but it transforms into a real beauty. It sports a white paint job, signature lightning bolt decals and exaggerated fins.

16. 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S 1275 – “Italian Job” (1969)

1967 Austin Mini Cooper S 1275  - Italian Job

The original “Italian Job” film featured a star-studded cast. However, many people remember the cars most. There are tons of great action scenes throughout the movie. The car chases are one of the most thrilling. Instead of your typical sports car, these chases involve Mini Coopers!

Several Mini Coopers appeared in the film, and some of them were used in impressive stunts. It’s a small car you wouldn’t think could pull off those breathtaking feats.

17. Christine – “Christine” (1983)

Christine car

Who would have thought a movie about a sentient, murderous car would be so iconic? The horror flick was the brainchild of genre genius Stephen King. The filmmakers did a fine job of bringing the odd novel to life. Despite the weird premise, “Christine” was a hit.

The star of the film is a 1958 Plymouth Fury. It’s a gorgeous classic car with a distinct profile. The producers covered it in slick red paint to make it even more eye-catching. Pair that with its angular lines; it looked like a real killer!

18. 1982 DeLorean DMC-12 – “Back to the Future” Series (1985-1990)

1982 DeLorean DMC-12 - back to the future

The DeLorean is one of the most recognizable vehicles in cinemas. It’s how Doc travels back in time throughout the series. Interestingly, this cruiser wasn’t a huge hit when it first hit the American market in 1981. Looking back, it was way ahead of its time!

Fortunately, the producers of the “Back to the Future” series saw its potential. After the first film’s release, DeLoreans became an instantly recognizable ride. Unfortunately, the DeLorean Motor Company went out of business long before the film came out, making these cars a rare find.

19. 1976 Lotus Esprit S1 – “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977)

1976 Lotus Esprit S1 spy who loved me

The Aston Martin DB85 isn’t the only car that James Bond drove. Next to the iconic car from “Goldfinger,” the ride from “The Spy Who Loved Me” is synonymous with 007. In this movie, the agent drove a Lotus Esprit S1.

The S1 is a supercar decked out with tons of gadgets. It’s sporty and angular, perfect for a secret agent. The coolest part of this ride? It doubles as a submarine!

20. 1966 Ford Thunderbird – “Thelma & Louise (1991)

1966 ford thunderbird thelma and louise

Last but not least, we have the Ford Thunderbird from “Thelma & Louise.” This movie was a huge hit when it came out. It’s not hard to see why. A movie about two women going on a crime spree road trip? Sign us up! Next to the amazing main characters, the star of the film is the vehicle they use to go on their adventure.

We won’t spoil the end for you, but the most iconic scene in the movie features the Ford Thunderbird. It’s a beautiful car that perfectly captures the essence of the film.

Which Car Do You Want to Take for a Ride?

As you can see, great cars are quintessential to cinema! These cars are more than just a place to go from Point A to Point B. In most of the films covered, they play a huge part in the narrative and take on their own fandom. These cars aren’t in production today, and those remaining are worth a fortune. But they’re forever immortalized in film for us to appreciate.