Filmgoers have long been captivated by thrilling car chases and spectacular stunts on screen, some of which often become scene stealers.
With franchises like Fast & Furious and Transformers going on to make millions at the box office, it’s safe to say Hollywood has produced its fair share of iconic four wheelers over the years.
Let’s look back at some of the most memorable ‘leading men’ held in high regard by cinema- and auto-lovers alike.
Hero and featured images courtesy of IMDB
Aston Martin DB5 in James Bond films
We begin with the one that still gets pulses racing for Bond fans. The car was driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964, and became instantly famous for its gadgets such as a smoke screen, oil-slick sprayer and machine guns. The original DB5, which was also featured in Thunderball in 1965, sold for US$4.6 million in 2010. Aston Martin announced in 2020 that it will manufacture 25 limited edition DB5s, each with a price tag of US$3.5 million. Most of the cars were already sold even before they rolled out of the assembly line.
Audi R8 in Iron Man
Tony Stark aka Iron Man drives around in an Audi R8 in the first Iron Man film, which released in 2008. The car reflected the insouciance and intelligence of the character played to perfection by Robert Downey Jr. Perhaps this is why fans of both the superhero and the car get to see Stark use other variants of the R8 in subsequent films. What’s more, Downey Jr. even took his association with the Audi into the real world by unveiling the Audi E-Tron GT in November 2018.
Chevrolet Camaro in Bumblebee & Transformers film series
How can we have a list about iconic cars in film without mentioning the yellow Camaro that was the four-wheeled avatar of Bumblebee? Among the many machines that have been part of the Transformers film series, the Chevrolet Camaro remains inscribed in the hearts of franchise fans and car lovers for both its stunning looks and the central role of Bumblebee. The car has appeared with a different facelift in each of the subsequent films of the series, and all have been received well.
1970 Dodge Charger in The Fast & Furious movie series
In 2001, Vin Diesel drove a 1970 Dodge Charger in Fast and the Furious and got everyone hooked on the franchise with the high-octane thrill of this first film. Though cars — beautiful, powerful and fast — are at the heart of the long-running film series, the Dodge Charger’s popularity among fans of the franchise made the makers modify the machine and bring it back in 2015 for Furious 7.
1968 Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback in Bullitt
The 1968 film is considered by cinema pundits as featuring one of the finest car chase sequences in film history. And the four-wheeler that played a defining role in that was the Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback — a dark green, two-door four-wheeler with a 390 cubic inch V8 engine. The thrill was made even more exciting with Steve McQueen as the man behind the wheels in the film. Trivia: There were two identical Mustangs used for the chase scene and only one has survived, which was sold for US$3.4 million at an auction in the United States in January 2020.
1968 Austin Mk I Mini Cooper S in The Italian Job
Mini Coopers were famous even before the release of The Italian Job in 1969, but the film took the car’s popularity to greater heights. The iconic climax sequence shows the protagonists fleeing with gold in the trunks of three Minis in red, white and blue, which navigate everything from stairs to boulevards and tunnels as authorities mount a massive chase in the picturesque city of Turin. The 2003 remake, too, was a thrill to watch with the new Mini Coopers running down the streets of Los Angeles.
1969 Ford Mustang in John Wick
Besides the killing of his dog, it is the theft of his 1969 Mustang that forces John Wick to come out of retirement and go on a revenge spree that transcends three magnificent action-packed films. The Mustang appears in the first film, released in 2014. Classic Recreations, a workshop based in Oklahoma, US, entered into a partnership with Ford in 2020 to make replica models of the muscle car. The car has a Ford 32-valve 5.0-litre Coyote V8 engine.
1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 in Gone In 60 Seconds
The Shelby Mustang GT500 was the ultimate prize that Nicholas Cage’s character coveted in the 2000 heist film Gone in 60 Seconds. Dubbed as “Eleanor” in the film, it is considered as one of the most iconic cars to have raced down the big screen. Its 1967 original had a 428 cubic inch (7.0 litre) V8 engine producing 355 hp that went 0-100 km per hour in 6.5 seconds. A similar car can be custom built at the Los Angeles-based Fusion Motor Company.
Subaru WRX in Baby Driver
This is the car that Ansel Elgort uses for quick getaways in the 2017 film Baby Driver. The modified 2006 Subaru WRX performed beautifully, in tune with the soundtrack during a particular chase scene, and in the process pocketed its own share of a fan following. Some of the cars used during the filming were sold on eBay. The car is an all-wheel drive with a 2.5 litres H-4 engine.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 in Back To The Future film series
There is no car that has attracted as much attention as the futuristic four-wheeler with gull-wing doors in the Back to the Future film series. The V-6 engine was originally replaced with a V-8 from the Porsche 928, and the car was basically a time machine in the films. Unfortunately, its cinematic success failed to contribute to sales and the company was wound up before the end of the 1980s. But reports last year from CNET and The Manual revealed that the car might make a comeback in 2021.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S in Bad Boys For Life
The car is the highlight of a chase sequence from Bad Boys For Life, the third instalment of the Bad Boys film series which was released in 2020. Will Smith drives the sleek machine as he gleefully speeds down the roads and beach in Miami while “navigator” Martin Lawrence is only too eager (hilariously) to get out. A Porsche 911 Carrera 4S comes with a 6-cylinder 420hp rear engine that delivers a top speed of 305 km per hour. Its acceleration is 0-100 km in four seconds.