Cars have been a part of our movies and TVs for as long as there have been TVs and movies. In fact, the development of cinematography coincides with the explosion of automobile travel. While Hollywood movies were just starting to take the US by storm, cars were spilling out of Ford’s factories in Detroit and opening the world up to everyday people.
In 1940, while filming The Grapes of Wrath, cinematographer Gregg Toland became the first person to mount a camera on the front of a car. This revolutionary shot gave the audience a never before seen sense of movement and helped solidify the car as a staple of cinema and TV for years to come. Since then, the screen has seen thousands of cars, but we’ve picked out 12 of the most famous cars ever.
#12. 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum (The Vanishing Point)
Vanishing Point is a cult classic road movie. In the film, a car delivery driver named Kowalski bets his drug dealer that he can drive a suped up Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in a day. Over the course of the film and the 1,200 miles he has to travel, he is chased by cops across four states in 90 minutes of octane-fuelled car chase.
The Challenger in the film was the top of the range model in 1970. It has 375bhp, goes from 0-60 in just 5.8 seconds and has a top speed of over 140mph.
#11. 1963 VW Beetle (The Love Bug)
For better or worse, Disney’s 1968 movie The Love Bug sealed the VW Beetle in culture as one of the most iconic cars ever. Thanks to the magic of Disney, the little car overcomes it’s natural limitations and wins the big race against the “Thorndyke Special” – a 1965 Apollo 5000 GT.
The classic Bug featured a 1200cc engine that generated 40bhp. It’s top speed was 71mph and reached 62mph in a leisurely 27.5mph.
#10. 1962 Reliant Regal Supervan III (Only Fools and Horses)
Only Fools and Horses is a British institution. The sitcom starring David Jason and Nicolas Lyndhurst as brothers and failed entrepreneurs ran for 63 episodes between 1981 and 2003. Trotters Independent Traders of Pekham operated out of their trusty canary yellow Reliant Regal Supervan. While not really a car (Reliants are classed as tricicle),the famous “TITCO” van is one of the most famous vehicle on British television. The original van is now on display in the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.
The mighty heart of the TITCO van is an aluminium 600cc water cooled four-cylinder OHV engine that generates a mighty 25hp to a top speed well into double figures. Sure, it isn’t fast, but it’s one of the most iconic vehicles ever.
#9. 1983 GMC Vandura (A-Team)
A slightly bigger van than the Reliant Regal, the GMC Vandura driven by the A-Team dominated TV in the 80s. In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… the A-Team.
The A-Team’s extreme Mystery Machine is powered by a 6.2 litre diesel and was the first of its kind to feature 4 headlights and a gear lever on the floor. It produces 511bhp and has a top speed of 146.6mph, all clearly handled expertly by Mr T…
#8. 2005 The Tumbler (Batman Begins/The Dark Knight)
The Batmobile is only of the most iconic vehicles, leaping off the pages of comicbooks to movies and TV. The Batmobile has gone through many incarnations since the 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept driven by Adam West in the TV show. For the 2005 Christopher Nolan film Batman Begins, they created a radically different machine.
Known as “The Tumbler” this 21st century Batmobile weighs 2.5 tons and goes 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. This is thanks to its 5.7 litre Chevy V8 engine capable of 500bhp and a top speed of 105mph. The Batmobile also features dual front autocannons, a rocket launcher, jet engines for quick boosts and jumps, stealth mode and the batpod – a weird bike-come-escape-pod used for chasing the Joker.
Since the film, the real Tumble has been seen on Top Gear and at the Gumball 3000 event. It just goes to show how far a car from a comic can really go.
#7. 1966 Ford Thunderbird (Thelma & Louise)
Nominated for six Academy awards, Thelma & Louise is one of the greatest road movies ever made. As such, the baby blue Ford Thunderbird convertible that carries the doomed friends on their adventure is one of the most recognisable cars ever.
The 2-door 1966 Thunderbird has a top speed of around 120mph and does 0-60 in just over 9 seconds. The classic V8 produces 315bhp, which is the sort of power you need to stay ahead of the cops. The Thunderbird is a classic grand tourer, perfect for long trips down those wide American freeways.