The Anatomy of a Movie Car

From the sleek and compact lines of the Aston Martin DB5 featured in Goldfinger as well as five other iconic Bond movies, to the imposing form of the custom-built Batmobile from Batman Begins, the history of cinema has seen its fair share of memorable cars. A lot of factors can contribute to a movie vehicle’s enduring reputation. The most important factor is whether or not the vehicle is able to take on a life of its own, becoming more than just a method of transportation for the hero but instead something more like a character in its own right. These are some of the main factors that often contribute to cars becoming classics. Glance through the infographic below before we dive into some factors that make up the perfect car movie star!
cinematic cars infographic


Some cars in motion pictures stand out because audiences are unlikely to see anything like them outside of the theater. One of the fondest memories many movie goers have of the 1985 movie Back to the Future is the inclusion of the DeLorean DMC-12 which stood in for the time machine. Only a few thousand DeLoreans were ever produced, so catching a glimpse of one in the wild was unlikely. If most people wanted to see the iconic car in action, they had to do it at the movies.


While unique or expensive cars feature in many films, sometimes movies are best served by vehicles that are a little more ordinary. Tommy Boy and The Blues Brothers both feature cars that the average person could conceivably drive. Both these movies are comedies about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and the choice of vehicles serves to emphasize that aspect.


In still other films, the featured vehicle is neither the most unique nor the most familiar thing on the market. The car becomes iconic because it fits so well in its surroundings, standing out on the road while still seeming like a natural fit for the driver. For an example of this type of vehicle, look no further than the Ford Mustang featured in Bullitt Steve McQueen seemed totally at home behind the wheel, whether he was cruising around town or taking part in the classic car chase.

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