Every gearhead had their own way of falling in love with cars. Some people found that passion through gaming, or others through a family initiation, but many realized a love for cars thanks to movies. On plenty of occasions throughout history, a dream car has been the star of the show over a person. Naturally, this immortalized their name in lights and their place in history.
Updated April 2023: Cinema has proven to be one of the chief instigators in helping people discover their passion for automobiles, and some of the most famous cars in history have come to exist because of this. In our countdown of the 10 most famous movie cars in history, we look to explain why we've chosen the cars that we have and shed a little light on their background and what their role was on the big screen. We continue to update this list frequently since cool car features in movies are something that will probably never go out of fashion.
So it comes as no surprise that some of the most well-known, and critically acclaimed cars are those that took on an Uber cool role in a movie, acting as the perfect chariot for the hero to save the day, or for their menacing cameos to help the villain to plot and scheme their way towards upsetting the audience.
So, to rekindle your memory, we've compiled a list of the most famous movie cars in history. Before we begin our list, we have to acknowledge that some of our favorites have missed out on this list, which will no doubt frustrate readers. The most notable examples are Nicolas Cage’s 1967 Ford Mustang From ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’, and Robocop's 6000 SUX, among others. And while we know this will ultimately cause a divide in opinion, we've done our best to justify why we've chosen what we've chosen. Here's our list of the 10 most famous cars in movie history:
10 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor (Ghostbusters)
The first Ghostbusters film reached cinemas in 1984, the same year the original Macintosh went on sale. In this film, there was one vehicle the Ghostbusters relied on to get them from one place to another safely and efficiently, the "Ectomobile". The Ectomobile was essentially a reimagined 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor station wagon. Without all the Ghostbusters' equipment, the Caddy was already cool, but with all of it added, it looked like the most versatile car ever.
Just check out this 1963 Cadillac Miller-Meteor hearse unearthed in an ironic graveyard find to see just how rugged these things are. In the Ghostbusters movie, it was used for a variety of planet-saving uses and was essential for our heroes to go on and banish the evil that was brewing. How could this not make our list?
9 1964 Aston Martin DB5 (James Bond: Goldfinger)
James Bond and Aston Martin are synonymous with one another, and it all started way back with the 1964 film, Goldfinger. This Bond film showcased the iconic 1964 Aston Martin DB5 for the first time, and since then it's appeared in many other 007 films. There's a strong argument to suggest that the DB5 is also one of, if not the most famous car ever made.
It is one of the most beautiful Aston Martins ever built, and the specially designed example that appeared in Goldfinger was unlike any other car at the time, so it became an instant jaw-dropper. Behind its front indicators hid two machine guns, one on each side, while its rear windshield had a bulletproof shield, and its number plate could flip around too. We most recently saw it appear in Daniel Craig's final 007 role, 'No Time to Die', where Bond enjoyed a Mediterranean coastline cruise before an ambush led to a display of fantastic defensive and offensive versatility from the DB5.
8 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 (John Wick)
In reality, if we were to use more than one iteration of a car on this list, half of it would be filled with first-generation Mustangs. We could've gone for the aforementioned Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds, or Sean Boswell's 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback from Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. We've gone for John Wick's late '60s Mustang. Though, we must stress that there are some irregularities surrounding the car and its identification.
In the film, John refers to the Mustang as a Boss 429, but in reality, it's a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 similar to one Dennis Collins rescued. We're not going to butcher them for the details, but it's interesting knowing that they decided to act as if the Mustang was a Boss just so it could fit better with Wick's personality. A nice touch, even if it does upset the most ardent of muscle car fanatics.
7 1970 Dodge Charger R/T (The Fast And The Furious)
The monster that escalated the Charger's legacy through the roof, and became entwined with Dominic Toretto forever in the process. The wrench-wielding street racer took the covers off his father's 1970 Dodge Charger R/T towards the end of the first Fast and Furious movie and tackled THAT iconic drag race sequence alongside the late Paul Walker which led to the railway jump photo finish.
But let's be honest, as famous as Dom's Charger is, the movies portray it to be a considerably better racing car than it actually is. In reality, it's big, it's not particularly fast, and it certainly won't compete with a Nissan S15 Silvia in a drift race around an underground Tokyo car park. Though, we couldn't care less. Dom mentioned that the Charger has a supercharged V8 and sends 900 hp to the rear wheels, and the fact that it steals the room with every single appearance has no doubt contributed to how much a classic 1970 Dodge Challenger is worth today.
6 1977 Lotus Esprit S1 (James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Me)
The second Bond car to feature on this list, and a rarity in that it is one of the few vehicles used by Bond that isn't an Aston Martin. This particular 1977 Lotus Esprit S1 is even more modified than the DB5 and made an appearance in The Spy Who Loved Me – which hit the big screens in 1977 too.
What made the S1, so special was that it also doubled up as an amphibious vehicle. Bond cars will always be filled to the brim with guns and gadgets, but the ability to operate as a submarine at the flick of a switch was sensational. Remember, this film is nearly 50 years old, so witnessing this back then must've been quite the spectacle for viewers. Generally speaking, we think the Esprit is incredibly cool itself; that's why every self-respecting collector should buy a Lotus Esprit Turbo.
5 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 (Back To The Future)
A terrible car, but a genuine Hollywood icon: the DeLorean DMC-12 is genuinely one of the worst sports cars ever made. It was slow, it had next to no handling ability, and it was so unreliable that you would be better off walking everywhere. Despite this, its evergreen looks and ability to fly and time travel meant Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown could get up to no good.
It also had a scrapbook's worth of photo moments, such as the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 used in the 1985 film, Back To The Future, reaching 88 mph in a short distance before blue sparks started emitting. In reality, the car takes well over 10 seconds to hit 60 mph, so camera trickery and special effects really did turn this sloth into a cheetah. Regardless of its rear-world possibility, the DeLorean DMC-12 stays one of the most recognizable cars ever. So it's worth looking back on the real story of how John DeLorean started the everlong muscle car war in America.
4 1994 Toyota Supra MK IV (The Fast And The Furious)
The first 10-second Fast and Furious car, which we saw transition from scrap metal to street racing titan throughout the movie. After Brian loses his Mitsubishi Eclipse to Dominic, he sees it eviscerated by Johnny Tran for stepping foot on his territory. In a bid to get Brian back on the road, Dominic helps him restore an equally crisped A80 Supra, which Brian then uses to both save Vince from a perilous robbery mission, before handing the keys to Dominic to escape an approaching horde of police.
The car's performance statistics aren't mentioned in the movie, but it's safe to assume that anything which can keep up With Dominic's legendary Charger – albeit with nitrous oxide assistance – is a car that deserves its place in history. After all, it did absolutely wipe the floor with a black Ferrari F355 Spider.
3 2006 Aston Martin DBS (James Bond: Casino Royale)
For the third and final Bond car on our list, we have the 2006 Aston Martin DBS V12 from the 2006 film Casino Royale. In the movie, 007 famously attempts to chase down Vespa's captors along a windy back road before rolling it to avoid running her over. It is one of the most iconic Bond scenes ever, and it truly looks and sounds stunning every single time it makes an appearance. It is a unanimous inclusion when you think about ranking the 10 best Aston Martin DB models.
A few key upgrades of the DBS movie car include an emergency medical aid kit, a hidden weapon compartment, and an obscene reinforced chassis. Albeit not the most military-grade Aston featured in Bond movies, it remains a go-to Bond car, apart from the DB5 of course. That's before we even mention its extremely vocal 510 hp 5.9-liter V12.
2 2007 Chevrolet Camaro (Transformers)
Any time a fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is spotted in public, we can't help but shout "Bumblebee!" in excitement. This is something that is shared among movie lovers, as the iconic yellow muscle car is an instant reminder towards our favorite little Autobot, thanks to the 2007 movie – especially if it has black hood stripes.
Although the fifth-generation Camaro only came out in 2010, Chevy supplied the Transformers team with a prototype, and it worked miracles for the marketing department. Just check out the story behind the Transformer's "Bumblebee" Camaro to find out more about one of the most iconic movie heroes of all time.
1 Lighting McQueen (Cars)
A genuine star, and the only car on this list which is both entirely fictional and isn't based on a pre-existing production car. The 2006 Pixar film, Cars is single-handedly responsible for most of the younger generation's fixation surrounding automobiles. To be more specific, it's all thanks to the animated film's protagonist, Lightning McQueen.
Unfortunately, we're still yet to decipher what car McQueen is. Unanimously we can agree that Lightning McQueen is some sort of NASCAR, but which car he's based on remains a mystery. Without a doubt, Lightning McQueen remains the most influential car in movie history, despite him being an animated character and an entirely fictional car. Despite this, Lightning McQueen is an amalgamation of some of these American muscle cars, which could help you understand where some of the inspiration for him comes from.