Whether it’s an iconic car chase, a hair-raising spin, a dip underwater or even a trip through time, cars hold as much a special place in cinema as do mafia bosses, westerns and over-the-top pyrotechnics. For this reason, your Number 1 in number plates pays homage to the ultimate movie prop, and brings you this list of our favourite cars in the movies.
1. 1976 Lotus Esprit Series I, The Spy Who Loved Me
We could have gone for the DB5, we could have gone for the Bentley Mark IV, we could have even gone for the Ford Fairlane, but what we could not have done is leave James Bond off the list. The Lotus is our favourite, not because there really was an aquatic version especially built for the film, but because of its ridiculously iconic design. Sleek beyond compare, cool as you like, and an absolutely stunning design from arguably the greatest era for sports car aesthetics.
2. 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, Back to the Future
The DeLorean may not have been built to last, but it was most certainly built to amaze. Those gull-wing doors. That brushed stainless steel finish. That interior – Flux Capacitor and all. Perhaps not one for a comfy drive, but unquestionably one to admire and dream about.
3. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
A classic Ferrari that is as drop-dead gorgeous as it is unmistakable. Only, for much of the movie in question, it wasn’t a Ferrari at all. In fact, the producers brought in Ferrari 250GT replicas built over Modena Spyders, and it was one of these that by the end of the film ends up at the bottom of the ravine outside Cameron’s house.
4. 1968 Mustang GT 390, Bullitt
Something special was required for the most famous car chases in cinema, and the Mustang GT 390 delivered. Just who couldn’t utterly love this primordial, guttural American muscle car classic? The fact of there being a Steve McQueen behind the wheel only made it all the better – and cooler. The Mustang speaks to our strongest, meanest, most fundamental urges. It growls, prowls and was made to wheelspin, accelerate and charge up and down the iconic inclinations of San Francisco’s streets.
5. 1971 Pontiac LeMans, The French Connection
When Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle commandeers that Pontiac in that Brooklyn underpass, he knew exactly what he was doing. He needed something hard, fast and raw (and something fun wouldn’t hurt either). And that’s just what he got. No matter how many times you watch Gene Hackman beat the living daylights out of that Pontiac as he careers it across New York in electrifying pursuit of an elevated train, it never fails to thrill.
6. 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, Vanishing Point
What a film, what a car. Barry Newman’s Kowalski races to beat the cops, the clock and anything or anyone else that gets in his way as he speeds along the highway from Denver, Colorado to San Francisco, California. He couldn’t have chosen a better car to do it in.