23 August 2012

Memorable B-List Movie Cars

A-list movie cars come in three categories:  First are the glamorous cars like James Bond’s silver 1964 Aston Martin DB5; next are over-the-top custom creations like the Batmobile; and finally, the decidedly unglamorous cars that nevertheless grabbed a ton of screen time in their respective films. Think the Bluesmobile in “The Blues Brothers” or the Wagon Queen Family Truckster in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” These aren’t those cars. No, they’re the B-listers, cars that had brief but highly memorable bit parts in films that we all love. See how many you can remember:

  1. 1960 Buick Le Sabre (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”): Actor Judge Reinhold in one of his first major roles played big man on campus Brad Hamilton in the movie that launched a thousand careers, Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe’s seminal 1982 teen comedy “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” His 1960 Buick LeSabre was his calling card. The classic land yacht was referred to affectionately by Hamilton and his friends as “the cruising vessel.”
  2. 1963 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible (“Scarface”): In Brian De Palma’s “Scarface,” Al Pacino turned in a chillingly memorable performance as gangster psychopath Antonio “Tony” Montana, and while not his “little friend,” the 19-foot-long 1960 Cadillac got a fair amount of screen time as the hoopty that Tony and Manolo cruised Miami in while serving as underlings of boss Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) prior to moving up to a new Porsche 928 upon Frank’s sudden “retirement.”
  3. 1989 Lotus Esprit SE (“Pretty Woman”): A classic supercar of the “greed is good” era, the Lotus was owned by Richard Gere’s smarmy business associate (played by Jason Alexander) and borrowed by Gere and Julia Roberts. While Gere’s character may have known his way around a board room, he was pretty ham-fisted with a gearbox in the film, and it took hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Julia Roberts to drive the temperamental Lotus properly. The actual car still exists and has been a staple at collector car auctions over the years. 
  4. 1965 Chevrolet Corvette (“Star Trek”): Who knows if cars will still be on the road in the 23rd century. We like J.J. Abrams’ assertion that they’ll still be around and still be the objects of collectors’ attention. Sadly, we find out that young not-yet-captain James T. Kirk was bit of a juvenile delinquent, and the 1965 Corvette Sting Ray convertible belonging to his stepfather comes to a bad end at the conclusion of a joyride by Kirk.
  5. 1973 Ford Torino (“The Big Lebowski”): We like to think that the Coen Brothers put just as much thought into casting the 1973 Torino driven by Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski as they did in brilliantly casting the other bit roles in this cult classic — Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Big Lebowski lackey “Brandt” or John Turturro as “Jesus the Bowler”— but somehow, we can picture the car being found by happenstance in a North Hollywood police impound lot just as it was reclaimed by The Dude in the film. Like the “Star Trek” Stingray, the nearly unkillable Torino meets its end on film. We won’t spoil it here.

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27 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Irvin Alfonso 6103 SW 191 Ave. Fl 33332 August 24, 2012 at 23:37
    confirming email address
  • 2
    Steve Reich Del Mar, CA August 31, 2012 at 15:03
    How can you not include the 1960s Amphicar in Pontiac Moon?
  • 3
    Mo Oltmann OH August 31, 2012 at 15:07
    What, no pictures?
  • 4
    Pat Thon Traverse City August 31, 2012 at 15:47
    Dirty mary Crazy Larry, Peter Fonda crashing into a train with a 69 Dodge Charger-Classic
  • 5
    art wegweiser Allison Park, PA August 31, 2012 at 18:00
    How could you leave o the Ferrari in "Ferris Buehler's Day Off"?
  • 6
    bill klase poland ohio August 31, 2012 at 20:56
    how bout the monte carlo in kill the irishman the 55 chevy in black top highway the ford torino in the movie with clint eastwood thanks bill
  • 7
    Hal Fahrenbruch Mesa AZ September 1, 2012 at 14:16
    How bout the 67 Corvette from ConAir ???
  • 8
    Sean Hoagland Clayton, NC September 1, 2012 at 14:41
    What about Farrah Fawcetts car is Charlie's Angels? A 1976 Cobra II?
  • 9
    Karin Cash United States September 1, 2012 at 19:43
    What about the 1976 AMC Pacer from Wayne's World. We would love to see a story about that classic vehicle!
  • 10
    Doug Duba Naples, FL September 1, 2012 at 19:49
    Afternoon! What about the 1953 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine driven by Grace Kelly in the Alfred Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief?
  • 11
    harrison voigt California September 1, 2012 at 20:29
    Hey -- what about adding the 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider ("Duetto"), driven by Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate"?
  • 12
    Dave Smart Titusville, Fl September 1, 2012 at 09:20
    The movie Brewster McCloud was filmed in 1970 by MGM. It featured a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 440 Six-pack, I purchased this car from Chrysler after the lease with MGM expired. The car was eleven months old with 600 miles on it. It was leased by MGM in Houston Texas where the film was made and the shipped via train to Los Angeles to the MGM lot. The car was then returned to Chrysler who moved it to the dealership in VIctorville California where I purchased it. In the movie Shelly Duvall had stolen the car from a boyfriend in the movie and her new boyfriend was in a long chase scene in the movie.
  • 13
    Randall Nichols El Paso, Texas September 2, 2012 at 23:07
    Why won't Hagerty insure my 1991 Lotus Esprit SE Turbo ?
  • 14
    TOM NEMITZ USA September 3, 2012 at 21:50
    Risky Business: Porsche 928 "Who's the U-Boat Captain?"
  • 15
    scott kulla sparks nevada September 4, 2012 at 13:06
    What about the AMC Pacer from Wayne's World - Bohemian Rhapsody scene!
  • 16
    Irene D'Amato Lake Park, Georgia September 4, 2012 at 15:43
    The 1976 Ford Mustang II in Charlies Angles was white with a blue racing stripe. Farrah Faucett drove it in some of the series and there was a picture of Farrah on her car in one of the magazines. It was really popular at the time
  • 17
    Jim Dawson Seattle, WA September 4, 2012 at 11:03
    When considering famous movie cars, don't forget the Mini Cooper!
  • 18
    Ed Greenberg New York, NY September 5, 2012 at 12:41
    Hands down: AMC, 1974 Hornet X Hatchback in the James Bond film: The Man with the Golden Gun, (Roger Moore) A southern Sheriff Pepper, is vacationing in Thailand with his wife, admiring a new red AMC Hornet in a Bangkok showroom.] The action begins as 007 commandeers the Hornet from the dealership with Pepper in it for a car chase. The Hornet performs an airborne pirouette/spiral move as it makes a hold-your-breath jump across a broken wooden bridge. The stunt car was modified with a redesigned chassis to place the steering wheel in the center and a lower stance, as well as larger wheel wells compared to the stock Hornet X. 360-degree mid-air twisting corkscrew was captured in just one filming sequence. Seven tests were performed in advance before the one jump performed by an uncredited British stuntman "Bumps" Williard for the film with six cameras and two frogmen were positioned in the water.. The Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL) was used for computer modeling to calculate the stunt. This stunt was similar to the Astro Spiral Javelin show cars. These were jumps performed in AMC sponsored thrill shows in the Houston Astrodome, where Gremlins and Hornets were also used to drive around in circles on their side two wheels in the arena. Guinness World Records (2010) describes this "revolutionary jump" as the "first astro spiral used in a movie" and lists it as third among the top ten James Bond film stunts.[ The actual Bond Hornet was in the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, UK at the Ian Fleming Foundation. I think it is still there. Why do I know this? Because I had a 1973 Hornet X in college (basically same car) and have won dozens of bar bets since then betting that the Hornet X was a featured Bond car just like that tacky Aston Martin. My current vehicle is a 1968 Cougar XR7 - as a teen I had a 1967 Cougar XR7 before the Hornet X Hatchback.
  • 19
    Skip Lenz Boca Raton, Fl September 7, 2012 at 16:09
    How can we forget my first love: The "Vette in Route 66. I would watch that show as a young teen with envy. Couldn't afford one then, nor can I afford one now, but it still makes me smile to see one.
  • 20
    Vetstr St. Louis MO September 10, 2012 at 18:22
    70"s TRAN AM... John Waye 73 Trans AM Movie McQ. Light foot 70 Trans Am. The Jerk Steve Martin 79 Trans Am Burt Renoylds 79 Trans AM in Hooper OFcourse Bandits Many years 77 78 Trans AM Comming to America The SO GLO guy had a Trans AM in Splash movie John Candy had A Trans Am Rocky 2 Sly had a Trans AM he kept hitting trash cans with Original Knight Rider Pilot movie Trans AM. I"m sure there were others too.2
  • 21
    Vetstr St. Louis MO September 10, 2012 at 18:23
    70"s TRAN AM... John Waye 73 Trans AM Movie McQ. Light foot 70 Trans Am. The Jerk Steve Martin 79 Trans Am Burt Renoylds 79 Trans AM in Hooper OFcourse Bandits Many years 77 78 Trans AM Comming to America The SO GLO guy had a Trans AM in Splash movie John Candy had A Trans Am Rocky 2 Sly had a Trans AM he kept hitting trash cans with Original Knight Rider Pilot movie Trans AM. I"m sure there were others too.2
  • 22
    Gary Glenn Abilene TX September 13, 2012 at 12:41
    How about the Corvair in Mr. Opus
  • 23
    Frank Socha Big Rapids, Mi. September 15, 2012 at 18:31
    The '68 Mustang in "Bullitt" with Steve McQueen
  • 24
    Robert Kane Medford, NY September 18, 2012 at 10:59
    My favorite is the 1988 Mercedes 560SEC driven by Patrick Swasey in Road House. A really fantastic car engineered for a lifetime of use with normal maintenance. Don't think I spelled his name correctly. Sorry.
  • 25
    Hluga south africa October 14, 2012 at 12:46
    What's the name of the car that is being stolen in pieces, from the movie "CRUSH N BURN"?
  • 26
    Joe Shelby Hazle Township, PA October 15, 2012 at 14:15
    The yellow Mini in "Mr. Bean's Holiday" must win the award for "cute classic".
  • 27
    Greg Parker Houston, TX November 20, 2012 at 11:30
    And we can't forget the classic T-bird which met its demise in Thelma and Louise.

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