Certain films and television shows feature automobiles that have become as famous as or more so than the human actors who drive them. They often outlive the memory of the films they appeared in, and can inspire vehicular lust in generations of people who long to own them (or a reasonable approximation.) This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are too many famous movie cars to mention here, but these are ten iconic vehicles that many of us can aspire to own a copy of someday.
10. 1977 "Bandit" Trans Am (Smokey and the Bandit)
The second-generation Pontiac Trans Ams had been popular models from their introduction in 1970, but that popularity exploded in 1977 with the release of Smokey and the Bandit. Burt Reynolds played adventurous scofflaw Bo "Bandit" Darville, and he needed to have a car that matched his swagger and machismo. The black and gold Trans Am he drove is as much a character in the film as any of the human actors, and both the movie and its car star were hits — Trans Ams were suddenly the car to own, and people couldn't get enough of them. These days anyone wanting to drive a Bandit Trans Am will probably have to spend somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000 to buy a classic that's survived in decent condition, and might also have to spring extra for the correct paint job.
9. 1963 Volkswagen Beetle "Herbie" (The Love Bug and its sequels)
In 1968, during the era of the American muscle car craze, the third-highest-grossing movie of the year featured a different kind of car — The Love Bug starred an anthropomorphic sentient Volkswagen bug named "Herbie," an unlikely film hero, but a big hit with Disney audiences. Fans who want to own a lookalike (presumably without the magic powers) will need to start with an old Volkswagen beetle. Nowadays, classic Volkswagens aren't inexpensive cars as they were when I was in high school, and a casual search indicates that ones in decent condition will start at around $10,000 and go up from there. Then tack on several thousand more for the distinctive paint job.
8. 1969 Dodge Charger "General Lee"
There are a lot of people who love The Dukes of Hazzard, and quite a few more who love the iconic orange 1969 Dodge Charger called "The General Lee." The 1968-'69 Chargers (the show occasionally dressed up '68s and other cars when '69s were hard to come by) were chosen for a reason - they were some of the meanest-looking muscle cars ever made in America, and had the performance to back those good looks up. Lots of folks grew up wanting their very own General Lee, and those old Chargers are in high demand, so be prepared to shell out $20,000-$45,000 for a nicely done replica. Buying an old Charger and converting it to General Lee specs will be a pricey endeavor, so it's probably more cost-effective to buy one someone else has already modified. It's worth noting that old Chargers were also featured in Bullitt, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and The Fast and the Furious, so there are other movie replica possibilities.
7. 1976 "Mirthmobile" Pacer (Wayne's World)
A lot of people seem to love 1992's Wayne's World movie, and it's gone on to become a heavily referenced piece of pop culture. The movie is forever associated with "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We're not worthy!" and the janky 1976 AMC Pacer in which Wayne's best pal, Garth, drives his crew around throughout the film. Fans of the movie who want to ride around in similar style, belting out singalong versions of old Queen hits, are in luck, relatively speaking - prices for vintage Pacers aren't exactly skyrocketing the way they are for the base vehicles of many other movie cars, and a nice one might set a buyer back $5,000 or less, based on what I've seen recently. Then, of course, they'll need to match the movie paint and its flame job, and install a proper sound system to blast classic rock on, and they'll be well on their way to tooling around town like their slacker heroes.
6. 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe - Mad Max Interceptor (Mad Max films)
"The last of the V-8 Interceptors," according to a mechanic in The Road Warrior, the second Mad Max film. The iconic car that fuels Mad Max fan dreams is also a difficult one to replicate...Especially for anyone not living in Australia. That's because the original was built from a 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe - a beefy muscle car sold only in Australia for a few short years. Because of that scarcity, I've seen replica Interceptors sell for $35,000-$100,000, or more. What a great movie car, though.
5. 1958 Plymouth Fury - Christine
This one is definitely the most famous scary literary car, and also the subject of an underrated John Carpenter film adaptation, but I've met quite a few horror fans who'd love to own Arnie Cunningham's haunted Plymouth. That's not an impossible goal, with the exception of the "haunted" part. They'll just need to find a '58 Fury and get it painted. Unfortunately, just finding one will be difficult, and it'll probably be very expensive, as the 1958 Fury is a rare car.
4. 1960s - '70s Custom Van - Scooby Doo "Mystery Machine"
Starting out as the vehicular home base for Scooby Doo and his pals in the cartoon first released in 1969, before entering the "real world" in a couple of bad (mostly) live-action films from the early 2000s, the Mystery Machine is one of pop culture's most famous custom vans. The good news for Scooby fans who want to drive their own Mystery Machine is that since it's from a cartoon, almost any van could be used without anyone calling foul on accuracy. The vans from the live-action films were apparently '80s Fords and Chevys and 1970s Bedfords (a British make), so it seems like almost any base van would work. I own a 1976 Chevy van that looks perfect and cost $2,000, so deals are out there - just be prepared to spend $10,000 or more on the custom paint job to make it look like the Mystery Machine. I'll assume talking dogs are hard to come by also.
3. 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda - Phantasm
One of the cooler elements of the already cool cult Phantasm films is the Plymouth 'Cuda muscle cars featured in them. The first movie is still the best, and has several scenes with the 1971 'Cuda used in the protagonist's battle against the "Tall Man" and his minions. The actual film car was a 340 ci model dressed up to look like a 440, along with some other modifications, like a sunroof and fender flares. It's a beautiful car, and one much loved by film fans. The bad news is that 'Cudas are among the most sought-after classic muscle cars of all time, and prices usually start at around $70,000 and escalate to as much as $200,000 or more in some cases. So that might be a major roadblock for most fans of the Phantasm movie cars.
2. 1982 Firebird Trans Am - "KITT" (Knight Rider)
Knight Rider made both its star, David Hasselhoff, and his vehicular costar, "KITT" (an acronym for "Knight Industries Two Thousand"), into stars overnight. The original KITT was a heavily modified 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, possessing a high level of artificial intelligence along with enhanced abilities beyond those of any conventional vehicle. Fans have been making replicas of KITT for years, and it's a major task - the television car had a very complex control panel, a weird steering wheel, flashing lights on the grill and other futuristic-looking features that take a lot of work to replicate. Oh, and it talked, so that's a challenge too. There are fan forums detailing what it takes to modify an old Trans Am so that it will at least look like KITT, and occasionally a good copy will be offered for sale, usually for tens of thousands of dollars. For those willing to undertake the build themselves, base early '80s Trans Ams seem to vary in price, but there are quite a few available.
1. 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 - Back to the Future Time Machine
Possibly one of the most talked about movie vehicles ever (rivaling the cars James Bond drove, which deserve an article of their own), the Back to the Future DeLorean time machine is desired by countless fans. The original movie cars were heavily modified with all sorts of gadgetry to look their part, and dedicated folks have built their own. People wanting to follow their lead will need to buy an early '80s DeLorean DMC-12, then spend time on fan forums to learn what they'll need to modify in order to get the right look. The cost of DeLoreans generally starts around $17,000 these days for used ones, and goes way up from there.
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