1981 DeLorean DMC-12, Back to the Future
Visually, John DeLorean's DMC-12 was a stainless steel stunner designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro. Under the hood, though the DeLorean wasn't quite the supercar that flashy bodywork promised, carrying a pokey 130-hp 2.9-liter V6. No matter. Its futuristic looks combined with a bit of movie magic gave the DeLorean legendary status, and because it was a time machine in the film, the real-life specs didn't really matter, with one exception: Reportedly, the prop staff replaced that sluggish V6 with a V8 from the Porsche 928, which went a long way toward helping Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) hit 88 mph, fire up the Flux Capacitor and shoot back to 1955.
Despite its movie celebrity, the DeLorean flopped on the market in the 1980s. But the car's unique, retro-futurist design has earned it a cult following today. There's even a new DeLorean Motor Company restoring and improving the cars.
1968 Mustang GT 390, Bullitt
Any vehicle driven, ridden or even stood next to by Steve McQueen was instantly made cooler. But the Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 didn't need much help. The movie's chase scenes on the streets of San Francisco, tailing a 1968 Dodge Charger, are some of the best ever recorded on film. And the stripped-down look of the movie Mustangs made them subtly meaner-looking than regular production 'Stangs. The original magnesium American Racing Torque Thrust wheels give McQueen's car its aggressive stance.
You know that a car has transcended its cult movie status and become an icon when a car company makes a limited edition version twice, as Ford has with the Bullitt Mustang.
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, Vanishing Point
The 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T — especially the Hemi model — was one of the most impressive pony cars to come out of the muscle boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s. And its reputation was cemented with the film Vanishing Point (though the R/Ts in the film were 440-powered). The plot is simple: Kowalski (Barry Newman) bets that he can drive from Denver to San Francisco in less than 15 hours (which would require an average speed of over 80 mph). As you can imagine, there are plenty of great stunts, which were put together by the same team that worked on Bullitt. Kowalski dusts off a Jaguar XKE, launches the Challenger over a gully and does all kinds of other crazy driving.
However, there is one glaring error: In the final crash that destroys the car, the filmmakers used a '67 Camaro rather than a Challenger. In 1997 the movie was remade as a TV movie, starring Viggo Mortensen (clip shown below).
1973 XB GT Ford Falcon, Mad Max
When it comes to cars, Australians are historically just as power-hungry as Americans. So in the 1960s and 1970s, the Australian arms of American car companies created some fairly brutal muscle machines—cars we never saw in the States.
One of them was the Ford Falcon. In its third generation, the Falcon XB GT got its power from a 351-cid V8. But for the movie Mad Max, the filmmakers transformed the already cool Falcon into the "Pursuit Special" or "Interceptor." The crew plastered a new nose on the front end, emblazoned the body with huge flares and tucked seriously fat tires underneath them. The centerpiece was under the hood—or, more precisely, sticking out of it. In the movie, the switch-activated supercharger boosts the power of the interceptor any time Max needed to skedaddle. But, alas, it was only a movie and that supercharger was a fake.
1970 Dodge Charger, The Fast and the Furious
The classic 1968–70 Dodge Charger is a TV and movie superstar. The most famous of all was the '69 Charger "General Lee" from the The Dukes of Hazzard TV show. Another Charger starred in the 1970s cult hit Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. But in 2000, the venerable Charger took to the screen again, this time built as a menacing black street racing machine for Vin Diesel. With a wicked stance, giant rear tires and a humongous engine and supercharger sticking out of the hood, the Charger was insanely cool.
It was the climactic action scene of the movie that made this car so memorable. As Vin Diesel's character Dominic lines up against Paul Walker's character, who's driving a Supra, he floors the throttle and the Charger does a sick wheelstand and burnout at the same time. Movie magic for sure, but still fun to watch. Later in that same race, the two cars jump a set of train tracks just as a locomotive passes, and a heartbeat later Diesel flips the Charger in a spectacular finish to the chase scene.