By Kelsey Mays on May 29, 2006
With Pixar’s “Cars” ready to pull into theaters nationwide, we got to thinking about our favorite movie cars. It was a long list, with roughly 100 entries. We gathered votes. We argued. We made snide remarks. Finally, we pared down the list and came up with our Top 10 Movie Cars. Lest you think we aren’t interested in fair and balanced coverage, we also included our picks for the five worst.
Drivetrain: 163-hp, supercharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with six-speed manual transmission; front-wheel drive
Notable Features: 200 pounds lighter than stock Cooper S; painted red, white or blue
Larger cars would have rubbed fenders with light poles and tunnel walls, but thanks to a nimble fleet of Mini Coopers, a band of conspirators manages to escape captors down congested streets, parks and subway tunnels. (Parks? Mass transit? In Los Angeles?) Computer-rigged signals aid the getaway, stopping cross traffic at red lights. Sounds like California dreaming for drivers.
Drivetrain: 300-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 with four-speed manual transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Hood-mounted air intake, gas tanks in back, dash-mounted shotgun
Maybe if Max Rockatansky drove a more fuel-efficient car, he wouldn’t have to spend his days scouring the post-apocalypse Australian desert for gas. Of course, then his car wouldn’t be tough enough to take down the marauders he’s after, and we doubt it would have received as many votes. Fortunately, Mad Max’s Falcon police interceptor has all the right goodies: Side exhaust, a supercharger and giant, dust-kicking tires. Gas mileage? Fuggedaboudit.
Drivetrain: 305-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 with three-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Rewinding odometer, bending sheet metal, bloodlust for young guttersnipes
Never mind that Christine runs amok all night killing people — voters loved the idea of a self-repairing car. That it’s curvy, red and fast probably helped, too. Still, we would have liked to have seen her kick some bulldozer tail at the end.
Drivetrain: 325-hp, 6.4-liter V-8 with two-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Tailfins, flashing lights, sirens, attached ladder
Though it plays a relatively small part in its film, the Ectomobile is the finest medical movie car to date. What it lacks in brute force it makes up in style, with red tailfins, strobe lights and more roof gear than a fire truck. Should there ever be a remake, our pick for the new Ectomobile would be the Dodge Magnum.
Drivetrain: 325-hp, 6.4-liter V-8 with four-speed manual transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Fastback roof, higher engine note than the Charger
Never mind the continuity mishaps; Just tell yourself there were a lot of green Volkswagen Beetles in San Francisco that day. The seven-minute chase scene between Frank Bullitt’s Mustang GT 390 and a hit man’s 1968 Dodge Charger is among the best of its kind. Voters gave Bullitt’s car the edge because, in the end, you have to root for the good guy.
Drivetrain: 340-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 with electronic throttle; electric motor for silent operation; jet engine for jumps
Notable Features: Armor plates all around, voice-guided navigation system, power driver’s seat
Batman’s Tumbler stretches the definition of a car, but voters insisted it belongs on the list. Most vehicles are either nimble or tough, but the Tumbler is both: it vaults between rooftops and charges through barriers. Cops spout ineffectual one-liners, and it turns their cruisers to scrap. The cabin doesn’t look very comfortable, but given the tank-like exterior, it’s a wonder Batman even has a place to sit.
Drivetrain: 282-hp, 4.0-liter six-cylinder with four-speed manual transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Bulletproof glass, machine guns, incessantly beeping radar screen
Save for the anemic BMW Z3 1.9 in “GoldenEye,” Bond cars are top-notch — the list includes Aston Martins, Bentleys and Lotuses — but voters agreed the champ is the Aston Martin DB5 in “Goldfinger.” Not only is it gorgeous, it outruns and out-gadgets all of its competitors. Plus it gets plenty of screen time with the best Bond, Sean Connery. Any dissenters, of course, are welcome to ride in the “power” passenger seat.
Drivetrain: 275-hp, 7.1-liter V-8 with three-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Cop motor, cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks
You usually don’t come out ahead when swapping a Caddy for a Dodge — unless the Dodge has a 440-cubic-inch V-8. The Bluesmobile would be our pick if we had to outrun the better half of Illinois police, not to mention a neo-Nazi outfit and a country and western band. The car falls apart in the end, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a vehicle that could survive “a mission from God.”
Drivetrain: 280-hp, 3.0-liter V-12 with four-speed manual transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Cherry-red exterior, wire grille, Cameron-sized tonneau compartment
This movie is probably responsible for thousands of teens cutting class to joyride in their father’s car. Of course, none hold a candle to Mr. Frye’s convertible Ferrari. It won votes for all the obvious reasons: It’s red, Italian and bloody fast. If our fathers owned something like this, we’d ditch Econ 101 in a heartbeat to take a spin — especially if Dad didn’t lock the garage. (And yes, we know this was a kit car.)
Drivetrain: 1.21-gigawatt nuclear/electric hybrid with five-speed manual transmission; rear-wheel drive
Notable Features: Gull-wing doors, 16-port twin exhaust boxes, Flux Capacitor
This was an overwhelming choice for voters, and why not? Doc Brown’s smoke-spewing DeLorean achieves time travel at 88 mph, thanks to a lithium-powered nuclear reactor and onboard Flux Capacitor. By the end of the first movie, it runs solely on trash — and flies. That’s still futuristic two decades after the movie debuted. Sure, the ignition seems to have some reliability issues, but this car easily won our hearts.
The Magical Car, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"
See our picks for the Top 5 Worst Movie Cars.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey