If you ask anybody about their favourite movie car or scene, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to choose just one with so many iconic and memorable cars that have appeared in films throughout the years. Despite this, we conducted a nationwide survey to finally uncover what British motorists think are the most iconic screen cars ever to appear on our screens. From a multiple-choice list of all our on-screen favourites, each motorist told us their top picks so that we can finally crown one the all-time best big screen car.
65% of motorists voted for the 1964 Aston Martin DB5, which was driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger. Unfortunately, the gadget-laden Aston Martin vanished without a trace in 1997 from a private air hangar in Florida and is unlikely to be recovered after over 20 years.
Despite the original disappearing, Aston Martin built a limited-run of 25 exact replicas of the car, which cost £3.3 million and were snapped up by enthusiasts in Europe, North America and the Middle East. More than 4,500 hours were spent constructing each of the cars which feature a rotating number plate, headlight ‘machine guns’, battering rams, a smokescreen and a bulletproof rear deflector. Due to these modifications, the cars aren’t road legal, but that didn’t stop the most iconic movie car of all time from being snapped up in an instant.
The quirky modified DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to The Future was voted as the second most memorable movie car of all time, with 35% of motorists choosing the time travelling machine. It first appeared in the 1985 movie starring Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, with the time machine built by the Professor that became an integral part of the trilogy.
Following filming, the original car was on display at Universal Studios in Hollywood, where it, unfortunately, fell into disrepair. Luckily in 2012, the car Back To The Future motor was restored and now proudly sits on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
When you think of exciting movie car chases, powerful muscle or supercars may spring to mind, but in The Italian Job, they instead opted for Mini’s for the iconic scene where the protagonists escaped the authorities by driving their Minis through the sewer tunnels. The iconic scene has stuck in the mind of British motorists with 33% of voters choosing the Mini. Unfortunately, all of the cars were destroyed during filming, so there is no remaining memorabilia for enthusiasts to see in person.
The Ford Mustang GT 390 from the 1968 film Bullitt, which featured Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Jacqueline Bisset comes in fourth on our list, with 30% of voters naming it the most recognisable car in film history. It was believed the car had vanished, but it re-appeared for the relaunch of the car in 2018 after it had been sat in a garage since it was bought for $6,000 by Robert Kiernan Jr. in the early 1970s. It was passed down to his son and had been sat in a garage until it was eventually sold at the Mecum auction in Florida for $3.4 million in 2020.
The second Bond car on our list is the iconic Lotus Esprit that was modified to morph into a submarine. In addition, the car was armed with mines, torpedoes and air missiles to help Bond defeat the enemy, which made it a memorable movie car, with 26% of the vote. After the film was released, the car toured many motor shows before eventually being sold to Elon Musk for £550,000. As of 2013, he has planned to make the car a fully functional submarine powered by Tesla’s electric drive train.
The orange Dodge Charger was named as General Lee in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard and was primarily driven by the Duke boys, Bo and Luke. Coming in just behind the Lotus Esprit, the Dodge received 24% of votes. According to former cast member Ben Jones, around 325 General Lees were used to film the series, with approximately 17 originals still being in existence. All the cars that were used for jumps and stunts in the series were immediately retired, which was costly to the production company and meant not many were in a state where they could be restored.
The fictional Kitt car came in just behind the Dodge Charger with 24% of the votes. The car was always going to be memorable due to it being much more than just a car, with its microprocessor allowing it to think, learn, communicate and interact with humans. Some of the features that really make it stand out include 360-degree video surveillance, autopilot and a head-up display, the latter being a common feature now available in many cars. Five of the KITT cars survived the show, with one of them being on display at Universal Studios for a prolonged period after the show ended.
Herbie is probably what springs to mind whenever you think of a Volkswagen Beetle, with the car appearing in six films between 1968 and 2005. As such, the Beetle received 22% of votes from our survey as the most memorable screen car of all time. In the original Love Bug film, there were multiple Herbie’s used, with one of the racing versions featuring a Porsche 356 engine, brakes and KONI shock absorbers. Whilst there isn’t much information on the original Herbie used in The Love Bug, a 1963 Herbie which was used in the 1977 ‘Herbie goes to Monte Carlo’ and 1980 ‘Herbie Goes Bananas’ sold for $126,500 at an auction in Palm Beach, Florida in 2015.
The Batmobile from Batman Begins is probably the most iconic Batman car, with 21% of our voters believing it’s the most memorable screen car ever. The car was designed by George Barris and was based on a Lincoln Futura. Unbelievably, the Batmobile is road legal, although the only chance you’ll get to see it is at the Peterson Automotive Museum in California, where you can also see the DeLorean from Back to the Future. The other Batmobile that was used in the film is owned by producer John Peters, who keeps it in the garage at his Malibu home.
The Striped Tomato Car is the second Ford in our top 10 screen cars, with the car receiving 19% of the votes. The car is a two-door Ford Gran Torino, which features bright red body paint and white stripes down both sides. It is believed that four cars were used for filming, with the original from the first series on display at the Imperial Palace Auto Collection in Las Vegas.
|1.||James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin in Goldfinger||65%|
|2.||1981 DeLorean DMC-12 in Back to the Future||35%|
|3.||The Austin Mini Cooper in The Italian Job||33%|
|4.||968 Mustang GT 390 in Bullitt||30%|
|5.||James Bond’s Lotus Esprit car in The Spy Who Loved Me||26%|
|6.||The Dodge Charger in Dukes of Hazzard||24%|
|7.||Kitt from the Knight Rider series||24%|
|8.||The Volkswagen Beetle in Herbie: The Love Bug||22%|
|9.||The Batmobile in Batman Begins||21%|
|10.||The striped tomato car in Starsky and Hutch||19%|
|11.||Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang||17%|
|12.||The 1969 Mustang in John Wick||16%|
|13.||The Dodge Charger in The Fast and the Furious||15%|
|14.||Ferris’ Ferrari in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off||14%|
|15.||Dodge Charger in Bullit||14%|
|16.||The Audi R8 in Iron Man||14%|
|17.||The Bumblebee in Transformers||12%|
|18.||The Ectomobile in Ghostbusters 1 and 2||11%|
|19.||The Gran Torino in Gran Torino||11%|
|20.||Ron Weasley’s blue Ford car in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||10%|
|21.||The red Alfa Romeo in The Graduate||9%|
|22.||The Ford Thunderbird in Thelma and Louise||7%|
|23.||The Ford De Luxe Convertible in Grease||7%|
|24.||973 XB GT Ford Falcon in Mad Max||8%|
|25.||Suki’s Honda S2000 in 2 Fast and 2 Furious||6%|