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Reel Wheels: 15 Iconic Movie Cars

Weeding through Hollywood’s entire crop of iconic movie cars in the hopes of arriving at an agreed upon best of list is like trying to choose the sexiest Victoria’s Secret model — it can be grueling work, but the research isn’t exactly painful. Car guys are a picky lot, especially when looking to the silver screen: Some go weak in the knees when they hear an American V8 rumble to life slightly out of frame, while others are gaga for the svelte silhouette of a European exotic on a twisty backdrop.

Weeding through Hollywood’s entire crop of iconic movie cars in the hopes of arriving at an agreed-upon “best of” list is like trying to choose the sexiest Victoria’s Secret model — it can be grueling work, but the research isn’t exactly painful. Car guys are a picky lot, especially when looking to the silver screen; some go weak in the knees when they hear an American V8 rumble to life slightly out of frame, while others are gaga for the svelte silhouette of a European exotic on a twisty backdrop. A select few believe the essential chase scene is the deciding factor, while yet another breed is only happy when the director has chosen an “appropriate” vehicle for the character driving, regardless of whether the movie was even watchable. The GP Team’s collection of petrolheads put all of these variables into play, entered into deep philosophical debate and eventually agreed to disagree so we could present you with our picks for the best movie cars ever. Gentlemen, start your arguing engines!

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2002 TVR Tuscan Speed Six

SWORDFISH is memorable for exactly three reasons: Halle Berry’s $500,000 bosom cameo, the pompously annoying manner in which John Travolta smokes cigarettes (seriously, nobody has ever held a smoke like that on purpose, ever) and director Dominic Sena’s selection of another topless beauty: the TVR Tuscan Speed Six. The scene-stealing Chameleon Blue beast from Blackpool embodies the British barn-build mantra of Colin Chapman’s belief to “simplify and add lightness”. Powered by a silky smooth straight-six and absent anything remotely resembling a safety feature other than three pedals, a wheel and your skill, the TVR Tuscan is simply gorgeous; a shot at driving one is the only way we’d ever get into a car with Vinnie Barbarino.

See it on your big screen: $9

1950 Mercury Monterey

COBRA When you work on the Zombie Squad, you need a suitably badass car. When they call you Cobra, that car is a matte grey 1950 Mercury Monterey custom. Chopped, lowered and nitrous injected, Marion Cobretti’s lead-sled was as fast as it was mean. The tool of choice for making parking spots larger and rescuing Brigitte Nielson from would-be attackers, this custom cruiser actually belonged to Sylvester Stallone himself. Despite the car being essentially stolen from under Sly’s nose after filming, he was reunited with the AWSOM50 again in 2009. Lucky for him, the studio used a “stunt double” for its two-story jump from that parking garage.

See it on your big screen: $10

1967 Lamborghini Miura

The Italian Job Although the film is most often remembered for Rémy Julienne’s incredible stunt work with a trio of Minis, those plucky Brits don’t hold a candle to the sensual bliss that opens the Michael Caine classic, The Italian Job. The winding roads of the Italian Alps are the ultimate playground for Mr. Beckerman as he pilots his 1969 Lamborghini Miura, arguably the sexiest bull to ever come out of Sant’Agata. Beautifully shot and impeccably produced, Matt Monro’s crooning gives way to the ferocious downshifted bark of the world’s fastest production automobile’s V12 at just the right times, creating automotive movie perfection — until it all goes terribly wrong at the end of that tunnel.

See it on your big screen: $19

1967 Camaro

Better Off Dead Savage Steve Holland’s Better Off Dead is your classic ‘80s “boy loses girl, boy restores beautiful first generation Camaro with French girl in overalls to get old girl back” story. Sure, it has some other stuff in there about a ski race, a vindictive paperboy and an incredibly weird family, but the film’s true magic lives under the hood of Lane Meyer’s 1967 Chevy Camaro SS. Minus the factory striping and badges (and riding on larger Corvette rear rubber), Lane’s 350-cubic-inch small block V8-powered pony car is an excellent choice for any teen looking to climb the social ladder or finally hand it to a pair of Japanese-American brothers who only speak Howard Cossel English. The actual car from the movie still makes appearances at shows and events around the country, after a fan decided he had to have it.

See it on your big screen: $12

1964 Aston Martin DB5

Bond The Aston Martin DB5 is undeniably the most recognizable car in the world. Even to those with no appreciation of automobiles, the sight of James Bond’s Silver Birch DB5 evokes instant emotion. The quintessential Bond car has appeared in six of the twenty-three productions, and made numerous cameos elsewhere as well — always with a wink and a nudge to Britain’s bespoke agent. Speed was never the DB5’s most alluring quality, though it had it from its 282-horsepower four-liter engine. Penned by Italian coachbuilders at Carrozerria Touring Superleggera, its design continued the traditional evolution of the Aston Martin marque, but added a curvaceous fluidity that its predecessors lacked, making the DB5 one of the most beautiful cars ever produced. If you are so inclined (and well-heeled), one of Bond’s original DB5s is currently available — license to kill not included.

See it on your big screen: $150

The Best Movie Car You’ve Never Seen

C’Etait un Rendezvous could quite possibly lay claim to the most amazing car chase ever filmed. Shot through the streets of Paris, at dawn, without any road closures, police presence or even permits, Claude Lelouch’s scene crafted some of the most butt-puckering footage ever filmed. A soundtrack of an Italian V12 reaching speeds of over 160 mph might lead you to think a Ferrari was the star. Not so: a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL with a 6.9L V8 under the hood is the fast and furious beast behind the camera. Luxobarge indeed.

1979 Porsche 928

Scarface When the world is yours, there’s really only one car to own: The Porsche 928. The first and only 2-door Porsche to feature a front-mounted V8, the 928 marked a radical departure for Stuttgart’s sports car company. Originally intended to replace the iconic 911, the 928 introduced the world to Ferry Porsche’s vision of a grand touring coupe. While Tony Montana’s bubble-back porker was weighed down with bulletproof glass, radio scanners and a set of fog-lights (to make sure he doesn’t get stuck in a swamp), the 928 would later become known as the world’s fastest non-turbocharged production car, hitting 171 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats — she’s a tiger all right.

See it on your big screen: $15

1981 DeLorean DMC12

Back to the Future Trilogy The brainchild of American engineer John DeLorean, the DMC12 was a gull-winged, Giugiaro designed sports car that, despite being sold for only 2 years, rivals the Aston Martin DB5 for fame and notoriety. Chosen as the go-to car for time travel thanks to its stainless steel body, the DeLorean was instantly turned into a cinematic icon by Dr. Emmett Brown (and director Robert Zemekis) in the Back to the Future franchise. With only 130 horsepower and 2,700 pounds of heft, the DeLorean was never very quick, and without the help of movie magic, would need a stretch of road longer than the Pine Hills parking lot to hit 88 mph and activate its flux-capacitor. Thankfully, as we all know, where it was going it didn’t need roads.

See it on your big screen: $39

1968 Dodge Charger R/T

Blade Trilogy Blade’s flat black 1968 Dodge Charger R/T gives new meaning to the term “murdered out”. The day-walker’s B-Bodied whip comes equipped with vampire melting UV headlights, traction bars and a bottle-fed 440 Magnum under its scooped hood, churning out enough grunt to outrun the cops after an evening of “work”. While the General Lee will always be the more popular Mopar, the movie version of the Dukes’ ride doesn’t stand a chance against the first major Marvel superhero to hit the big screen. That, and we’ll put our money on Snipes over Scott behind the wheel every time, because you know, always bet on black.

See it on your big screen: $42

1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor

Ghostbusters Sure, it may have needed suspension work and shocks, brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear end, new rings, mufflers and a little wiring, but for $4,800 where else will you get seating for four and a roll-out proton pack-rack? Better known as Ecto-1, the 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance was the perfect choice for a group of parapsychologists looking to save Manhattan from a spiritual invasion. Twice.

See it on your big screen: $12

2008 Audi R8

Iron Man When you’re a wealthy, hard-drinking, womanizing, weapons manufacturer serving double duty as hard-shelled hero like Tony Stark, there’s not much that lies beyond your grasp. Despite having an AC Cobra and Saleen S7 at the ready, Iron Man’s ride of choice is the Audi R8. And for good reason: Audi’s mid-mounted V8 flagship gives even the most Ferry faithful reason to reconsider their deposit on a 911. The R8 is an entirely controllable beast on a loose leash, clad in Savile Row suiting fitting of exotics worth twice the price — not at all unlike Stark himself.

See it on your big screen: $15

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

Vanilla Sky Radiohead on your alarm clock, an IWC on your wrist, the streets of Times Square completely barren of people or traffic and you behind the wheel of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO — you’d better believe it’s a dream. Sadly, the Ferrari used in the shot was actually a kit car, built on a 1976 Datsun Z chassis, but that doesn’t make the scene any less lust worthy. We figure there wasn’t enough left in the budget for the real thing after closing down Broadway; Ferrari 250 GTOs command stratospheric prices. The last recorded sale of one of these incredibly rare, velocity-stacked, 3.0L V12 homologation specials once belonged to Sir Stirling Moss and sold for $35 million, or about half of what Tom Cruise took home in 2012. With only 39 ever built, we’d call it money well spent.

See it on your big screen: $5

2000 Ferrari 550 Maranello

The Family Man The Ferrari 550 Maranello had a pretty big garage to fill when it hit showrooms (and subsequently teenagers’ walls) back in 1996. You see, it was the first front-engined V12 prancing horse to hit the streets since the fabled Daytona, and in our opinion, it did a pretty damn good job of it. The sexily sculpted Pininfarina bodywork paid proper homage without the exaggeration that designers rely on now, while the siren’s song trumpeted from the exhaust was worth going deaf over. We’re pretty sure the Ferrari’s the reason The Family Man strikes such a chord with us. Going from one of Maranello’s finest to a minivan isn’t the kind of “transition” anybody wants to make, even if Don Cheadle is breaking the news. Interestingly, Nicholas Cage actually owned the one from the movie, but had sold it prior to filming — a fate all too common for The Ghostrider’s whips.

See it on your big screen: $14

1968 Ford Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback

Bullitt Steve McQueen could make a Yugo the best-selling car in America just by leaning on it. Of course, the King of Cool wouldn’t lean on a Yugo. The 1968 Ford Mustang GT he drives in Bullit, however — that car fit McQueen like a glove. The Highland Green fastback Ford, powered by a modified 390-cubic-inch V8, might actually be the single coolest car on this list. First there’s the fact that even McQueen himself couldn’t persuade the car’s owner to sell it to him years later, and second there’s the reason why that owner wouldn’t sell: the car’s role in the greatest chase ever filmed.

Don’t believe us? Cue up the scene and take it all in. Watch the tire smoke, feel your heart race and listen to the double-clutch shifting. For nine minutes and forty-two seconds a Ford Mustang is the star of a movie boasting the names of McQueen, Bissette, Duval and Vaughn. Don’t forget to buckle up and keep an eye out for runaway Dodge hubcaps and that pesky VW Beetle when you try to recreate things during your next trip to San Fran.

See it on your big screen: $11

1959 Austin-Healey 3000 MkI

Father of the Bride The 1959 Austin-Healey 3000 is a gentleman’s motor car. The quintessential British roadster combined an inline-6 cylinder engine, a short wheelbase and a nimble, lightweight chassis to make it a rally and hill climb favorite. Its plucky demeanor is hidden behind a chrome smile, and its demure sheet metal riding on wire wheels make it an instant classic. We wouldn’t mind moving it down the driveway for some father/daughter b-ball, but we’d rather she ditch the high-tops for some heel-toe tap dance lessons.

See it on your big screen: $16

1965 Mercedes Benz 220SE

The Hangover If you’re gonna roll with the Wolfpack you’ve got to be tough. After being bounced around some concrete tunnels and medians by the boys during their bender, the 1965 Mercedes-Benz 220SE takes on one of Mike Tyson’s tigers for a few rounds and survives to tell the tale. These top-of-the-line soft-top fintails were powered by a 2.2L inline-six engine that proved to be even more bulletproof than the cars it propelled. Luxuriously appointed both inside and out, it would be heartbreaking to watch Stuttgart’s successor to the Ponton style suffer so greatly — if the movie weren’t so damn funny. And hey, at least they remembered to pay for parking.

See it on your big screen: $10

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