While the actors might own the silver screen, many of their characters wouldn’t be the same without the car they drive. The power of a great movie car can even eclipse them in pop culture (you wouldn’t even be able to recognize Bond without his Aston Martin, would you?) and end up being the real stars of the movie. Here are our picks for the top vehicles through the decades that became showstopping additions into car culture and helped inspire countless kids and adults alike to want their own set of signature wheels one day.
60s: 1964 Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)
It’s the Martin, Aston Martin DB5 that begins our list. While we might react to product placement the same way Wayne and Garth do in Wayne’s World nowadays, having major brand tie-ins for the Bond franchise was undeniably cool and cutting edge in this 60’s blockbuster. Q’s custom model perfectly captures all the suave and sophistication that Connery’s Bond possesses while never taking away from the rugged demands that someone with a license to kill needs in their daily life. Whether it’s to go play a round of golf against a man with a killer top hat, or going to get a martini shaken, not stirred after a long day of espionage, the DB5 remains a sought-after collector’s car for anyone looking to bring a little bit of Britain into their life.
70s: 1932 Ford Duece Coupe (American Graffiti)
This one is written by car lovers, for car lovers. George Lucas brings back to life the 50’s in Modesto for this one, and with it comes the All-American muscle cars and drag races that defined the rock ’n roll era. Of course, we had to have a street race at the climax of this one, and John Milner’s Ford vintage hot rod went toe to toe with Harrison Ford’s contemporary Chevy. This Americana showdown ends in smoke, but Ford (the brand) came out on top in this one, earning itself a place in movie history in the process.
80s: 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 (Back to the Future)
Great Scott, this was a tough one to narrow down! While the 80’s had plenty of iconic movie vehicles (looking at you Ferris Bueller), few movies can claim to be as synonymous with the DeLorean brand quite like Back to the Future can. While street models won’t have Doc Brown’s signature Flux Capacitor included as a standard feature, this retro futuristic car is as much of a star as Marty McFly in this one. If you ever find yourself behind the wheel of one of these legendary cars, play some Chuck Berry and look for a bolt of lightning if you want to go back in time when you’re behind the wheel.
90s: 1973 Ford Gran Torino (The Big Lebowski)
It’s just like, our opinion, man that the Ford Gran Torino takes this spot. While we all can’t be The Dude quite like Jeff Bridges can, this can get us a little closer to being a firm believer in Dudeism. Even if you can’t find a stash of money inside one you might encounter, this tough as nails model can be the perfect thing to show up in at your next bowling tournament against Jesus.
2000s: 1970 Dodge Charger (The Fast and Furious)
Who would’ve guessed a drag race between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker would’ve given birth to one of the biggest movie franchises of all time? While the series might be more well known for its fun camp and over-the-top action today, this street race between a Charger and Supra was as dramatic and intense as it gets. With its supercharger and formidable rear tires, this Charger immediately became a muscle legend by the end of this movie, making the already popular model an even bigger hit in the process.
2010s: 1969 Ford Mustang (John Wick)
Keanu Reeves is already pretty cool, but when you put him behind this muscle classic, it’s a showstopper. This hitman on a mission for vengeance reportedly did most of the stunt driving himself, and one of the best scenes in the first Wick has him fishtailing around a row of dump trucks. If that doesn’t speak volumes to you about the performance of this vehicle, we don’t know what will.
Disagree with any of our picks? Let us know in the comments section if you think we should’ve included a different model that defined their on-screen decade.