If you’ve watched Law and Order long enough, you’ve seen former mayor’s aides turn into murderers and then recycle into prosecutors. When something works you stick with it. It’s the same with cars in a lot of productions. Something is cheap, close, convenient or sentimental, and it makes its way into several movies and TV shows.
1973 Ford Torino — The Big Lebowski, The X-Files and Blue Streak
The Dude’s car from The Big Lebowski features prominently in the movie, in a scene where it’s stolen from the bowling alley.
Actually, the worst part about the whole theft is the loss of the Dude’s Creedence Clearwater Revival cassette collection. Oh, and a million dollars in ransom money.
It’s also in a quick scene in the Martin Lawrence movie Blue Streak.
Finally, it makes an appearance in Season 6, Episode 14 of the Fox series The X-Files.
1955 Chevrolet One-Fifty: American Graffiti, Two-Lane Blacktop
This is one of the more famous body doubles in all of film history. What most people think is that the car from the George Lucas movie American Graffiti ended up being used in the cult James Taylor/Dennis Wilson movie Two-Lane Blacktop, but it’s the other way around.
Richard Ruth at Competition Engineering built three examples in 1970 for the production of Two-Lane Blacktop. One of the cars was scheduled to roll over in a stunt, but the stunt was never executed and the car just ran off the road instead.
The Chevrolets were stored at Universal Studios. One of the cars was sold and used privately after filming ended, but transportation supervisor Henry Travers picked up the remaining two cars for use in American Graffiti. There’s a great history of where these cars ended up here.
Most people will identify both cars as a Bel Air, but they’re the low-trim One-Fifty two-door sedans, identified by the lack of stainless trim around the windshield, and the distinctive beltline molding on the Bel Air.
Spinner: Blade Runner, Back to the Future II
One of the things people liked about Blade Runner was the Spinner. It was futuristic, but still recognizable and somewhat believable as an automobile.
Or, at least believable if you’ve been hoping for a flying car since the 1940s.
The Spinner makes a return in the sequel, Blade Runner 2049, but it’s an updated version, not exactly the same car:
Precisely the same car ends up in the sequel to Back to the Future, though. Only sharp-eyed movie fans are going to find it. It appears in one quick scene, parked in a driveway:
The cars were designed by artist and “visual futurist” Syd Mead, who also worked on vehicles and other props for Aliens and Tron. His sketches went to legendary custom car builder Gene Winfield to be built into rolling props. Winfield built 25 vehicles for the movie.
Winfield was also notable for building the 6000 SUX for the movie Robocop.
Reactor: Batman, Bewitched, Star Trek
While we’re on the subject of Gene Winfield, he also built the Reactor, a running, driving custom car that used a 180hp, turbocharged flat-six from a Corvair Corsa, and the chassis and suspension from a Citroen DS.
That car was the basis for an entire episode of Bewitched:
It was far from done in that appearance. From there, it went to space…Jupiter, in fact. It was the hot ticket for Jupiterians who wanted “Royal Comfort,” as described in the brochure that appeared in the show:
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! It also donned a set of kitty ears and whiskers and did triple-duty as the Catwoman’s car in one episode of Batman.
1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88: The Evil Dead, Crimewave, Evil Dead 2, Darkman, Army of Darkness, A Simple Plan, The Gift, the Spiderman trilogy, Drag Me to Hell
Some film directors have trademarks. It’s fun to spot the Alfred Hitchcock cameo in most of his movies, for example. Sam Raimi is like that with this 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, which has appeared in almost all of his movies since 1982.
The car is known as “The Classic.” There are Easter eggs all over the place in Raimi’s movies. For instance, in Darkman, a close inspection reveals Joel and Ethan Coen in the front seat of The Classic. They were uncredited script doctors on the movie.
In the Spiderman movies, a restored Delta 88 acts as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben and Aunt Mary’s car:
The major tie to Raimi is that The Classic was purchased new by his father in 1973. That’s commitment.