Some of the most iconic cars used in popular motion picture and television shows are now featured at the “Automobiles in the Movies” exhibit in Los Angeles at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
While admiring these familiar cars, I learned that automobiles play a key role in the plot line of many films, often adding an element of adventure, romance or comedy. Cars create some of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history. Ten of my favorites are currently on display.
Who Drove this Iconic Red Ferrari?
This 1982 red Ferrari 308 GYSi was driven by Tom Selleck in the hit television show Magnum, P.I. The car was customized to accommodate Selleck’s six-feet-four-inches-height. With the roof removed, cameras could capture the action inside the car. Its top speed is 142 mph with a horsepower of 205. In the early 1980s, 1,749 were built.
One of Hollywood’s wealthiest movie stars owned this car
Comedian, actor and director Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle owned this 1914 Renault Type EF by Earl Automobile Works. The informational sign states the top speed of this car was 60 mph with 35 horsepower. Only one was made, for $25,000. Now the car is worth almost $200,000. “Fatty” was one of the first film stars to take a pie to the face. He also was the first to sign a million-dollar contract with Paramount Pictures in 1918. Arbuckle was the wealthiest actor of his time and an avid car collector.
“Go, Speed Racer, Go!”
This is one of the most famous race cars in the world. It’s a 1999 Mach 5 Prototype that was depicted in the animated television series (1967) Speed Racer and the 2008 movie Speed Racer. Only one was built; it has 400 horsepower and a top speed of 135 mph.
The Great Gatsby Star
This yellow 1930s Duesenberg beauty was featured in Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic novel, The Great Gatsby. Star Leonardo DiCaprio was featured in scenes with this car instead of a Rolls Royce. When originally made, this car was priced at $150,000.
Brute Force and Classic Design
Known as the Winged Warrior, this 1989 20-feet-long Batmobile was featured in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). It’s based on the platform of a 1967 Chevrolet Impala that was found in London. This vehicle is powered by a 327-cubic-inch V-8. Rolls Royce jet engine components were used to make this beauty. Five of these cars were made for the movies’ promotion.
Holy Smokes, Batman!
Robin’s Sidecar is a 1966 Yamaha that was used in the television show Batman. The Batcycle was created by Richard Korkes of Korky’s Kustom Studios built with electronic gadgets, flashing lights and bat-like wings. Only one was built.
This futuristic Batpod was built in 2008 for Director Christopher Nolan, as alternative-two wheel transportation featured in The Dark Knight (2008), with Christian Bale as Batman. It was used again in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. There were six made for the movie.
Who Drove This Off a Cliff?
This convertible car was a star in the 1991 American movie Thelma & Louise, directed by Ridley Scott. The 1966 Ford Thunderbird’s top speed is 120 mph, with 275 horsepower. There were 5,049 built. In the 1960s the car cost $4,845; today it is worth about $36,000. This free spirited car reflects the Susan Sarandon character in the movie; Sarandon drove it with Genna Davis on a road trip with disastrous consequences.
Back to the Future Star
This 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 “Time Machine” was driven in the 1985 iconic movie Back to the Future. Its top speed is 130 mph, with 170 horsepower. DeLorean built 8,583 of these cars. They sold for around $26,175; now they sell for around $58,000. In the movie this car transported Marty McFly back in time. There were three built for the film, which starred Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. This car was at Universal Studios for 25 years for tourists to admire.
Glamorous Gift For a Movie Star
This is one of only two 1953 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe by Ghia. It was given to actress Rita Hayworth by one of the world’s wealthiest men at the time: Prince Ali Khan. With its exotic beauty, the car features a wraparound windshield and small tailfins. It’s top speed is 100 mph; horsepower is 210.