Ever since the days of silent films, cars and motor vehicles have been present on cinema screens. In fact, car chase scenes can be traced all the way back to a silent film from 1903 titled ‘Runaway Match’, otherwise known as ‘Marriage by Motor’.
Since then, movies have grown into a global industry with countlesstyres spinning away to take heroes and villains alike into the sunset. This has inspired petrolhead film fanatics to put together full databases of cars that have appeared in cinema and television history.
With the sheer number of vehicles like used Mercedes carswe’ve seen on screen, there are a few that have become synonymous with the grand scale of cinema. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most iconic cars to appear in the long history of film.
Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger(1964)& the James Bond franchise
It wouldn’t be a list of famous film cars if Bond – James Bond’s – Aston Martin DB5 wasn’t mentioned. The British-made luxury car first appeared in the 1964 film directed by Guy Hamilton, Goldfinger. The DB5 was driven by Sean Connery and reappeared in Thunderball (1965), also driven by the Scottish actor.
It reappeared in five later Bond films, commandeered by Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and Daniel Craig in Casino Royale (2006), Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015), and No Time to Die (2021).
Fans and filmgoers alike have had the image of the sleek, silver car in their minds from the first time they saw it. In fact, Auto Express conducted a survey to see what their readers believed to be the best movie car of all time, and the results from the 5,000 respondents deemed the DB5 to be the very best.
Looking at the unit sales of Aston Martin year-on-year, there’s an increase from 2020 to 2021, which could be seen to directly correlate with the release of No Time to Die which may have influenced fans to invest in their dream car. The Google Trends around the search term ‘James Bond Aston Martin’ also spikes in late September to early October 2021 when the film was released.
Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Director John Hughes initially wanted a new Mercedes model to be the car that Matthew Broderick joyrides in the 1986 teen comedy and cult classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But once he saw a 1961 Ferrari GT, he knew that was the perfect vehicle for three disillusioned teenagers to skip school with.
Three cars were used in the film, and all of them were replicas. This was due to how rare this model of Ferrari is, with only 56 ever made. Which is why car lovers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the one that is destroyed towards the end of the film in a fit of teenage defiance and rage. Instead, the replica used had a Mustang chassis with a body made offibreglass.
Modena Design were the company that handled building the replicas, and the cars became so iconic that they have been auctioned off for hundreds of thousands. In fact, the one that was damaged during one of the joyriding scenes was repaired and auctioned for over £99,375 in London in 2010.
Volkswagen Beetle – Herbie (1968)
Long before Pixar reinvented what it meant to make inanimate objects sentient, their now-parent company Disney introduced the world to the living, thinking car Herbie in The Love Bug in 1968. The car introduced audiences outside of Europe to the Volkswagen Beetle, and the popularity of the film inspired multiple sequels and a 2005 reboot with Lindsay Lohan in Herbie: Fully Loaded.
The Beetle is one of the most iconic in Volkswagen’s lineage of vehicles. It grew in popularity after World War II and in 1972, it surpassed the Ford Model T in sales, and it was the best-selling car ever. With this coming shortly after the release of Herbie’s cinematic debut, it’s not a huge surprise that Disney’s film helped the sales of the Volkswagen model.
A study by Branded Entertainment Network found that product placements and campaigns in films and cinema are 11% more effective at producing results in purchases than traditional advertisement breaks on television. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that seeing a car we connect with or really appreciate the design of on the big screen could lead to the viewer going out of their way to purchase one themselves.
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