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Talking about Top 10: favourite film cars 

April 18, 2008





Top 10: favourite film cars


Dan Trent's biography
April 15 2008

A new survey undertaken by Uniroyal tyres has revealed The Italian Job’s Mini Coopers as the favourite film cars of all time. And no wonder – as a film full of delight for petrolheads of all persuasions there is a lot to enjoy.

But which four-wheeled stars did the cheeky Minis beat? Read on for the full line up.


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1. Mini Cooper
Scene from The Italian Job (Image © Rex)

BMC needn’t have bothered marketing the Mini, as The Italian Job did their work for them. A greater demonstration of the car’s can-it-really-be-this-good handling does not exist – OK, it kept winning the Monte Carlo rally, but did that take you, with pinpoint accuracy, across an Italian piazza? The Brit from Brum showed Johnny Foreigner a thing or two, proving that we did indeed make the best cars in the world. What’s all the more charming is that the engine’s familiar A-class engine whine remained unfettered by over-dubbing; watch it now, and you get all the sensations of what made (and still makes) the Cooper so great. For once, the film was right…



KITT always seemed to be doing 200mph. And taking around 2 seconds to accelerate from, say, 50mph to 175mph. This was, of course, all courtesy of the Turbo Boost dial; I used to pause the Betamax just so I could copy it onto my Cool Car Dashboard drawings. Well, I was 7. And a little disappointed when I discovered the voice synthesizer in my Grandad’s Maestro Vanden Plas hadn’t quite the range of KITT’s Knight 2000 microprocessor (typical BL: always behind the game). Charged with protecting the life of Michael Knight, way before the days of EuroNCAP, KITT ensured cult status for black Pontiac Trans Ams. Even ones lacking a red front scan bar.


3. Aston Marin Vanquish – Die Another Day
Aston Martin Vanquish from Die Another Day (image © PA)

Things are not entirely as they appear with the V12 Vanquish that finally saw James Bond reunited with the Aston brand in Die Another Day. And we don’t mean the cloaking device, missiles in the grill, machine guns or studded tyres (an ice driving essential). Instead of the usual twelve cylinder engine, the four main stunt cars were kitted out with 300bhp Ford Boss 302 V8s, mounted way back in the chassis. This made room for the bespoke four-wheel drive system (another ice driving essential). Don’t think this gave Bond too much of an upper hand, though, as the baddy’s Jaguar XKR had similar modifications. And a Gatling gun.


4. Herbie
Herbie (image © PA)

Speeded-up film has a lot to answer for. Imagine the frustration of the Alfa and Lancia stunt drivers scooting slowly round, as a bobbling ‘number 53’ VW Beetle rasps past, driver charged with ‘making it look fast’. Of curse, reality wasn’t imperative. This was a Disney film, portraying Herbie as a car with a heart. He had feelings. If you upset him, he lost his mojo. You had some sweet-talking to do if you wanted to win him round. Named after a mechanic’s uncle, a boxer who "had a permanently broken nose", Herbie was painted stock VW white – bet you didn’t know the interior was actually matt grey, though, to stop reflections from studio lights.


5. DeLorean
The DeLorean from Back to the Future (image © Rex)

Flux capacitor! 88mph! 1.21 gigawatts! For 80s kids, Back To The Future was one super-cool film; and for this kid, the DeLorean ensures legendary status. Originally, the producers were to use a fridge for the time machine, but were worried children would climb in and get stuck. Oops. So in came the DeLorean. They tried to reason in the plot that its stainless steel body was important, but we weren’t fooled. They chose it because it looked like a UFO. The three filming cars weren’t without fault, though. The dodgy old Renault V6, for example, was soon junked for a faster, more reliable Porsche engine. Great Scott!


6. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (image © PA)

Although portrayed as a magical flying car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has its roots in reality. In the original book by Bond creator Ian Fleming, the Chitty was inspired by the aero-engined monsters raced by the evocatively named Count Louis Zborowski at Brooklands back in the 20s. The famous film car was co-designed by Ken Adam, a WW2 fighter ace and set designer for Bond films and, famously, Dr Strangelove. And although a scratchbuilt film set special it was given a genuine registration – GEN 11 – and continues to fascinate all these years later. Several cars were built for the filming, one of which is on display at the Cars Of The Stars museum in Keswick


7. The Batmobile – Batman Begins
The Tumbler from Batman Begins (Image © Movieweb)

Dispatcher: "Make and model?" Cop on radio: "It’s a black… uh… tank." There are many iterations of the caped crusader’s famously flame-spitting ride. But the one that sticks in our mind the most is the Tumbler. Appearing in 2005’s Batman Begins (and forthcoming The Dark Knight), the movie story is that this all-terrain ex-military project was originally designed as a bridging vehicle. As such it can jump 30 feet, do 0-60mph in less than five seconds, and exceed 100 miles an hour. But the kicker comes when you learn the movie’s makers actually built this thing. In fact they built four of them. The Tumbler is really real. We want one.


8. The General Lee – Dukes of Hazzard
The General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard (image © Movieweb)

Naming the car after a Confederate General is the sort of thing that wouldn’t really meet with approval these days. So much so that in the 2005 movie remake of the old Dukes of Hazzard TV series, Bo and Luke Duke are portrayed as victims of circumstance, rather than the instigators. But forget the politics, the General Lee is a mean, lean, bright orange street fighting machine. A 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with doors that don’t open, some fantastic stunt driving makes it the film’s biggest star. Whether you think the end result was worth the 24 or so 1968-1970 Chargers sacrificed during the production process is another matter…


9. Lady Penelope’s Rolls-Royce
Fab 1 (image © Rex)

‘It’ girl Lady Penelope would today probably be photographed exiting one of various German car maker’s executive fleets. But for her double life as a secret agent in the 1960s, something even more subtle was required. Roll out the bright pink, six-wheeled Roller, then. Amphibious – just, you know, in case – it was loaded with secret gadgets that actually predated James Bond. Indeed, many of the special effects team later worked on providing armoury for that other quintessentially English agent. Sensibly, Rolls-Royce appreciated the free branding, even providing an authentic radiator grille for close ups of FAB1’s many hidden guns and rocket launchers.


10. Bumblebee – Transformers
Bumblebee leads the rest of the transformers (Image © Movieweb)

Ahh, the many faces of Bumblebee. Originally a Volkswagen Beetle – which sort of makes sense with that name – when the 2007 Transformers movie rolled around, General Motors picked up the gig providing most of the autos for, y’know, the Autobots. As such Bumblebee was ‘updated’ as a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro for his opening scenes. Later, in a fit of pique, he transforms (haha) himself into the brand spanking Chevy Camaro Concept – a car that doesn’t go on sale in real life until next year. As such, Saleen modded a Pontiac GTO into a fibreglass replica to provide the on screen visuals whenever Bumblebee isn’t rendered in the film’s jaw-dropping CGI.



                                             Snapshot of me 6      Brought to you by Anurag Dubey










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