Iconic Muscle Cars In the Movies
Film directors love US Muscle cars, both classic and modern, because they add such clearly identifiable style to any picture. There is an intrinsic cool to almost any make or model, which can’t help but take centre stage. If they’re not hogging the limelight, they’re sitting quietly as supporting act, lending their cool to the central stars. Cars we don’t forget. Here are some of the most memorable Muscle Car appearances in recent movie history. If you haven’t seen them, make sure you do.
Vanishing Point (1971)
Featuring a handsome 1970 Dodge Challenger, this is the tale of an ex-racing driver, Kowalski, who’s out to prove he’s still got it. He plans a drive from Denver to San Francisco in under fifteen hours. With the car sporting a 7.2 liter V-8 engine he stands a good chance. Barry Newman plays Kowalski in this road race movie which ranges across four states, as they try to get rid of the cops in pursuit.
American Graffiti, 1973
A 1958 Chevy Impala was the car choice for Terry Fields, known as ‘The Toad’ in American Graffitti. The Toad’s way too young to worry about car credit, so instead decides to ‘borrow’ the Chevvy for the night, during which he and another high school grads spend their last night before college cruising the strip, with predictable mayhem ensuing. A number of other classic cars in this movie, which starred Charles Martin Smith as The Toad, including the 1955 Chevy from the film Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
Blues Brothers (1980)
This movie is a classic of dynamic car action, with Elwood and Jake Blues trying to outwit the cops and some hostile ‘Illinois Nazi’ as they pursue their ‘Mission from God’ to save the Catholic home where they were raised. In their Bluesmobile – a scruffy 1974 Mount Prospect Dodge Monaco former patrol car, they run the race of their lives to stay one step ahead of the law. Apparently, some thirteen different cars were bought for the leading part, due to the extremes of the stunts involved. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi are the stars in cars.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Who can forget that final iconic scene in Thelma and Louise, when their car sails over the edge of the Grand Canyon? A great moment in cinema, the 1966 Thunderbird convertible has been their perfect companion on their resurrection road movie. Great performances by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, who show the close relationship between car and owner during their trip.
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
The star in the car in this great movie is Nicholas Cage, who plays Memphis Raines, a former car thief who wants to go straight. But he’s drawn back into crime when he’s forced into a seemingly impossible deal – he has to steal fifty luxury cars in just one night to secure his brother’s life. Cage drives a Shelby Mustang muscle car as he sets out on his dangerous quest.
This iconic movie features Steve McQueen driving a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 CID, with a 6.4 liter V8 engine, capable of producing 325 horsepower. It’s a classic, with Detective Lieutenant Frank Bullitt tasked with protecting a Mafia turncoat until he can testify against his boss in court. Some highflying car action ensues as Bullitt takes to the hills of San Francisco for some dramatic car chases.
A muscle car classic starring a 1950 Mercury Monterey. The story is about another maverick super cop, Lieutenant Marion ‘Cobra’ Cobretti, protecting a key witness. The car is said to be souped up with a 383 small block and a nitrous kit. Cobra is charged with keeping his witness safe from a cult of serial killers. Syl Stone leads.
Mad Max (1979)
This features an XB GT Ford Falcon, with a 351 Cleveland power plant upgrade. Set in the Australian desert, it’s a dystopian, post-apocalyptic revenge movie with the recently discredited Mel Gibson playing Mad Max Rockatansky on the trail of a biker gang who murdered his family.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
In what has come to be one of the most memorable films of all times, James Dean drives a 1949 Mercury off a cliff, jumping to safety at the last second. Known as the ‘chicken’ scene, it has become an all time classic. Dean, of course, had a fatal attraction to fast cars in real life.
Ruth Warrington is an automotive industry writer based in Birmingham, England where many great marques were originally born and sadly many more have passed into obscurity.
Thelma and Louise
Rebel Without a cause