As HPDE enthusiasts know, everyone loves a fast car, especially when it’s iconic. Here are 10 of our favorite great pop culture cars.
10. 1975 Ford Gran Torino in Starsky and Hutch
When Paul Michael Glaser first saw the bright red and white 1975 Ford Gran Torino on set, his first thought was “Striped Tomato.” But the car was soon a cult classic, thanks in part to its 435-hp, 360-cubic-inch Windsor pushrod V-8 that took it from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds in numerous police chase scenes.
9. 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am “KITT” in Knight Rider
Today cars with satellite navigation, voice-activation and autopilot mode aren’t that unusual. But in 1982, a Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) Trans Am with these features was out of this world. The stock car featured a 305 cu in Chevy V-8, while the TV car featured gadgets including grappling hooks, lasers and “ski-mode.”
8. 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger
James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 became an on-screen icon. The 4.0 L Straight-6 had 288 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 145 mph. Perfect for those chase scenes through the Swiss Alps. The Bond version driven by Sean Connery was fitted with extra movie gadgets, including an ejector seat, machine guns and more.
7. 1976 Lotus Esprit Series I in The Spy Who Loved Me
With Roger Moore behind the wheel in the tenth James Bond film, fast cars like the white 1976 Lotus Esprit Series I had taken on an angular, futuristic look. Chase scenes in Sardinia featured a road-ready Series I with a Lotus 907 4-cylinder, 5-speed, but a custom submarine version (later bought by Elon Musk) was used for film’s famed underwater sequence.
6. 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 in Back to the Future
The original stock DeLorean DMC-12 only sported a 130-hp, 2.9 L V-6. But that wasn’t quite fast enough to travel back in time to 1955, so a V-8 from a Porsche 928 was swapped in for the film car. Like the Lotus, the DeLorean’s retro-futuristic design continues to make it a pop culture favorite.
5. 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu in Drive
The 1973 Chevy Chevelle Malibu coupe with its distinctive “Colonnade” styled roofline was one of the last designs of John DeLorean for GM, but it was almost forgotten until Drive star Ryan Gosling took his director to an LA junkyard and pointed at a beat-up Malibu. The top-end trim featured a 175-hp, 350 cu in, V-8 Turbo-Fire Hydra-Matic, perfect for the art film’s getaway driver-for-hire.
4. 1977 Pontiac Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit
After appearing alongside Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in Smokey and the Bandit, the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am became the “it” car to have. Sales jumped by 30,000 units in 1978. Everyone wanted the Starlight Black Special Edition paint job with a golden firebird on the hood, T-Top roof, and 400 cu in, 6.6 L V-8.
3. 1970 Dodge Charger in The Fast and the Furious
The classic 1969–1970 Dodge Charger has featured in numerous TV shows and movies, most recently with Vin Diesel behind the wheel in The Fast and the Furious. The original featured a 426 cu in 7.0 L Hemi V-8, but the film used a 392 cu in Hemi bored and stroked to 445 ci. Either way the Charger was fast enough to outrun a train.
2. 1968 Mustang GT in Bullitt
Any car is cooler with legendary actor, director and motorsports enthusiast Steve McQueen behind the wheel. A Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT with its Ford FE V-8 is no exception. Bullitt’s daring chase scenes with a 1968 Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco were a movie first, with McQueen himself driving in many of the shots.
1. 1967 Shelby GT500 “Eleanor” in Gone in 60 Seconds
There are dozens of cars featured in Gone in 60 Seconds, but only one, “Eleanor,” was featured in the movie credits of the 1974 original. In the Nicholas Cage remake, the original 1970s Mustang Sportsroof was upgrade to a custom Dupont Pepper Grey 1967 Ford Mustang fastback depicted as a Shelby GT500. Though not an original Shelby, the upgraded 351 Ford V-8 crate engine generated a hefty 400 horsepower that made for gravity defying scenes.