There are cars that are famous for their classic appeal and there are cars that are famous because they appeared in a movie or television show. Some cars are both. Most cars made famous for their movie appearances are economically well out of reach for most of us and reside in the realm of high collectibility — not all of us can afford a General Lee or DeLoran. Yet some cars appeared in a movie or two in stock form and there are hundreds of them out there on the market at any given time and thousands of them plying the roads every day. Those are the movie cars most of us can afford. Here’s a list to choose from.
Our prices here are averages for those shown in Internet-based sales listings for vehicles of average condition. We’re listing only vehicles that have an average price under $20,000 on the open market. Not all are readily available, of course, and the color may or may not match the car shown in the film referenced, but you can always repaint it. Right?
1950 Ford Custom Deluxe, Thunder Road
The 1958 film Thunder Road starred Robert Mitchum and a white 1950 Ford Custom Deluxe two-door sedan. The sedan had been hot-rodded as the plot of the film had Mitchum playing a Korean War veteran turned whiskey runner battling big-city gangsters and federal tax men.
Although a classic, 1950 Ford Custom Deluxe cars similar to that used in the film are relatively inexpensive, even when in tolerable shape. The average online classified price for one is about $15,500 which will net you a car that might need some TLC, but which will not be a complete rust bucket in need of heavy restoration.
1950s Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle), The Love Bug
The vehicles used in the first Herbie movie, The Love Bug, were mostly 1952 Type 1 models, though there were some earlier years used as stunt machines and modified for particular scenes. The first-generation Beetle after World War II was commonly called the “Type 1” though most people know them as “Beetles” or “Bugs.” In the film, starring Dean Jones and Michele Lee, Herbie #53 has a mind of his own. Many Beetle owners will tell you that theirs do too. On the open market, you can often find these post-war Beetles for sale in the $12,500 range in running order. Engines vary from originals to fitted Porsche 929 add-ons.
1962 Sunbeam Alpine Series II, James Bond: Dr. No
A classic film of the James Bond franchise, starring Sean Connery for the first time as 007, was released in 1962 as Dr. No. Co-star Ursula Andress was a very well-known model at the time as well and one of the cars famously featured in this blockbuster was the Sunbeam Alpine Series II.
The car was not originally slated as a film car, but logistics on location in Jamaica meant that procuring the usual stable of cars that would later become standard fare in a British Bond film would be expensive. So the rental car Bond drives is a Sumbeam Alpine instead. These cars can be found occasionally on the U.S. market and one in usable condition averages about $18,000.
1969 Ford Torino, Need for Speed
Based on the video game franchise of the same name, Need for Speed features some of the hottest cars on the planet, most of which are wildly expensive. One car prominently featured in the film, however, is a 1969 Ford Torino. For two years, 1968-69, Ford produced the Torino as an upscale version of the Fairlane coupe, which had been redesigned for 1968. Not terribly popular with collectors, the Torino of those two years can be found in relatively good condition for about $17,000 in two-door fastback style.
1973 Chevrolet Corvette, Corvette Summer
Starring Luke Skywalker before anyone knew what a Jedi was, this film released in 1978 and featured a kid who just graduated high school looking for his stolen Corvette. Along with sidekick Annie Potts, Hammill races to Vegas to find his car, a 1973 Corvette decked out in outlandish 1970s-style plastic add-ons and an over-the-top paint scheme. This Corvette sits directly in the center of the third-generation (or C3) ‘Vette, one of the most iconic of Corvette designs — and one of the longest lived, running from 1962 to 1982. This is the Corvette that carried the icon through the 1970s oil crisis’ “gutless years” of American motoring. They can be found, in coupe style, for around $17,500 in manageable condition. The huge plastic hood gills and fancy red paint will cost you extra, though.
1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, McQ
One of the most underrated and often overlooked John Wayne films, McQ was also one of the only films in which The Duke drove a car throughout. Released in 1974, the film featured a 1973 Firebird Trans Am which Lieutenant Lon McQ (Wayne) drove as he investigated the death of his friend. The car in the film is largely stock as an easily-recognizable second-generation Firebird. These can be had, possibly even in the factory green paint used in the film, for around $13,000 in usable condition. The Mac10 with silencer, however, will not likely be included.
1974 AMC Hornet, James Bond: The Man With the Golden Gun
Introduced in the 1970 model year, the Hornet quickly earned a reputation for being a well-heeled economy car with excellent performance. By 1974, the Hornet had matured and the wagon-style body and coupe used in this James Bond film were product placements by AMC. The wagon, without the goofy airplane additions, can be found for around $3,000 on the open market and a non-hotrod coupe can be found for a few dollars more.
1975 Ford Gran Torino, Starsky & Hutch
In most people’s minds, the Gran Torino is instantly recognizable in one body style and one non-factory paint scheme. That’s the 1972-76 coupe body Sport 2-door with bright red paint accented by a white stripe running from the roof down to the doors and forward to the lights in a hockey-stick shape. The scheme used in the popular television show Starsky & Hutch was later used in the modern retro-comedy film in 2004. Starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson and, of course, the 1975 Gran Torino. On the open market, this car can be found for around $16,000, but the paint will likely cost you extra.
1977 Lotus Espirit S1, 1980 Lotus Espirit Turbo, James Bond
Two more Roger Moore-led 007 films were The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only. Both of these Bond films featured Lotus Espirit models, the former an Espirit S1 and the latter an Espirit Turbo. The S1 was the first-generation of the Espirit, replacing the Europa, and featured a tiny 2.0-liter engine producing a huge amount of horsepower for the car’s small size and light weight. The down-rated engine for the U.S. market was a disappointment, but many tuners have had a field day with it since.
The later film featured a 1980 Espirit Turbo, the first turbocharged Espirit from the factory. This 1980 Espirit Turbo was also the first of the S3 line for the model.
Both of these Bond cars can be found for around $12,000 in working condition.
1981 Porsche 928, Risky Business
The film that launched Tom Cruz’ career, Risky Business, features him as a teenager stealing his father’s Porsche 928. This car is one of the longest-running Porsche models sold in North America. In 1981, it was sold with a 4.7-liter engine outputting 229 horsepower. As an iconic car of the time, it was also a high-selling model, meaning many are still on the road and available for purchase. To get one in good condition, you’ll pay roughly $8,000.
1985 Toyota 4×4 Xtra Cab, Back to the Future
The DeLorean stole the show, of course, and is one of the most iconic movie cars of all time, but to get one, you’ll have to spend a small fortune. Yet in the film, Marty McFly pines after a different machine, a 1985 Toyota 4×4 with the Xtra Cab and some added 1980s niceties like chrome rollbars and accents. Hey McFly! These are on the road all over the U.S. and can be found for $4,000 in most classifieds.
All photos taken from Wikimedia, some may not exactly match vehicle in question.