What’s the greatest movie car of all time?

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movie cars
This 1965 Aston Martin DB5 was used to help promote two James Bond films. The car sold for $6.385 million at RM Sotheby's Monterey auction in 2019 | RM Sotheby's photo

And now, the award for the greatest movie car of all time goes to…

So, what car do you think was the greatest movie star car ever to appear on the big screen? It’s hard to argue with Magneto magazine’s pick. In its recent Winter 2019 edition, the British quarterly anointed James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 as the all-time star.

“What sets the Bond Aston apart from most other cars among our Top 50 is that its fame has never ebbed,” the magazine noted.

OK, so no surprise there. However, you might be perplexed to learn that the Bullitt Mustang that carried Steve McQueen’s character through that famous San Francisco car chase ranks only 17th on the magazine’s Top 50 listing.

What, you might wonder, beat out the Bullitt?

mustang
The Mustang GT movie car made a surprise entrance at Mecum’s Monterey auction venue this summer | Rebecca Nguyen photos

Well, according to the magazine, another Bond-movie car, the Lotus Espirit S1 that transformed into a submarine, took the No. 3 spot. Also gaining two of the top spots ahead of the iconic Highland Green Mustang were cars from the original Italian Job — the Minis (No. 6) and the Lamborghini Miura (No. 13).

Count Zborowski’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang racer that lent its name to a 1968 movie took second place behind 007’s Aston Martin in the magazine’s ratings, and Doc Brown’s DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future was No. 4. 

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Rounding out the top 5 was the 1932 Ford 5-window coupe from American Graffiti, which the magazine credits with reigniting interest in the traditional hot rod.

Other movie cars that were rated ahead of the Bullitt Mustang included The Love Bug Volkswagen Beetle, the 1904 Darracq from Genevieve, the Plymouth Fury from Christine, the Dodge Challenger from Vanishing Point, the Ford Falcon V8 Interceptor from Mad Max, the ’34 Ford 3-window coupe from California Kid, the 1955 Chevrolet 150 from Two-Lane Blacktop, the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider from The Graduate and the Warren-Ingrams (the movie’s name for the Aston Martins) from the 1956 movie Checkpoint.

Of the 50 cars selected, 8 appeared in 007 movies. In addition to the DB5 and submerging Lotus, they were: No. 19, the AMC Hornet that flew across a river in The Man With the Golden Gun, No. 24, the Toyota 2000GT from You Only Live Twice, No. 26, the Aston Martin V8 from The Living Daylights, No. 29, the Rolls-Royce Phantom III from Goldfinger, No. 29, the Aston Martin DBS from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and No. 42, the Citroen 2CV from The Spy Who Loved Me.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Hey, Larry- a British publication, huh? Might explain how the ’04 Darracq and all those Bond cars got a wheel on the Bullitt. Loved Herbie as a kid, the "Italian Job" cars (I was enough of a eurocar fan as a young’un to be genuinely sad that a movie would destroy a Miura), the "Vanishing Point" Challenger, Max’s Interceptor, Sheen’s Cali Kid, Christine, and the "American Graffiti"/"Two Lane Blacktop" cars- so I can see how they might outrank the Bullitt. But an ’04 Darracq? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? And a pimped up DeLorean? Ahead of the Bullitt? Aw, c’mon, man.
    Significantly missing? Cunningham’s ’58 Impala from "Graffiti", the nameless dude’s ’70 GTO Judge from "Two Lane", all the yellow/blue/red early Holden Monaro police interceptors from "Max", the ’71 Eleanor ‘Stang from the original "Gone in 60", DeNiro’s BMW from "Ronin", and the triple black ’68 Charger that the Bullitt ran to ground. Brits. Sigh.
    FYI- in my vast collection of automobilia, I have an old mag, possibly "Hot Rod", maybe "Car Craft", from the ’80’s that does a history and where-are-they-now article on the "Graffiti" cars. The main takeaway is that the ’55 driven by ‘Falfa (young Harrison Ford) in "Graffiti" is exactly the same ’55 used in "Two Lane", slathered in primer and with different hood/wheels, but the same car. The reason the engine is never shown in "Graffiti" is the time period; the ’55 had a Mark IV bigblock Chevy installed, which wasn’t introduced until 1965, three years later than the ’62 storyline. This is prominently displayed during several scenes in "Two Lane", a film my HS friends and I gleefully watched at a dusk til dawn drive-in show with "Gone in 60" and "Vanishing Point" as the other headliners back in the late ’70’s.
    Maybe you could track down some of these cars and do an update.
    Brits. Sigh.

    • No mention of the Bandit ’77 Trans Am — BAN-ONE that created a selling frenzy in the US for GM and that today is a worldwide collectible car… and number two movie to Star Wars that year. Um, ok. Sure.

      • Got to go with Roy Rodgers sidekick’s Willys Jeep "Nellie Belle". Nah just kidding. But this All-American has to vote for the DB 5 Bond Car. Come on Man ! Who doesn’t want those options that Q prepared for it. Great article here.

  2. And so where did Eleanor the Mustang featured in the original (1974) Gone In 60 Seconds rank?
    One of the greatest car chases in movie history.

  3. My personal fav, unlike all these, only got a few short cameos: Johnnie’s black ’57 BelAir in Dirty Dancing. I have a shiny black restomod 4-door, the most badass car of all time, always surrounded wherever I go by people asking to take photos and selfies

    • …..and what about every family’s dream car , from National Lampoon’s Vacation , the Griswald’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster ?…..”

  4. 1974 AMC Hornet X from the James Bond Movie, "Man With the Golden Gun" . Barrel roll sequence.

    Yes, I am prejudiced, I had that car. LOVED it.

  5. Gentleman, Please post more pictures with Rolls Royce, BMW, Mercedes-Benz… Silver Spur, 750LI,S550…
    Thank you very much for the opportunity…

  6. You miss ONE Movie …Alowa Bobby and rose with maybe the best music by Elton John…and à Nice Camaro… with suite à ride!

  7. You mean the 1977 Bandit Trans-Am and the General Lee 69 Dodge Charger did not make the cut? What about the 1982 black Trans-Am from Knight Rider? Ok, so that’s a tv show. Same difference. None of those made the list? I’m offended! LOL Those cars came to define an entire generation of gear-heads in this country! Long before Paul Walker ever thought about climbing behind the wheel of a Civic, Burt Reynolds did it first with a Screamin’ Chicken Trans-Am!! God Bless America!!!

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