Greatest film cars of all time

The terribly sad news about Lewis Collins reminded me of this post I wrote a few weeks ago. Originally inspired by our cars appearing on BBC2, it seems a fitting tribute to Mr Collins who appears with his two legged and four wheeled co-stars in my Top 10. Nobody born after the 1980s can really understand the impact that Bodie & Doyle had on a generation of impressionable young boys – and sales of Dagenham’s sporting family cars. Maybe The Professionals typecast Lewis Collins but what a role – tougher and more streetwise than Bond, he was the British Steve McQueen, very nearly. 

Here’s to Lewis Collins – thanks for all the bonnet-rolling, cardboard box-busting brilliance. 

1. Bullitt Mustang

Inevitably with a name like Great Escape we have to bow down to the King of Cool. Mr McQueen. We set up the company with the aim of giving customers a chance to be Steve McQueen For The Day, a legend of cool that owes a lot to a Highland Green Mustang. The Bullitt car chase is epic, of course, not least because Steve-o did most of the stunts, but because it showed that a little customising can turn a chrome queen into a cool classic.  Simply the best car, man and chase combination in cinematic history.

2. Plymouth Valiant in Duel

If you’ve missed Steven Spielberg’s big screen debut, download Duel now. Taking the car chase oeuvre and turning it on its head with an Everyman driver and Everyman car, Duel still thrills car fans with its brilliant screenplay and cinematography. Sure, it’s just a Plymouth Valiant, the automotive equivalent of vanilla, but in a movie this good, the car’s anonymity is part of the tension. 

3. Italian Job Minis (and The Bourne Identity)

Two films, one simple idea – a little car dodging big cars and buildings. My Name Is Michael Caine starred alongside rather than with the Minis, such was their central role in the film, an inspired choice of car that probably sold more Minis than any marketing gimmick. Jason Bourne repeated the trick with a best up example years later – without quite the same impact but perhaps with more drama.  

4. Audi S8 in Ronin

It shared screen time with a Citroen XM (an interesting choice of getaway car) but it’s the S8 that sticks in my memory. The big, growly, twin-turbo Quattro put the bad boy in big executive barge, its combination of Teutonic cool and V8 rumble working considerably letter than the rest of this iconic but rather messy film.

5. Jaguar Mk2 and John Thaw

Whether pootling around Oxford or being driven on the door handles by a carload of toe rags or stumbling up the M6 in Withnail & I, no car quite achieves dishevelled respectability like the Most beautiful saloon car ever made. The stylish Jaguar was the Subaru Impreza of its era, but with a smart Saville Row suit, quick, nimble and the perfect getaway car. 

6. The Bandit’s Pontiac Trans Am

The only thing that could upstage Burt Reynolds’ lip furniture in the Bandit movies, the stylish black be-eagled Trans Am T-Top was the blue collar GT car of the 70s. For kids in Britain it was part of a heady combination of long straight roads, big block V8s and CB radios. And who can truly assess the psychological impact on impressionable young minds of the discovery that Americans spent a lot of their time ‘getting air’ over broken bridges and ignoring conventional entry routes via car doors. 

7. Dukes of Hazzard Dodge Charger