What’s your most vivid car memory? Was it the family car that took you to school? Your grandparents’ car which shuttled you on endless trips to the beach over the long summer holidays? Or was it the car you learned to drive in? The car where you had your first kiss? Your very own car, complete with your first L Plates?
It’s amazing how cars lodge themselves in our memory and stay there. Just as the change in weather can trigger a long buried echo from the past, or a song brings you right back to that heartbreak you never thought you would get over, or the smell of roast lamb and rosemary reminds you of home, so cars, too, can evoke visceral sensations.
And TV and films have brought us some of the most memorable cars in our collective consciousness. Cars as distinctive as the characters who play opposite them. In fact, most of these cars could aptly be called characters in their own right. Did the ones you’re thinking of right now make our list?
Herbie the Love Bug
When it comes to cars as characters, you can’t go past the adorable Herbie the Love Bug. Herbie was a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle and was the star of six Herbie movies starting with The Love Bug in 1968. Herbie, with his cute blinking ‘eyes’, won hearts around the world and in the films was able to think and drive himself.
Did you know? Several methods were devised in the early films to make it appear as if Herbie was driverless, when in fact a driver was sitting in the back, low enough not to be seen, operating the car by a system of pulleys and levers. Later a camera was used to help the operator watch the road. It makes you wonder if making a CGI version today would be half as much fun.
Want to know more about Herbie? Visit Love Bug Fans.
Knight Industries Two Thousand aka KITT
If you’re an 80s kid, you’ll probably remember KITT from Knight Rider. But with the vast endlessness of the internet – and helped not a little by David Hasselhoff’s somewhat surprising continued fame – the TV series Knight Rider, in which KITT was the vehicular co-star, has never really been forgotten. In the original TV series KITT was an artificially intelligent and self-aware car, made from a customised 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am sports model. The second KITT was a 2008/2009 Ford Shelby GT500KR. In the series, KITT has a diverse array of special features including the obligatory front ejector seats – but also a money dispenser! Why hasn't that become a standard feature in all cars!?
Did you know? Val Kilmer was the voice of KITT in the 2008 series of Knight Rider.
The DeLorean Time Machine
You can't mention cars from movies without giving a shout out to the invention of the fantastically kooky ‘Doc' Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future films – his beloved DeLorean Time Machine. The DeLorean in the films was based around a DeLorean DMC-12 and is used by the characters in the films to travel to the past or future with typically hilarious and complicated results. To achieve time travel the DeLorean had to reach 88 miles per hour which would then activate the ‘flux capacitor’ – the device that makes time travel possible.
Did you know? Despite many fan theories, the use of 88 miles per hour as the speed required to activate the flux capacitor was simply because the production designers thought it looked cool on the speedo.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a 1968 British musical film loosely based on Ian Fleming's novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car - yep the same Ian Fleming who wrote James Bond! Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes wrote the film's screenplay. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the car is a fictional vintage racing car created especially for the book, film and stage production of the same name. One of the most magical features of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is its ability to sprout wings and propellers and fly – super handy when the Potts family who own it accidentally drive it off a cliff.
Did you know? The original car from the film is now owned by New Zealand film director Sir Peter Jackson who bought it at auction in 2011.
James Bond’s Aston Martin
James Bond is a man of many fabulous gadgets and devices, designed to make the job of being ‘Bond’ even cooler. Across the film franchise, Bond has had a variety of cars, all with modifications and features suited to the world’s most charming Secret Service Agent. But it’s the Aston Martin DB5 that has become the vehicle truly synonymous with Bond. The Aston Martin makes an appearance in seven Bond films with the debut being in the iconic film, Goldfinger.
Did you know? As part of the promotion of Goldfinger, Sean Connery drove up the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in the Aston Martin, surrounded by more 60 women painted in gold.
Don’t miss Part 2 of our 10 Famous Cars list coming soon. Have you already started guessing what’s on it?
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