20 Iconic Automobiles That Starred in ’70s Films

The 1970s, a golden era of pop culture, saw a marriage of cinema and automobiles like never before. As the big screen and television sets across the world showcased stories of rebellion, adventure, and intrigue, cars often took center stage, becoming characters in their own right.

1976 Ford Gran Torino (Starsky & Hutch)

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The red Gran Torino with the white vector stripe became instantly recognizable as the car of choice for Detectives Starsky and Hutch. The car was as much a character in the show as the protagonists themselves. Its popularity led to Ford producing a limited number of replicas for sale to the public.

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T (Vanishing Point)

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The plot of “Vanishing Point” revolves around a high-speed pursuit across the American West in a white 1970 Dodge Challenger. The film celebrated the car’s power, agility, and design, making it an icon of the muscle car era.

1973 Ford Falcon (Mad Max)

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While the “Mad Max” series’ most famous car is arguably the Pursuit Special from the sequels, the first movie prominently featured a 1973 Ford Falcon. Its rugged durability and the dystopian setting underscored the importance of tough, reliable cars.

1977 Pontiac Trans Am (Smokey and the Bandit)

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The black and gold Trans Am became an emblem of American freedom and rebellion in “Smokey and the Bandit.” Its high-speed chases highlighted the car’s performance, making it a dream car for many in that era.

1975 Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me)

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This iconic James Bond car turned into a submarine. Its sleek design and multifunctionality showcased the wonder of technology and spy gadgets, capturing the imagination of viewers worldwide.

Mystery Machine (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!)

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While not a specific make and model, the colorful van used by Scooby and the gang became one of the most recognizable vehicles of Saturday morning cartoons. It symbolized friendship, adventure, and the allure of a good mystery.

1970 Plymouth Road Runner (Two-Lane Blacktop)

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This road movie spotlighted the culture of street racing and cross-country travel. The Plymouth Road Runner, with its raw power and iconic “beep-beep” horn, exemplified the freedom of the open road.

1970 VW Beetle (Herbie Rides Again)

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Herbie, the loveable VW Beetle with a mind of its own, starred in several movies, with “Herbie Rides Again” being one of the most famous from the ’70s. This car represented fun, adventure, and a touch of magic.

1979 Ford LTD Country Squire (The Brady Bunch)

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While not flashy, this station wagon became synonymous with suburban family life in the ’70s, thanks to its regular appearances transporting the large Brady family.

1981 DeLorean DMC-12 (Back to the Future)

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The DeLorean became legendary through its role as a time machine in the “Back to the Future” trilogy. Its gull-wing doors and stainless steel body, coupled with its fictional flux capacitor, turned this otherwise commercially unsuccessful car into a pop culture icon.

1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 (Bullitt)

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Featured in the 1968 film “Bullitt,” this Mustang, driven by Steve McQueen, is famous for one of the most thrilling high-speed chase scenes through the streets of San Francisco. The car’s aggressive styling and powerful V8 engine made it perfect for the film’s gritty, realistic action sequences.

1963 Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)

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This Aston Martin is perhaps the most famous James Bond car, equipped with machine guns, an ejector seat, and other spy gadgets in “Goldfinger.” Its elegant design and association with espionage cool have made it a lasting symbol of the Bond franchise.

1974 Dodge Monaco (The Blues Brothers)

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Known as the “Bluesmobile,” this 1974 Dodge Monaco was featured prominently in “The Blues Brothers.” It was chosen for its ability to withstand long and demanding chase sequences, becoming as much a character in the movie as the brothers themselves.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

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This rare Ferrari model played a key role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The car, which symbolizes freedom and rebellion, suffers a dramatic fate in a memorable scene that emphasizes the film’s themes of spontaneity and the fleeting nature of youth.

1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (Smokey and the Bandit)

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Aside from the aforementioned Trans Am in the movie, this model of the Firebird became a symbol of the American spirit and freedom, largely due to its role in the high-speed chases and escapades throughout the Southern U.S. in “Smokey and the Bandit.”

1994 Toyota Supra MK IV (The Fast and the Furious)

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This Toyota Supra became an icon of street racing culture after its appearance in “The Fast and the Furious.” The car’s ability to be heavily modified made it a hit within the tuner community, and its on-screen feats helped cement its legacy.

1982 Pontiac Trans Am (Knight Rider)

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As KITT in “Knight Rider,” the Trans Am was not just a car but a high-tech hero equipped with artificial intelligence. Its role in the series showcased futuristic technologies that fascinated audiences during the 1980s.

1976 Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me)

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Besides its transformation into a submarine, the Lotus Esprit was chosen for its futuristic design and lightweight body, which were integral to the underwater scenes in the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

1969 Mini Cooper (The Italian Job)

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The Mini Coopers in “The Italian Job” (1969) were integral to the film’s plot, showcasing the cars’ agility in tight spaces during the iconic gold heist scenes through the streets and sewers of Turin, Italy.

1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 (Gone in 60 Seconds)

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Known as “Eleanor” in the 2000 remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds,” this Shelby Mustang GT500 captures the essence of the classic American muscle car, complete with a sleek design and powerful performance, making it the ultimate prize for the film’s protagonist.

This article originally appeared on MyCarMakesNoise.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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