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More Cars That Captured Our Imagination

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

Last time, we looked at three iconic cars of the movies – Steve McQueen's Mustang GT,  Marty McFly's DeLorean and The 1977 Trans Am from the movie Smokey and the Bandit. There are so many cool cars in history, we decide we're going to look at a few more iconic vehicles that became part of the popular consciousness because of their roles in famous movies. Along the way, we will try to dig up some more interesting did-you-know factoids. Today we have a couple of famous spy cars, the boss of the Australian apocalyptic outback, and a ghost's funky worst nightmare (if ghosts actually have nightmares).

1964 Aston Martin DB5 & 1976 Lotus Esprit S1 - James Bond – Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me

James Bond is supposed to personify everything that it means to be a man. And that means good looks, a cool British accent, awesome gadgets to play with (preferably ones that blow things up), beautiful girls hanging around, and of course, cool cars.

The Bonds film series is the longest running series in cinema history, and two of the most iconic vehicles from the series are the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger and the 1976 Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Love Me.

bond aston martinThe Aston Martin DB5 was actually featured in multiple Bond films - six to be exact. The model from the third Bond film Goldfinger is probably the best remembered, partly because Goldfinger is considered by fans and critics alike to be the best Bond movie of all time. The particular Aston Martin in Goldfinger was loaded with gadgets, including a pop out set of gun barrels behind the front indicator, a rear bullet shield and a three-way revolving front license plate showing "Goldfinger". The specific car from the movie itself was sold at auction in 2010 for $4.6 million.

The movie Goldfinger came out in 1964 and it was the 1964 model of Aston Martin DB5 that was featured in the film. But the DB5 car model was not first made until 1963. It was the final evolution in the DB series for Aston Martin, named for Sir David Brown, the head of the Aston Martin company from 1947 to 1972. The DB5 featured an eight cylinder,  282-horsepower engine that could reach a top speed of 143 mph.

In the promotional runup for the Goldfinger film, the two DB5 cars used in the film were showcased at the 1964 New York World's Fair, where it was dubbed the most famous car in the world. Being given such an honor will always boost sales and that's exactly what happened for Aston Martin.

bond lotus espritThe Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me in 1976 could do things the Aston Martin could not. Namely, transform into a submarine with anti-aircraft missiles. The Lotus Esprit became one of the 1970s most iconic performance cars - but the engine seems a little underwhelming by today's standards for. It only displaced 2.0 L and produced only 160 hp. This gave the Lotus a top speed of 133 mph - slightly underwhelming for such an icon of automotive performance.

Did you know… As mentioned, The Spy Who Loved Me film featured the Lotus Esprit transforming into a submarine. For the film, a special submarine nicknamed "Wet Nelly" was built. In September 2013, the movie's submarine was purchased by Tesla founder Elon musk for 650,000 British pounds, the equivalent of about $1 million. Word is that musk plans to install one of his Tesla electric powered trains in the submarine S1 and make it able to transform from a road going car into an actual Seagoing submarine.

Did you know… One more gadget the Aston Martin featured was a map screen inside of the car, which seems to be a foreshadow of today's navigation systems.

1973 Ford falcon XB GT "Pursuit Special" - mad max

ford falcon pursuit specialThe fourth installment in 2015 of the Mad Max film series means that 40 years of filmgoers have been able to marvel at the 1973 Ford Falcon XB used in the films. The particular Falcon that Mad Max used was not even available in the states - it was produced for the Australian market by the Australian arm of the Ford motor company. For the original movie, George Miller and the filmmakers transformed the already cool Falcon into the "Pursuit Special" or the "Interceptor". They put a new nose on the front, flares on the side and fattened up the tires. They also put a switch-activated super charger unit on the hood. Anytime Max needed a super boost of power, he switched that thing on. Unfortunately for dreamIng movie fans, the super charger was not real, it was only a movie prop.

Did you know… Max's Pursuit Special went up for sale after the completion of the first movie. Remember that the first Mad Max movie was a very low budget feature with a budget of less than $400,000. Its director, George Miller, was a medical doctor in Australia who worked in hospital emergency rooms and witnessed many injuries of the types that ended up being depicted in his films. Mel Gibson himself had only one previous film role before Mad Max and showed up at his audition the morning after he was involved in a drunken brawl with three men at a party, resulting in a swollen nose, bruises, and a broken jaw. Apparently the casting director thought the injuries helped make him better for the part and the rest is history.

Anyway, after filming wrapped up, they put the car up for sale. Nobody wanted it. So they gave the car to one of the production crew. A few years later, when production for The Road Warrior (the second film in the series) began, director George Miller had to buy the original car back. Once filming for the second film wrapped, they left the car at a junkyard in Adelaide because they, again, found no buyers. Someone later found it, purchased it and restored it, and eventually it was sold again and put on display at a car museum in England. That museum closed in 2014 and mad maxes favorite interceptor car now resides at the Dezer Museum in Miami, Florida.

1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor - Ghostbusters

ghostbusters cadillac miller meteorIt's not Steve McQueen's Mustang, but the Miller Meteor still has a special place in our hearts for carting around the Ghostbusters. It probably needed a lot of work, suspension and shocks and brakes, maybe some transmission work and new rings. But for less than 5,000 bucks, they got seating for four and a place to roll out their ghostbusting proton packs.

The Miller Meteor is what's known as an "end loader combination car". In other words, an ambulance conversion. In the movie, they buy the car for 4,800 bucks. Over the course of the three Ghostbusters movies, three Miller Meteor cars were used. The first two lasted all the way through the first movie and partway into the second before dying. So they had to buy a third one. It currently sits in a Sony Pictures studio back lot, having undergone detailed restoration work to reverse years of wear and tear.

Did you know… The concept for Ghostbusters was formulated by Dan Aykroyd, who saw it as a vehicle (no pun intended) for himself and his fellow Saturday night live alumnus John Belushi. Aykroyd wrote the original story - a group of ghost "smashers" who travel through time and space and other dimensions to combat huge ghosts like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. They used wands instead of proton packs to fight the ghosts. Aykroyd pitched his story to eventual director Ivan Reitman, who liked his basic idea but was able to give the story an overhaul.  In collaboration with Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, they give us the script we know today. For the first test screening of Ghostbusters, half of the ghost effects had not even yet been put into the film. The audience response was still very enthusiastic and they knew they had a winner on their hands. Probably, in no small part, due to the undying coolness of the 1959 Miller Meteor.

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Image Credits: Celebrity Cars, D'Marge, Geek

This post was published on October 6, 2015 and was updated on October 6, 2015.

Topics: Classic Cars, Car Care