Journal: Cars and Stars

Cars and Stars

By Yoav Gilad
February 2, 2015

In my first memories, I still recall a flash of orange trailing a plume of dust as it crashed through a makeshift barrier that read “Bridge Out” and then took flight across the width of a seemingly endless river (much wider than the above photo, I assure you!). The frame would freeze, the Balladeer would chime in, and then cut to commercial…

Less than three weeks from today, the Oscars, or Academy Awards, will honor the people who create much of our popular culture (for better or worse). And while the scene I described is from television, it’s amazing how much of our shared automotive culture is derived from both the big and small screens. These modern day fables are so pervasive that many cars featured therein become stars in their own right, attracting as much attention as the stars themselves.

Remember the DeLorean? Most people remember eighty-eight miles-per-hour, the flux capacitor, and Mr. Fusion before they can recall a single fact about the actual car. Or Bullitt? Lt. Frank Bullitt drove a 1968 Ford Mustang GT fastback while tracking down and dicing with the ‘bad guys’, who drove a Dodge Charger R/T.

I can’t name a single actor from that film off the top of my head except for Steve McQueen, but without effort I remember McQueen peering backwards out of the Mustang’s window at the guys trying to catch him, while tire smoke poured out from under the car. The shadowy dark-green Mustang became such an icon that Ford made a special edition, called the Bullitt, celebrating the iconic ’68 in 2001 and 2008. And it is almost impossible to remember McQueen nowadays without the vehicles of his more memorable films: the Le Mans Porsche 917K (short tail) and The Great Escape Triumph 6T motorcycle.

And some cars are so iconic that they eventually overshadow the actors. Remember Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Viper? The only things I recall from those productions are the cars! Obviously art imitates life when it comes to our love affair with cars and so this month, in celebration of the upcoming Oscars, Petrolicious will be focused primarily on the cars and culture that Hollywood has helped promote.

But don’t worry we’re not shifting our focus completely, just shining a proverbial spotlight (pardon the pun) on the cars and characters that Hollywood has made larger than life. Our first article has already gone up, but if there is any particular movie or TV car that you’d like us to highlight, let us know below and we’ll do our best. And if, like me, the “General” still haunts your memories–rest assured we will be featuring the Dukes of Hazzard.

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5 months ago

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Salvatore Massaro
Salvatore Massaro(@toto8321)
5 years ago

Amazing story, but you’re forgetting this:

Alexandre Goncalves
Alexandre Goncalves(@cacem)
5 years ago

Dodn´t know if it has already been mentioned, but the GMC van from “Soldiers of Fortune”!

Peter Hughes
Peter Hughes(@velocemoto)
6 years ago

Hoffman….Alfa Romeo Spider.

George Millwood
George Millwood(@sputnik)
6 years ago

I got hooked seeing a 50’s film called ‘The Racers’ starring Kirk Douglas and a bunch of period Ferraris, Maseratis etc etc Must download and watch it again one day.

Sté Phane
Sté Phane(@thewolf)
6 years ago

Dear Yoav,

As owner of a grey NSX, I would have expected that you let your biaised feelings talk and that you mention The Wolf 🙂

And because your head is often turned towards Europe and, thanks a lot, to France, you might be interested to know that the Mustang Cab was brought to celebrity over there partially through a movie starring Louis de Funès: Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez 😉


6 years ago

My earliest memories with cars in TV is the GMC Sierra Grande ’80-’84 appearing in “The Fall Guy” with Lee Majors.
Another one of course the Ferrari 308 in “Magnum P.I.”

6 years ago

i remember in “fast and furious” film have one. Vin Diesel with mustang and ty le ca cuoc

Nom de la Nom
Nom de la Nom(@skypooch)
6 years ago

How about the white Jaguar XJ-S Ian Ogilvy drove as Simon Templar in Return of The Saint? I wanted that car like none other (except an Aston Martin DB5) If you just did cars The Saint drove in films and tv, you could include Lagonda (The Saint in London with George Sanders), the Volvo P1800 /1800S, the Jaguar XJ-S and, if you must, the Volvo C70.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
6 years ago
Reply to  Nom de la Nom

You can add the Jensen Interceptor to the list. The Saint drove one in three largely forgotten TV movies made in 1989

Emmanuel Guilbault
Emmanuel Guilbault(@oldschoolspirit)
6 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

The Saint drove a lot of cars. Here a TVR Vixen S1.

Christopher Burton
Christopher Burton(@twowings)
6 years ago

Nothing stirred the imagination of the young fellas of my era than the Aston-Martin DB5 in Goldfinger and Thunderball…I remember the first kid on the block to get the toy model of the car was an instant hero! It was the first time I realized there cars from Europe and elsewhere that were just as fascinating as Fords, Dodges, and Chevys….ah, so long ago!

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers(@brown76)
6 years ago

#2) Knight Rider. I actually “met” one of the cars years ago. It was an exterior-shots-only car with a cut down steering wheel and none of the tv interior.

#1) If we can include fictional cars, I would also nominate the car from “Pinchcliffe Grand Prix”, a stop-motion film from Norway.

6 years ago

Obvious choice for me is an Alfa Romeo Spider in the Graduate – I often wonder if it was chosen because the Spider was/is the most romantic car ever made, or the movie has made it so. And my thumb up for a yellow Fiat 500 in old Miyazaki anime, Lupin the Third (both in TV series and Castle of Caliostro).

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa(@genovevo)
6 years ago

The Gumball Rally

6 years ago

This is going to date me … but when I was very young my Father took me to see a British comedy called “The Fast Lady”. The title role was filled by a vintage Bentley, and I think that was probably when I became a car addict.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo(@fanigbo)
6 years ago

Long before I knew what a 911 was, it was the 928 Al Pacino drove in Scarface that turned me on to Porsche. I wanted that car like I never wanted anything in my life.

6 years ago

I love the Volvo P1800 that was driven by Roger Moore in The Saint. It would be cool to see a video or article on that car.

6 years ago

Couple of great examples come to mind of the Mini or Mini Cooper:

1) Mr. Bean (MB’s mis-matched yellow Mini is synonymous with his character)
2.) The Italian Job – all three of them! Basically characters of the film and the most memorable part for most people.

Sid Widmer
Sid Widmer(@sid)
6 years ago

I may be kind of a knuckle dragger but it was A certain black Trans Am from a very corny movie that made me first notice cars and the last of the V8 Interceptors roaring through the wastelands that sealed the deal. I’ve had an affinity for scary black cars ever since.

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster(@fb_100002929454700)
6 years ago

Mention of a certain Aston-Martin International might well be viewed as self-serving, eh, Jeeves?

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster(@fb_100002929454700)
6 years ago

Be seeing you!“]Your text to link…[/url]

Martin James
Martin James(@coloradokid)
6 years ago

Hmmn .. so lets see now … being of a certain age …. hmmmn … pop culture and cars ;

The only thing seeing a DeLorean brings to mind the sleaze grifter that ole Johnny Z was and the way he shafted the Irish tax payer as well as every poor slob that ever bought one of his cars

Mustang’s ? Mustang’s remind me that they once were considered secretaries cars built on top of the boring as nails Falcon until Carol Shelby got his hands on them and lent them some cojones/credibility

To be honest … I can only think of one movie that ever really affected me car wise [ enough to go and buy one as a matter of fact ] The somewhat lame movie ” Bobby Deerfield ” and the Alfetta GT he drove in the film . Not … because it was in the film … but rather because the car was such a brilliant and usable design … by GG !

Don’t get me wrong . There’s movies with cars in them I enjoy .. such as ” Ronin ” [ S8 , various Citroens etc ] .. ” Downhill Racer ” .. ” Spy Games ” [ green 911’s both ] … ” Barney’s Version ” [ Citroen DS , XKE etc ] .. ” The Company You Keep ” [ Volvo wagon ] But other than ” Bobby Deerfield ” its the movie that sticks with me .. the cars being the ‘ supporting ‘ actors

But hold on . There was one TV series … British as a matter of fact that did stick a car in my mind and heart for what will no doubt be a lifetime of an unfulfilled dream . ” Inspector Lindley ” and the Bristol 411 he drove in the TV series . Though in truth IL caught my interest with his 411… but it was LJK Setright that cemented it

Ahhhh … so there was one !