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Iconic Movie Cars: The Stunner, the Hero Sidekick and the Cutie
Movie cars aren’t just props: with a decent script, they can become titular characters, just like, with the film’s success, they can become part of history.

Iconic Movie Cars: The Stunner, the Hero Sidekick and the Cutie

Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback depicted as a Shelby GT500Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback depicted as a Shelby GT500Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback depicted as a Shelby GT500Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback depicted as a Shelby GT500Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback depicted as a Shelby GT500Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback depicted as a Shelby GT500Tim Burton's Batmobile, also known as "the Keaton Mobile"Tim Burton's Batmobile, also known as "the Keaton Mobile"Tim Burton's Batmobile, also known as "the Keaton Mobile"Tim Burton's Batmobile, also known as "the Keaton Mobile"Tim Burton's Batmobile, also known as "the Keaton Mobile"One of the 3 surviving original Herbies from The Love Bug movieHerbie, the adventurous, sentient and impossibly cute BeetleHerbie, the adventurous, sentient and impossibly cute BeetleOne of the original Herbies, still in excellent shape
As the movie industry was just taking off, producers and filmmakers would struggle to find vehicles to use in their films, which made the surviving ones attain icon status almost right away. That’s not to say newer films don’t have iconic cars, even when they benefit from plenty of replicas for the “star” and endless CGI.

And that speaks volumes to how important cars can be to storytelling and how they strike a chord with the audiences, and explains why they end up selling for impressive amounts of money.

Eleanor

Eleanor is, without a doubt, the most famous Mustang ever to have her story told on the big screen – twice. The first time was in 1974 in the film Gone in 60 Seconds, when she became the first car ever to be made into a leading character; the second time was in the 2000 remake of the same film. We’ll talk about the latter today.

The rights of the original film were licensed to Disney in 1995, and 5 years, later, the film would drop in theaters. Starring Nicholas Cage as lead, with a supporting role from Angelina Jolie, Gone in 60 Seconds would have a similar storyline as the original, and a similar Eleanor. This time, producers used a Dupont Pepper Grey 1967 Ford Mustang fastback, depicted as a Shelby GT500, designed and customized by Steve Stanford.

According to varying reports, anywhere between 7 and 12 Eleanors were build for the movie, of which only 3 or 4 were fully functional vehicles and the rest shells. Many were destroyed during car scenes and stunts, a reported 7 went back to the studio and 4 were came up in public offerings: only 3 of them were authenticated. No one knows what happened to the wrecks and shells that went back to the studio.

The main “star” survived the production intact. It only made sense for her to do so, since she was used mostly for principal shots or “beauty” shots, as she was rolling down the street with the actors inside and for promotional posters. It sold for $1 million in 2013.

The Batmobile

Without a doubt, the most famous and most impressive Batmobile is the one Michael Keaton’s Batman drove in the 1989 Batman and the 1992 Batman Returns. It ushered a new era for Batman’s ever-reliable sidekick, with director Tim Burton and stylist Anton Furst delivering an aggressive, well-equipped and very convincing car worthy of the Dark Knight.

To this day, this version of the Batmobile remains one of the most appreciated by fans and car aficionados, which explains the sheer number of exact replicas. However, there is only one original Batmobile and you can find it in the personal collection of one Jeff Durham. The comedian and ventriloquist bought it in 2015 for a reported $500,000 and spend the same amount to make it street-legal. The other replicas used in the films and for promotional purposes are on display around the world.

The Batmobile was built on a Chevy Impala chassis and was nothing but a collection of fiberglass and plywood. It was modified from a 1970 Corvette body and had a Chevy V8 engine, and while it did shoot flames, they did not propel the car forward. On the upside, every gadget fitted to it was fully functional, except for the cocoon mode, which was rendered on screen through stop motion and CGI.

The Batmobile had chassis-mounted shin-breakers, side-mounted grappling hook launchers, a “Batmissile” mode that allowed it to shell outside material in case of an emergency, forward-mounted machine guns and a “foot” that could lift the car up and turn it 180 degrees, among many other toys. For Durham to make it street-legal, he probably had to forget about ever operating any of these gadgets.

“To me, the Batmobile was a pure piece of expressionism. I tried to give it that ‘knight in armor’ look, taking elements of the speed machines from the Utah Salt Flats, the Corvette Stingrays of the ‘50s, and combining those elements with jet aircraft components to create one cohesive machine,” Furst said of creating this particular Batmobile.

Tim Burton himself said that bringing the Batmobile to the screen was the biggest challenge for his Batman.

Herbie

Before the Autobots, there was Herbie: an incredibly cute, sentient, pearl-white, fabric-sunroofed 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle, star of the Disney movie franchise that kicked off in 1968 with The Love Bug and ended in 2005, with the Lindsay Lohan-vehicle Herbie: Fully Loaded.

The Disney property spawned several movies and television productions, and lots of merchandising, which makes this particular Beetle among the most expensive ever to hit the auction block. For the entire franchise, Disney used about 50 Herbies, many of which were destroyed in the process, because, well, Herbie is an adventurer and he loves chases, racing and testing his limits at every opportunity.

Legend has it that, before the first film, Disney auditioned several other cars for the role of Herbie, including an MG, a handful of Toyotas and Volvos, and a TVR. They settled for the Beetle because it was the only car crew were inclined to pet and talk affectionately to. And thus, Herbie was offered a place in the annals of filmmaking.

For The Love Bug, Disney commissioned 11 cars, none of which had the VW logos anywhere in sight, because the carmaker wouldn’t allow the Beetle to make an official appearance in the film (they changed their stance in the second installment, though). Of these cars, only 3 survived the production. In 2015, one of them sold for a record $126,000 at a private auction, and is the highest priced Herbie currently on the market.



 
 
 
 
 

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