It says a lot about a show or movie when it can be recognised by the vehicle alone. Acting as a character in it's own right, this list celebrates the most memorable and beloved cars from British media (as well as some top picks from American pop culture). There's plenty of other famous vehicles that could have been included, but we decided to narrow the selections down to cars that have entered the popular culture and become recognisable to the masses by their association a particular show or movie.
Here are our picks for the top cars from British film and TV shows:
Brum | Brum
Car Model | Custom design
Vehicle Producer | Designed and built by show creator, Rex Garrod
Fun Fact | The original Brum car is still on-show at The Cotswold Motoring Museum in Gloucestershire, which is where the opening and closing sequences were filmed.
Brum was a British children's television series about the adventures of a radio controlled car across the city of Birmingham. The name 'Brum' originates from the colloquial name for Birmingham's residents, known as 'Brummies'. Originally the programme was set in the city of Birmingham, England's second most populated city, however later series make no mention of Birmingham, calling it the "Big Town" instead . The show was still continued to be filmed there and many Birmingham streets and landmarks can be seen in each episode, including Aston University. The show was first aired on BBC One, then later on CBeebies, from September 1991 until November 2002.
Based off of the 1922 Austin 7, the Brum model was designed and built by show creator Rex Garrod. In the show's continuity, Brum is able to drive himself, but in reality the car was radio controlled to not only drive, but also open and close his doors and bonnet, flashing and swiveling his headlamps, rotating his starting crank, extending his turn signals, and using his horn.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Car Model | Custom car by the film's production designer Ken Adam, and cartoonist/sculptor Rowland Emett
Vehicle Producer | Alan Mann Racing in Hertfordshire, England
Fun Fact | For the adapted movie, six cars were created in total, including a fully functional road-going car with the UK registration plate 'GEN 11'.
Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car is a children's novel written by Ian Fleming for his son Caspar. Known for his work writing the original James Bond novels, Flemming was able to have this story initially published in three seperate volumes, with the first being released in October 1964. Two years later in 1968, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie was released to British audiences, directed by Ken Hughes and starring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes and Lionel Jeffries.
The movie only loosely follows the plot of the book, with the film's story being adatped by director Ken Hughes and famous British children's author Roald Dahl.
The inspiration for the car's design came from a series of aero-engined racing cars built by Count Louis Zborowski in the early 1920s, which were called 'Chitty Bang Bangs'. The movie version of the car was built by Alan Mann Racing in Hertfordshire, and was fitted with a Ford 3000 V6 engine and automatic transmission. This car was privately owned by Pierre Picton of Stratford-upon-Avon from the early 1970s until May 2011, when it was sold at a Los Angeles auction for $805,000 (£495,415) to Sir Peter Jackson, who directed such films as 'The Lord of the Rings', 'The Hobbit' and the 2005 King Kong remake.
Aston Martin DB5 | James Bond
Car Model | Aston Martin DB5
Vehicle Producer | Aston Martin in Newport Pagnell, England
Fun Fact | The DB5 has been driven by Mr. Bond in six different films, more than any other car. Other Aston Martin models he's driven includes the DBS V12, V8 Vantage Volante and V12 Vanquish, with the DB10 making it's first appearance in the newest film, James Bond: Spectre.
Throughout the James Bond series of films and novels, Bond has been given a variety of vehicles which have numerous modifications to include elaborate weapons and anti-pursuit systems, alternative transportation modes, and various other functions, but one car in particular has always been linked to Mr. Bond's luxurious collection, the Aston Martin DB5. After 1964's Goldfinger, it went on to be appear in GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012).
As well as driving several other Aston Martin models, Bond has also driven a variety of other cars, from brands like Bentley, BMW, Ford, Range Rover and Lotus.
Named in honour of Sir David Brown, the DB series began production in 1948 with the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, which sold 15 units. The DB5 was released in 1963 with a 4L engine which could produce 282 base horsepower for a top speed of 145MPH (233KMH).
The DB5 used in both Goldfinger and Thunderball was recently sold at auction in June 2010 for £2.6 million.
Austin Mini | Mr Bean
Car Model | 1976 Austin Mini 1000
Vehicle Producer | Austin in Longbridge, England
Fun Fact | While popular seen as Applejack/Citron Green with a matte black hood, Mr. Bean's original mini was an orange BMC Mini MK II. This only appeared in the first episode of the series in 1990, before crashing at the end of the episode.
The Mini is a small, 5 seater car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), British Leyland and the Rover Group from 1959 until 2000. The original model is considered an icon of British pop culture in the 1960s and maintained it's popularity for decades.
After obtaining the Rover Group in 1994, BMW broke the group up in 2000, which included the Mini brand. News models continued to be produced in 2001, such as the Hatch, Convertible and Coupe series.
The most popular Mini driven by Mr. Bean was the 1976 Austin Mini, produced by British Leyland and assembled at Longbridge Plant near Birmingham
Reliant Regal | Only Fools and Horses
Car Model | 1967 Reliant Regal Supervan III
Vehicle Producer | Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth, England
Fun Fact | A Reliant Regal is shown in the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics with Batman and Robin jumping out after it falls apart, referencing the 1996 Christmas Special of Only Fools and Horses, Heroes and Villains.
Del Boy's three wheeled van, the 1967 Reliant Regal Supervan III, serves as the Trotters' main mode of transport. The van is also used to store any of Trotters Independent Traders' stock and transport the family to several destinations. It's top speed is 55 mph and has the registration 'DHV 938D'. The van only has two seats, which means that other passengers usually have to sit in the back, along with Del's stock. The van also has a roof-rack as the boot often isn't big enough for everything.
The Trotters' original van is now on display in the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, but backup and replica vans have been sold at auction over the years. This includes one sold in 2007 for over £44,000 to British boxer Ricky Hatton, however, while marketed as a genuine film vehicle, it was actually just a replica model.
While not as prominent, the Reliant Regal made regular appearances in another British TV comedy, Mr. Bean. The baby-blue three-wheeler became a running gag in the series where the main character, Mr. Bean, would frequently clash with the Supervan. The tinted windows left us clueless to the driver, but they'd usually end up tipped over, crashed into, or bumped out of their parking space, this gag continued to appear in the animated series years later.
Austin A35 | Wallace and Gromit
Car Model | Austin A35 Van
Vehicle Producer | Austin in Longbridge, England
Fun Fact | Despite ceasing production in 1968, the A35 was driven by Wallace in the 2005 Aardman Animations film, 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'. It then became the staple vehicle of the series, appearing in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' in 2009.
The Austin A35 is a small family car that was sold from 1956 until 1968, a combined total of over 280,000 A35s were produced. It was design to replaced the highly successful Austin A30, even resembling the general look and shape. The name reflected the larger and more powerful 34 horsepower engine, enabling a slightly higher top speed and better acceleration.
The van model was in production the longest, lasting twelve years from 1956 to 1968. The estate lasted until 1962 and the saloon until 1959, however, The only version of the A35 with four doors was the saloon model, and even then it was available with 2 doors.
In 'Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit', the A35 van featured the license plate 'HOP 21T' and was used by the lead characters to chase and store rabbits as a part of their anti-pesto business.
DeLorean DMC-12 | Back to the Future
Car Model | DeLorean DMC-12
Vehicle Producer | DeLorean Motor Company in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Fun Fact | While it was manufactured in the UK, the car is assembled by people and companies from across the world. The first prototype was completed by American engineer William T. Collins, the design was the work of Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro and the engine is a joint effort from Peugeot (France), Renault (France) and Volvo Cars (Sweden).
The DeLorean DMC-12 is a sports car that was manufactured by the DeLorean Motor Company for the American market from 1981 to 1983, but most refer to it simply as 'the DeLorean', as it was the only model ever produced by the company. The DMC-12 featured a rear-mounted engine and gull-wing doors with a fiberglass "underbody", to which non-structural brushed stainless steel panels are affixed. Around 9000 units of the DMC-12s were made before production stopped in late 1982, of which, about 6,500 are believed to still exist.
Back to the Future was released in 1985 and starred Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, who both used the prominent DeLorean to travel to several different points in time throughout the trilogy. In order to initiate time travel, the DeLorean would need to travel reach speeds of 88MPH, which may be a reference to the misleading speedometer which only goes to 85MPH due to American restrictions, despite the top speed being closer to 140MPH.
The Batmobile | Batman
Car Model | Various designs across comics, TV shows and movies
Vehicle Producer | Drawn by series and character creator, Bob Kane
Fun Fact | The Batmobile made its first appearance in Detective Comics #27, (May 1939) which was also Batman's first comic. It was originally a plain red sedan, which he referred to as "his car". Over time the car adapted into the iconic vehicle, with the term 'Batmobile' first being used in 1941's Detective Comics #48.
After it's original incarnation, it soon began featuring an increasingly prominent bat motif, typically including distinctive wing-shaped tailfins. Armored in the early stages of Batman's career, it has been customized over time into a sleek street machine, and is the most technologically advanced crime-fighting asset within Batman's arsenal. Depictions of the vehicle has evolved along with the character, with each incarnation reflecting evolving car technologies. It has appeared in every Batman iteration; from comic books and television to films and video games.
The 1960s Batman TV Series: What became the iconic Batmobile used in the show and film adaptation was a customized vehicle that originated as a one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, created by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt, Doug Poole, John Najjar and their design team at the Lincoln Styling Department. In 1954, the Futura prototype was built entirely by hand by the Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy, at a reported cost of $250,000.
'Batman' and 'Batman Returns': (Pictured Above) Tim Burton's live-action films presented a different version of the Batmobile, which reflected the film's Art Deco version of Gotham City, both of which were designed by Anton Furst. It was long, low and sleek, and was built on a Chevrolet Impala chassis. The design for this Batmobile was later updated for 'Batman Fovever' and 'Batman and Robin' by the new director, Joel Schumacher.
The Dark Knight Trilogy: Christopher Nolan depicted the Batmobile to be more 'tank-like' taking inspiration from Frank Miller's 'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns', with a more 'workhorse' appearance than the sleek automobiles seen in previous incarnations. The film's dialogue refers to vehicle as the 'Tumbler', but it's still called the Batmobile in the scripts. The film's production designer described the machine as a cross between "a Lamborghini and a tank".
Ecto-1 | Ghostbusters
Car Model | Cadillac Miller-Meteor
Vehicle Producer | Wayne Corporation (Bankrupted in 1995)
Fun Fact | The Ecto-1 was converted from a Miller-Meteor ambulance, but the company also produced school buses, delivery vans, hearses, flower cars and limousines.
The Ecto-1 is the staple vehicle of the movies and cartoon series that the Ghostbusters team uses to travel throughout New York City to fight ghosts and other entities. Originally a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance, it was purchased and converted for purpose by Dr. Ray Stantz (Portrayed by Dan Aykroyd). He bought the vehicle for $4,800 and was able to repair it because of his mechanical knowledge. After repairs were completed, the vehicle had quite a unique character, and became a well-recognized symbol for the Ghostbusters franchise. The vehicle had enough room in it to store Proton Packs for all of the crew, along with Ecto Goggles', P.K.E. Meters, and a slew of ghost traps.
K.I.T.T. | Knight Rider
Car Model | 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Vehicle Producer | General Motors in California and Ohio, USA
Fun Fact | The original K.I.T.T. AI was an abbreviation for 'Knight Industries Two Thousand'. A new AI was introduced for the 2008 Knight Rider TV series named 'Knight Industries Three Thousand', which is also abbreviated to K.I.T.T.
K.I.T.T. is an artificially intelligent electronic computer module in the body of a highly advanced, very mobile, robotic automobile. The original AI was a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, while the second K.I.T.T. was a 2008/2009 Ford Shelby GT500KR. The original and most famous K.I.T.T. had several modifications and added features such as Turbo Boost, a front mounted scanner bar that allowed him to 'see' , and 'molecular bonded shell' body armour, portrayed to be invulnerable to diamond headed drills and resistant to close explosive blasts. The car's voice was supplied by actor William Daniels.
Developed by General Motors from 1969 to 2002, The Trans Am was a speciality package for the Firebird, typically upgrading handling, suspension, and horsepower. The car also featured in other movies, such as 'Rocky II', 'Hooper' and the 'Smokey and the Bandit' series
V8 Interceptor | Mad Max
Car Model | 1973 Falcon XB GT
Vehicle Producer | Ford in Victoria, Australia
Fun Fact | During pre-production of the first Mad Max film in 1976, the vehicle started out as a standard white 5.8L model, but was painted black and modified with roof and rear spoilers, as well as eight side exhausts.
V8 Interceptor/Pursuit Special is the iconic black police interceptor used by the fictional Main Force Patrol in the Mad Max film series, making a prominent appearance in the first, second, and fourth films of the series; however, it is absent from the third. The car was originally stolen and driven an escaped criminal in the first movie before being stopped by Max Rockatansky (portrayed Mel Gibson, then Tom Hard in Fury Road). He is offered car as an incentive to stay on the police force after he reveals his desire to resign. Although Max turns the offer down, he later uses the black car to exact his revenge on an outlaw motorcycle gang who killed his wife and child.
The car is a modified Ford Falcon XB GT which was launched in September 1973 by Ford Australia, the setting of the Mad Max films. This model was to be the last Falcon GT for almost 20 years until the 25th Anniversary EBII GT in October 1992.
In 2007, Adrian Bennett aged 45 from Bradford, England, moved his family to Australia to open a museum dedicated to the Mad Max films, featuring many of series' vehicles and costumes. Click here to read more
General Lee | The Dukes of Hazard
Car Model | 1969 Dodge Charger
Vehicle Producer | Chrysler Corporation in Michigan, California and Missouri, USA
Fun Fact | Across 145 episodes of the original Dukes of Hazard TV series, the car appears in every episode expect one (Episode 3: 'Mary Kaye's Baby').
The 'General Lee' is the name given to a 1969 Dodge Charger driven by the Duke cousins Bo and Luke; along with cousins Coy and Vance in the 5th season of the television series. It is known for its signature horn, police chases, stunts — especially its long jumps — and for having its doors welded shut, leaving the Dukes to climb in and out through the windows. The car's name is a reference to general Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until 1865. It bears a Confederate flag on its roof, and also has a horn which plays the first twelve notes of the song "Dixie".
The Dodge Charger was introduced during in 1966 and manufactured in Canada. The car went through several generations of changes until it's discontinuation in 1987. 19 years later in 2006, Dodge reintroduced the Charger as a four-door sedan.