In BBC America and AMC’s supernatural horror series NOS4A2, the Rolls-Royce Wraith isn’t just a runaround; it’s a character in its own right. When Zachary Quinto‘s immortal villain Charlie Manx takes his young victims for a long ride in his luxury 1938 vehicle, both he and the car feed off their souls, growing younger and stronger in the process. Manx then dumps the soulless kids in Christmasland, a twisted village of his imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law – a genuinely grisly fate.
As Season Two of NOS4A2 approaches its halfway point, here’s a celebration of 10 other memorable cars from TV and the movies – some have personalities of their own, and others are so iconic it almost feels as though they’re sentient characters.
1. The DeLorean From the Back to the Future Movies
In this beloved film trilogy, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd) embark on their adventures in a time machine built from a modified version of the DMC DeLorean sports car. The Back to the Future DeLorean is a bona fide movie icon, but in real life the model flopped and only 9,000 were made before DMC filed for bankruptcy.
2. KITT From Knight Rider
KITT – short for Knight Industries Two Thousand – is the famous four-wheeled partner of David Hasselhoff‘s undercover LAPD detective Michael Knight. Voiced by St. Elsewhere actor William Daniels, KITT talks and thinks for himself, because he’s actually an artificially intelligent computer module built into the body of a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. In the original Knight Rider series, KITT’s main adversary is KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot), a prototype version of KITT made dangerous because of a programming error.
3. FAB 1 From Thunderbirds
The iconic pink car from 1960s British sci-fi series Thunderbirds is a modified Rolls-Royce that helps its owner, International Rescue agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward (Sylvia Anderson), get out of all kinds of scrapes. Usually driven by her butler and chauffeur, Parker, it’s equipped with front- and back-mounted machine guns, a smoke screen canister, an oil slick dispenser, extendable tyre studs for extra action, and outriggers for travel on water and snow. Very “fab” indeed – and former Doctor Who guest star Sophia Myles got to ride in one when she played Lady Penelope in the 2004 Thunderbirds movie.
4. Herbie From The Love Bug
Arguably the cutest car in the movies, Herbie is an anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen Beetle who has a mind of his own and is fully capable of driving himself. Painted with red, white, and blue racing stripes, he’s a fierce competitor who loves to enter races and quite often wins. He made his debut in the 1968 Disney classic The Love Bug and has since starred in five more movies, the most recent of which, 2005’s Herbie: Fully Loaded, saw Lindsay Lohan jump behind the wheel.
5. Lightning McQueen From the Cars Movies
Disney Pixar’s Cars franchise is populated with loads of awesome talking anthropomorphic cars – the original 2006 movie even features the last acting role by the late, great Paul Newman, who voices Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet who turns out to have an illustrious past. But the Cars stories are always driven – pun definitely intended – by Owen Wilson‘s Lightning McQueen, a super-likeable rookie racer whose curvaceous design is inspired by a classic Le Mans endurance racer.
6. The General Lee From The Dukes of Hazard
Often referred to simply as “the General,” the customized 1969 Dodge Charger driven by Bo (Tom Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) appears in all but one episode of this ’80s action-comedy series. Its signature features are certainly quirky: because its doors are welded shut, the Duke brothers have to climb in through the windows, and it has a horn which plays the first 12 notes of the old-timey Southern song “Dixie.”
7. The Mini Coopers From The Italian Job
This 1969 caper movie is a Swingin’ Sixties classic featuring a terrific performance from Sir Michael Caine, who delivers the immortal line: “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” Its most famous scene sees Caine’s Cockney criminal leading a trio of Mini Coopers through the streets of Turin while being trailed by the cops: these compact economy vehicles are hardly your typical getaway car, which really adds to the movie’s fun underdog story. And in the 2003 remake, Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg get to use three slighter bigger, modern Mini Coopers for their getaway.
8. Christine From Christine
Adapted from a popular Stephen King novel, this cult classic movie features a car you definitely wouldn’t want to run into on a dark night. When awkward teenager Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) buys a classic red and white 1958 Plymouth Belvedere named Christine, the car initially helps to boost his popularity – until it turns out that Christine has a mind of her own, and a very possessive and malevolent personality.
9. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Based on a novel by Bond creator Ian Fleming, this 1968 movie about a magical flying car has been charming kids and adults alike for decades. Dick Van Dyke‘s madcap inventor Caractacus Pott was partly based on Rowland Emett, a whimsical British artist who actually designed the super-quirky car that we see in the movie.
10. Thelma and Louise’s Ford Thunderbird From Thelma & Louise
Sir Ridley Scott‘s 1991 road movie is a feminist favorite about two friends (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) who go on the run in their Ford Thunderbird after Louise commits a serious crime in mitigating circumstances. The Ford Thunderbird is integral to the legendary final scene where Thelma and Louise find themselves cornered by cops, but decide they’re still not ready to turn themselves in. No, you have something in your eye.
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