You know a film is good when it remains fresh in your head even after many decades of watching it. While the actors, plots, and special effects play a significant role in making a movie memorable, sometimes the vehicles play an equally important role. For instance, Batman films would be incomplete without the Batmobile. Or what is a Back to the Future movie without a DeLorean DMC-12?
Although the financial crisis of the 1970s affected everything including Hollywood, creatively, the decade was a high point in the US film industry. With many vehicles pulling off jaw-dropping stunts and engaging in fierce car chases, there are loads of movies of diverse genres from the 1970s for gearheads to check out if they somehow missed them. From the Mustang to the personal luxury Eldorado, these iconic rides have ruled the big screen in the 1970s.
10/10 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T – Vanishing Point
Vanishing Point is a 1971 American action/crime film that follows the activities of a disgruntled ex-policeman and race car driver. Barry Newman plays the main character role of Kowalski, who drives a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum. Kowalski flees from police officers as much as he can and still finds time to engage in races.
The 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T is powered by a 6.4-liter V8 with an output of 290 hp. With its leading role in the movie, the Challenger R/T rose to fame. However, other cars featured in Vanishing Point include a Jaguar E-Type roadster, an Imperial, and a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro.
9/10 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon – Mad Max
The 1979 Australian dystopian action film, Mad Max is a story about the violent activities of motorcycle gangs along the highways of Australia. In the movie, Mel Gibson’s character “Mad” Max Rockatansky is out to get his revenge against the evil Toecutter played by Hugh Keays-Byrne.
Max drives a 1974 Ford Falcon XB “Interceptor” sedan, which is powered by a 351 c.i.d. Cleveland V8 engine. We also see police officers, Roop and Charlie driving the same car in the movie. The 1979 Mad Max became the first in the Mad Max series, leading to three sequels: the 1981 Mad Max 2, the 1985 Beyond Thunderdome, and the 2015 Fury Road.
8/10 1977 Pontiac Trans Am – Smokey And The Bandit
The 1977 action/comedy Smokey and the Bandit brings you into the world of two truck-driving southerners, Bandit and Cledus, who try to illegally transport 400 cases of Coors from Texarkana and are being hunted down by a pesky sheriff. The movie brings the now iconic 1977 Pontiac Trans Am into the spotlight.
The 1977 Pontiac Trans Am was driven by Burt Reynolds, who plays Bandit in the Smokey and the Bandit. Powering the 1977 Trans Am is a 6.6-liter V8 engine mated to an M40 three-speed automatic transmission to produce 185 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. In January 2022, the iconic movie car was put for auction.
7/10 1973 Ford Mustang – Gone In 60 Seconds
Gone in 60 Seconds is a low-budget 1970 American action heist film that sees H.B. Halicki writing, producing, and starring in the nearly two-hour crash-o-rama. Halicki plays the role of a secret agent named Maindrian Pace, who leads a group of insurance investigators/ car thieves on a mission to steal 48 cars in 48 hours.
The true star of the film is the yellow custom 1971 Ford Mustang Sportsroof dubbed “Eleanor” redressed as a 1973 version. Other cars featured in the movie include the 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75, 1972 Lincoln Continental, 1973 Cadillac DeVille Coupe, and 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.
6/10 1970 Porsche 917 – Le Mans
The 1971 action/sports film Le Mans is a fictional portrayal of the 24 Hours of Le Mans but features actual footage of the 1970 racing event. Steve McQueen plays Michael Delaney, an American driver, who joins the Porsche team, racing against the Ferrari 512 with the Porsche 917.
The film takes you through a close-up view of the grit, sweat, and tension involved in the on-track action. Although the 1970 Porsche 917 and 1970 Ferrari 512 enjoy most of the screen time, you also get to see the 1970 Alfa Romeo T33, 1970 Chevrolet Corvette C3, Ferrari 275 GTB, and many cars in action.
5/10 1971 Pontiac LeMans – The French Connection
The 1971 crime/drama The French Connection follows the adventures of NYPD detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, whose goal is to capture members of a heroin smuggling ring. The film features one of the greatest car chase scenes in movie history involving a 1971 Pontiac LeMans.
The French Connection is actually based on Robin Moore’s factual 1969 book of the same name. Besides the lead role of the 1971 Pontiac LeMans, other cool vehicles featured include the 1970 Lincoln Continental, the 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood, and the 1971 Dodge Tradesman.
4/10 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder – The Gumball Rally
The 1976 comedy/auto racing movie The Gumball Rally is a story about an eclectic group of people that engage in the illicit coast-to-coast road race. The movie was inspired by other films including Cannonball and Speed Zone.
As a racing movie, it goes without saying that several cars were featured including the 1966 Ford Shelby Cobra 427 “Side Oiler”, 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder, and 1974 Porsche 911 Targa. Of all the cars in The Gumball Rally, the Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder is the rarest and most expensive, with just about 121 examples made and one costing roughly $2 million today.
3/10 1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille – The Getaway
The 1972 American heist thriller film, The Getaway, follows the life of an imprisoned mastermind robber Carter “Doc” McCoy played by Steve McQueen, who is forced to flee for Mexico after robbing a bank with his wife and partner in crime Carol played by Ali MacGraw.
The 1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille is one of the many cars that was featured in the movie. Note that this car is not the hardtop sport sedan DeVille, but the rare “Sedan DeVille” with a fixed B-pillar. Only 7,230 examples of the 1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille were built, and they get their energy from a 7.7-liter 472 cid V8 with an output of 375 hp.
2/10 1971 Cadillac Eldorado – Super Fly
The 1972 American crime drama Super Fly follows the life of Ron O’Neal who plays the role of Youngblood Priest, a cocaine dealer who tries to leave the narcotics world but faces many hurdles including the threat to his life. Youngblood Priest drives a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado in the movie.
The 1971 Cadillac Eldorado is one of the cars that best captures the 1970s cinematic coalescence of street gangs, violence, and showmanship. The personal luxury car was all-new in 1971, featuring a 500 cubic-inch V8 that produces 365 hp and 535 lb-ft of torque.
1/10 1973 Pontiac Ventura – The Seven-Ups
The Seven-Ups is a 1973 American mystery action film that stars Roy Scheider, who plays Buddy Manucci, a New York City cop that’s part of an unconventional team called “The Seven-Ups”. When one of Manucci’s team members is killed by a street gang member, he set out to get justice, and he is seen driving a 1973 Pontiac Ventura Sprint coupe.
Just like Bullitt and The French Connection, The Seven-Ups was directed by Philip D’Antoni and so it’s notable for its car chases. The 1973 Pontiac Ventura is a blast to drive with a 250 CID engine that runs smoothly as a sewing machine.
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