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Retro Motors Feature – Movie Motors

What is the butterfly effect? Well apparently it doesn’t matter now because we’ve killed them all and the bees are next, something to do with plastic straws and cars. Scientists claim that we’re currently doing a reasonable job at a mass extinction but not nearly as

What is the butterfly effect? Well apparently it doesn’t matter now because we’ve killed them all and the bees are next, something to do with plastic straws and cars.

Scientists claim that we’re currently doing a reasonable job at a mass extinction but not nearly as good as the huge rock that struck Mexico around 65 million years ago. Regardless of what the top five extinctions tell us, the planet is fine, always has been, probably always will be. It appears to have a fairly nonchalant response when it comes to mass extinction. Before you start frantically commenting on why a mass extinction is bad, if they had never taken place, today we would not have sharks and cars, two of my favourite things.

Corvette Mako Shark

That being said, we have to enjoy our short but sweet time here and so far we’ve been pretty busy. Thankfully for me, fellow curious human beings make movies about sharks and cars. Obviously I’m not here to talk about sharks but I was thinking about my favourite retro motors in movies.

Without doubt in my mind Anton Furst’s Batmobile is one of the coolest retro on screen motors of all time. His design work on the bleak metropolis of Gotham was second to none and to have produced a very striking and timeless Batmobile was no mean feat. With inspirations from war machines, aircraft and art deco styling, the final result was the perfect driving machine for a super goth. Batman was charismatic and cool back then, the car was purely an extension of that. With a turbine driving the midnight black machine, it looked every bit intimidating as it did sexy, with its winged rear end and the aircraft like cockpit in the centre.

Twin browning machine guns mounted at the front, armour plating and a grappling hook, need I say more?

The Bat Bastard

In George Millers depiction of the future in Mad Max, a massive percentage of everything has died (Probably including sharks) with the exception of humans and cars. Not just any cars though, modified beasts with armour, guns, spikes and flamethrowers. Whilst there is something refreshing about a world without the Nissan leaf, tax returns, governments and police. The world in which Max lives is rather bleak and unforgiving. What better way to see the day through than mowing down members of a tyrannical biker gang with an armoured, nitro fuelled V8, a Ford Falcon to be exact.

The interceptor was the product of Barry, the seemingly mentally challenged mechanic in Mad Max. Despite his impairment he was quite handy with a spanner and put together what is arguably the meanest looking vehicle for a protagonist. “She’s the last V8, she sucks Nitro!”.


I could go on and mention all the most obvious super star cars, The Back to the Future DeLorean, Ecto 1 or the five hundred bond cars but as a car guy, I think we should all take a moment to remember those unsung heroes of the big screen. Those cars that got people from A-B or a car you saw only for a few seconds before it was blown up by an overzealous director. Knowing what kind of money these relics go for now, I watch some scenes through my fingers.

Take the Ford LTD for example. A large lumbering “yank tank” from as far back as the 60’s, which, in all of it’s variations, ran until the end of the 80s. If you’ve seen any films within this era, you’ve seen many of these land boats smashing into other cars, people, chasing criminals dressed as a smokey or simply driving entire families around in it’s vast expanse of an interior.

For the fans of the synthwave community I guess the go to movie is The Terminator. Kyle Reece came from a future war and needed some muscle. What better vehicle to steal than a sixteen foot long, two and a half ton V8 sedan. With a 0-60mph that could be measured on a sundial, 12 mpg and all the handling of an abused shopping cart, I guess the only bonus was that it was incredibly comfortable. The sheer size and weight was probably Kyle’s saving grace, because if Sarah Conner was born in Europe, Kyle would have stolen a Fiat and subsequently the Austrian death machine would have picked it up and thrown them in the sea.

In a sort of car “cos-play” the Ford LTD has been most memorable in retro movies as the Crown Victoria, in fleet use they were used for primarily police or taxi markets. Again you may remember it as the cop car used to getaway from the T1000 in Terminator 2, similar cruisers in Universal Soldier or from the hundreds of scenes of taxi rides in your favourite movies. The LTD is truly an on screen icon, from action films to crime thrillers, the LTD was stuntman, sidekick, for good guys and bad guys.

Throughout the 70s and 80’s car wrecking was a big draw for Hollywood. Ron Howards Grand Theft Auto (now overshadowed by the multi million dollar gaming franchise) was a wrecking-fest. Dozens of cars, now considered cherished automotive icons, were rolled, crushed and launched into untimely deaths.

If you want to see some of the best chases and stunts, check out Junk Man. Henry Blight Halicki, nickname, Junkman. A stuntman, director and a bit of a lunatic. Using his own vast collection of vehicles, he wrote and starred in Gone in 60 seconds, Junkman and also made a sequel to Gone in 60 seconds, aptly named Gone in 60 seconds 2.

Grab a copy and some popcorn and enjoy some automotive carnage!


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