10 Concept Cars That Have Graced the Silver Screen

Speed Racer – Mach V

Movies and cars go together perfectly on the big screen. In fact, the two things have a lot in common: they’re about craft, design and, most importantly, movement.

The feeling of speed in cinema is achieved chiefly through editing and the illusion of fast and furious, peddle-to-the-metal travel can be exhilarating to experience. The car chase sequence, or sequences, has become one of the medium’s primary visceral thrills, and they have to be as imaginative and new as possible.

We also, as an audience, love to see distinct concepts and designs. It can be realistic or something totally wild and fantastical.

Top: “Speed Racer” is one of the most success Manga comics ever, as it achieved global success and recognition.
Green Hornet – Chrysler Imperial Crown
Acclaimed music video director, Michel Gondry, directed “The Green Hornet.”

Chrysler Imperial Crown

Crime fighter “The Green Hornet” drives a Chrysler Imperial Crown nicknamed “Black Beauty.” The car is modified with hot-rod wheels, machine guns, green headlight covers, tinted windows, Trans Turbo 400 transmissions and Chevrolet ZZ454 V8 engines. 28 cars were used for Michel Gondry’s 2011 film, and all of them were totalled during production and during the final chase scene.

Batman Begins – The Tumbler
The Nolan Batmobile opted for a realistic design and is very different from past versions.

The Tumbler

The Batmobile in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy is never referred to by its famous name. It’s known as “The Tumbler.” The radical redesign features all sorts of heavy weaponry and gadgets. It looks suited more to war zones, than the streets of Gotham City. The new design, to a certain extent, helped Nolan’s films attain a more grounded sense of reality.

The Spy Who Loved Me – Lotus Esprit
The Lotus Esprit S1 was nicknamed the “Wet Nellie” by the production crew.

Lotus Esprit S1

In “The Spy Who Loved Me” 007 drives a Lotus Esprit S1 with a rather unique feature: it turns into a submarine. Lotus provided the production crew with two fully working vehicles for the shoot. But how did they film the underwater scenes? In some shots, two divers were placed inside an empty vehicle shell, and that’s how it moved. Miniature models were also used to simulate the underwater sequence.

Minority Report – Lexus
Director Steven Spielberg approached Lexus to design the cars because he was a Lexus driver.

Lexus 2054

When Steven Spielberg set to work making his 2002 sci-fi drama, “Minority Report,” he asked Lexus to design the futuristic cars seen in the film. The Lexus 2054 is driven by Tom Cruise in the movie, and runs on fuel cells and comes with a crash-proof shell. Fellow director, Michael Bay, loved the design too, and he was allowed to use the same car design—now coloured blue—in his own sci-fi blockbuster, “The Island” (2005).

The Gigahorse – Mad Max: Fury Road
The Gigahorse is a monster truck driven by Immortan Joe.

The Gigahorse

The Gigahorse in “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a fully-functioning hybrid beast. It’s made from two 1959 Coupe de Villes built on a custom chassis powered by pair of Chevrolet 502Cid (502Hp) Big Block V8 crate motors. The Gigahorse rocked up to 120 horse power and could reach maximum speeds of 125km/h. The owner of this splendid metal machine is the film’s villain, Immortan Joe.

Speed Racer – Mach V
“Speed Racer” is based on a Japanese anime originally titled “Mach GoGoGo.”

Mach Five

The Mach Five in the Wachowskis’ “Speed Racer” never moved. Travel was simulated with post-production special effects and during the shoot the body of the vehicle was suspended from a crane. During the movie, the Mach Five is modified from an everyday classic automobile into a super-charged racer and fastest car on the planet.

the wraith, concept car dodge m4s

Camera operator, Bruce Ingram, died during the filming of a car chase.

Dodge M4S

Inspired by “Mad Max” movies and the popular show, “Knightrider,” 1986’s “The Wraith” starred Charlie Sheen as a teenage ghost avenging his murder against a gang of street racers. He has returned from the grave driving a Turbo Interceptor (built by Chrysler) and dressed in black leathers and motorcycle helmet. It doesn’t make much sense, but it was always about the cool car, anyway.

ecto-1 ghostbusters car
The Ecto-1 is one of the most iconic concept cars in the movies.

Ecto-1

Ecto-1 is probably the most famous ambulance/hearse ever. The vehicle was made by Miller Meteor in 1959 and was mounted on a Cadillac chassis. The “Ghosbusters” modifications were designed by Stephen Dane. Actor and screenwriter, Dan Ackroyd, originally envisioned the Ecto-1 as an all-black, sleeker car with purple strobe lights. Needless to say, the one used in the film is both more realistic and less weird-looking.

Avengers – Super Car, acura, tony stark car
The car was specifically designed and made for an appearance in “The Avengers.”

Acura NSX

Tony Stark is the richest man on the planet, in the Marvel Universe. In “The Avengers” he got to drive a car that anybody interested in automobiles took notice of immediately. Stark had previously drove a R8 supercar (seen in the “Iron Man” movies), but he swapped that snazzy whip for a NSX red Acura coupe, which was made especially for the film.

death proof car, cool car in black
Quentin Tarantino considers “Death Proof” to be his weakest film.

Death Proof Cars

Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” was inspired by Hollywood stunt performers and customized cars used in their often death-defying work. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) has modified his Chevy Nova and Dodge Charger, each with a roll cage, so he can kill victims in horrifying car crashes without injuring himself or wrecking his prized possessions. As concept cars, they’re killer.

Images © respective film studios.
Martyn Conterio

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Martyn is based in London, England and writes about movies. He has had work published by Little White Lies, The Guardian, Total Film, Grolsch Film Works, Rue Morgue and other quality publications and websites. He is the author of a monograph on Mario Bava's classic horror film, "Black Sunday." An avid soccer fan, he supports... Follow the author @ Twitter and view more articles.