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Love Black Panther and Green Book? Check out some cool Oscar movie car legends

2019-02-25 15:30

Lance Branquinho

Nissan Skyline GT R R32

Image: Motorpress

We don't watch movies on 70mm film anymore but although most of our entertainment has transitioned to digital, one thing remains unchanged - movie cars. 

Nearly every single movie script will involve characters travelling by car and often the journey is a critical part of the story. By implication, the movie car becomes a character of its own, too.

READ: 'Okay let's ride!' top 10 famous quotes in car movies

With the Oscars, and Trevor Noah's brilliantly on-point humour during the award ceremony, fresh in memory, it's time to consider the stars who don't have any spoken lines but often steal a starring role with sculptured lines all their own. 

The Green Book 2018 (Cadillac DeVille)

The 1960s were not an easy time for diversity in the American South and The Green Book romped home as the best picture on Oscar night. 

It is also an excellent example of how a car enables many movies, as much of the screen time is dedicated to driving and in-car conversation.

Producers chose a 1962 Cadillac Sedan DeVille for the anchor automotive role and few vehicles symbolise the peak of American vehicle design and engineering prowess quite like an early 1960s Caddy. 

An enormous vehicle which was nearly 6m long and more than 2m wide, the DeVille also features power assisted steering, brakes, seats and windows at a time when few cars offered even one of those options.

Powered by a huge 6.4-litre V8, good for 242kW, it is the definition of American highway cruising. 

Black Panther 2018 (LC500)

The all-African show of purpose at this year's Oscars, Black Panther's movie car had to be something non-European (for obvious reasons). 

Lexus was recognised as an acceptable source of aspiration for Black Panther's narrative and the company's daring LC500 provided an elegant presence in the Oscar-nominated film.

For traditionally conservative Japanese luxury brand, it was a potentially risky association.

But after Black Panther became the ninth highest-grossing film of all time, there was no doubt that Lexus had derived an incredible return on investment for allowing the king of Wakanda to roof surf on its LC500. 

Mad Max: Fury Road 2015 (Nissan Skyline R32)

The Mad Max movie franchise might be associated with Australia, but this version had a decidedly local angle to it.

Our very own Charlize Theron featured in a starring role and much of the filming was done on location in neighbouring Namibia.

Big on custom cars too, as post-apocalyptic survival mobility is a central tenant of the Mad Max story-line. 

An awesome collection of strangely armoured and overbuilt cars star in Mad Max Fury Road but petrolheads took most notice of the background vehicle in one of the many chase scenes.

Identified merely as caltrop no.2, it's an armoured R32 Skyline.

If you are into your Australian performance car trivia, you'll know that his was the vehicle which revolutionised perceptions of Japanese engineering Down Under, after it destroyed all Australian rivals from Holden and Ford during the early 1990s on racing circuits all around Oz. 

Back to the Future 1 1985 (DeLorean/Hilux)

One of the defining movies of the 1980s, it blended the aspirations of America’s suburban youth with nuclear energy anxiety at the peak of the Cold War.

Renowned for the starring role apportioned to that most spectacular failure of all American sports cars, the DeLorean, Back to the Future is perhaps best remembered by South African audiences for a very different vehicle.

True to our obsession with anything bakkie, the appearance of a fourth-generation black single-cab Hilux, with chromed wheels, a roll hoop, nudge bar and scattering of spotlights, drew gasps of jealousy from local viewers. 

Bullitt 1968 (Ford Mustang)

In a time when the American Pony Car wars meant that Mustangs were painted in the brightest colours available, often with contrasting stripes, the Bullitt car was wonderfully stealth. 

Finished in Highland Green, with black details and darkened taillights, producers wanted it to appear as innocuous as possible - but didn't mean it was a bore to drive.

Modifications included a 6.4-litre V8 engine rebuilt by specialist Balchowsky, reinforced suspension mounts, Koni dampers, stiffer coil springs and Helwig stabiliser bars. 

These upgrades were crucial to ensure the Bullitt Mustang survived its legendary car chase scene through the extreme gradients of San Francisco. 

More cool movie cars - by Robin Claasen

Ghostbusters 1984 (Cadillac Miller-Meteor)

The iconic Ecto-1 hearse/ambulance was built by the Miller-Meteor company and become the official transportation of the Ghostbusters team throughout the first and second movie.

After the car was purchased for around $4 800 (R66 000) and in dire need of a new gearbox, shocks and a wiring, it managed to help the team respond to apparitions quickly.

Also, it had one of the most iconic sirens in film...

Herbie 1974 (Volkswagen Beetle)

The little Bug captured the hearts of many since its debut on the big screen. The 'self-driving' race car, kitted with a big '53' on its bonnet and doors, seemed to outrun any rival with ease.

While the 1974 movie Herbie Rides Again was something of a cut and paste job, the 2005 remake Herbie Fully Loaded starring Lindsay Lohan, put the little Bug up against a tuned Pontiac GTO - and beating it.

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