Rad Rides of the ’80s: Your Guide to the Top 10 Significant Cinematic Cars

By CalTrend’s Scholarship Winner

The 1980s will forever be remembered for their legendary pop culture. From John Hughes’ movies displaying our ultimate dream crushes to some seriously nail-biting thrillers, the decade will be memorialized for its classic flicks. However, the actors weren’t the only items in our fantasies during this period of cinematic history. Several cars and automobiles were made famous by the TV shows and movies they debuted in.

Uncle Buck’s Mercury Marquis Brougham (John Candy)

     At number 10 is Uncle Buck’s ride. What is it about John Candy and crappy cars?! While the ’80s fashion styles may be making a comeback, we’re pretty positive the Mercury Marquis Brougham backfiring death trap is better off left in the past. Uncle Buck has this car flagged as permanent second-hand embarrassment in our books.

Better Off Dead’s 1967 Chevy Camaro SS (John Cusack)

At number 9, from rebuild to race, an angsty John Cusack shows off a 1967 Chevy Camaro SS. Even if it was racing against a worthy ride, this car would still look pretty slick. This all-American muscle car is just the tough façade Cusack is hoping to portray. Whether the Camaro color choice was a metaphor for Cusack’s Better Off Dead outlook on life, or the bad-to-the-bone racing attitude; regardless, black was the right decision.

Scarface’s Cadillac Series 62 Convertible (Michelle Pfeiffer)

Next up at number 8 is the Cadillac Series 62 Convertible. When Michelle Pfeiffer refers to it as “somebody’s nightmare,” we can only assume she’s referring to the audacious tiger printed interior. While the color choice and over-the-top interior is a bit much for some, it fits perfectly for this coked-out, Cuban drug dealer in this 1980s classic, Scarface.

Magnum P.I Ferrari 308 GTS (Tom Selleck)

At number 7, we’re unsure whether it was the Ferrari 308 GTS or Tom Selleck’s killer ’stache that stole our hearts, but one way or another you were sure to swoon while watching Magnum P.I. Even after 30 years since the show said its final goodbye, those who aren’t familiar with the make and model still know it as the “Magnum P.I Ferrari.”

Cannonball Run’s Lamborghini Countach (Farrah Fawcett)

At number 6, Farrah Fawcett had some major competition as the main belle of the ball in Cannonball Run. While we’re usually jealous of Fawcett’s hair, the opening scene of this ’80s flick has us drooling with envy. Farrah makes her debut when she spray-paints over the speed limit sign, but most eyes are still on the Lamborghini Countach. Timed perfectly with a classic ’80s tune, the Lamborghini shows some serious steam as it races down the sunny interstate, sure to make a memorable impact on any car fan. While Burt Reynolds and this Lambo may have made the phrase “cannonball run” a known one throughout homes in North America, it also shed light onto the real Cannonball Run, an ongoing automotive experience movement exploring backroads, inspired by the unofficial, unsanctioned race that ran in the ’70s.

Batman’s Batmobile (Michael Keaton)

Earning the number 5 spot is the 1989 Batman, which not only brought Michael Keaton to the screen, but also featured arguably one of the best Batmobiles. Keaton’s car was specifically designed for the movie and made major impacts. Its crazy gadgets, voice command, and entertainment value brought you to the edge of your seat and had every kid wishing they had their very own Batmobile.

Christine’s 1958 Plymouth (Stephen King)

Ranking in at number 4, Stephen King’s Christine was a notable horror movie of the ’80s. The same director who brought about the horrors of Michael Myers also introduced the 1958 Plymouth as a new villain in our nightmares. We don’t know what part is the scariest, the fact it’s a killer car or that a large number of these already-rare automobiles were demolished in the process of filming. While it may be regarded as a killer, there is no doubt this infamous car went down in history.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’s Ferrari 250 GT California (Matthew Broderick)

Winding down to number 3, we completely understand why Cameron’s Dad loves his Ferrari 250 GT California “more than life itself.” Its debut is paired perfectly with the soundtrack, the “oh yeah” is right. Cameron’s heartbreaking rant about his father, accompanied by the crash of this beauty is sure to spring tears to your eyes; we’re just not sure which one upsets us more. The 1961 model was auctioned off last summer for the low price of $15.2 million; it’s a good thing Ferris didn’t have to pay for any of the damages.

National Lampoon’s Vacation’s Ford LTD Country Squire (Chevy Chase)

While the Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon may have been what the Griswold family ordered, the Queen Family Truckster will forever be remembered as the iconic vacation car. National Lampoon’s Vacation is ranking in as the number 2 slot. Not many other cars can spark the nostalgia that 1979 model of the Ford LTD Country Squire does. Nothing quite screams American, cross-country road trip like wood paneling, the shade metallic pea, and luggage strapped atop.

Back To The Future’s DeLorean (Michael J Fox)

Earning the position of number 1 is the DeLorean. With what looked like a bleak “future,” DMC‘s luck changed when the DMC-12 was featured in the 80’s classic, Back To The Future. With the company on the brink of bankruptcy, Marty McFly and Doc Brown truly pulled a “hail Mary” for this business, as the film series brought the DeLorean into cinematic history, making it a true ’80s icon with a serious sci-fi cult following. Due to the turn of events, some may say this is one of the most significant movie cars, as it resulted in saving the business.

While there are many other notable automobiles used throughout ’80s cinema, these were the ones viewed to be the most significant.

Recap: Top Movie/TV Cars of the 80’s

  1. Back To The Future’s DeLorean (Michael J Fox)
  2. National Lampoon’s Vacation’s Ford LTD Country Squire (Chevy Chase)
  3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’s Ferrari 250 GT California (Matthew Broderick)
  4. Christine’s 1958 Plymouth (Stephen King)
  5. Batman’s Batmobile (Michael Keaton)
  6. Cannonball Run’s Lamborghini Countach (Farrah Fawcett)
  7. Magnum P.I Ferrari 308 GTS (Tom Selleck)
  8. Scarface’s Cadillac Series 62 Convertible (Michelle Pfeiffer)
  9. Better Off Dead’s 1967 Chevy Camaro SS (John Cusack)
  10. Uncle Buck’s Mercury Marquis Brougham (John Candy)


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