UNITED STATES—Most automobile enthusiasts will tell you without hesitation that their obsession with everything four-wheeled began at an early age. In fact, most of us can say that our first words were car related-terms of some sort. Those who don’t understand the fascination with cars may wonder how someone can maintain a healthy interest in motor vehicles for upwards of 15 years without ever having had a chance to drive one.

Indeed, it would seem that, if anything, we gear heads should have become frustrated by the fact that we couldn’t get behind the wheel as soon as we could crawl over to grab the keys to the family station wagon. Well, it just so happens that there were plenty of silver-screen heroes around to help us get through those difficult pre-driver’s-license years. Yes, many of our movie and television show choices were based entirely on a car that either starred in the production or was heavily featured. So, for all those nostalgic car lovers out there, here is a list of the five most memorable or influential screen cars of our generation.


K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider
K.I.T.T., photo courtesy of Kadir Deniz.


Hail the 1980s, the decade that ushered in the talking car. These cutting-edge vehicles were capable game-changing tasks such as informing us that our doors were ajar just in case we were too self-absorbed to notice the flashing instrument cluster warning light. So indispensable was this feature, that it lasted an entire few years at most. Ah, yes, and then there was K.I.T.T. K.I.T.T. (an acronym for Knight Industries Two Thousand) was the co-star, or star, depending on your perspective, of NBC’s “Knight Rider.” Based on an early 1980s Pontiac Trans Am Fire Bird, K.I.T.T. is arguably the most iconic prime time car star in television history. Serving as Michael Knight’s chariot of justice, if you will, K.I.T.T. roamed the country fighting crime the way a talking car is supposed to. But K.I.T.T. could do far more than just talk. K.I.T.T. was capable off speaking with a condescending British accent, no less. There may have been a few other secondary features in K.I.T.T.’s arsenal as well. These included on-demand turbo boost, a flashy LED scanner up front, a driver’s ejection seat, and a bullet proof force field, to name a few.

James Bond Then & Now
James Bond Then & Now, photos courtesy of Pursuitist & James Bond Wikia.

James Bond OO7’s Aston Martin DB5:

When you think about it, the fact that British secret agent James Bond has been saving the world from criminal masterminds and packing movie theaters for over 50 years is pretty impressive. Certainly these feats would not have been possible for a mere, albeit clever, mortal without the help of a few even cleverer gadgets. Probably the most iconic of all his gadgets would be OO7’s Aston Martin DB5. Outfitted by MI5’s Quarter Master branch (commonly referred to Bond himself as “Q”) this seemingly standard Aston Martin grand touring coupe featured some pretty helpful devices. Among its party tricks were smoke screen emitters, oil slick spouts, a retractable rear window shield, and a passenger ejection seat. Not a bad options list for the early 1960s.

Back to the Future DeLorean
Back to the Future DeLorean, photo courtesy of Slashgear.

The Back to the Future DeLorean:

If you were forced to travel back in time to bear witness to your parents’ awkward teen years, you might as well travel in “style,” as wacky scientist character, Doc Brown phrased it. While not the first movie to tackle the concept of time travel, “Back to the Future” was certainly the first to base its time travel vessel on a mystifying 1980s sports car. The DeLorean DMC-12 was the pet project of John DeLorean, a former GM employee. Among the car’s unique features was a paint-less stainless steal body. Of course, the time machine option package added a flux capacitor and on later models a hover conversion. Not only was “Back to the Future” an entertaining movie, but it was educational as well. Because of this film, we now know today, that in order to travel back in time, one must travel at exactly 88 miles per hour. No doubt the amount of speeding tickets issued by the CHP rose substantially following the release of this Blockbuster. Even more likely is that most CHP officers have heard countless variations of Back to the Future references used as excuses to argue against the aforementioned speeding tickets.

Herbie the Love Bug
Herbie the Love Bug, photo courtesy of Disney Wikia.

Herbie the Love Bug:

Not only is Disney’s Herbie the Love Bug the most famous example of an already iconic automobile, it is also the fastest (some might argue it is unrealistically fast). Based on Volkswagen’s Beetle, a car that reached the height of its popularity during the 1970s as a cornerstone of hippie culture, Herbie partook in various Disney adventures spanning the globe, many of which culminated in an epic race of some sort during which Herbie overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to take the checkered flag. Most of the time only Herbie’s human costars were in on the anthropomorphic car’s secret and accepted the win on the lovable Volkswagen’s behalf.

Those of you mathematicians out there may notice that only four cars have been discussed in this list of five. This is your opportunity to add a fifth entrant to the list. Obviously this is merely a small sample of the many iconic movie/TV cars in the long history of motion pictures. So, please let us know which famous four-wheeled stars would make your list in the comments section below.