Science fiction movies have given us a lot of things over the years—from great thrills and spooky moments to glimpses of future technology and stern warnings about what might come to pass if humans aren’t careful. Of course, science fiction movies have shown us a lot of cool cars over the years too. In fact, many of the best science fiction movies such as Mad Max and Back to the Future have been based around cars. And screen writers, directors and producers have been very creative when it comes to developing futuristic cars that can do everything from fly through the air and travel through time to shoot fire and drive at supersonic speeds. Here is a list of 10 of the best cars featured in popular science fiction movies.
10. Green Goblin Truck (Maximum Overdrive, 1986)
Probably the only thing worth remembering about the 1986 movie Maximum Overdrive is the menacing transport truck that has a giant head of the Spider-Man villain Green Goblin on its front grill. A delivery truck for the “Happy Toyz” company, the Green Goblin transport is one of numerous trucks in the movie that inexplicably come to life and turn homicidal—striving to kill every human in sight. It is up to actor Emilio Estevez and a ragtag group of survivors to stop the killer trucks. Written and directed by Stephen King, based on one of his short stories, Maximum Overdrive is a pretty bad science fiction movie. But one that nonetheless revolves around trucks and cars. And the Green Goblin truck personifies the evil transports that are bent on destruction. It is a difficult image to get out of one’s mind, even though the movie itself can be considered forgettable.
9. Mach 5 (Speed Racer, 2008)
Speed Racer is not just a 2008 movie. It has also been a comic book series and a Japanese anime television show, known in that country as Mach Go! Go! Go! And Speed Racer has legions of fans around the world. The story is about a young driver named Speed Racer who aspires to be champion of the racing world, with the help of his family and a high-tech automobile known as Mach 5. The red and white-colored Mach 5 car is very familiar to people—even among those who are otherwise unfamiliar with what Speed Racer is about. And this futuristic car features plenty of gadgets and surprises, including protruding rotary saws, bullet-proof glass and a homing device. If you haven’t guessed yet, race car driving in the future is a very dangerous sport.
8. Eagle Five Winnebago (Spaceballs, 1987)
Spaceballs remains the best send-up of Star Wars ever, and is one of Mel Brooks’s better movies. (It is certainly better than Dracula: Dead and Loving It). There are many funny scenes and lines in the movie—from “Comb the dessert!” to “I see your Schwartz is as big as mine.” But one of the funniest things in the film is that the movie’s heroes, Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and Barf (John Candy), travel through space in a giant Winnebago outfitted with wings. Of course, it is supposed to be a de facto Millennium Falcon, but it is much funnier. The bumper sticker “I love Uranus” just adds to the whole silliness of the flying Winnebago, which fits in perfectly with the rest of the lunacy that takes place in the movie. And who doesn’t love a Winnebago, after all?
7. Light Runner (Tron: Legacy, 2010)
As with the original movie, the 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy is noted for its many cool vehicles, particularly the Light Cycle motorbikes, CyberDrones and that cool aircraft at the end of the film. However, Tron: Legacy also features an awesome car in the form of the Light Runner. This is a super cool looking race car equipped with giant wheels that look like they were taken off of a monster truck. Of course, in typical Tron fashion, the Light Runner is illuminated with cool lighting effects and races around at supersonic speeds. The Light Runner is not the only awesome vehicle in Tron: Legacy, but it is one of the best, and certainly the top car in this amazing universe. Here’s hoping they revive the car for the next Tron movie.
6. M577 Armored Personnel Carrier (Aliens, 1986)
The 1986 James Cameron-directed movie Aliens features a lot of cool futuristic military vehicles and weapons used by the Colonial Marines in the film. Who can forget the M41A Pulse Rifles that combine a grenade launcher, flame thrower and machine gun into one kick ass assault weapon? But one of Aliens‘ most heart-pounding scenes involves the M577 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) that the Colonial Marines travel around in and use to escape a deadly attack by the alien Xenomorphs. Ripley (played by actress Sigourney Weaver) takes control of the APC and drives it at breakneck speed to rescue the Marines. The whole scene works because of how real and effective the APC vehicle looks. Viewers actually believe that it is a military transport of the future. In fact, the design of the APC in Aliens is reported to have influenced real life designs of lightweight Armored Personnel Carriers developed by the U.S. military.
5. Ford Crown Victoria (Men In Black, 1997)
If ever the term “tongue-in-cheek” referred to a movie, it is likely the 1997 film Men In Black about a covert agency tasked with defending Earth and unsuspecting humans from alien attacks and infiltration. Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as the titular Men In Black government agents, the two characters, known as Agents Kay and Jay, drive around in a 1987 Ford Crown Victoria car that is completely unassuming. That is, until you hit a certain button in the car and twin rear-exhaust thrusters pop out and propel the car forward at extremely high speeds. What makes the Crown Vic car used in Men In Black so great is that it fits the tone and humor in the movie perfectly. What else would the Men In Black drive but a black 1987 Ford Crown Victoria? Who can imagine them driving any other car?
4. Ecto-1 Hearse (Ghostbusters, 1984)
The Ecto-1 Hearse driven by the Ghostbusters is one of the most iconic images from that classic movie. It is as recognizable as the Ghostbusters’ Proton Pack. In reality, the Ecto-1 was a tricked out 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Hearse. Additions made to the hearse for the movie included flashing lights, sirens and an amped up radio system. The idea to use a hearse as the Ghostbusters’ vehicle was actor and co-writer Dan Aykroyd’s, and his character in the movie can be seen modifying the hearse at the Ghostbusters’ headquarters, which happens to be an abandoned fire station. Dan Aykroyd reportedly thought that having the Ghostbusters drive a hearse that had previously been used to carry dead bodies would fit with the film’s gallows humor and theme of helping spirits and ghosts of the deceased. However, it was all the modifications on the hearse that made the Ghostbusters’ vehicle truly memorable to moviegoers. Seeing that vehicle race around New York City is a defining moment in science fiction cinema.
3. Pursuit Special (Mad Max, 1979)
Really, you could include just about every vehicle featured in a Mad Max movie on this list. Through four movies that began with 1979’s Mad Max and ran through last year’s rebooted Mad Max: Fury Road, this film franchise has been built entirely around and on futuristic cars, trucks and motorcycles. (There was even a camel in the 1985 movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome). With so many awesome vehicles to choose from, we figured it best to go with the Pursuit Special police car that Mad Max drives in the original 1979 classic film, along with its 1982 sequel The Road Warrior. This vehicle is as rugged, tough and persistent as the main character of Mad Max. And the car serves Max well as he first tries to pursue and arrest the hordes of gangs running the post-apocalyptic highways and then runs from those same gangs across the wastelands. Go Max go!
2. Police Spinner (Blade Runner, 1982)
The 1982 movie Blade Runner inhabits a world unto itself. Director Ridley Scott creates a futuristic Los Angeles that is so awesome, it almost defies description nearly 35 years after the movie was first released. And key to the movie and its dazzling special effects are the flying cars it showcases. Notably the Police Spinner car driven by actor Harrison Ford’s cop character, Rick Deckard. The best flying car ever featured in a science fiction movie, the police spinners can drive on land like a normal car, take off vertically, hover and then fly through the air using jet propulsion. The spinner model has been copied mercilessly in science fiction films since Blade Runner hit movie theaters, and can be seen in other films ranging from The Fifth Element to the Star Wars prequel movies.
1. DeLorean DMC-12 (Back to the Future, 1985)
And the number one science fiction car of all time has to go to the DeLorean DMC-12 time machine featured in 1985’s Back to the Future and its two sequels. Really, who can forget the DeLorean time machine? As much a character in the film as Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), the DeLorean DMC-12, powered by its Flux Capacitor, has become a movie icon and familiar to people the world over. The car from the movie now makes appearances at comic, sci-fi and fantasy conventions, and people line up and pay good money to have their photo taken sitting in the vehicle. It is also reported to be the most reproduced movie car ever—with people purchasing old DeLoreans so that they can modify them to replicate the time machine from Back to the Future. The movie was the best thing that ever happened to the DeLorean DMC-12, a car that was widely panned when released because of its stainless steel exterior and gull wing doors. The DeLorean Motor Company that made the car went out of business in 1982. However, thanks to Back to the Future, the car and company live on and are fondly remembered by movie and sci-fi fans everywhere.