Love isn’t always in the air, sometimes it’s on the roads. From transporting guests running late for a wedding (or four!), lifts home that lead to marriage proposals, to makeshift changing rooms for iconic dance rehearsals, cars have been involved heavily in many love stories on the big screen. Here’s our friends at Lancaster Insurance’s Best of Film Cars for Valentine’s Day.
Any choice of a romantic film featuring excellent cars will inevitably be a subjective matter. We did think of including American Graffiti, but that is soon to be the subject of a 50th birthday feature while GMC 1500 of The Bridges of Madison County will appear in a Clint Eastwood blog. Similarly, we were tempted to list the Bedford HA from A Fish Called Wanda, but this is ‘Top Ten’ rather than a ‘Top Fifty’. Even so, we hope this selection of vehicles from films over the last five decades will strike a chord.
Mini 1000 Mk. IV – Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994
What is the finest cinematic appearance by a Mini apart from The Italian Job?
For some people, it might be the Radford De Ville in A Shot in The Dark, while others might prefer Mr. Bean or Goodbye Pork Pie. But for many, the choice has to be the 1000 Mk. IV driven by the late, great Charlotte Coleman in Four Weddings – “It only goes 40 miles an hour!”.
The Barker-bodied Daimler DH27, the 1965 Volvo 121 and the 1967 Land-Rover 88 Series IIa are also rather nice. Plus, they serve as a distraction for anyone who does not particularly like Wet Wet Wet.
Saab 900 Turbo SE Cabriolet – As Good as It Gets 1997
“Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car”.
Who could resist the combination of Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear plus a Saab 900 Convertible? And with a film this good, the continuity errors – note the changing position of the hood during the road scene – barely matter. The picture is also an excellent opportunity for 1980s and 1990s Americana devotees, with fleeting glimpses of Mercury Sables, Jeep Cherokees, Buick Regals, and Ford Club Wagons.
Mercedes-Benz 280SE Convertible – Bridget Jones’s Diary 2001
The finest screen cad since Terry-Thomas deserved the finest of motor cars so what could be better suited to Hugh Grant’s ‘Daniel Cleaver’ than a 1969 W111 drophead?
Another common reaction to Bridget Jones’s Diary is “when did I last see a Ford Focus Ghia Mk. I or a Vauxhall Vectra GLS Mk. III?”. “Is that a Lexus LS 400?” and “how much would that Rover Mini Cooper be worth today?” This is so often a challenge when viewing a film from the early 21st century. No matter how good Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Mr. Grant are, the cars distract attention.
Saab 900 XS – Love Actually 2003
It is hard to believe the film is nearly twenty years old and even harder to believe the Saab is now thirty years old – and that its styling harked back to the first 99s in 1967.
Love Actually also prominently features a Jaguar XJ6 while enthusiasts of ‘modern classics’ will have a field day, from the Nissan Primera and the Toyota RAV4 to the Ford Escort Van Mk. VI and the Peugeot 306 Estate. In fact, the entire picture now seems as much a time capsule as a romantic comedy, with its police Ford Mondeo Mk. IIIs and Audi 80 B4s…
Toyota Corona Station Wagon – When Harry Met Sally 1989
In the late 1980s, a 1976 fifth-generation RT119 would not have been an uncommon sight on American roads. Toyota first regularly exported cars to the States in 1965 – their attempts to market the Crown eight years earlier were not a success – and by the late 1970s the Corona RT battled with the Honda Accord as the ‘second car’ of choice for affluent households.
Meanwhile, the Ford LTD Crown Victoria and Chevrolet Caprice taxis are a reminder that When Harry Met Sally entered production well over three decades ago.
N.B. This is probably the finest Toyota-related moment in the film
SEAT 600D – A Touch of Class 1972
As some of the film was set in Spain, it was almost inevitable that a 600D would make a guest appearance, and keen motorists will also note the SEAT 124 and 1430. By the end of the 1960s, the 600 constituted half of the cars on the country’s roads, with production ending as recently as 1973, three years after its Fiat parent model.
In London, Glenda Jackson’s heroine favours a rather nice, very early, Mini Clubman Estate, complete with Formica side panelling, while Vauxhall provided the production with a recently launched Victor FE Estate.
Park Royal bodied AEC Routemaster – Notting Hill 1999
Or another film with arguably two principal vehicles. The first is the AEC Routemaster RML2665 which entered service with London Transport in November 1967, gaining a Scania engine nineteen years later. LT finally retired the double-decker in 2006.
The second is, of course, the Peugeot 406 GLX Estate that makes a dash across the capital – “James Bond never has to put up with this sort of xxxx.”
For those unkeen on Richard Curtis comedies can always marvel at seeing a first-generation SEAT Ibiza, an Audi 100 C3, a Ford Granada GL Mk. III and a Renault 21 Savanna in the background.
Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe – Dirty Dancing 1987
The 1957 Sport Coupe – or rather two of them if you watch the film for continuity errors – was the perfect choice of transport for ‘Johnny Castle’.
We could have equally chosen the 1963 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 as a star car, for it was the ideal vehicle for the middle-class American suburbanite of the early 1960s. It was originally finished in a different shade; the grandson of the first owner recalls that it “sat long and white and stately”.
If you do not care for dancing, there is always the 1956 Ford Thunderbird, plus a Crown Victoria, Studebaker Flight Hawk and Chevrolet Corvette of the same vintage.
Volkswagen 181 – 50 First Dates 2004
A film that deserves to be far better known, both for the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore screen partnership and the 1973 Volkswagen.
As well as being manufactured in Germany, VW also built the 181 in Mexico. The Puebla factory dispatched a small number to the USA as ‘The Thing’, but sales were limited, despite being one of the few cars on the market with four detachable doors and a folding windshield. One problem was nearly $3,000 was a considerable price for 2WD ‘off-roader’ and another was safely regulations, so exports to the States ended in 1974.
N.B, 50 First Dates also provides viewers with the opportunity to marvel at a 1968 Toyota Landcruiser.
Chevrolet Bel Air Impala Convertible Peggy Sue Got Married 1986
An often strangely overlooked choice for a Valentine’s Day film, especially for those of us who appreciate 1950s Detroit cars.
Aside from the 1958 Impala Convertible driven by Nicholas Cage, we have a 1954 Mercury Monterey Sun Valley and cameo appearances from a Chrysler Saratoga, a Ford F-Series, a Cadillac Sun Valley and any number of Chevrolet Bel Airs.
As for the best motoring moment, it is ‘Peggy Sue Bodell’ having hysterics at her father buying a 1958 Edsel Pacer Two-Door Hardtop.
N.B. Yes, that is a young Jim Carrey as a member of Cage’s doo-wop group.
Find more info:
If you were interested in this story, how about these?