Fictional Rides: Coolest Character Cars of the Past and Present
When it comes to fictional cars, there is one dark, menacing vehicle that always comes to mind: the Batmobile. The Caped Crusader stealthily navigates the streets of Gotham City with it.
But there is more to the world of superhero wheels and far-out rides than what Bruce Wayne has to offer. Think the power that is Optimus Prime and the speed that is KITT. And don’t forget the DeLorean navigating space and time, the X-34 landspeeder racing across the desert, and even the Eagle 5 – a bloated Winnebago awkwardly soaring through space.
Here is a new look at the best fictional cars of all time, including a sneak peek at what’s to come. Buckle up! Let’s see if you can handle the ride.
Fictional Vehicle Hall of Fame
Sure, superheroes have a certain appeal. So do their sidekicks. But the cars? They capture the hearts and imaginations of fans worldwide who dream of driving them, flying them, or even just sitting in them.
The cars have personalities of their own and are nearly characters themselves, except Optimus Prime. The 18-wheeler eats Decepticons for breakfast in “Transformers.” He’s as big a character as they get.
But even those cars that aren’t metal-mangling, smooth-talking hunks of machinery found a way into automobile royalty – either with their hottest pursuits, coolest gadgets, or sleekest style. These rides are iconic, to say the least.
Built for speed are the X-34 landspeeder, piloted by Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” as well as Speed Racer’s Mach 5. The Pursuit Special in “Mad Max” also tops the brisk list. (It skipped “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” and made its triumphant return in “Mad Max: Fury Road” only to be crushed by two massive vehicles.) Tony Stark’s Acura NSX concept car isn’t far behind.
The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty is fully loaded with cool gadgets – guns, rockets, a grill-mounted flamethrower, missiles, and suicide doors. The Fantasti-Car, which can break into four compartments for The Fantastic Four, and the KITT, with its artificial intelligence on-board computing system and thermal-resistant coating, are also very impressive. But Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly’s DeLorean takes the cake with its full-blown time machine. Where they’re going, they don’t need roads.
Style points go to Johnny “Ghost Rider” Blaze’s Hell Cycle. Same for the Ecto 1, seen in both “Ghostbusters” films as well as the upcoming remake. The Red Mist Mobile from “Kick-Ass” and the hot pink Vaydor, driven by The Joker in the upcoming film “Suicide Squad,” are as cool as they come too. Although it’s certainly not the sleekest or most graceful vehicle on this list, the Eagle 5 – a beat-up Winnebago with wings – isn’t without its own style. It’s the perfect vehicle for interstellar vagabond Lone Starr and his sidekick, Barf, in “Spaceballs.”
But by far, the fictional vehicle sweeping all categories is the Batmobile.
What’s your favorite Batmobile? Check out how the Dark Knight’s rides have evolved over the years below.
A Legacy of Greatness
There is no argument: The Batmobile is easily the most iconic of all fictional rides. But not every iteration over the last 50 years has been a winner – or the car Batman deserves. Click the video above to watch the evolution of the batmobile.
Click here, to view the same animation as a GIF!
The Dark Knight Rider
Contrary to popular belief, the circa-1966 original Batmobile was not the first of its kind, but it is undoubtedly the most important, according to Aaron Miller at Thrillist.com. “Hollywood legend George Barris was given so little time to make the car that he took a decade-old concept car, the Lincoln Futura, made what really amounted to just a few minor cosmetic changes, and made history,” he said.
But for many fans, it pales in comparison to the 1989 Burton Batmobile, the first truly futuristic design with bat wings on the back, a turbine engine on the nose, and relatively simple but potent gadgets. “It’s a car that is bold and yet mysterious, which is a quality that no other Batmobile embodies,” said Rudie Obias at MoviePilot.com, who placed this Batmobile at the top of his list.
As for the Batmobile of 1995, it is easily the worst Batmobile ever designed by human hands – or the devil’s hands, according to Tom Baker at WhatCulture.com. The clunker came complete with lights under the car and rims. Luckily, it was destroyed halfway through “Batman Forever.”
The Batmobile of 1997 is better than the previous monstrosity for only two reasons, Miller added. First, it was designed to pay homage to the Delahayes of the 1930s and, second, it was real. Other than that, the car is all style with very little substance. It’s completely forgettable.
“Batman Begins” in 2005 represents a turn for the better. It was the year the Tumbler was born. When Bruce Wayne sees it, he only has one question for Lucius Fox: “Does it come in black?”
It certainly did. The Tumbler upset some Batman purists, but for the most part, the military take on the Caped Crusader’s ride made a bold statement, and it was a complete game changer. Specifically, the 2008 version that appeared in “The Dark Knight” really blew minds. Christopher Nolan added the Batpod, a motorcycle that Batman uses as an escape pod during a famous chase scene with Joker.
The newest on-screen Batmobile, as seen in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” is a “balance between the sublime and the ridiculous, which we are certainly fans of,” said Tom Baker at WhatCulture.com. “Not quite the militarised tank of the Tumbler and not quite as stylised as Adam West’s ride, the new Batmobile is somewhere in between. It’s got influences from all the previous on-screen incarnations, successfully blending them into a unified Batmobile that’s definitely not something you’d see any conventional army using during combat, but it isn’t complete comic book fantasy.”
A couple recent photos and videos of the “Suicide Squad” Batmobile chasing Vaydor down the main drag confirmed everyone’s hopes that Batman would make an appearance in the film – due in theaters August 5 – but they don’t do much more than that. The director is keeping the new ride under wraps, and most details are still classified.
Need for Speed
If speed is what Michael Knight sought, he got into the right car. “This looks like Darth Vader’s bathroom,” he said the first time he sat down in the KITT (the Knight Industries Three Thousand).
For the 2008 “Knight Rider” remake, the production team steered away from the old Pontiac Trans Am and went for a new look. But rest assured, this is not your typical black Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR. Its features range from a computerized dashboard to an x-ray surveillance system. And it can accelerate to 300 miles per hour, making it the fastest fictional car of the bunch.
Some fans may say this is debatable. The Mach 5 is a close second at 271 miles per hour, followed by the “Dawn of Justice” Batmobile at 205 miles per hour and Black Beauty at 200 miles per hour.
If you need to get away in a hurry, the Hell Cycle and Optimus Prime are not your rides of choice. They each top out at 90 and 100 miles per hour respectively.
The View’s Great From up Here
In the universe where the Eagle 5 exists, light speed is much too slow. There, the goal is ridiculous speed, or even ludicrous speed, which this winged Winnebago has no hope of reaching. On a good day, it pushes toward ridiculous speed, approximately 89,998 times the speed of light. The DeLorean’s cruising velocity is .34 G-force – or approximately 26,850 miles per hour.
Against these two air vehicles, the Fantastic Four’s Fantasti-Car doesn’t stand a chance. It reaches just 550 miles per hour. But it can break into four compartments with ease, so that’s something.
Will That Be Cash or Credit?
With speed comes a ridiculously hefty price tag, if the KITT is any indication. Prepare to shell out $11.4 million for this sleek beauty. Michael Knight did.
The Acura NSX concept car was an easy buy at $9.2 million for “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” Tony Stark. And he got a sweet load of gadgets for it – steering wheel with palm-scan ID, an enviro-clone hologram of surroundings, anti-ballistic shielding body panels, and bulletproof, hyper-traction tires; he also got the assurance that Ironman could get away in a pinch if need be.
Not far behind is the “Dawn of Justice” Batmobile, which cost Bruce Wayne a cool $9 million. From there, the costs of the rides fall off, down to a lowly $240,000 for the Red Mist Mobile, $180,000 for the Mach 5, $140,000 for the Hell Cycle, and $121,000 for Optimus Prime.
Despite its space and time travel abilities, the DeLorean would have fetched only $68,000 on the open market, but rumor has it that new DeLoreans are on the way. That ride will cost upward of $100,000.
Black Beauty set the Green Hornet back just $61,174, and the Joker is riding off pretty in his pink Vaydor after shelling out just $60K (if he even paid for it).
Batmobile fans out there, it is time to broaden your horizons. There are plenty of fictional rides, past and present, to consider. And your travel routes are limitless: whether you want to stay on the ground or fly high above the clouds.
We analyzed all of the most iconic cars from movies throughout history and compiled a list of the top 15 vehicles. We then researched the specifications of each vehicle to create the graphics above. In some instances, data regarding price and top speed are based on hypothetical sources.
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