Muscle Cars in the Movies

Who doesn't like a good chase scene, especially if it involves an attractive muscle car? Among all the movies that were churned out over the years, a few movie muscle cars stand out. Not only are they recognizable, but the cars have their own names.

Bullitt. This highland green 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback of the movie by the same name is one of the best-known movie cars of all time. Steve McQueen hand-picked the car for the movie for two reasons: He wanted a car that looked cool and one that a cop would own and drive every day.

Only two Mustangs were built for the movie because, in 1968, the budget for a film wasn't comparable to the special-effect bonanzas of the days to come. Bullitt was mostly a stock Mustang with upgraded springs and shocks and some extra body bracing to endure the rigors of the high-speed chases. Max Balchowski, the stunt driver in the movie, gave the 390-cubic-inch motor a race-ready tune-up.

Unfortunately, the details of what happened to the two cars are sketchy to the point of bordering on myths. However, one common denominator remains: Steve McQueen, a classic motorcycle and car collector, passed away before he could reunite with either of the models.

Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds. The metallic gray Eleanor is a modified Ford Mustang GT 500 masquerading as a Shelby. Released in 2000, Gone in 60 Seconds was a remake of a 1974 movie. The more recent version, starring Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage, featured 12 units. However, only three were running cars, and not all made the final cut. While the stunt cars came with automatic transmissions, the movie models had a four-speed manual.

Bumblebee from Transformers. This muscle car, a yellow and black Camaro, inspired a buying frenzy in 2010 at Chevy dealers all over the United States. While the cartoon version used a VW Beetle, the movie version was a 1976 Camaro chosen for its affordability. Despite the fantastic robotic transformation aspect, designer Jeff Mann wanted the young hero to have a realistic car that peers could afford.

The movie used three cars, each with a price tag of less than $6,000. All of them had been rebuilt with 330-horsepower, small-block V-8, 5.7-liter engines. Other technical specifications include turbo hydramatic 350 three-speed automatic transmissions, Jegs 3/4-length tubular headers and Edelbrock Pro-Flo electronic fuel injection.

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