Which is the best movie car of the eighties?

Review by Brendan McAleer

Originally published April 24, 2014.

Films from the ’80s are a mixed bag – some have stood the test of time, and some most emphatically have not. Actually, some of them were awful right out of the gate. Not unlike most of the cars of the decade.

There are, however a few gems to be found that combine the best in movie magic with the best on four wheels. Here are our picks for the ten best movie cars of the 1980s.

1950 Mercury

1986’s Cobra is not a very good movie. It’s actually pretty terrible, and not even in that guilty pleasure way.

However, Sylvester Stallone’s car, a customized 1950 Mercury, is simply badass, all hunkered down and mean-looking, and powered by a hot-rodded V8. Predictably, Stallone’s Cobretti wrecks it in spectacular fashion.

Porsche 928

There’s no substitute for this one, particularly if you’re being chased by Guido the killer pimp. This 1979 Porsche 928 shared the screen with a 21-year-old Tom Cruise in 1983’s Risky Business, and made Tom a household name.

The 928 was intended as a ‘Vette competitor and an eventual replacement for the 911. Of course, that never happened, with the 911’s quirks finding a wider audience, and some of its tail-happy behaviour tamed by technology.

Today, the V8-powered 928 is a classic, but an affordable one. Maintenance can be costly, but they are comfortable and easy to drive, and still very quick.

There’s even one on autoTRADER.ca.

Cobra - 1950 MercuryRisky Business - Porsche 928
Cobra – 1950 Mercury & Risky Business – Porsche 928. Click image to enlarge

Buick Roadmaster Convertible

Rain Man - Buick Roadmaster Convertible
Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Ferrari California Spyder
Blues Brothers - Dodge 440 Monaco
National Lampoon's Vacation - Wagon Queen Family Truckster
Rain Man – Buick Roadmaster Convertible, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Ferrari California Spyder, Blues Brothers – Dodge 440 Monaco, National Lampoon’s Vacation – Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Click image to enlarge

Is there any better name for a car than “Roadmaster?” Well, maybe just one – more on that later in the list.

Used in another Tom Cruise vehicle, Rain Man, this gorgeous, cream-coloured 1949 Buick doesn’t just make an appearance, it’s a third character playing alongside Dustin Hoffman and Cruise. Two cars were used in filming, and with its glorious straight-eight engine and classic styling this is definitely, yes definitely a good car. Definitely.

Another autoTRADER.ca example.

Ferrari California Spyder

This is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

As far as means go, you don’t even have to be that flush with cash. The car used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off wasn’t an actual 1963 Ferrari California Spyder, which would be worth something like $10M today, but a replica built by a company called Modena. The body is fibreglass, and the engine is a Ford 289.

Dodge 440 Monaco

Jake and Elwood made for one dynamic duo, but you can’t help feeling that there was a third Blues Brother: the Bluesmobile. Cop motor. Cop shocks. Cop powerplant. But yes, the cigarette lighter is broken.

The 1980s flick The Blues Brothers is such a huge cultural phenomenon, this car hardly needs an introduction. Even so, it’s just about the coolest thing ever, a valiant, battered warrior that refuses to give up the ghost in various epic car chases. Plus it hates Illinois Nazis, and handles well down at the local shopping mall.

Ford Country Squire

Less a car than a wood-panelled ocean-liner, the Clark Griswold’s Family Truckster is an eyesore on wheels. And, if you hate it now, just wait ’til you drive it.

Star of National Lampoon’s Vacation, the Truckster’s stacked headlights and functionless gills were hacked together by George Barris in a monument to bad taste. Absolutely terrible, and very, very funny.

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