Classic car of the movies – the 1970s

Hot on the heels of our classic car movies of the 60s article, we’re back with the 1970s, looking at some of the most famous films featuring our beloved old motors in all their glory.

Whilst British film in the 70s was giving us the likes of Get Carter, A Clockwork Orange and the Monty Python movies, the U.S. was leading the way with all things four-wheeled, so it’s across the pond for all our subjects this time around.

There are so many fantastic films it’s been difficult to choose which ones to look a little more closely at, with all-time greats like Vanishing Point (1971), Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974), The Gumball Rally (1976), Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Hooper (1978) not featuring below, but well worth revisiting (or watching for the first time if you don’t recognise them).

So, here are three 1970s movies with a truckload of our stunning classic and muscle cars, including one of the earlier ‘motoring mayhem’ road movie films we all loved (or loved to hate) growing up.

American Graffiti (1973)

Fans of a slightly well-known family space saga may recognise the name of this movie as it was Star Wars creator George Lucas’ first film, a coming-of-age story starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and Harrison Ford.

Whilst the film was made in ‘73, the story and cars were set in California 1962, amongst the teenage culture of rock & roll, cruising, drag racing and hot rods.

The cars were very much the stars of this film, including the main yellow 1932 Ford Coupe, a white 1958 Chevrolet Impala, a white 1956 Ford Thunderbird, a red 1951 Mercury Coupe and the black 1955 2-door Chevrolet Sedan, which Harrison Ford drag-raced against the yellow Coupe towards the end of the movie.

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

Yes that’s right, if you didn’t know, Nicolas Cage’s 2000 car heist film is a remake of a classic low-budget movie from the mid-70s. The original was written, directed, produced by and starred H.B. “Toby” Halicki.

Apparently, it cost around $150,000 and has grossed $40million! The film follows a gang of professional car thieves stealing 48 motors in five days to pay off a drug lord. It also features a 40-minute police chase as Halicki tries to get away in ‘Eleanor’, the code name for the final car, a 1973 Ford Mustang.

The chase involved a staggering 93 car wrecks through five Los Angeles suburbs and has become one of the best loved car chases in history.

You can Google the full list of stolen cars and their codenames, but here are some of the best:

  • 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75
  • 1972 Lincoln Continental
  • 1972 Mercedes-Benz 450SE
  • 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
  • 1972 Ferrari Daytona 365 GTB/4
  • 1973 Jensen Interceptor
  • 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
  • 1968 Intermeccanica Italia GFX
  • 1971 Ford “Big Oly” Bronco

Grand Theft Auto (1977)

After starring in American Graffiti, Ron Howard (Happy Days’ Richie Cunningham and now one of the biggest film directors around), made his own car movie, Grand Theft Auto.

The comedy film follows young lovers Sam and Paula as they flee to get married in Las Vegas in a stolen Rolls-Royce, pursued by all sorts of different people trying to claim a $25,000 reward set by Paula’s father. The film features chase scenes, crashes and pile ups before the lovers manage to tie the knot.

Between the myriad of Porsches and Pontiacs, VWs, Chevrolets, Fords and Dodges, there’s something for everyone in this all-time classic car movie.

We’ll be back soon with the 80s, but call us today if you need insurance for your classic cars, including our multi car policy on 0121 248 9304.