Late January is the height of awards season when it comes to honoring the best films of the past 12 months. The Academy doesn’t give out an Oscar for “Best Chase Scene” or “Best Supporting Muscle Car,” which means much of the awards-season hooplah flies under the radar of muscle car enthusiasts. To top it all off, none of the hopefuls for “Best Picture” this year at the Academy Awards feature a cool ride on their posters – Lincoln, of course, didn’t even live to see the line of cars that would eventually bear his name.
There have been some vehicles, however, that deserve a little recognition from the Academy for essentially playing the lead role in iconic films over the past century. Although they share the screen with some top-notch Hollywood talent, these cars steal every scene they are featured in, leaving an imprint not just on the history of the silver screen but also on the hearts of generations of hot rod fans.
In 1969, the classic Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt” garnered two Academy Award nominations, taking home the prize that year for best editing. It was lead character Frank Bullitt’s ride, a highland green 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback, that made this film one of the greatest in movie history. This was the first movie to feature shots of the driver actually in the car, which resulted in a chase scene for the history books as the GT 390 raced down a black Charger R/T in the climax of the film.
Mad Max, which would serve as Mel Gibson’s breakthrough role when it was released in 1979, didn’t earn any Oscar love despite some frightening performances, not to mention the innovative costume designs. However, aside from some of the best maniacal screaming to ever be caught on film, the show-stopper was Max’s set of wheels, the “Pursuit Special” or “Interceptor.” The car was based upon the Ford Falcon XB GT, a model only built and sold in Australia that got its power from a 351-cid V8. Even though the film version featured a modified front-fascia, the production Falcon was just as brutal and stands up to nearly any muscle car produced on either side of the equator.
The Burt Reynolds vehicle “Smokey and the Bandit” is another film that scored one nomination from the Academy, and only for editing, though the film missed out on taking home that trophy at the 1977 Oscars. However, Smokey’s ride in this blockbuster flick, the 1976 Trans Am, became one of the most popular hot rods of the decade, with sales surging by more than 30,000 units from 1977 to 1978 and another 24,000 units in 1979. Seeing as this car handled better and was actually faster than the comparable Corvette of the time, it’s no wonder that American’s gobbled up this attractive coupe in droves.
Although no movies being honored this year feature hot rods or muscle cars that rival the three mentioned above – unless you are a fan of the VW Minibus and military vehicles – the show is bound to one day honor a picture that features an awesome chase scene.
What movie-cars do you think deserve recognition as the coolest to hit the big screen? Leave your comments below:
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