Alternative Movie Cars: Five Funky & Underrated Machines from Hollywood History
Whether you are a casual car enthusiast or a hardcore gearhead, there a few better destinations in America than LA's Petersen Automotive Museum. There's always something cool to see at the Petersen, and the ever-changing lineup of special exhibits makes the place especially worthy of repeat visits.
At the moment, the Petersen is currently hosting an exhibit that might just be its most interesting yet. Called Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the large exhibit has gathered an impressive collection of vehicles, props and artwork from both iconic and cult classic sci fi and fantasy films and TV shows.
Along with universally known and loved movie machines like the Back to the Future Delorean, multiple versions of the Batmobile and the Interceptor from Mad Max, the exhibit also includes a number of more obscure but no less interesting vehicles from sci fi and fantasy history.
Here are five of them for your consideration -
1. Deckard's Sedan from Blade Runner (1982)
If you are a fan of either the original Blade Runner or Blade Runner 2049, than this exhibit is a must-see as it features a large selection of vehicles and props from both films.
Among the group is the 2019 Spinner Sedan police car driven by Harrison Ford's character in the original 1982 film.
While Blade Runner was known for its flying cars, Deckard's personal machine was relegated to patrolling LA's seedy surface streets after it had its flying equipment remove. Dreamed up by famed futurist designer Syd Mead, the car itself was built by legendary customizer Gene Winfield on the chassis of a 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle.
A big part of the fun of this exhibit is seeing the old visions of future cars and how they compare to actual modern vehicles. As you can see, this one looks just a little different from cars of the real year 2019.
2. 6000 SUX from Robocop (1987)
Also presented as part of a dystopian future vision is the 2043 Omni Consumer Products 6000 SUX from 1987's RoboCop.
In the dark sci fi film, the car is presented as a humorous take on the American luxury sedan of the future.
The 6000 SUX appears in the movie a couple of times, including this in this commercial where its 8.2 miles per gallon of fuel economy is proudly advertised as part of an "American Tradition".
In reality, the 6000 SUX was another Gene Winfield creation and this car is one of three examples built for the movie. Beneath all of that its futuristic fiberglass bodywork is a humble 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
3. 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra from Guardians of the Galaxy II (2017)
In stark contrast to the heavily customized future machines we just saw, we have this factory original 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra that appeared in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy II.
The car appears in the opening scene of the film which takes place in 1980 Missouri and shows Peter Quill's father Ergo (played by Kurt Russell) driving in the Mustang with Peter's mother Meredith.
It's cool to see this un-loved version of the Mustang on the big screen, and the car has other ties to the film as well including its wild '70s paint job which inspired the coloring of Peter Quill's spaceship the Milano.
4. 2032 Chevy from Demolition Man (1993)
Next we find ourselves back in another futuristic take on LA, this time with a funky looking automobile from the 1993 action film Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock.
Unlike most of the other vehicles which were designed and built specifically for their films, this was actually a GM concept car from 1992 called the Ultralite.
It was first shown at the 1992 Detroit Auto Show, and the film's producers spotted the car and knew it would be perfect as the police car of the future. A special assembly line was opened up and 12 running cars were built for filming.
Not only does Demolition Man as a movie hold up surprisingly well by today's standards, it actually predicted a number of today's common technologies including self-driving cars, voice commands and video conference calls. We also dig it because of the cool Oldsmobile 442 that's featured prominently in the film's later half.
5. X-34 Landspeeder from Star Wars (1977)
Last but not least, we get to a machine from once of the most popular and iconic films of all time, but one that doesn't seem to get its due respect as a "movie car" - Luke Skywalker's X-34 landspeeder from the original 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope.
In an era long before CG effects made just about anything possible, the X34 actually had to be built over the chassis of a real car, and that car was a three-wheeled British microcar called the Bond Bug. During filming, mirrors were mounted used to hide the wheels of the car while it was in motion.
And while it may not be an automobile in the traditional sense, Luke's landspeeder was clearly influenced by George Lucas' interest in sports cars and hot rods as a youth and might be the best example of the "battered and used" aesthetic that helped make Star Wars so interesting.
It might just be the most under-appreciated movie car in history.
If you'd like to see these and many other vehicles from the world of science fiction and fantasy films, we highly recommend making a trip to the Petersen Automotive Museum to check out the Hollywood Dream Machines exhibit while it's still going on.
For another one of the Petersen's great exhibits of the past, you can check out our look the Dan Gurney All American Racers tribute from a couple years back.