Behind the Wheel Muscle Cars

FILE- This Feb. 15, 2018, file photos shows a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt on display at the Pittsburgh Auto Show. For 2019, Ford will debut the latest Bullitt version of the Mustang, paying homage to the fearless chase car from the 1968 Steve McQueen movie. Chevrolet says that the 2019 Camaro will be restyled and updated with new features. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

The goal of a cinematographer is to put something visually arresting on the screen. Whether it’s the perfect setting for a romantic beach scene or the right city block to capture the perfect aesthetic, when making movies, the look is everything.

So it’s no surprise that throughout the years iconic filmmakers have turned to Ford vehicles to capture the look and feel they want for their masterpieces.

1. 1971 Mustang Mach 1 – Diamonds are Forever

James Bond may be more associated with another type of vehicle but when it came time to film the iconic car chase through Las Vegas, Bond is driving a Ford Mustang. Mustangs are the quintessential American muscle car and the early 70s models were particularly visually striking, a trait that carries through to today’s generation of Mustangs. You may not be able to race through an alleyway on two wheels like Bond, but today’s Mustangs are every bit as iconic as the one 007 used to escape Las Vegas.

2. 1932 Coupe – American Graffiti

Before George Lucas put Harrison Ford in the pilot’s seat of the Millennium Falcon, he put him up against a 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe hot rod in one of the preeminent movies about the birth of American car culture. Second place in this category goes to the Ford De Luxe known as Greased Lightning in Grease.

3. 1972 Gran Torino Sport – Gran Torino

When Clint Eastwood went to make what may be the last great movie of the iconic filmmaker’s career, he needed a car so stylish that it would attract the eye of the local gangsters who would try and force the young neighbor of Eastwood’s character to steal the car as a rite of initiation. The attempt fails and sets a course of events that changes the lives of the main characters forever. A historic car was required and the Gran Torino fit the bill perfectly. Second place in this category goes to the 1975 red Gran Torino with a white stripe popularized in Starsky and Hutch.

4. 1968 Mustang GT Fastback – Bullitt

Steve McQueen needed muscle and style to shoot the greatest car chase ever committed to film. The seminal chase through the streets of San Francisco in a classic Mustang lasts for 10 minutes, and those 10 minutes left an indelible mark on cinema history.

5. 1993 Explorer – Jurassic Park

“They spared no expense.” John Hammond, the eccentric billionaire behind the soon-to-open Jurassic Park, tells his visitors this repeatedly before the dinosaurs break loose and start eating them in Steven Spielberg’s classic movie. Among the finer things Hammond points to are the 1993 Ford Explorers with exceedingly colorful paint jobs. While some cars on this list may be extinct, the Ford Explorer remains on top of the food chain, whether you’re trying to escape a ravenous, surprisingly tenacious T-Rex, or on a family vacation to a theme park that doesn’t feature insanely dangerous exhibits.

6. 1969 Mustang – John Wick

When a trio of Russian gangsters steal Keanu Reeves’ character’s classic car and kill his dog, it is officially on. Reeves goes on a rampage of revenge and, for the record, in John Wick: Chapter Two, he gets his car back.

Not all of the Fords made famous in cinema are still in production today, but it’s clear that when filmmakers want a car that’s going to stand out and be memorable on screen, they turn to Ford time and again.

Of course most of us will never star in a feature film or even play a bit part, but we can still own a Ford vehicle that sets our heart racing whenever we spy it in our driveway or parking spot. Give the friendly folks at Rusty Wallace Ford in Dandridge a call or visit and let them know what you’re looking for in your next ride. They would love to make sure that you Drive Home Happy starring in your version of a happy ending.

-Sponsored by Rusty Wallace Ford.