We’re asked on a fairly regular basis if our staff are ‘car people,’ and we usually respond with the same glance; a head-tilting, confused look - like when a Labrador hears the word walk. Yeah… Of course, our staff members are car people… And, so are you – you just may not realize it, yet.
We yearn to drive because we have a conscious - or subconscious - passion for the automobile. No one takes learning to drive seriously because they have an undying passion for going to the grocery store; you want to learn to drive because you’ve noticed the bewitching mechanical beauty of a car once or twice. You want to be in control of the object of your desire. That’s the trigger that’s sparked your interest in being a good driver.
Maybe it was a movie that piqued your interest - Bullitt, the Fast and the Furious franchise, a James Bond car, etc. - or maybe it was the poster on your older sibling’s bedroom wall, or the audible rumble of the classic muscle car that resided on your street.
In this post, we’ll outline a few of the most iconic vehicles in the world that have always stimulated and fed our love for driving.
The quintessential bedroom poster car, the Lamborghini Countach turned the automobile world on its head when it debuted in 1971 at the Geneva Motor Show. This mid-engine V12 Italian brute was the first exotic car to embody the wedge design language that’s influenced the DNA of modern supercars ever since.
And those doors; the Lamborghini signature scissor doors added a sense of drama to the vehicle even when it was sitting still. The iconic look of the automobile was interwoven with its scientific, race-car inspired construction and built with an aircraft-grade aluminum tubular space frame.
It’s 6 carburetors made it smell like octane and speed, its shape made it sleek and menacing, and its outrageously brash styling helped cement the automobile as drivable art.
Steve McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang GT 390 Fastback
Pitted against a sinister black Dodge Charger R/T (that actually loses 6 hubcaps in the legendary 10-minute movie chase), Steve McQueen’s forest green 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback, appeared in Bullitt - a film that epitomizes the Hollywood car chase, and iconized the Mustang as a hero-type. The vehicle was rough, dented, dirty, riddled with visible rust spots on the rocker panels, and free of Ford logos - the antithesis of Hollywood polish, making the pony-car the ideal blue-collar, working man’s V8 gear-grabber.
McQueen loved his ‘68 so much he tried many times to buy it from a Warner Bros. employee, citing the personal attachment he had developed with the car during filming. He would never get the original back, though he took it upon himself to build a replica or two. It wasn’t until 2016 that the original restored ‘Stang was showcased to McQueen’s granddaughter. In 2018, the original 1968 movie star Bullitt car accompanied the new iteration of Ford’s Bullitt tribute on stage at the Detroit Motor Show.
Ford has kept up with the Bullitt Mustang over the years releasing tribute models - most recently with the reveal of the 2019 Mustang Bullitt, a 50th anniversary model built on the Mustang GT Premium that houses a potent 475 horsepower V8 engine and a limited-slip differential to emphasize the tire squealing turns.
An icon of 1960’s popular culture, the Mini is a front-wheel-drive subcompact hatchback with a transversely mounted engine and embodies a peppy personality. The Mini Cooper was first introduced in 1959, and was renowned for its success as a rally car, winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 65, and 67.
The shape and style of the Mini were so popular, the car was awarded the 2nd most influential car of the 20th century in 1999. The Mini owners, Rover Group, were even able to register the iconic vehicle design as a trademark. In 1994, the Rover Group was purchased by BMW, who overhauled the vehicle and reintroduced the Mini Cooper as a sports hatch in 2000.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable vehicles on the planet, the Ford F-150 is by far the most popular selling pickup truck the world has ever known, and one of the most iconic workhorses of the automobile world.
First introduced in 1948, the Ford F-series vehicles are variants of light and medium duty trucks manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. The F-150 is both the best-selling vehicle in Canada, and the best selling vehicle in the US since 1981 - and the best selling US pickup since 1977. “There are more F-150’s on the planet than there are Australians,” former Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, noted during a segment profiling the F-150 Lightning.
In the premiere Transformers blockbuster, a beat-up 1977 Chevy Camaro unknowingly becomes the star of the film when it’s revealed the car is actually a trusted Autobot lieutenant, Bumblebee. The Camaro was updated and released by Chevrolet in 2007, and the retro-designed Camaro became the star of the next three Transformers films. GM became the hero-brand, pitting Bumblebee against a rival Decepticon Ford Mustang to renew the classic pony-car rivalry.
In the second Transformers film, Dark of the Moon, Bumblebee is upgraded to an SS Camaro model, and in the final film, Age of Extinction, Bumblebee was overhauled completely, taking the form of a customized 1960’s Camaro, instilling the Chevy brand as a symbol of heroism.
Brian O’Connor’s 1994 Toyota Supra MK IV
The heartthrob of the blockbuster film, the Fast and the Furious, Paul Walker (aka Brian O’Connor) overhauls and restores a derelict Toyota Supra to fulfil a debt to Vin Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto - a 10 second car. The Supra became the icon of eager millennial drivers who latched onto the tuner scene to fill the void of muscle car presence in Hollywood in the early 2000’s. The Supra represented a shift in iconic Hollywood vehicles, from factory V8 thunder, to smaller displacement engines that made the most of bolt-on power and tuned engineering.
Brian’s Supra was candy pearl orange, featured a targa-style top, and a massive inline-6, nitrous-oxide sipping, turbocharged engine that famously ties Dom’s demonic blower-topped Dodge Charger in a drag-race at the end of the film. The scene was a message, that the new age of Hollywood vehicles was here, and was just as good as the outgoing cubic-inch crowd of yesteryear.
Perhaps most iconic about the Supra was the line: “smoke ‘em,” uttered by Toretto on the Supra’s maiden drive, when Brian humiliates a black Ferrari on LA’s Pacific Coast highway. *Swoon*
Those of us who take learning to drive seriously have been staring at the car in the driveway, or the sports car on the highway, or the truck in the mud since we were knee-high to a duck. We’ve grasped the iconic symbolism that automobiles represent: freedom, fun, speed, and style.
Happy (and safe) driving, you car person, you.