Movie Cars From ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Batman’ and More Are on Display in Los Angeles

The majority of the cars are on loan from studios, a few come from private collectors, and a few are housed in the museum’s permanent collection. But most of these vehicles are not unique. The cars pictured are usually made in groups, with different versions serving different purposes.

“Most movie cars are made in sets of 1 to 10,” Bodell explained. There are “A cars” – like this James Bond Aston Martin – which are usually fully functional models that you see actors driving on screen. This differentiates them from “prop cars” which are intended for static shots only and do not need to run.

The Aston Martin DB5 in The golden finger.From the Everett collection.

There are “acrobatic vehicles” which are used for chases, jumps and collisions. These are designed for durability and performance. They are often fitted with dummy interiors and driven by a technical pilot dressed as the star. They can even be operated by roof-mounted controls, allowing the actual driver to do the work from above, so an actor can be filmed inside looking heroic and capable while gripping the steering wheel.

And there are the “promotional cars”. These are polite and comprehensive, and are used for publicity and premieres. “The Batmobile we have is one of three [built for the movie], and that was the promotional car,” Bodell said. “It actually works, believe it or not. But it does heat up a bit, because the studio didn’t intend this car to drive very far.

The Batmobile.Courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Overheating is just one of the many challenges faced by cars on the set. “There’s a disconnect between what people know to be true in cars today and what was true back when they were filming. And more and more actors don’t know how to drive gear changes. “, said Jamie Kitman, award-winning automotive journalist and owner of Octane Film Cars, a classic car service with thousands of vehicles in its database that has provided productions such as Respect, the wonderful Mrs. Maisel, Nightmare Alley, and Americans.

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