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Hollywood's Most Iconic Custom Cars

One of the most innovative car-themed film series will be rebooted on May 15th in Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. The original series boasted custom-built cars seemingly made from salvaged scraps and, from the looks we've been given of Fury Road so far, the new movie is continuing the tradition. Before you see it at Hollywood Blvd Cinema, let's take a look at our favorite heavily-modded iconic cars from movie history.

Writer's note: While there are plenty of amazing cars in film (ie: the Lincolns from The Godfather), this list focuses on customized cars with more overtly modded appearances than what you would see in Furious 7.

The DeLorean
When Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale first wrote Back to the Future, the DeLorean DMC-12 didn't even exist. The first draft's time machine resembled an old refrigerator powered by a "power converter." Thankfully for all of us, that idea was scrapped and we were introduced to a customized design that has lasted longer in our minds than the actual car it was built on was produced. The car evolves as the trilogy progresses, but the key piece is the flux capacitor needed for time travel. It has varying power sources including plutonium (stolen, of course), a lightning strike and the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor. The boosters on the back of the car spew steam after time travel which is controlled through a large LED panel on the dash. The car has remained such an icon that there are now companies dedicated to converting DMC-12s in to full-sized drivable replicas.

The Bluesmobile
The car from "The Blues Brothers" is such a favorite here that we have it on our roof! This 1974 Dodge Monaco is equipped with the "440 Magnum" squad car package offered that year. If the Mount Prospect Police Department insignia on the door doesn't jog your memory, the crudely attached bullhorn to the top will. When it comes to police cars in movies, this is the most recognizable. After the car chase destroyed the defunct Dixie Square Mall in nearby Harvey, the building was left completely wrecked. It was never repaired and was finally demolished in 2012.

The ECTO-1
When ghosts in New York need to be busted, the ECTO-1 was quick to arrive on the scene. The car from Ghostbusters is a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex; a hearse/ambulance combination with limousine style windows. The 21 foot long, 7,300 pound monster is decked out with loads of prop equipment and a blazing blue siren. The idea of the ECTO-1 came from Dan Aykroyd and John Daveikis and was built by the film's production designer Steven Dane. Interestingly, George Barris, known as the "King of Kustoms", has claimed to designed the ECTO-1 despite not being involved in the process. He's given interviews about it standing next to an ECTO-1 which turned out to be a replica that Barris didn't even make. He has also claimed to designed the car from Back to the Future (which he did not), leading to a cease and desist letter from Universal.

The Field (of Death Race 2000)
Arguably the most campy movie on this list, 1975's Death Race 2000 boasted an entire lineup of custom-built cars, ranging from cool to ridiculous. The story here is pretty simple: a Transcontinental Road Race is a nationally sanctioned event where drivers are less concerned with a finish line and more concerned with killing people. A young Sylvester Stallone stars as Machine Gun Joe, a racer whose car features guns and a bayonet mounted to the hood. There's also a car that is painted to look like a bull and has large piercing horns extruding from the front. But perhaps the most eye-catching car is driven by the protagonist, the disfigured Frankenstein, played by the late great David Carradine. This Dick Dean build is a 1968 VW with a Corvette body on top made to look like a reptilian monster, complete with a spiny ridge running down the center.

The Batmobile
You'll be hard pressed to find a more universally recognizable custom car from film as the Batmobile, despite its many radical on-screen variations since the 1940s. First appearing in film in the 1943 Batman serial as a 1939 Cadillac Series 75 Convertible, it wasn't too customized. When the top was down, it was Bruce Wayne's car. With the top up, it was the Batmobile (And you thought Clark Kent's glasses were a bad disguise!). In the 1949 serials, it was upgraded to a 1949 Mercury Convertible with the same top up/top down trick.

The Batmobile enjoyed plenty of redesigns in the comics before the next car made its film appearance in 1966: first on the Batman TV show, and then in the big screen spinoff Batman: The Movie. This car is based on William A. Schmidt's 1955 Lincoln Futura and was designed by George Barris within a tight three week deadline. Bubble-shaped windshields, long fins, a narrow body, and a subtle bat mask designed in to the nose make for an unforgettable car. The original car sold at auction in January 2013 for $4.2 million.

Batman took a long hiatus from the big screen until 1989 in Tim Burton's Batman starring Michael Keaton. Production designer Anton Furst wanted a Batmobile unlike anything ever seen before and he did just that by combining two Impala chassis and dropping a Chevy V8 in. The custom fabricated body has the ability to shed, turning the vehicle in to a narrow "Batmissile" for quick escapes. This design carried over in to Batman Returns. Designer Barbara Ling designed a Batmobile like any other for Batman Forever that lit up blue and had over-exaggerated fins. Ling returned to work on Batman & Robin and designed one of the longest Batmobiles in history: a 30 feet long car inspired by old racing roadsters. The car featured six exhausts in a V formation and was road tested to 140 MPH.

In 2005, Batman returned to the big screen in Batman Begins and brought with him the most realistic Batmobile to date: the Tumbler. Nathan Crowley and director Christopher Nolan created the 9-foot by 15-foot 2.5 ton vehicle that was still able to manage 0-60 in under six seconds (thanks to a 500-HP Chevy 350 V8). Its custom design allowed the car to jump 30 feet in the air, unassisted. The Tumbler made a comeback in The Dark Knight Returns with the ability to break apart and reveal the Bat-Pod: the now iconic lay-down open motorcycle equipped with machine guns and wheels mounted to a horizontally rotating frame.

The V8 Interceptor
When preproduction began for Mad Max in 1976, George Miller and Byron Kennedy had the titular character driving a white 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe, a car exclusively sold in Australia. Eventually, it became an entirely black vehicle except for solid gold MFP (Main Force Patrol) decals equipped with a Concorde front end and a strictly cosmetic protruding supercharger. Add tanks in the back and a slew of custom gauges and you have an unmistakable iconic car.  The original V8 Interceptor is currently at Dezer Car Museum in Florida and is being restored by Jim Martino. You can see Jim's personal film-accurate Interceptor replica at Hollywood Blvd Cinema at the day-early premiere of Mad Max: Fury Road on Thursday May 14th. 

There's enough fully-modded cars in Hollywood history to fill an entire lot. Did we miss yours? Let us know in the comments!


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