They’re fast. They’re sleek. Whatever they are, they’re burned into our imaginations like skid marks on the pavement. We’re talking about the cars that brought our favorite characters into their greatest adventures. Whether they’re from comic books, cartoons, or even classic literature, these are the most iconic cars in fiction.
The DeLorean (Back to the Future)
“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”
The DMC Delorean sports car already had the look of an action-movie car when it rolled onto the auto market in the early 1980s. Possibly the only thing that could have made it cooler was putting a time machine in it. Fortunately, they did in the 1985 classic movie Back to the Future. Equipped with a flux capacitor (whatever that is), it’s propelled through time when it hits 88 mph.
The Batmobile (Batman)
“Quick, Robin! To the Batmobile!”
Whether it’s the campy 1966 red and black model or the tank-like machine featured in Dawn of Justice, the Batmobile is one of the most iconic cars in fiction—and not even just for comic book fans. Since its first appearance in Detective Comics #27, the car has had several notable features, including armored plating, a smoke screen, radar, a missile rack, a Vulcan gun, a riot suppressor, and a grappling claw. Despite being constantly battered by bad guys, it still maintains its paint job. (Batman needs to let us in on his preferred car wax brand).
The Mach 5 (Speed Racer)
“The Mach Five is the most complex and ingenious car ever built—a tribute to my father’s imagination, genius, and technical skills!”
The 1967 anime Speed Racer was one of the trailblazers for bringing Japanese animation to Western audiences. Even those who don’t know about Speed Racer have probably seen his race car: the Mach 5. Speed isn’t the only thing the Mach 5 brings to the table, though. It also packs rotary saws, bulletproof deflectors, a homing robot, and a “frogger mode,” which allows the car to travel underwater.
The Yellow Car (The Great Gatsby)
“‘It was a yellow car,’ he said, ‘A big yellow car.’”
If you attended high school in the United States, Jay Gatsby’s Rolls Royce was probably burned into your mind along with the green light and a pervasive disillusionment with the American Dream. The yellow car that figured prominently in the death of Myrtle Wilson stood as a symbol of the extravagant lifestyle of “new money.”
The Mystery Machine (Scooby-Doo)
“She’s kind of a delicate piece of machinery, Shag.”
Few cars sum up our childhoods quite like the Mystery Machine. It’s no luxurious or technological marvel like the previous cars on this list. In fact, its paint job is really the most impressive thing about this stick-shift panel van. But what it lacks in gadgets, it makes up for in reliability. It would have to in order to stick around for thirteen shows, forty-five movies, and fifty-five years. Easily one of the most iconic cars in fiction.
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.