9 from the ’90s: Cars We Adore

We were watching Friends and Seinfeld on TV, listening to grunge and hip hop, and driving the Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7. Introducing our Top 9 cars from our favorite ’90s movies.

Inspector Gadget, 1999
1964 Lincoln Continental
The “Gadgetmobile,” a white and chrome Lincoln convertible with artificial intelligence had a range of special skills. It could camouflage itself, track locations on its radar system, extend its tires upwards, transport bad guys with its retractable backseat jail, deliver snacks from a vending machine, and create the ultimate power boost with a jet engine, inconveniently stored in the trunk.

Cruel Intentions, 1999
1956 Jaguar XK 140 Replica Roadster
This American-built replica of the British classic has larger bumpers and a different grill than the original Jag, as well as other minor discrepancies. The film identifies the car as a 140 but some say it looks more like a 120. But like anything else on the internet, it’s open for debate. Regardless, the car is a thing of beauty. Its role in the film? Not so pretty. But you’ll have to see it for yourself.

Speed, 1994
GM New Look Bus
Photo Credit: By Jef Poskanzer from Berkeley, CA, USA – GM 1970s bus 1/3, CC BY 2.0,
“There’s a bomb on the bus!” The bus, a GM New Look. Since its introduction in 1959, more than 44k have been built. In the film, they only needed 11. During shooting, several were destroyed, including the one used in the famous freeway-jumping scene where the bus navigates an uncompleted ramp. The stunt didn’t go as planned. On the first attempt, the driver missed the ramp altogether and crashed the bus. Two days later, a second bus landed on the camera. Luckily, another camera recorded the successful jump. Computer-generated imagery added the finishing touches.

Jurassic Park, 1993
1992 Ford Explorer
Photo Credit: Jurassic Park 1993, 1992 Ford Explorer XLT Electric Tour Car Visit Vehicle 04 & 05 in Jungle with T-Rex Paddock Fences (Scan by Baptiste Coudert For Jurassic Database Fb Page, Rights to Universal Studios Entertainment)
The electric cars used to tour Jurassic Park were modified 1992 Ford Explorer XLT series. Floodlights and a sunroof were added to the vehicles, presumably to improve the viewing experience. Each vehicle featured a self-navigation system, night-vision goggles, and a tap that supplied visitors with clean water. Road flares and flashlights were kept in the trunk. Although the Explorers were electric-powered, their lights might have been battery-powered. When the T. Rex pushed EXP 04 off the track, the headlights and high beams kept working.

Dumb and Dumber, 1994
1984 Ford Econoline
Under all that fur is a 1984 Ford Econoline. Although the van is only a supporting character, it’s become an icon in movie car history. The van itself is nothing special without its dog parts. Behind the front seats the van is bare except for a bench seat and two support pillars. Luxury accessories include an AM/FM radio and cassette player, air conditioning, and old-fashioned manually-rolled windows.

Tommy Boy, 1995
1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX
Holly schnikes, this Mopar took a beating! As Tommy hits the road to sell enough auto parts to save his father’s failing business, the car is in decent shape. By the end of the journey, not so much. Not only did the film launch the career of comedian Chris Farley, it also taught us that wild animals and soft tops don’t mix. We’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks. Over the years, some fans have speculated the car was repainted orange and used in the David Spade film “Joe Dirt.”

Days of Thunder, 1990
1990 Chevrolet Lumina NASCAR
For authenticity, production got cooperation from NASCAR, and the movie features appearances by real-life NASCAR drivers. To capture realistic race footage, the cars were in fact driven three times by professional drivers, but at much lower speeds. NASCAR normally races in excess of 200 mph. These cars were able to capture genuine racing action more safely at only 120 mph. Which may explain the reason for low on-set injuries during production: a total of only 13 stitches.

Thelma and Louise, 1991
1966 Ford Thunderbird
The fourth generation of the Ford Thunderbird featured a more formal, squared-off look than its predecessors. Five were used in the movie including two stunt cars and a back-up vehicle. In 2008, one of these cars was sold at auction for $71,500 which was about triple the price of a less famous Thunderbird in similar condition. The armrest was signed by Brad Pitt (J.D.) and the visor by Geena Davis (Thelma). One can presume it wasn’t the same car that flew off the edge of the Grand Canyon in the film’s final scene.

Wayne’s World, 1992
1976 AMC Pacer
The Pacer has been called the ugliest car ever made. It’s been the butt of jokes. But in 2016, the Pacer used in Wayne’s World sold at auction for $37k. Who’s laughing now? The car had received a mechanical overhaul, new paint job and flame decals, stereo upgrade (for a Bohemian Rhapsody singalong) and the original ceiling-mounted red rope licorice dispenser. Excellent! A non-famous Pacer in the same condition would be worth around $8k. The vehicle had been awarded as a prize by MTV and later sold to a pawn shop for $9k. Party on!


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