Top 10 Greatest Cinematic Beaters

September 9, 2011
Badass automobiles stacked to the gills with the coolest modifications known to man have always been a staple in cinema. But it’s the old beat-up junkers that have more personality and are more near and dear to our collective hearts.

10. 1958 Plymouth Fury – Christine

Source: Columbia Pictures

Before the 5.7-liter V-8 1958 Plymouth Fury that is Christine fell head over heels for Arnie Cunningham and started taking out fools left and right, she was a crusty old jalopy sitting in some old dude’s yard just waiting for a lucky feller to get behind the wheel and take her for a spin just one more time.

Fist and foremost, this car is a godsend for any small-town geek feeling out of place and completely isolated. Not only is classic Christine a set of bitchin’ wheels for cruisin’ the local strip, she’s also one of the baddest bodyguards imaginable. We all know what happened to those idiots who tried to bust up Christine to get back at Arnie Cunningham, right? Road kill city, yo. Screw Batman’s Tumbler, I’m taking Christine into battle.

9. 1963 Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle – The Love Bug

Source: Buena Vista Distribution

Herbie, an anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle from the 1968 Disney classic The Love Bug, is one of the coolest beaters a studio has ever produced.

Basically possessed by what seems to be some kind of human spirit, the VW Beetle known as Herbie starts out as a used and abused automobile on a random car lot. Luckily for him, down and out racecar driver Jim Douglas was also in need of a new pal. The Love Bug instantly filled that void and the odd pair would go on to shock the racing world with a string of insane victories. Herbie also caused a little hijinks along the way. The little dude is just a badass.

8. 1964 Chevrolet Malibu - Repo Man

Source: Universal Pictures

With a trunk filled with the bodies of a few radioactive aliens, the 1964 Chevy Malibu being tracked down by Otto Maddox and almost everyone in Los Angeles in the 1984 cult classic Repo Man is a punk rock beater for the ages.

What can’t this car do? Seriously. It can fly, fry up anal retentive police officers, and even withstand a trunk load of gnarly radioactive outer space beings. It’s also only allows really radical people to ride in her. Nice. One second the car is setting government scientists on fire and the next it’s taking Otto and his grizzly junkyard pal Miller for a ride in the smog-filled skies of LA. Not too shabby at all for an old 1964 junker.

7. 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe – The Road Warrior

Source: Warner Bros.

Better known as the Pursuit Special, the 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe originally made famous and driven by Mel Gibson in Mad Max had seen much better days when audiences eventually got another look at it in the opening of The Road Warrior sequel.

Sure, the 1973 Ford Falcon was totally badass all cleaned up with some snazzy modifications in the first Mad Max installment, but the apocalyptic sequel presented by George Miller showcased the GT Coupe during its final days and it still went out kicking a whole lotta ass. This classic beater does eventually get wrecked in an awful crash, but there’s just something so special and sentimental about the older version of this dented and bruised Pursuit Special that overshadows the much tricked-out version. Age builds character, guys.

6. 1959 Cadillac Ambulance – Ghostbusters

Source: Columbia Pictures

The one we all know and love. As seen in the insanely popular ‘80s comedy classic Ghostbusters, the Ectomobile, also known as the Ecto-1, was a total down-and-out beater up until Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler spiced her up a bit with a few sirens and a fresh new paintjob. The Ray Parker, Jr. jams didn’t hurt matters either.

This movie proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you could take a crusty old junkyard beater and transform it into a movie icon. Featuring the rad Ghostbusters logo, the revamped Cadillac Ambulance caused a bit of a happening everywhere it went around New York City and for good reason. I ain't afraid of no ghosts.

5. The Wagon Queen Family Truckster - National Lampoon’s Vacation

Source: Warner Bros.

Based on a Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon with a ton of wacky National Lampoon modifications, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster that Clark Griswold and his son Rusty reluctantly purchase from Lou Glutz Motors was a beater the minute it struggled to get off the lot.

With yet another bonehead move by one of the greatest dads in comedy history, Clark Griswold and his family found themselves riding across the beautiful landscapes of the Untied States in one of the crappiest automobiles ever designed. Although, on the flipside of things, even after taking a triumphant beating throughout the entire trip, the Family Truckster did indeed make it to Walley World when all was said and done. The kid’s got spirit.

4.1972 Pontiac LeBaron - The Big Lebowski

Source: Paramount Pictures

This one really needs no introduction as far as I’m concerned. Featured in one of the most side-splitting comedic scenes ever, The Dude’s 1972 Pontiac LeBaron is a legend among cinematic automobiles. And this isn’t really even a question of the car being one of the greatest beaters seen in film either. The seemingly endless cult following of The Big Lebowski has already cemented Jeff’s Creedence Clearwater Revival-blaring LeBaron into the stoned hearts and minds of millions and millions of loyal viewers. It also needs to be said that Dude’s mode of transportation goes through some serious drama throughout the film. How many cars get used as a bathroom and still keep on truckin’ with their original owners? Answer: Only one. Gotta love that rust coloration.

3. 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale – The Evil Dead Franchise

Source: Paramount Pictures

Ash’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale, also known as "The Classic," is easily one of the greatest beaters in the history of moving pictures. It’s one of the most seen too. Not only has the classic yellow Olds got some solid screen time in all three Evil Dead features, Sam Raimi even squeezed the Delta 88 runner into every movie he’s made since. Even The Quick and the Dead. Seriously. This has obviously added to the car’s legend over the years and effortlessly placed it among the best in the business. Not only that, it was also modified to help Ash defeat the Deadites.

2. Millenium Falcon – Star Wars

Source: Lucasfilm

It’s really hard to break down what exactly makes this ship is so awesome, but Han and Chewy’s punk rock attitude and irrational faith about the flying craft’s professional abilities throughout the entire series has to be why we all adore the damn thang so much. Of course there are much more souped-up ships all over the galaxy, but this little YT-1300 freighter has legitimately done things that very few so-called big-time vessels can even begin to claim. Need examples? Umm…how about helping to destroy the freaking Death Star? Twice, son. Twice! Oh, the Falcon also made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. NBD.

1. 1974 Dodge Monaco – The Blues Brothers

Source: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Entertainment

Y’all know the deal on this one. Not only does the Bluesmobile carry a 7.1-liter V-8 engine, it also notoriously comes equipped with cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks, and many more modifications made by cops, for cops.

A beater on the outside and a total badass where it counts, the Dodge Monaco used by Jake and Elwood Blues to outrun droves of Illinois’ finest, the Good Ol' Boys, and a pissed off neo-Nazi goof troupe is about as untouchable as Eliot Ness in the epic beater department. I know I’m not alone when I say that I always wanted an old beat-up police car while growing up because of this movie. It was very sad to see the old girl fall to pieces after the epic car chase to end all car chases, but at least we can always rewind the awesomeness for yet another go. RIP Bluesmobile.