Posted by: Jerry Garrett | February 24, 2013

Most Memorable Movie Cars of 2012: Aston Martin Laps The Field

James Bond's bulletproof, but not explosion-proof DB5. (

James Bond’s bulletproof, but not explosion-proof, DB5. (EON Productions)

HOLLYWOOD

“…And the Oscar for Best Performance in a Motion Picture, during 2012 – for a car – goes to…”

Well, this isn’t exactly a cliffhanger. There’s really only one nominee.

James Bond’s 1965 Aston Martin DB5 brought the house down when it made a brilliant, surprise appearance in “Skyfall”. On a sad note, although film-makers have made it clear James Bond will be back for another sequel, we wonder if the same can be said for his beloved DB5.

The DB5′s star turn helped make Skyfall the fourth-highest grossing movie of 2012, with a box office take exceeding $300 million in the United States alone.

James Bond on a bike? It's stunt double Robbie Maddison! (MGM)

James Bond on a bike? It’s stunt double Robbie Maddison! (MGM)

A shout-out should also go to the Honda CRF 250-R that daredevil Robbie Maddison rode – sans helmet! – with such verve across the rooftops of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar in Skyfall’s opening gambit. (Okay, and a tip of the cap to Land Rover’s rugged Defender in the same sequence.)

Otherwise, it was a fallow year at the box office for vehicles in movies. In fact, between comic book superhero movies, vampire tales, animated features and pre-automotive era period pieces (“Lincoln”, “Les Mis”, “Django Unchained”, etc.), vehicles were sadly under-employed in 2012 cinema.

After Mr. Bond’s iconic Aston Martin, we must plumb rather deeply to find any memorable movie machines for the year.

"Uh, AAA Roadside Assistance, please." (Montgomery Co. PD)

“Uh, AAA Roadside Assistance, please.” (Montgomery Co. PD)

Bruce Wayne’s 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP-700 4 has a moment or two in “The Dark Knight Rises.” But aside from its being towed away, the role is little more than a cameo. Perhaps more memorable in the movie are the motorized gadgets such as the Batpod and Tumbler; but don’t expect to see them at a Barrett-Jackson classic car auction anytime soon (as we did with the original Batmobile, which sold for $4.6 million at a B-J auction in January). The Dark Knight’s motorized toys are merely props.

The year’s top grossing movie, with a take approaching $625 million, “The Avengers,” offered us a glimpse at Acura’s NSX prototype. But only a glimpse. The film-makers, and Acura, have milked the moment since – with appearances of the car at movie premieres, etc. They even prepped a “window sticker” showing an MSRP of $11 million.

Part of the Panther Apocalypse. (Marvel)

Part of the Panther Apocalypse. (Marvel)

The most memorable moments for vehicles in “The Avengers” (and to a lesser extent “The Dark Knight Rises,” the year’s No. 2 movie) was the astonishing number of Panther platform cars – the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis – destroyed in various apocalyptic battles. The carnage of police cars, taxis and black cars was on a level worthy of the “Fast and Furious” franchise or the epic “Blues Brothers Movie.” But the world’s supply of destruction-ready Panther cars must be dwindling to alarming levels.

What else would you select, 2012 movie-goers?

The 1970 Chevrolet Camaro seen in “21 Jump Street” was a sweet ride, as was the black 2012 Ford F-150 in “Magic Mike”. But neither are going to wind up as posters on teenage boys’ bedroom walls. Same with the 1992 Honda CB 1000 that gets put through its paces in a chase scene in “The Bourne Legacy.”

The only other vehicle worthy of mention appeared in the year’s most honored movie, “Argo.” The chase scene at the airport awakened the long-slumbering passions of fans of the 1972 AMC Matador.

The ungainly sedan, which sold by the dozens, has almost been forgotten in automotive history (arguably, with good reason). Hard to believe Mark Donohue won a NASCAR race in a first-generation Matador.  (Remember also that a Matador was actually driven by James Bond – in 1974’s “The Man With The Golden Gun”.)

It is even possible Islamic Republic police drove Matadors – used ones were among the types of crapboxes regularly exported to our former allies like the Shah. But the chase scene in the movie happened only in “reel” – not real life. The current-era Streethawk Lightbar atop each Matador helps give away the fact the sequence was filmed at Ontario airport in California.

But that’s about all, folks, for 2012. There’s reason to believe, though, 2013 will bring much more motorized mayhem to a movie house near you. After all, Fast and Furious 6 is due this summer!

Jerry Garrett

February 24, 2013

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