“There's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses.”
Cars can tell you a lot about the characters in a film. What do they value? Where are they coming from? What do they want from life? But sometimes you see a vehicle sail across the screen thanks to the expertise of a stunt driver and all you can think is: What would it be like to hit the road in that? If you’ve ever wondered which cars are best and worst suited for a real-life road trip, read on! (Spoiler: A time-traveling automobile is not as optimal a choice as you may think!) Here are 10 classic onscreen cars ranked from worst to best for your road trip.
Top Picks for You
10. The Plymouth from "Christine"
Any car with murderous tendencies is a bad choice for a road trip, full stop. But the thing that keeps it from being 100% off the table is the fact that it has the ability to repair itself. If your itinerary is taking you outside the realm of dependable cell phone service (or even if you don’t relish the idea of having to pay up for a new transmission at an inopportune time), it’d be pretty handy to have a car that has the ability to fix itself. As tempting as that feature may be, though, it’s probably best to leave this bloodthirsty auto at home.
9. Any of the Cars from "Cars"
The only thing that could make any of the cars from Pixar’s Cars a worse road trip vehicle is that (unless there’s some kind of R-rated cut we don’t know about) the automobiles of this universe don’t have homicidal tendencies. But everything about them would make for a poor road trip vehicle. First, there’s the matter of how would this even work. Is it even possible for humans to get behind the wheel of one of these eponymous vehicles? There are no humans in the Cars universe, so why would they waste precious space on accommodating non-mechanical pilots. And, even if you could, what would the moral implications be? Is it even ethical to ride inside a fully sentient being with their own complex framework of hopes and dreams? If you want to go slower and the car wants to go faster, whose choices are prioritized? Unless you have a moral philosopher friend who can sort this one out for you, go ahead and skip this option.
8. The DeLorean from "Back to the Future"
Sure, at first blush, hitting the road in your own personal time-traveling DeLorean seems pretty cool. Not only can you take as much time as you want to stop to check out the biggest ball of twine and enjoy an extended picnic without missing your early check-in, but you could road trip through the age of the dinosaurs or through a metropolis floating in the sky. But what happens when you run out of juice and you don’t know the exact time or place a lightning bolt is going to fly out of the sky so you can get back home? Ultimately, you’re going to want a vehicle that comes with zero risk of ending up in a love triangle with your mom.
7. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is what you get after you wish on a monkey’s paw for a magic car. First of all, it’s literally named after the weird sounds it makes. And, sure, this car can turn into a boat and it has the ability to fly—but it only does those things on its terms. You could try speeding off a cliff and hope for the best but why risk it? Still, it’s better to have those disaster-averting qualities than not at all.
6. The Volkswagen Bus from "Little Miss Sunshine"
A decades-old VW bus that is quite literally falling apart does not seem like an ideal road trip vehicle. But this car has a secret weapon: the ability to help people bond with each other! Isn’t that the real point of any adventure you take with your nearest and dearest? To make new memories and strengthen your connections? What better way to do that than collectively giving your means of conveyance the old Fred Flintstone jumpstart?
5. The Bluesmobile from "The Blues Brothers"
If you’re someone that blasts your playlist over your Bluetooth speakers on the hiking trail, the Bluesmobile is the perfect highway companion. The roof-mounted loudspeaker makes it so you can serenade your fellow motorists with the songs of your choice. Or, if you’ve ever wanted the ability to issue a polite “ahem” when the car ahead of you hasn’t noticed that the light’s turned green in lieu of blaring on your horn, the PA system makes that possible too. But, perhaps most importantly, if your road trip’s a long one, you’re going to want a car that can be put through the ringer and (mostly) come out the other side.
4. The Ford Falcon from "Mad Max"
Has the last year left you feeling like you’re living through the actual apocalypse? A perfectly reasonable response to an unchecked (in the U.S. anyway) pandemic and the terrifying effects of climate change (out of control fires, so many hurricanes we’re running out of names for them). So if you’re planning on hitting the road, your wheels should be able to handle the terrain of a post-apocalyptic road. With its custom supercharger, you’ll be able to take on whatever the roving gangs of leather-clad bandits have to throw at you.
3. The Customized Ford Explorers from "Jurassic Park"
Not only does this thing hold up pretty well during a tyrannosaurus rex attack, but it has all the roomy comforts you expect from an SUV, with plenty of space to bop along to some tunes or discuss the finer points of chaos theory. Plus, that mostly clear roof adds to that roomy feeling. Its only drawback is that it is a bit of a gas guzzler so probably not the best choice if you’re hoping to save at the pump.
2. The Ferrari from "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off"
If you’re looking for a car that you’re going to feel 100% at ease driving across long distances, a vintage Ferrari might not be your first choice. And you know what they say about red cars attracting more parking tickets. But let’s face it, who doesn’t want to hit the road in a flashy supercar at least once in their lives? If you have the chance to take a road trip in a Ferrari, no matter how impractical it may be, go ahead and seize the day.
1. The Subaru Impreza from "Baby Driver"
When you picture Subarus, your mind probably goes to the classic station wagon that’s frequently advertised next to a campfire with a floppy-eared dog grinning out the window. The Subaru Impreza is not that car. As the opening of Baby Driver shows, this car is better suited to going fast than going camping. But, while this doesn’t have the road trip bona fides of Subaru’s station wagon, it’s still a freaking Subaru. Which means that it’s reliable, it’s going to get you where you want to go. Just don’t mind the rowdy engine, and you’re good to go.