Ford Mustang in the Movies

Lights, Camera, Mustang!

Ford Mustang in the Movies
The following are a few of the many movies featuring Ford’s longstanding pony car. Illustration Courtesy of Late Model Restoration

Illustration Courtesy of LateModelRestoration

For more than 50 years, the Ford Mustang has become a staple of American muscle car culture. With its sporty exteriors and powerful engines, it’s no wonder movie producers and directors have selected to feature the car in numerous films and television programs.

Actors such as Steve McQueen, Will Smith, Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery, and Nicolas Cage have all saddled up to a Ford Mustang on film. In fact, many of these actors liked the car so much that, when filming was over, they opted to include a Ford Mustang in their garage at home. In a celebrity driven world in which BMWs, Mercedes-Benzs, Hummers, and Cadillac Escalades all seem to rule the roost, it's great to see these folks haven't lost sight of pony-car pride.


A Star in More than 500 Movies

In all, Ford Motor Co. estimates that more than 500 movies, and hundreds of television programs, have included a Ford Mustang since the car first appeared in April of 1964. “Mustang has had the most roles of any Ford vehicle, and there are no competing cars that come close,” said Bob Witter, of Ford Global Brand Entertainment (FGBE), the Ford office in Beverly Hills that works to “cast” Ford-branded vehicles in movies, television and other entertainment media. “From a product placement perspective, Mustang is the gift that keeps giving and giving.”

Spend a weekend in front of the tube and you’ll know what Witter is talking about. For instance, I recently spotted the Ford Mustang in more than five movies over the course of a single weekend. The movies included Back to the Future II, I Am Legend, K-9, American Gangster, and my all-time favorite, Bullitt featuring the rough and tough Lt. Frank Bullitt. The chase scene in this movie was so popular that, in 2001, Ford created a limited-edition tribute Mustang, named Bullitt. The limited-edition Mustang returned in 2008 and 2009.

“The Mustang set off a revolution almost to the level of the Model T in terms of making a cool sports car affordable to the average person,” said Witter. “When you were driving a Mustang, you were special. You were noticed. You stood out. And today the Mustang delivers the same attributes.”

In a press release issued by the company, Ford said, “In some movies, the Mustang is cast as the ideal aspirational vehicle for one of the characters, such as in the 2007 film The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Given only a few months to live, Freeman’s character lists 'Drive a Shelby Mustang' as one of the things he longs to do before he kicks the proverbial bucket. And in the recently released film, Race to Witch Mountain, a Mustang Bullitt plays an integral role in the plot. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson’s character fantasizes about owning the 'car from Bullitt,' and at the end of the film his dream comes true.”

The following are a few of the many movies featuring Ford’s longstanding pony car:

Goldfinger (1964) – This Bond film gets high Mustang marks for being the first movie to show off Ford’s new sporty car, a white 1964½ convertible driven by a beautiful woman assassin. After a brief chase in the Swiss Alps, Sean Connery in his Aston Marin DB5 borrows a trick from a chariot racer in Ben Hur to shred the Mustang’s tires and its rocker panel.

Bullitt (1968) – Steve McQueen is the hardened police detective who drives a 1968 Mustang GT390 in a nine-minute, 42-second car chase against killers in a black Dodge charger through the hilly streets in and around San Francisco.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Reprising his role as James Bond, Sean Connery eludes police pursuit in a red 1971 Mustang Mach I fastback on two wheels to squeeze down a narrow alley in downtown Las Vegas. The car tilts up on the passenger side wheels entering the alley and exits the alley on the driver’s side wheels, a pretty neat trick.

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) – For slam bang action, it’s hard to beat this B-movie about an insurance-man-turned-car-thief forced to steal 48 cars which have been given women’s names to foil eavesdroppers. The second half of the movie is a 40-minute car chase that destroys 93 cars, leaving the getaway vehicle, an orange 1973 Mustang Mach I much worse for wear.

Bull Durham (1988) – Kevin Costner is the fading ballplayer in this sports comedy love triangle with Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Since Costner’s character once tasted glory for a brief time in the major league’s “show,” it’s only fitting that he picked up a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT350 convertible along the way.

True Crime (1999) – Clint Eastwood plays a reporter with a messy personal life who gets one more chance to get it right after something doesn’t add up in the case of a Death Row inmate facing imminent execution. His car matches the man – a 1983 Mustang convertible with more than a few miles on it.

Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) – In this remake of the earlier film, retired car thief Nicolas Cage has to boost 50 cars in 24 hours to save his kid brother from killers. The ultimate prize is Eleanor, a silver and black 1967 Shelby GT500 styled by car builder Chip Foose. The original script called for Eleanor to be a Ford GT40 but getting a fleet of those to thrash around would have been a little too pricey.

The Princess Diaries (2001) – The lovely Anne Hathaway stars as Mia, an awkward 15-year-old who learns that she’s actually a princess by her royal grandmother, played by Julie Andrews. Initially, all Mia wants to do is stay unnoticed at school and get her 1966 Mustang fixed up in time for her 16th birthday.

Hollywood Homicide (2002) – Josh Hartnett and Harrison Ford star as detectives in this action “dramedy.” Their car of choice? A 2003 silver Saleen S281 supercharged Mustang. The chances a cop could afford a $63,000 car on his salary? Pretty slim, even in Beverly Hills.

Cinderella Story (2004) – An unpopular girl, played by Hillary Duff, is exploited by her wicked stepmother. She loses her cell phone instead of a glass slipper at the ball, but she gains a prince. Her car of choice: a sky blue 1965 Mustang convertible.

I Am Legend (2007) – Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City, played by Will Smith, struggles valiantly to find a cure. Smith’s co-star in the movie? A red and white Shelby GT500 Mustang.

When asked what accounts for Hollywood’s fascination with the Mustang over the past 45 years, Witter responded, “It’s all-American. It’s a sports car. It’s fun. It’s fast. Mustang makes that kind of statement, and it has been engrained into the American psyche since 1964.”

Source: Ford Motor Co.