These Are the Coolest Scary Movie Cars

Some of the most terrifying characters in scary movies aren't actors — they're cars. And what do these scary movie cars have in common? Well, for one, they aren't exactly modern.

Scary Movies Generally Have Creepy Cars In Them. Photo: The Film Grindhouse
Scary movies generally have creepy cars in them. Photo: The film Grindhouse

They’re not bad cars, they just play bad characters.

Some of the best actors in classic horror movie classics weren’t actors at all — they were cars. Without saying a word, these hunks of metal served as vehicles for bone-chilling thrills and entertainment, either in starring or supporting roles. Some merely transported the protagonists to their grisly fate, others provided a means of escape, and some were the evil villains themselves. (Looking at you, Christine.)

The only question is: Why these cars? What makes them so terrifying above all others? Here’s a look at eight famously frightening rides from scary movies and spot what gives them their chilling character.

Related: Scary Movie Cars: 8 Classic Horror Movie Cars

It May Look Pretty, But This Plymouth Fury Named _Christine_ Is Nothing But Bad News. (Screenshot From The Movie)

It may look pretty, but this Plymouth Fury named Christine is nothing but bad news. Photo: The film Christine

Scary Movie Car: Stephen King’s Christine

If you’re the type of person who likes to give your car a cute name, you might want to cross Christine off your list of options. The famous Stephen King novel-turned-movie, Christine, is set in 1978 and is a cautionary tale about buying a car with a sinister name from a crotchety old man. (Note: If anyone named Roland tries to sell you a 1958 Plymouth Fury, just keep on walking.)

Had protagonist and nerdy teenager “Arnie” followed his buddy’s advice not to buy the old red car, he could have saved himself and others a world of hurt. The Plymouth Fury, dubbed “Christine” by its former owner, had a jealous and evil personality as well as an ability to reconstruct itself when damaged. To pull off this effect, the movie crew had to demolish about two dozen different models throughout the course of filming. That’s a high body count. (…Get it? Ha!)

Scary Movies Generally Have Creepy Cars In Them. Photo: The Film Grindhouse

Scary movies generally have creepy cars in them. Photo: The film Grindhouse

Quentin Tarantino’s Deathproof in Grindhouse

Inspired by stuntmen who “death-proof” stunt cars for chase scenes in movies, Quentin Tarantino wrote Grindhouse: Deathproof about a serial killer, played by Kurt Russell, who stalks and victimizes women in his deathproof car believing that in these cars he can get away with anything.

Until he doesn’t.

Russell’s character drives a 1969 Charger and a 1971 Charger, both modified to protect him and convey the idea that the car is as evil as its driver. Ultimately, though, the cars don’t prove to be deathproof, as a group of targeted women forces Russell’s character to crash before he faces his ultimate demise at their hands. Who doesn’t appreciate a twisty bit of schadenfreude?

Few Hollywood Cars As Are Recognizable As The Ghostbusters_ Ecto-1. (Screenshot From Ghostbusters 2)

Few Hollywood cars are as recognizable as the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1. Photo: The film Ghostbusters 2

The Ectomobile from Ghostbusters

When there’s something strange in the neighborhood… what’re you gonna drive? The Ectomobile (or “Ecto-1”) from Ghostbusters, of course! The white 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance is one of the most recognizable cars in Hollywood history, though there’s probably a lot you don’t know about it. For example, here’s a fun fact from The Drive: the car had a 6.3-liter V8 engine that put out 320 horsepower, but it was hard to handle because it was 20 feet long and weighed a whopping three tons. It also was originally supposed to be black with purple and white strobe lights until that proved to be a problem for nighttime filming.

The original car was left on a Universal Studios backlot to rust until outraged Ghostbusters fans petitioned for its restoration — and it actually happened!

Related: Movie Cars That Outshine the Stars

This Plymouth Valiant Is About To Embark On The Most Terrifying Ride Of Its Life. (Screenshot From _Duel_)

This Plymouth Valiant is about to embark on the most terrifying ride of its life. Photo: The film Duel

A 1971 Plymouth Valiant De Luxe from Duel

Long before director Steven Spielberg was making Jaws and Jurassic Park, his first film featured an antagonist that was no less terrifying than sharks and dinosaurs: a vengeful semi-truck driver. Sounds a little silly — unless you watch the movie. The 1971 cult classic, Duel was originally made for TV before its popularity led to an international theatrical release.

The entire movie centers around a man in a 1971 Plymouth Valiant De Luxe who gets dangerously cut off by a semi-truck driver, only to be relentlessly pursued by him for the rest of the film. It’s an extreme example of road rage at its worst — and you will never look at semis the same way again!

The Chrysler Newport From _Joy Ride._ (Screenshot)

The Chrysler Newport from Joy Ride plays the classic creepy car quite well. Photo: The film Joy Ride

The 1971 Chrysler Newport from Joy Ride

Okay, in case you didn’t learn your lesson from Duel, then Joy Ride (not to be confused with several other movies with the same name) is here to reiterate the point: Do not, under any circumstances, make a mysterious truck driver mad. You never know when a harmless prank might actually lead to your untimely death. Brothers “Lewis” and “Fuller” learn this the hard way as they spend much of the movie fleeing from an evil truck driver named “Rusty Nail” (yes, that is his real name), who doesn’t find their shenanigans very amusing.

Unfortunately, their 1971 Chrysler Newport meets a very sad fate — but no spoilers here! You’ll just have to watch the movie to see what happens.

A Murderous Lincoln Continental Is Not What This Sheriff Had On His Bingo Card. Photo: The Film The Car

A murderous Lincoln Continental is not what this sheriff had on his bingo card. Photo: The film The Car

The 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III from The Car

Apparently, people in the ‘70s were a little evil-car-obsessed. The Car came hot on the heels of Duel and seems to up the ante a little in terms of automobile terror because this time, the murderous, rampaging car — a disguised, matte-black 1971 Lincoln Continental — has no visible driver. It just goes about smashing bikers, hitchhikers, and high school marching bands willy-nilly until the local sheriff devises a plan to blow it up.

But did it work? Well, here’s a clue: There’s a sequel called The Car: Road to Revenge.

Sam Raimi_S Favorite Oldsmobile First Made An Appearance In _The Evil Dead._ (Screenshot)

Sam Raimi’s favorite Oldsmobile first made an appearance in The Evil Dead. Photo: The film The Evil Dead

The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 from Multiple Sam Raimi Movies

If there was an award for a car that has the highest number of appearances in scary (and not-so-scary) movies, it’s the 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that director Sam Raimi uses in almost all of his films. No kidding — the guy has featured this same pale yellow-toned Oldsmobile in everything from The Evil Dead to the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man franchise to Dr. Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness.

While the Delta 88 takes center stage in the Evil Dead franchise — beginning with main character Ash Wiliams taking that fateful drive to the cabin in the woods — it’s mostly an Easter egg in other films. That’s because Raimi’s popularity as a horror film director took off thanks to Evil Dead, and he wanted to remember his humble beginnings.

In the words of Screen Rant’s Mark Donaldson, “The Oldsmobile has become an emblem of how Raimi got his big break and demonstrates how the director continues to stay true to his roots.”

If you want to have some fun, host a Sam Raimi movie-watching marathon where you look for his beloved Oldsmobile. (I recommend starting with the campy horror flick, Drag Me to Hell, if you want some corny Halloween entertainment.)

Related: Car Cameos in the Barbie Movie: A Bevy of Chevy Barbie Dream Cars

So… What Exactly is the “Scary Movie Car” Type? 

There you have it — the scariest, spookiest movie cars in cinema history. Let’s take a look at the list one more time:

  • 1958 Plymouth Fury
  • 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor
  • 1969 Dodge Charger
  • 1971 Dodge Challenger
  • 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III
  • 1971 Chrysler Newport
  • 1971 Plymouth Valiant De Luxe
  • 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88

Obviously, there was something about the ‘50s and ‘70s — specifically the year 1971 — that made cars and trucks with character that could be twisted to feel menacing and evil. Being American-made doesn’t seem to be a good sign, either.

And while some on this list are ghosts from the past, others have come back to life for the modern age.

2023 Dodge Challenger Black Ghost Last Call Edition

The Dodge Challenger Black Ghost’s handsome face hides a haunting darkness behind its eyes. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Maybe It’s Time for Some Remakes with New Scary Movie Cars

So, what do you think? Should we do a remake of all the classic scary car movies with a more modern take? Perhaps a murderous hybrid with a thirst for fuel (and blood!)? Or maybe an electric car that runs out of charge in the middle of the desert, leaving you and your family stranded? (This may hit a little too close to home for some people.)

Actually, it might be enough to just remove some modern conveniences from newer cars. Imagine the terror of a minivan without automatic sliding doors, an SUV sans wireless Apple CarPlay — or pretty much any car that doesn’t come with a backup camera. That’s the stuff of nightmares.

Thank goodness we don’t have a lot to fear with vehicles on the market these days, as most of them come with a plethora of standard tech and safety features. Of course, if your heart beats a little faster for the old classics, knock yourself out. Just know that there’s probably at least a 50% chance it will try to murder you.

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Allison is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the wife of a car-obsessed husband who got her... More about Allison Bell