10 coolest movie Porsches of all time
When most people think of movie cars they think of American muscle, maybe the Bandit’s black Trans Am, the blown Charger from “The Fast and the Furious” or Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt” Mustang, which recently sold for $3.74M at auction. Others think of Porsches.
Porsches have appeared in all kinds of films since the 1950s, from blockbuster action flicks to coming-of-age comedies. Thanks to car guy A-list leading actors like Robert Redford and Steve McQueen, they became a favorite of Hollywood starting in the late 1960s. The trend continued well into the big-hair 1980s, and Porsches are still lighting up the big screen, appearing in such recent hits as “Red 2” with Bruce Willis and “Bad Boys for Life” with Will Smith.
When creating this list of the 10 coolest movie Porsches, we had one simple rule: No kit cars. No fakes. No re-bodied VWs. This kept us from including a few well-known machines, including the Speedsters from “Top Gun,” “King of the Mountain” and “48 Hours.” We also awarded points for driving action as well as the cars’ rarities. Surprisingly, the yellow 356 convertible driven by Jacqueline Bisset in “Bullitt” didn’t make the cut, so consider this shout-out a consolation prize.
Here they are: the 10 coolest movie Porsches of all time, in chronological order.
'Downhill Racer,' 1968 Porsche 911T
One of the first movies to feature a Porsche 911 was 1969’s “Downhill Racer,” starring Robert Redford. Most don’t know that Redford is a car guy and has owned many Porsches, including a 550 RS Spyder. "I've always liked speed,” he once said. “I own a car that I shouldn't be talking about because I'm an environmentalist, but the 1955 Porsche Spyder 550 RS is the finest sports car ever made.”
In “Downhill Racer,” a movie about the U.S. ski team, he famously mounts skis atop his beautiful co-star’s orange 1968 Porsche 911T and takes her for a spirited ride through the Alps. After filming the movie, Redford became a lifelong Porsche owner and an enthusiast of early long-hood, air-cooled examples. He would drive another — a 1969 Irish Green 912 — in the 2001 action thriller “Spy Game.”
'Le Mans,' 1970 Porsche 917
Steve McQueen’s most famous movie car is undoubtedly the Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT390 Fastback he drove in “Bullitt,” but the most valuable car he ever drove on screen is the Porsche 917K used in the 1971 documentary-style feature “Le Mans.” Four 917s were used during filming, three short tail (K) versions in the famous Gulf colors of blue and orange wearing Nos. 20, 21 and 22, and a Shell-sponsored 917LH (Langheck, German for "long tail").
McQueen, who had competed in a Porsche 908 at Sebring the previous year, drove No. 20 in the film, one of just 25 917s ever produced. Powered by a 4.5-liter air-cooled flat-12 making 580 hp, Porsche’s 917K gave the company its first outright win at the infamous French 24-hour race in 1970. Despite a spectacular crash sequence during the movie, the car survives today. Chassis number 917-024 never actually competed at Le Mans. It was owned by driver Jo Siffert during the film's production and was sold soon after he died in a crash at Brands Hatch the following year. It remained in seclusion for two decades before reappearing in 2001. It has been restored and sold at auction multiple times since.
'Le Mans,' 1970 Porsche 911S
A small handful of other Porsches appear in “Le Mans,” including 911s and a 914, but none are more famous than the Slate Grey 1970 911S that McQueen drives in the film’s opening sequence. Delivered to him in France during production, it was the movie star’s personal car, and he’s seen driving it through the French countryside for the first 3 minutes and 40 seconds of the movie.
At the time, McQueen owned a similar 1969 911S in the same color back in California, although this one had more options, including tinted glass, a Blaupunkt Frankfurt radio, leather upholstery and rare air conditioning, which made it quite expensive for the time ($8,338.61). After production of “Le Mans” wrapped, McQueen shipped the car to Los Angeles in January 1971 and sold it soon after. Three owners later, with its odometer reading just 12,400 miles, it sold at auction for $1.375 million.
'Risky Business,' 1979 Porsche 928
Porsche’s most famous front-engined movie star is the gold 1979 928 with phone dial wheels driven by Tom Cruise in “Risky Business,” a risqué comedy released in 1983. At least five cars were used during filming, including a 1978 five-speed, a 1981 automatic and a 1979 five-speed. The film includes a spectacular chase scene that lasts 5 minutes; later, one 928 ends up in a lake. But the film didn’t benefit from official support of Porsche.
As we learned back in 2017, some of the film's cars were sourced locally from Chicago owners and others shipped in from Los Angeles film prop rental houses. Porsche benefited greatly from the exposure, of course. After the chase scene, Cruise even nails the line, “Porsche, there is no substitute.” Also in 1984, an early 928 on phone dials appears briefly in “Cannonball Run II,” where it is driven over by Bigfoot — the monster truck, not the elusive forest dweller — and a year later John Hughes had a black 928S do a smoky burnout in “Weird Science.“
'Against All Odds,' 1983 Porsche 911 SC Cabriolet
It’s one of the greatest car chases (or races) ever put on film. A red 1983 911 SC Cabriolet, at speed on L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard through Bel Air between the 405 freeway and UCLA, against a black Ferrari 308 Quatrovalve. It’s the real deal. There are no movie tricks or special effects, and you can get a real feel for the true speed of the cars. The race lasts 2½ minutes and was filmed on two successive Sunday mornings when the busy sections of the twisty four-lane road could be shut down.
"Against All Odds" director Taylor Hackford used several mounted cameras, and stunt coordinator Gary Davis, who drove the 911 for the action, made sure the cars were just inches apart. Legendary stuntman Carey Loftin, then 70 years old, was behind the wheel of the Ferrari. His work can also be seen in ”Bullitt,” and he was the stunt coordinator on ”Vanishing Point.” Later he even drove for “Knight Rider” and ”The Dukes of Hazzard.”
Porsche 911 Information
'Sixteen Candles,' 1984 Porsche 944
If you grew up in the 1980s and have an inexplicable itch for a red Porsche 944, it’s because of this teen comedy released in 1985. “Sixteen Candles” was directed by the late John Hughes, who also gave us “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “The Breakfast Club.” The car was driven by dreamy Jake Ryan, the love interest of the main character — and still the lifetime crush of every woman between the ages of 40 and 55.
Although there isn’t any real hard driving action in “Sixteen Candles,” the 944’s impact on pop culture at the time was tangible. Despite what it said in the script, the 944s used were automatics; you can see the T-handle shifter in a couple of shots. Also the 944’s license plate, 21850, is an Easter egg. Hughes’ birthday is February 18, 1950.
'No Man’s Land,' Porsche 930 Turbos
No, Charlie Sheen is no Steve McQueen, but with the exception of “Le Mans,” this is the ultimate Porsche movie. Released in 1987, “No Man’s Land” is about Porsche thieves in Los Angeles and features a long list of 911s from the era, including coupes, Targas and Cabriolets. There’s also quite a bit of stunt driving and lift throttle oversteer, including one six-minute chase scene with Sheen and his co-star D.B. Sweeney in a silver 930 Turbo wearing gold aftermarket wheels, and another with the two pushing a “modified” naturally aspirated Cabriolet down a canyon road at night.
Then there’s the scene on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. As the two are looking for prey, they come upon a red Ferrari 512BBi. Sweeney suggests stealing it, but Sheen says no. “Italian trash,” he responds. “Besides, I only steal Porsches, like that one.” The two then cross the street and swipe a black 930 Turbo with a slant nose conversion, chrome Fuchs, white-face gauges and a cellphone antenna. Welcome to 1987.
Porsche 911 Information
'Bad Boys,' 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.6
The original “Bad Boys,” released in 1995, had four main stars; Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Tea Leoni and a black 1994 911 Turbo 3.6. Director Michael Bay shows you the car before the others, and he recently confirmed it was his personal 911 in the film. “Yeah,” he told Car and Driver. “The studio didn’t want to rent a car, and we didn’t have the money to rent one. And Porsche didn’t want to support the movie. The funny thing is, at Porsche, when they saw the movie in Germany, they threw us a ‘Bad Boys’ party. It’s funny how they didn’t initially believe in it.”
The ultimate 964, the Turbo 3.6 was rear-wheel drive and packed 355 hp of single turbocharger fury. Just 1,437 were produced, all with special modular Speedline wheels and red brake calipers. They did 0-60 in four seconds, according to Car and Driver, and covered the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at 114 mph. That’s quicker than the Dodge Viper and Corvette ZR1, America’s big dogs at the time.
Porsche 911 Information
'Red 2,' 2012 Porsche 911 GTS
How’s this for a “Hollywood is a small town” moment? Taylor Hackford, who directed the aforementioned “Against All Odds,” has been married to Helen Mirren since 1997, and Mirren stars in “Red 2” along with Bruce Willis and a black 2012 911 GTS. It’s a PDK — you can see the paddle shifters in a few of the interior close-ups — but in some shots, the car seems to respond like it’s a manual.
Porsche provided several visually identical cars to be used during filming. The action during the nearly three-minute chase sequence is good but not great. There’s plenty of sliding the 997 around, but the roads have been wetted down, and that’s cheating. The sounds of the 911’s water-cooled flat six are also way off. “Red 2” also features some action with Mirren and a co-star in a Lotus Exige S; the automaker provided three for the production.
Porsche 911 Information
'Bad Boys for Life,' 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
And we’re back to the “Bad Boys” franchise. Hey, whatcha gonna do? In “Bad Boys II,” Will Smith drove a Ferrari 550 Maranello, but for this year’s third installment of the action-comedy buddy cop franchise he’s back in a Porsche 911. This time he’s driving the latest and greatest: a 992. Porsche’s product placement team was all over this opportunity and supplied a handful of identical blue 911 Carrera 4S coupes for filming around Miami.
Until the new Turbo S debuts, the all-wheel drive Carrera 4S is the hottest version of the 992, with a twin-turbo boxer flat six making 443 hp, Porsche says it can reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and ultimately hit 190 mph. Although Porsche still offers a seven-speed manual in this model, the movie cars were all delivered with PDK. Although the movie’s box office has been strong, will the 992 and the film’s car action be remembered with the same passion as the originals from 25 years ago?