Sean Bean is often known as the guy who always dies in movies and TV shows. Even though he is only 4th on the list of actors with the most deaths in film, John Hunt is actually the actor with the most character deaths under his belt. However, Sean Bean is commonly known as “the guy” the same way most people think that Nickelback sucks and that Nicholas Cage is a weird sellout. In the world of cinema cars can sometimes steal the show and become immortalized in pop culture. KITT, Herbie, Christine, General Lee, and the Blues Mobile are all examples cars that became famous for the characters they played.
Mopars in Cinema
I was sitting at my desk waiting for the caffeine to kick in when it dawned on me that Dodge Chargers are the Sean Bean of the movie cars. When was the last time you saw a badass Dodge Charger, new or old, in a movie and not see it get written-off in a massive stunt or crash? It’s rare if a Dodge Charger survives the whole movie or episode. The Fast and Furious franchise has destroyed Dom Torreto’s ’70 Dodge Charger so many times that I’m surprised Dom doesn’t feel guilty, as an enthusiast, for ruining his father’s car so many times. The Dukes of Hazzard destroyed over 300 just to make the show, not counting the movies, spin-off TV movies, and annual Duke-fest.
Bullitt, Dirty Marry and Crazy Larry, Grand Theft Auto, Eat My Dust, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Death Proof, Drive Angry, John Wick, Ride Along, and Vanishing Point all show a Dodge Charger (new or old) getting destroyed, and those are just off the top of my head!
It’s easy to see why Dodge Chargers are constantly type-cast as both hero and villain cars. Everything about them is cool. The name Charger is fun to say and it relates to power. Those that own one, even a used ex-rental with a worn V6, probably enjoy responding with confidence to the question, “What do you drive?”
All Chargers, except maybe the 4th generation, look aggressive and intimidating when seen through a rear-view mirror. A ’68-70 Dodge Charger looks like its wearing aviator sunglasses full-time. The name “Hemi” is so synonymous with power that even the most clueless, or uninterested, non-car person knows that it means it can go fast. In terms of marketing, the Dodge Charger is a no brainer for attention grabbing.
One could make the argument that Ford P71 Crown Victoria Interceptors are the John Hunt of movie car deaths, since cop cars are always being demolished in movies and TV shows. But, just like with Sean Bean, Chargers are just more popular than Crown Vic Interceptors.
Every time I see a 68-70 Charger die on camera a little piece inside me starts to ache, because let’s face it they are getting harder and harder to find in one piece. Thankfully, you can find replacement sheet metal for just about every muscle car from the 60’s and 70’s, including Mopars. I think I can speak for all gear heads when I say that if they are going to keep using classic muscle cars in suicide movie stunts we rather they use a kit-reproduction than a 40 year old survivor.
I love seeing a good gritty car chase more than the next guy, but I can’t help but worry that every classic that gets destroyed is one less that we can enjoy. Muscle cars continue to go up in value, so it will be interesting to see if Hollywood will keep using classic cars when rusted out ’69 Chargers start going for $30,000 on eBay.
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I was just thinking about this myself, does anyone know how many true 68 to 70 dodge chargers are left? Even outside of the Hollywood scene, you are talking about only 3 years of production. If you tally up the ones destroyed from normal buyers ( wrecked, natural disasters, left for dead, or driven till the wheels fell off) that is a big chunk already gone. Now add in the Hollywood cars like the Dukes of Hazzard and Fast and Furious , the number just multiplied alot leaving very few remaining. Granted there are people who do nothing but restore this type of American classic. In fact i recently watched where a garage restored one of the many General Lee cars. I believe it was Graveyard Carz on Velocity. So my question is how many are left or does anyone even know.
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According to production numbers. They made 96k in 1968, 89k in 1969, and only 46k in 1970. I’m not sure how many are left but at least now those that own them take care of them.