Ford – A Century of Cars on the Silver Screen

From Laurel and Hardy’s slapstick to Steve McQueen’s legendary chase scene, Ford vehicles have been a fixture in movies for a century. This article explores how Ford cars have become stars in their own right, reflecting on iconic on-screen appearances and their connections to South Africa’s automotive history.

For over a century, Ford vehicles haven’t just cruised down roads, they’ve roared across silver screens, becoming stars in their own right. Compiling a list of great movies featuring Fords is less about picking the best and more about acknowledging the sheer number of times the brand has shared the spotlight.

The journey began with the iconic Model T. Laurel and Hardy’s slapstick antics were often punctuated by the dependable, (and easily repairable!) Model T, perfectly embodying the car’s “everyman” appeal. Fast forward to the 1960s, and the birth of the Mustang coincided with a movie-making boom. This pony car wasted no time making its mark, appearing in classics like “Goldfinger” and “Grand Prix.”

But the Mustang’s true claim to fame came courtesy of Steve McQueen and “Bullitt.” The now-legendary chase scene cemented the 1967 Mustang 390 GT Fastback’s status as a cinematic icon, a legacy that continues today with limited edition “Bullitt” tributes.

The Mustang’s versatility extends beyond high-octane chases. Remember the hilarious K-9 scene with James Belushi’s hapless detective and his dog joyriding in a Mustang convertible?

Ford’s movie magic wasn’t limited to American shores. South Africa’s own racing history found its way onto the screen with the homegrown Ford Cortina XR6 in “Stander.” This powerful car became the perfect accomplice for the notorious bank robber’s getaway sprees.

Fantasy wasn’t left behind either. The unassuming Ford Anglia 105E received a magical makeover in the “Harry Potter” series, becoming the Weasley family’s flying car. This quirky choice resonated with fans, especially younger audiences who may never have seen one on the road.

Ford’s racing pedigree also got its cinematic due. South Africans hold dear the memory of the epic battles between Fords and Ferraris at the Kyalami Nine Hour. The Le Mans-conquering Ford GT40 even made a near-triumphant debut at Kyalami in 1965.

Beyond the racetrack, Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” explored the bond between a man and his car. The 1972 Ford Gran Torino, though not a familiar sight on South African roads, became a symbol of redemption and community for the film’s protagonist.

Even the dystopian world of “Mad Max” couldn’t resist the allure of a Ford. Mel Gibson’s souped-up, black Ford XB Falcon GT 351 became a symbol of survival in the Australian outback.

South Africa’s own automotive history intertwined with these on-screen Fords. The local assembly of the Australian-designed Falcon under the Fairmont nameplate created a beloved classic, the Fairmont GT, many of which are now prized possessions in Australia, highlighting the global appeal of these vehicles.

Looking ahead, the future of car movies might be electric. Perhaps instead of roaring engines, we’ll see high-schoolers huddle around charging stations and tuners discussing battery optimization. But one thing’s for sure: Ford, with its ever-evolving lineup, is likely to remain a fixture in the world of cinema, ready to write the next chapter in its automotive cinematic legacy.

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