Just married sign on a car trunk
Charlotte Birchall

Charlotte Birchall

Charlotte is a marketing specialist and a writing genius. She has a distinct and hilarious way with words and a fine eye for the best topics to cover. In Charlotte's hands we know you'll be both entertained and informed.

5 iconic films featuring 5 iconic vehicles

Want to know what's better than a good love story? A good love story featuring a great car, that's what. From cute Cadillacs to jaunty Jaguars, we've scoured the archives to bring you our top five romantic films that showcase some pretty awesome vehicles.

With Valentine's Day upon us, its safe to assume that our televisions and cinemas will be awash with romcoms aplenty. Quirky characters, implausible situations and happily-ever-afters are the order of the day on February 14th (alongside hideously over priced roses and a ton of chocolate, naturally).

Being in the car leasing business, it's safe to say that our enduring love affair with all things vehicular is something that we think is worth celebrating, so we thought we'd combine the two.

Behold our pick of the top 5 films (for the romance lovers out there) that feature some fairly epic cars! 

50mph speed limit sign

1. Speed. 1994. Director Jan de Bont

Unlikely as it may seem given the state of your average trip into town on the number 52 in this country, in this iconic 1994 film love is found quite literally on the back seat of a bus. 

Granted, there's a bit more involved - a maniacal bomber with a grudge and some hefty requirements for suspension of disbelief around a questionable jump by said bus, for example. But in true Hollywood fashion, no bus ride would be complete without a few explosions and a fledgling romance. Obviously.

For those of you too young to remember the movie the first time around (I begrudge you all your youth, by the way) the plot centres around police officer Jack Traven, played by the rather splendid Keanu Reeves. Having seemingly thwarted an attempt to blow up an elevator by a murderous Dennis Hopper, Traven is happily kicking back in the knowledge that Hopper's villain is dead and gone. 

No more dodgy lift rides for the citizens of LA, by gum.

Imagine the shock then, when Traven witnesses not only a massive bus explosion but then receives a phone call from the bomber himself, informing him that yet another bomb has been placed on the Santa Monica Bus 2525 - sounds a bit more glam than the Stagecoach Gold, right? 

Cue much heroic action that involves Traven's boarding the bus and unassuming passenger Annie Porter - played by Sandra Bullock - taking over the role of the driver when the actual one is shot dead. The dynamic duo are forced into a tangled game in which they must keep other passengers calm, navigate the streets of LA without running over any pushchairs full of tin cans (watch it, you'll see what I mean) all whilst keeping the vehicle moving at a speed of above 50mph. Not so easy in a gridlocked city at rush hour. 

Naturally, the extreme nature in which they are forced together on the bus blossoms into the romance of the century and the movie ends with the pair most definitely coupled up. Although it may also have something to do with a soaking wet Keanu Reeves in a tight t-shirt. But that's another story...

The on-screen chemistry between Bullock and Reeves was the subject of tremendous speculation and rumours were abound for years of a romance between the actors because of their connection. In a 2021 interview, Bullock confirmed that they had never dated despite both parties publicly admitting to having huge crushes on each other at the time of filming. Just imagine what an A-list power couple that would have been!

In real life, the bus in question was actually a succession of General Motors 1966 TDH 5303 buses from all over the USA. One from LA, one Dallas, and seven from San Diego to be precise. So iconic was the vehicle in fact, that one of them sold at auction in 2018 for a not-too-shabby $102,000. 

Which is only marginally less than I'd pay for Keanu's t-shirt.

Headstones in a graveyard

2. Harold and Maude. 1971. Director Hal Ashby

Famously cited in the 1998 film There's Something About Mary as "The greatest love story of our time", Harold and Maude put the quirk in quirky romcoms and then some. 

For a love story that sees a teenager who harbours an obsession with suicide develop a bond with his 79-year-old love interest over a shared habit of attending the funerals of strangers, you'd probably expect the cars involved to reflect the kooky romance - and you'd be right.

The film begins with Harold's overbearing, socialite mother attempting to drag him into her version of normality by forcing him to get rid of his car of choice - a 1959 Cadillac Series 75 Hearse. Of course. 

In her bid to normalise her son, she replaces the hearse with a 1965 original Jaguar XK-E. Which Harold promptly converts into - you guessed it - another hearse. Albeit a fancy Jaguar-style one. 

Throughout the film, Harold's mother continues to force him onto a more conventional life path via blind dates and military enlisting but unbeknownst to her, Harold is nurturing a developing relationship with liberal pensioner Maude, who he meets by chance at a funeral. The ensuing friendship between the unlikely pair blossoms into a romance which, in a bold and controversial directorial move is consummated on screen. 

When Maude intentionally overdoses on her 80th birthday, Harold rushes her to hospital declaring en route that he loves her to which she simply replies:

"That's wonderful. Go and love some more"

Which serves to emphasise the idea that in dying, she is setting both of them free. Which, in turn, makes the Jaguar/hearse combination so much more symbolic, particularly when the film closes with Harold watching the car plunge to its end off a cliff, then dancing away whilst playing the banjo Maude taught him to play.

Arguably one of the most recognisable on-screen vehicles, the production team actually did drive the Jaguar over the cliff and kill it, ending the dreams of any avid collectors of movie memorabilia.

Well, until 2012 when super fan Ken Roberts took it upon himself to recreate the vehicle. It was truly a labour of love, taking him four years to complete - whereas in the movie, Harold managed to convert the E type in around two days. But that's the magic of the silver screen.

Hollywood-isms aside, this is truly a gem of a film for anyone wanting to enjoy life-affirming human connection alongside the most imaginative vehicle in film. 

Our advice? Watch it immediately.

Ford Thunderbird convertible

3. Thelma and Louise. 1991. Director Ridley Scott

On its release at the beginning of the '90s, Scott's classic road trip film received some criticism for its 'anti-male' content. 31 years, 6 Academy Awards and indoctrination into the National Film Registry by the US Library of Congress for its 'cultural, historic and aesthetic relevance' and it is widely recognised as a landmark feminist film. 

To cite it as a romance would be to wildly underestimate its significance but there's no denying the fact that Thelma and Louise takes the concept of love in many forms and challenges our preconceived notions of the relationships we find ourselves in. At the heart of it? A 1966 Ford Thunderbird, literally and metaphorically driving the action forward.

From the start of the film in which Thelma (Geena Davies) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) decide to leave their respectively controlling and non-committal partners behind to embark on a cross country road trip, the Thunderbird stands as a symbol of escaping the trappings of traditional 'romances' in search of something more fulfilling.

Along the way, the characters encounter a choice selection of males who apparently force them into breaking the law. From Louise shooting a man who attempts to rape Thelma, to Brad Pitt (in one of his earliest screen roles) stealing their life savings thus forcing them to rob a convenience store, their dealings with relationships and sex seem to put them in an impossible position. 

The pinnacle of this exploration of destructive heterosexual encounters comes when they are verbally abused by a male truck driver. Incensed by his catcalling, Louise shoots the fuel tanker causing it to explode and leave the driver bereft and alone in the middle of nowhere.

Cornered by police, the girls decide to put their faith in their platonic love for each other and the Ford and - in probably one of the most remembered film endings ever, they join hands and drive to their deaths over a cliff. 

Not for the feint-hearted but strangely life-affirming nonetheless and if we're doing dream cars - this one has got to be up there.

Cars at the start of a drag race

4. Grease. 1978. Director Randal Kleiser

Not many cars can claim to have their very own song, complete with 'close to the bone' lyrics but luckily for the 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible featured in Grease, it can claim exactly that dubious accolade.

In fact, the Ford - probably better known to you as 'Greased Lightning' - is one of the most widely recognised movie cars ever. 

From the infamous body shop scene that sees the T-Birds transform the heap of junk into - well, the type of wagon that I can't write about here, the film sets out to portray the car as a way for the men to win over the women in the film. It really is the ultimate symbol of male virility. 


Clunky and outdated metaphors aside, Danny Zucko's spectacular victory over rival gang The Scorpions is the turning point for his flailing relationship with 'good girl' Sandy. With both Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta's characters vowing to change to make their love work after the race, everything works out just peachy and they literally fly off into the sunset in said car - which is every girl's dream right?! 

Well, that and looking as good as Sandy does in skintight Lycra but a flying car is the best some of us can hope for nowadays.

Let's be honest, the last thing you need me to do is reiterate the plot of one of the most famous and loved musicals out there. So I'll cut to the chase: it's a classic car, there's love aplenty. Job done.

All together now: they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong...and if any teenagers can get away with wooing a prospective partner in front of their classmates like that in 2022 without it going viral and ensuing public ridicule, I'd be mightily impressed.


Hollywood sign

5. Pretty Woman. 1990. Director Garry Marshall

If ever there were a sentence that was synonymous with the performance of the 1989 Lotus Esprit SE it would have to be "This baby must corner like it's on rails!".

The simple yet highly effective line uttered by Julia Roberts' character Vivian when she first meets Edward (Richard Gere) is probably responsible for at least some of Lotus' sales of the Esprit in the early 1990s. Which, incidentally, tripled in 1990-91 following the release of Pretty Woman.

Unbelievable as it might seem now, the Lotus wasn't the first choice of vehicle for the movie. When, in 1988, production assistant Sandy Issac was charged with the task of finding a car that was befitting of a Wall Street financier at the time (Capitalism was key in the '80s, kids), she explored a few different avenues before the Lotus was even considered.

Issac first approached Ferrari -  surely the ultimate symbol of wealth - to see if they would consider gifting cars for the film. 

However, the head honchos were smart enough to read the entire script and flat out refused to allow their brand to be aligned with a 'lady of the night'. Similarly, Porsche politely declined to proffer any vehicles after an embarrassing incident in 1983 when a 928 was featured in Tom Cruise's film Risky Business without their permission.

Big mistake guys. Big. Huge. 

Lotus stepped up, offering 3 cars for the film, and even went the extra mile, actually turning up to the set with 4 so the producers could drive one too. Which is a rather genius stroke of marketing. 

Obvious social misconceptions and judgements aside, the film was essentially billed as a modern-day twist on the Cinderella story, with Edward and Vivian falling in love and famously 'rescuing each other' from their respective issues - her a rather glamourised version of prostitution, him a lifetime of putting his work before his women. 

Ok, so it's not perfect but it was popular. So popular that it recouped the entire filming budget within the opening week. And if nothing else, it really, really makes me want to test drive that Esprit - just to see if it does, indeed corner like it's on rails.

Are you looking for a car you'll love? Fall head over heals for our in-stock lease deals.