The 10 Best Movie Performances Ever (by a Dodge)

In this season of Golden Globes, SAG awards, and Oscars, we couldn’t help but wonder: Where’s the recognition for the real hard-working actors in many movies: the cars? They dominate the screen, they propel the action, they do all their own stunts — and, let’s face it, they often turn in a more nuanced performance than some of the actors in the movies listed below. So, in recognition of a job well done without the perks of magazine covers, big-bucks contracts, or their own trailers, we hereby salute the 10 best performances in a motion picture by the world’s most cinematic car brand. And the nominees, in no particular order, are…

1968 Dodge Charger R/T in Bullitt (1968)

It starts off innocently enough, with a bad guy (Bill Hickman) tailing Bullitt (Steve McQueen) in a black 1968 Dodge Charger 440 through the up-and-down streets of San Francisco. But McQueen quickly turns the tables, Hickman buckles his waist-only seatbelt, floors it, and begins what’s possibly the most famous, and terrifying, car chase in movie history. There’s no dialogue, no music — just nearly 10 full minutes of the ungodly deep growl of the Charger’s engine careening down back roads and highways, before it runs off the road, crashes into a gas station, and goes out the only way a hero can — exploding in a flaming ball of cinematic glory.

Fun fact: The Charger was apparently so much faster than the Mustang that they had to put thinner wheels on to slow it down to film the chase.

1974 Dodge Monaco in The Blues Brothers (1980)

To be fair, pretty much every scene of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi driving in their battered former police car, a 1974 Dodge Monaco, is golden. But the one that pushes the car into the realm of cinematic immortality is when the two take the Bluesmoblie crashing through the Dixie Square Mall. After fleeing a state trooper, who pulled them over for running a yellow light, Aykroyd cooly tells Belushi not to worry: “They’re not going to catch us. We’re on a mission from God.” With two state troopers giving chase, the brothers rumble through a Toys ‘R Us and a clothing store, nudge a bakery and music store, and take out a few window displays before shooting out of a JC Penny — all while discussing the mall’s merits, which are manifold.

Fun fact: The movie used 13 different Bluesmobiles, two built specifically for speed and three (with one-gallon gas tanks) specifically for jumps. The Monaco that falls apart at the end of the Blues Brothers’ long chase took a mechanic months to correctly rig for that one shot.

1970 Dodge Challenger in Vanishing Point (1971)
A cult classic among muscle car lovers, the Challenger wastes no time getting into the action. The opening scene is set when two tractors make a road block in the middle of a desolate California highway, with cops in the wings and a helicopter in pursuit, as the white Challenger, manned by Kowalski (Barry Newman), barrels toward the blockade. (Keep in mind that this is a car that could go almost 150 mph and hit 60 in 5.8 seconds.) Newman sees the trap, reverses his ground, and for basically the next 90 minutes we see what havoc one man can wreak with a 1970 Dodge Challenger —which turns out to be quite a bit.
Fun fact: Look closely while watching the climactic crash scene — the film’s producers were apparently loathe to destroy the beautiful Challenger, so they crashed a Camaro instead.

1977 Dodge Monaco in Terminator (1984)
While ducking down in the front seat of a car, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) explains to Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) that her unborn son, John, is the one man who can save the human race from total destruction; meanwhile, a terrifyingly eyebrow-less Arnold Schwartzenegger quietly hunts them down, cruising through the parking garage in a Dodge Monaco police cruiser. The future Governator naturally sniffs them out, and the brutal chase begins. The unblinking Schwartzenegger fires shotgun blasts after shotgun blasts while hands-free driving before smashing the car head-on into a wall — and rising from the wreckage, of course.
Fun fact: If you look closely, you’ll see that in some scenes the car is a ’77 Monaco and in others it’s a ’78 Plymouth Fury — both somewhat old models for the LAPD to be using in 1984.

2008 Viper SRT-10 in Wanted (2008)
Any time you can have Angelina Jolie sprawled across the hood of a Viper, racing along tight-packed city streets as she fires guns back at pursuing vehicles, you know you’ve got a movie that should have been a contender for Best Picture. Add in Morgan Freeman, non-stop action, and stunts that effectively total one of the most valuable sports cars around, and who really needs a little thing called “plot”?
Fun fact: Keep watching for a bit of the Viper even after it’s destroyed — in a later chase, Angelina Jolie is seen changing gears with a Viper shifter, even though she’s no longer in a Viper.

The Runners Up:

1970 Dodge Charger R/T in The Fast and the Furious (2001)
In a movie crafted specifically for car nuts, it’s tough to stand out, but Vin Diesel’s black Charger, with the same body style as the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, dominates until the final crash scene.

1978 Dodge Sportsman Van in The Cannonball Run (1981)
The ambulance gets extra points for historic significance: It’s the actual van that Brock Yates drove in the real Cannonball Run, and the DVD’s audio commentary claims he would have won the race if the transmission hadn’t given out in the desert.

1969 Dodge Charger in Death Proof (2007)
Stuntman Mike’s second “death proof” car is pursuit in a chase scene that lasts a whopping 20 minutes.

1982 Dodge Diplomat in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Sadly, this upstanding public servant would have to find out the hard way that Taggert is most assuredly NOT an excellent driver.

2001 Dodge Grand Caravan in Super Size Me (2004)
It may not be an action movie, but do you think it doesn’t take a lot of work to drive Morgan Spurlock in and out of drive-thrus three times a day every single day?

So who’s got your vote for the best Dodge performance in a motion picture? Tell us in the comments below! (And be sure to let us know if we left out your personal favorite!)


  • Michael
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe the 69 Charger in Death Proof didn’t make the cut!!

  • Megan
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Wanted!

  • DodgeFan
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    What about The General Lee?

    • zachyriah
      Posted October 22, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      ya this kids got it right screw the rest of you

  • Marshall
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    The nihilist in me votes for Vanishing Point.

  • Chiqui
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Hands down, I gotta vote for the Terminator! The cars were just as important as the actors in that movie and kudos to you guys for recogninzing the role of cars in Movies…what a great idea!

  • dog
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    The dog in me votes for Angelina. I hear she’s available now.

  • Kirk
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    This is absolutely the best. Takes me back to the good old days of car chases. How did you guys ever assemble such an incredible collection?

  • Tazallen
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Hello All!!!!

    Vanishing Point for Movies!!!! There was a made for TV movie around 1997 that was a remake of Vanishing Point that was not to bad either….

    For TV, love it or hate the Dukes Of Hazzard put the Dodge Charger in the hearts and minds of many people for going on 2 generations (reruns today, and new in the 70s). Also the opening of Hill Street Blues for years had two Dodge Monacos pulling out of the police garage.

    Here is my 2 cents worth !


  • HEMIhead
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Well, for me its Vanishing Point, however I liked Death Proof also. There was also a Challenger in Death Proof. I also liked the MOPAR sign in Death Race, and really loved “Christine”, but that’s a Plymouth.
    FUN FACT: In the last installment of “The Fast and the Furious 4”, called “Fast and Furious”,
    the black ’70 Charger actually had a Chevy small block crate engine, hooked to a turbo 400 transmission. BOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! And all the body panels were fiberglass.
    Wouldn’t watch it when I heard that.
    Source: Mopar Action Magazine June 2009.

  • Lauren
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I have to go with blues brothers! Dodge is a rockstar.

  • michael
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Awesome compilation … Dodge has made some great Hollywood moments!

  • bwbike
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    You missed Dirty Mary, Crazy Lary (68/69) Charger with Peter Fonda. It’s not quite Bullitt or VP, but it’s not far behind. 🙂

  • moparman
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    I agree, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry should have been in there. And, though I am a huge fan of the tv show, this is a list of movie performances and well, most people don’t consider the “dukes of hazzard movie to be a real movie, in fact, most of us wish it didn’t exist at all, kinda like the current car being called a charger.

    That said, I vote for Bullit, ’68 charger.

    Posted January 30, 2010 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    By far, Bullitt had the best chase scene because the music gradually built up the suspense as the Mustang followed the Charger and then all the stunts were done at high speed. I love how the Charger pulls away from the Mustang on every straight away with limited effort and RPMs. They said they had to put a hotter cam in the Mustang and then they had to weld square tubing to the bottom to stiffen up the frame which you can see in some of the scenes. They did nothing to the Charger because the 440 Magnum had too much horsepower stock from the factory for the skinny tires. It is also amazing how the Charger loses five hub caps. I guess the spare tire came with a hub cap. Now you have to pay extra for a spare tire. I have to agree with bwbike in that Dirty Mary Crazy Larry was a classic with Peter Fonda in a sublime 69 Charger. The pursuit Polara police cars are pretty wild as well. Remember, all the stunts were done at high speed and stunt men were injured. What we would all give for a sublime 2-door mopar. Too bad Dodge doesn’t have the balls to make one. They are afraid they would sell too many cars and make a profit and then have to pay back their loans. That is the only reason why I can see they are making us wait this long. Maybe they are going to surprise us and make a T/A edition with a 6.4 liter or a 426 HEMI. Can we make it before the Mayan prediction so we can at least enjoy it for a year? Come on RLD, you can do it!

  • CurtisClassic
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    And lets not forget the classic Phantasam (1979) – 1971 Cuda. Nice post Dodge. Enjoyed he clips..

    Posted January 30, 2010 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Speaking of ‘cudas, how about the Nash Bridges episode where he chases a lime green ’71 billboard cuda with his ’71 hemi convertible cuda. Not as exciting as Bullitt, but not bad for a five minute part in a weekly episode. I think Blade had a black 68 Charger as well.

  • MoparDave
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget about the seemingly indestructible Diplomat in the movie ‘Short Time’–one of the best M-body car chases on film. Makes me miss my old 1983 Dodge Diplomat ex-cop car…

  • Patrick
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Wheres Christine? True shes a Plymouth but come on-thats a legendary movie car!

    No Dirty Mary Crazy Larry? Dukes of Hazzard? I would have chosen the final chase through Chicago for the better car chase in Blues Brothers (all the cop cars were mid-late 70s Dodges too) but otherwise its a pretty good list.

  • Dusty
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget the movies that the Challengers were driven in small parts by big stars,
    The Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson in the drivers seat.

  • McQueen lover
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Nothing beats Steve McQueen behind the wheel of a car. Too bad he wasn’t driving a Dodge in the Getaway!

  • Posted February 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi guys, Vanishing Point is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’d love to see the new Challenger roasting its tires in a 106 min commercial like that! LOL

    The 1970 Dodge Challenger (440 6-Pack, please) is my favorite American car, in fact all the MOPAR muscle cars from 69-71 are on my top list of American cars.

    Best regards, Chris

  • Mike Douglas
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Wasn’t there a white Dodge in Thunderbolt & Lightfoot that Jeff Bridges was driving, with a trunkful of rabbits?

  • Mike Douglas
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Ok, maybe it was a black Dodge driven by George Kennedy??

  • lew thayer
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    to mike, the car in thunderbolt and light foot was a 1973 two door fury all jacked up, very funny with the exhaust running inside the vehicle. best movie vanishing point hands down, christine second, dirty mary/crazy larry, and even though not a race movie, the chase with the plymouth duster and mack truck in duel.

  • Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Um, I’m sorry- Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry?!

    Where’s that one????

    You had 2 Dodge Monacos and a Viper before that one???????

    What about Christine?????

  • Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah, what about Duel???

  • sack
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    anybody remember the short lived tv show around 1993 or so i think it was called viper had a red viper and a customized car that the red car morphed into it was badass way back then

  • Tumbob
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    How can you miss the 70 Charger in Christine? and and all the Cuda’s in Phantasim movies (ok Pyl), the pink Challenger in Natual Born Killers, 70 Challenger in Just Married, 70 Charger in Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Very Lame list with a carvan….

  • Blu Chalnger
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    What about the Dodge Grand Caravan in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

  • HEMIhead
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Yup Sack, I remember “VIPER” the TV show. I recorded the first pilot 2 hour episode on my VCR, and still have it on VHS. I also have the “VIPER” TV show tyco race track that I bought back then.
    Its fun, because you get to chase or be chased by a black dodge stealth. The viper also has a red flashing light and can do 360’s on the track. YEEEE HAWWWW!!!!

    Posted March 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    HEMIhead, I actually have a poster that displays all of the Vipers that were used on the show. There was actually a Viper that was a 4×4 that was used on the show. The cars were cool, however, there wasn’t much of a plot and I think it lasted for maybe five episodes? I have that poster displayed outside my office and everyone stops to make a comment about it. There are actually a few people that remember the short lived show.

  • HEMIhead
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    That’s cool Sublime!
    You must really be a true Mopar Head!
    Ya, the pilot was pretty good, but then it got a bit cheezy like ‘ol KITT.
    I watched them all back then, but it didn’t survive.
    That car used to morph into a lot of configurations. Like a high speed tank!

    Posted March 5, 2010 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Yes, HEMIhead…I live and breathe Mopar and that is why I am so upset with the current leadership at the helm of Dodge. They have the opportunity to sell so many cars and they turn their backs on all of our comments. If you go to the website you will see that Challenger sales are down by 37% from last year, yet the refuse to advertise and paint them the colors the customers want. I have never seen such poor business practices in my life and of course they went bankrupt and will again. Customers beg for a replacement for the Neon and Dodge gives them the boxy mini SUV Caliber. Customers beg for a retro 69 Charger and they give us the boxy one they offer now (which God granted is better than any other four door out there – but that is not saying much). Can anyone at Dodge look at their vehicles and say, “no that doesn’t look good, rework the design until it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye”? I don’t think you have to be a genious to see if a car looks good. How can you not tell if an interior looks cheap, how can you not find the time to look at sales figures of your competitors and try and emulate best sellers. How can the automaker that is credited for the best engineered cars have the worst gas mileage ratings? What the freak has happened? Do they turn a blind eye to everyone? It is time to listen and start selling cars again. I think they have grown accustomed to being last just like their fabulous NFL football team. I pray to God Sergio will save them because he has enough sense not to listen to them and do what he knows is right. We shall see if he can pull off the miracle of all time. Time will tell. Hopefully, the Challenger will have a more stylish interior and be offered in black or white like the good old days. Hopefully, the Challenger will have more horsepower than the Camaro or Mustang. Hopefully, the Challenger will be offered in every High Impact color and not in titanium. Hopefully, someone will do the right thing and sell cars and start thinking about being a winner again like Ford has done. Hopefully, someone will make brochures for the 2010 cars available at the dealers and on the Dodge website. Hopefully, someone will care!

  • Flames t.
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    SUBLIME, If you go to the Dodge website you will find brochures are , and have been available for Dodge. Look under shopping tools.

  • Flames T.
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    SUBLIME, Its gonna take a little time and a lotta money for Chrysler to undue the damage done to her by, first the plunder and pillage of the dimly folks in Germany, who gave us the wonderful (read:cheap) interiors, nixed good product plans, and stole money reserves, then we had the three headed dog that guards the gates of hades,corporate raiders, who stripped the company bare, threw away talent, ruined supplier relations, would not spend a dime for innovation, or on product, etc….they both took and took and threw Chrysler to the curb….This new iteration of our beloved Mother Mopar knows what to do, and how to do it, and as our economy improves and cars actually start selling you will see more and more positive things happening……and we wont have to wait 6-11 months for a sold order to be built and delivered. Keep the faith my Mopar cohort , good days are just around the corner !!!!!

  • BigBlockhead
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    That’s right—“Duel” was one awesome display of what kind of punishment you could dish out to a Dart. How could anyone forget “Dirty Harry/Crazy Mary”? I rate that way above ” Bullitt” or anything else except for “Vanishing Point”. Keep thinking Big, who knows what may happen.

  • BigBlockhead
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I just watched it again.How can you say a scene where such an awesome car is out driven on the city streets and then finally gets creamed on the highway by a YuckStang is the best? Are you serious? I don’t care if the Mopar had bias-ply maypops and the Ford had gooey M/T’s, there’s no way that pony was ever gonna see even the Charger’s taillights ever again after he ran off the road, and out on the highway,no less? I don’t like to watch that especially when some non-knowing knucklehead is going,”Yeah Man ,that’s how a Ford rules!’ or something equally as stoopit.

    Posted March 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Flames T, you are correct in that Daimler destroyed Dodge, etc. but the brochures for Dodge Cars are only the 2009 vehicles. They have the 2010 trucks listed but not the cars.

  • B5Blue2010
    Posted March 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Thank the lord above that Dirty Harry Crazy Marry was mentioned. I could not believe that It was not on the list. As an interesting side note my first car was purchased and given to me by my cousin. It was a 1972 Dodge monaco purchased in 1984 with 15000 original miles. Had the 383 4 barrel if memmory serves ( there were 10m engine options on that car) and original bias ply tires. Owned by an old lady of course. My cousin, only the greatest man to exist for enthusiasts of anything with an engine. The one and only founder of speedvision (now speed channel) He is the only one that I allow to drive my new SRT8 mostly because if he ever wrecked I might get a few in return. He is a great regular guy and does not like the spot light so I will not name him. But you know who he is. We should all thank him for his passion for cars because before his vision became manifest the only regular car show was the Dukes of Hazard and I like daisy in her shorts from 5th grade as much as the next guy but sometimes you just want to hear a hemi.

  • B5Blue2010
    Posted March 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Daimler may have destroyed chrysler financially by loading all r&d debt to it but I will say that it was not a completely one way street for my srt8 has excellent traction control which I believe came from the Benz’s . My vette would get squirrelly if it met any type of moisture on the road and produce alot of white knuckle driving. 2 days after I bought the srt8 I drove it 2700 miles from AZ back to Connecticut. It snowed all through New mexico, Texas was passed by at 125mph while it rained. It stopped raining on me as I passed from PA into NY state. Car handled like AWD and it averaged 25mph over the entire trip even with my velocity testing in the lone star state.

  • Posted March 23, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Muy buen material

  • george
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    the charger in christine was a 68 round markers love dirty mary crazy larry and bullit there top of the list

  • mopar5150
    Posted April 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    How about the weird Dodge in the Wraith. It was a turbo interceptor based on the M4S Chrysler concept car.

  • Chris
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    there was also a cheesy movie in the 80’s called “the Wraith” which starred a very cool looking Dodge Intercepter….there were also Daytona’s and even an old Barracuda in it.

  • An intriguing
    Posted September 23, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I love reading a post that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

  • Brian
    Posted September 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure who made this list but a Caravan? Come on. No mention of Dirty Mary Crazy Larry? Or what about Phantasm?

  • Lance
    Posted November 20, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    They never mentioned the Dodge Turbo Interceptor Concept car from the 1986 movie “The Wrath”.

  • Armando
    Posted August 1, 2016 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    If you had a category for toughest Dodge performance ever, I’d vote for the Ram in the 1986 Busey movie, “Eye of the Tiger”

  • Posted August 16, 2017 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

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