Car films which wouldn't work in real life

Image of Italian Job-style Mini
The Italian Job - entertaining, but ridiculous
"The notoriously fault-prone DeLorean cars barely worked when they rolled out of the factory in Belfast. So, goodness knows what 80 years sitting in a cave would have done to one"
  • | by Chris Pollitt

Films are the stuff of dreams, fantasy and excitement.

Even so, Hollywood often plays fast and loose with what’s plausible when it comes to cars.

So, we’ve decided to take a look at five of the worst celluloid offenders and consider what might have happened in reality...

Gone in 60 Seconds

Image of Ford Mustang as seen in Gone in 60 Seconds

The entire premise behind this 2000 ‘classic’ starring Nicholas Cage is nonsensical. The crew of crooks, largely in their 20s, need to steal 50 cars in one night. Think about it - what were you doing in your 20s? Nothing that proactive, I’ll wager.

The real coup de grâce comes at the end of the film, when Cage’s Memphis Raines character (yes, that’s his name) flings the old bones of a 1967 Mustang over an accident.

In reality, he would have charged into the ramp – sorry, ‘recovery truck’ – and simply stopped in a freshly formed pile of bent Ford.

Had the truck been made from, say, titanium, the car might have taken off. But even so, the forces suggested by the gratuitous shot of the speedometer climbing over 100mph would result in the Mustang being bent like a banana way before it landed.

The Italian Job

Image of Italian Job-style Mini

There’s plenty of ridiculous stuff in the Italian Job – not least a computer expert played by Benny Hill bringing an Italian city to a standstill with a bit of reel-to-reel tape.

But if you think that’s daft, consider the fact that Mini Coopers were used as getaway cars.

The clue is in the name, you see. By it’s very nature, the Mini wasn’t a load-lugger. It was a cheeky little automotive scamp. It wasn’t designed to carry over a ton of gold.

In reality, we’d have had a group of Cockney blokes with sore backs, an empty bullion van and three Minis with flat tyres and broken rear subframes.

It would have been quicker to nick the bullion van and offload the shiny bounty straight into the coach – but that would have probably have made for a much shorter film…

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Image of Chitty Bang Bang

You don’t need to be a trained mechanic to realise that if a car is making 'chitting' and 'banging' noises, there’s something not right. A severe issue with timing perhaps? Maybe too much advance on the distributor? Have you made sure there’s enough oil? It could be the bottom end knocking. Maybe it’s overheating?

Whatever it is, you should look into the problem, not use it as a means to select a name.

Back to the Future III

Image of a De Lorean

If you think that the whole time travel thing is scientifically problematic, consider this…

In the first Back to the Future, the DeLorean is four years old, as it was (apparently) a 1981 model. That’s fine, nothing odd there.

However, in Back to the Future Part II, the car is struck by lightning in 1955, sending it back to 1885. Doc buries the car in a mine for his 1955 counterpart and Marty to unearth and use to go back home.

The problem here is that in 1955, while the DeLorean was a mere twinkle in its designer’s eye, the car in the hands of Doc and Marty was actually 84 years old.

The notoriously fault-prone DeLorean cars barely worked when they rolled out of the factory in Belfast. So, goodness knows what 80 years sitting in a cave would have done to one.

All the Fast and Furious films

Image of Fast and the Furious cast

Enjoying the Fast and Furious series requires a certain degree of suspension of disbelief. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. I mean, where do you start?

Well, there’s that 10-minute, quarter-mile drag race. Then there are the cars with 15 gears, and the wheel-stands. Oh, and how about the Dodge Charger pulling along a safe? That’s before we even get on to the street races held in central London. I could go on, but I won’t.

It's safe to say that if the Fast and Furious series stuck to the laws of physics, it would have made for very brief viewing indeed.

What are your favourite outlandish car scenes from films? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.