INFOGRAPHIC: Movie Math of Sci-Fi Movie Cars
Check out this fun infographic on the real-life costs of some popular movie cars. The folks over at NerdWheels have done some "movie math" and put proof to their math (see below after the graphic). I don't know who can foot the bill on some of these price tags, but, boy am I tempted to start buying lottery tickets. Enjoy the fascinating information and thank you for sharing, NerdWheels!
How They Got These Cost Totals?
To get the total cost of each vehicle, NerdWheels went point by point through the specs of each modified car. Here are details about the base cars, modifications, add-ons, and costs.
KITT from Knight Rider started with a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. Added to the car was the most advanced technology of the 1980s. It had the world’s biggest supercomputer (at the time) with 1,000 megabits of memory. It also had a turbo boost to achieve speeds up to 200 mph, front-mounted rocket motors so it could jump 40 feet in the air, an armored shell, and voice-command recognition with a voice synthesizer. After running the calculations, the cost totaled $15,076,794.
The Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters was a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance conversion. In the movie, Ray bought it used for $4,800, but it needed work. He repaired the suspension, brakes, steering box, transmission, rear end, muffler, and wiring. Because he did the work all himself, he only need to buy materials. Then he got the car ready for ghostbusting by adding a bullhorn, siren, police light bar, and spotlights, roof rack with directional antenna, and TV antenna. The total cost for the Ecto 1 and its repairs and modifications was $7,321.
The DeLorean from Back To The Future was a DeLorean DMC-12. To transform it into a time machine, Doc Brown added a flux capacitor that needs 1.21 gigawatts of electricity which can be powered by a plutonium-fueled nuclear reactor or lightning bolt. This DIY car modification was funded with Doc’s entire family fortune. However, the plutonium needed to fuel the car for a round trip to the past and back only costs $100. During a trip to the future (2015), the Doc adds a hover car propulsion system that he purchases during a 10% off sale. He also adds a Mr. Fusion to replace the nuclear reactor with a converter that uses garbage as fuel. The total cost for the DeLorean time machine was $871,625.
The Ferrari from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a beauty. It was a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider. Its current value is $16.8 million, but the value at the time of filming was $350,000. The only modification needed was a transmission replacement because Ferris couldn’t drive stick. So the total cost comes to $353,000.
The Mach 5 from Speed Racer was a concept car. For our calculations, we started with the cost of a roadster in the ‘90s and then added modifications of aux engines to deliver 5,000 horsepower to each wheel, jumper jacks for easy repairs and leaping small distances, a deflector to shield against bullets, submarine accessories including periscope and 30-minute oxygen supply, and front-mounted rotary saws to cut through obstacles. The cost for the Mach 5 totals $172,650.
Dom’s Charger from The Fast and The Furious started with the muscle of a supercharged Chrysler 426 Hemi V-8 engine. Added to that was a hood-mounted BDS 8-71 Roots-style supercharger, a Chrysler 727 Three-Speed Automatic Transmission, Coy’s C-5 Wheels, Continental Sport Contact Tires, a nitrous booster, and a full roll cage. After adding the figures of the base car plus modifications, the total cost is $230,415.
The Turtle Van from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started with a cheap surplus army van. Modifications included an off-road suspension kit, solar panels, and custom turtle-shell camo paint. Added to that was a serious artillery of a missile launcher. In total, the Turtle Van costs $390,400.
Herbie from The Love Bug was a 1963 VW Beetle that had a Porsche Super 90 engine. Beyond the car mechanics, we asked what exactly is the price of vehicular sentience? If Herbie was powered by one of the biggest supercomputers at the time, it would cost: $8 million (that would be $60 million in today’s money). However, if it wasn’t powered by a computer, the cost would be priceless. So the total cost ranges between $2,495 and $8 million.
The Van from The A-Team referenced the ‘83 GMC Vandura that was used on the TV show and updated it for the big screen to a ‘94 Chevy G20. Added to the Chevy were roof-mounted fog/driving lights and air shocks in the rear to improve handling. The total cost comes to $3,367.
The Homer from The Simpsons was a concept car that was designed by Homer to have a separate sound-proof bubble dome for the kids with optional restraints and muzzles. It had three horns because “you can never find a horn when you’re mad,” and it had a bowling trophy hood ornament. In 1991, the retail price was $82,000; that would be $148,000 today.
Wet Nellie, the submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me started with a 1977 Lotus Esprit S1. Its Bond modifications included a submarine package with a periscope and retractable wheels that turn into fins, and a weapons package with a rear deck missile, front grille torpedos, and cement sprayer. The total cost is $651,413.
The Big Green Van from Cheech and Chong started with a 1961 Chevrolet Step-Van. The van’s cost was minimal, but the frame had a ‘Fiberweed” shell made entirely of marijuana. Assuming the weight of a van frame made from aluminum is about 2,000 lbs, we calculated that to be 11.87 cubic feet of metal. And assuming “Fiberweed” has a similar density to fiberglass of 0.055 lbs/in3, you would need 1,130 pounds of weed to get the correct volume of fiberglass. Now using the 1970s weed prices of $100 per pound, the total cost for the Big Green Van equals $148,923.
Lightning McQueen from Cars was a handbuilt stock racing car that was inspired by the Le Mans endurance racer. It had a V8, 750 HP, arm front suspension, a solid axle rear end, red spoiler, 4-wheel vented disc brakes, and air flaps on his roof to prevent flipping. In 2006, it cost $125,000, but today’s value would be $151,777.