You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

10 Iconic Ford Mustangs In Movies

HotCars 3/10/2023 Jon Morris
© Provided by HotCars

At times, it’s hard to believe that the Ford Mustang has been around for nearly 60 years now. When the iconic pony car first debuted in the middle of the 1964 model year, it set off a wave that ultimately resulted in droves of people scrambling into their local Ford dealers, causing this stallion to become the fastest-selling new car of its day.


Over time, the Ford Mustang took many forms, offering both mundane versions, and options that became full-out muscle cars during the end of the 1960s and early 1970s. This reputation and overall fame has obviously been noticed by Hollywood, as the Mustang has been popping up in countless movies ever since its creation. In fact, the Ford Mustang has literally made thousands of appearances in various forms of media over the years, as the car’s reputation with the public always seems to call for frequent appearances in film. Here’s our top 10 picks for some of the best Ford Mustangs ever featured on the silver screen.

Related: The Real Story Behind The Chevy Chevelle SS 454 From Dazed And Confused

Need For Speed: 2013 Shelby GT500

2014 saw the advent of Need for Speed, which brought the popular video game series to the big screen. A highly modified S197 Shelby GT500 serves as the main hero car of the feature, with the plot alleging the car to have been a project of Carroll Shelby’s, prior to his death.

In reality, this Shelby was built specifically for the film itself, and also had a few Mustang GTs as stunt doubles. Powering the Need for Speed Mustang is a highly modified 5.8-liter V8 from Ford Racing, which apparently dishes out 900 horsepower, putting it well above a standard Shelby in terms of overall output. Other signature touches were implemented to distinguish the Need for Speed Mustang, including the distinct widebody kit that fattens this stallion up a bit. While Need for Speed might not have been the greatest movie out there, this Mustang is certainly a memorable sight.

Hollywood Homicide: 2002 Saleen S281SC

2003 saw Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett starring in the action-comedy Hollywood Homicide, with the duo playing a pair of cops investigating the murders of a popular rap group while utilizing this silver Saleen to get the job done right – at least in theory.

Based upon the SN95 Mustang, their 2002 Saleen S281SC convertible was equipped with a roots-type supercharger, poised atop Ford’s modular 4.6-liter V8, and produced a total output of 325 horsepower. The S281SC also featured Racecraft suspension and a limited-slip diff, which helped put those ponies to the wheels, sort of. The car ultimately gets thoroughly thrashed during a decent scene with a Cadillac Escalade, initially with Hartnett’s character driving, but later with Ford at the helm…which completely destroyed the car. Nonetheless, this Saleen stands apart as one of the coolest Mustangs in film.

The Thomas Crown Affair: 1968 Shelby GT350

For 1999’s remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, a rather unique Mustang was on full display while being piloted by Pierce Brosnan, who played the title character of the millionaire-turned-thief. The Mustang in question is oddly customized with a lift kit, meaty off-road tires, a hefty roll cage, aftermarket lights poised atop, and doors which are said to be welded shut.

Although it looks like a highly modified 1968 Shelby GT350, it’s actually just a dressed-up Mustang GT. However, the modifications were actually performed for an entirely different movie. Originally, this fake Shelby was destined to be driven by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1993’s The Last Action Hero. Arnold ended being far too large for the car, and the producers swapped it out for a 1969 Pontiac Bonneville convertible instead. As for the Mustang, it would end up laying dormant for years before seeing duty on The Thomas Crown Affair in 1999.

Related: The Real Story Behind The White Dodge Challenger From Vanishing Point

John Wick: 1969 Ford Mustang

To say that assassin John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is a muscle car enthusiast would be a drastic understatement. The man literally killed 77 people to reclaim his stolen Mustang from a cabal of Russian gangsters, and that was before he even got it back during the second movie in the series.

Towards the beginning of the film, one of the gangsters incorrectly calls the car a 1970 Boss 429. Wick corrects him on the year, although not the particular trim package of the Mustang, as the car is actually a 1969 Mustang Mach 1. Altogether, this Mustang features some mild and tasteful custom touches, including a Shelby-esque steering wheel, which just looks far too badass to not be featured on this list.

Gone In 60 Seconds (1974): 1971 Ford Mustang

The original Gone in 60 Seconds was a far rawer picture than its remake, incorporating a cavalier attitude towards safety and reportedly utilizing guerrilla film tactics during production. The result is an absolutely outrageous chase scene that lasts approximately forty minutes and sees the destruction of nearly a hundred cars throughout the streets of Los Angeles.

The 1974 version of Eleanor is actually a 1971 Ford Mustang, although said to be a 1973. This version of Eleanor is also dressed up with the 1973-style headlight bezels, grille, and other small touches to help the car appear slightly newer than it actually was. Furthermore, director, producer, and actor/stuntman H.B. Halicki, who created nearly the entire film, personally fitted Eleanor with a NASCAR roll cage for the barrage of crashes in which the car was slated to endure. All told, only one Eleanor was used while filming the legendary chase scene. Despite its mangled appearance, it still runs today.

Grand Prix: 1966 Shelby GT350H

John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix remains one of the greatest racing movies ever made, featuring James Garner as an American trying to make an impression on the Formula One circuit. The racing scenes from this movie are among the best ever filmed, with several real-life F1 drivers putting in time behind the wheel.

Although most of the action centers on open-wheel racing, James Garner’s character is seen frequently driving a Shelby GT350H when he’s not on the track. For those unfamiliar, the GT350H was a Shelby Mustang built exclusively for Hertz as a “rent-a-racer”, with the idea of allowing customers to rent these exclusive models – and thoroughly abuse them, as per the norm with any rental car.

Related: The Real Story Behind The 1955 Chevy Gasser From 'Two-Lane Blacktop'

Le Marginal: 1968 Ford Mustang

This obscure, French action flick from 1983 might be one of the lesser known films on this list, but features an utterly insane and badass chase involving a modified, widebody 1967 Mustang hunting down a 1977 Plymouth Volare on the streets of Paris.

This slick stallion was piloted by French action star, Paul Belmondo (who also chipped in a good portion of his own stunt driving), and basically shreds across Paris, hunting down baddies in the Volare and ramming the living hell out of their ill-fated Mustang throughout the midst of this lesser-known chase scene. Some critics have compared this Mustang as an attempt to copy the one seen in Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, however, this was actually a deliberate choice by director Jacques Deray to honor McQueen, who’d died three years prior to this film’s release.

Gone In 60 Seconds (2000): 1967 Shelby GT500

When H.B. Halicki’s original Gone in 60 Seconds was remade for the year 2000, it gave the world one of the most memorable cars ever to hit the screens. Eleanor, the famous 1967 Shelby GT500, became an instant hit with fans and still retains a large cult following, even 23 years after the movie’s release.

Although only a single authentic Shelby was used for filming, a total of five complete cars were used in shooting (in addition to a handful of body shells for interior shots and destruction sequences). Designed by Steve Stanford and Chip Foose, Eleanor featured an array of interesting modifications, including massive Halibrand-style wheels that look straight off an old Cobra, a front end that was directly inspired by the 1965 Shelby GT350R, and countless other touches that mold together perfectly to create a unique look. In actuality, Eleanor is almost directly responsible for several custom trends that would be seen in the pro touring movement of the early 2000s, further establishing this Mustang’s worth as not only a movie car, but also a stunning custom.

Related: The Real Story Behind The Chevy Impala And Dodge Charger From Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

Bullitt: 1968 Ford Mustang GT

Steve McQueen’s 1968 cop melodrama, Bullitt, is obviously one of the best known car chase movies ever created. Of course, the chase itself only takes up a small portion of the film, but became one of the most memorable and iconic scenes of its time with effects that still endure today.

Two Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GTs were used during filming, with each packing Ford’s 390-cid V8 under the hood. These Mustangs achieved celebrity status in their own right, even leading to Ford creating Bullitt edition Mustangs that started in the early 2000s, well over 30 years after Bullitt’s release. Time has been kind to Bullitt, at least the chase scene in question, allowing the film to win an Oscar for Best Editing and eventually saw one of the original Mustangs used in this feature hit the auction block for a record $3.74 million in 2020.

HWY: Jim Morrison's 1967 Shelby GT500

While most of us are familiar with the Mustangs seen in Bullitt and Gone in 60 Seconds, few are aware of HWY: An American Pastoral, which is an odd piece of movie history which was created by none other than The Doors’ Jim Morrison. Although it’s far more of an art piece than a car-chase flick, HWY highlights Morrison driving aimlessly through the desert in his own 1967 Shelby GT500, screaming like a maniac while rowing his own gears through the four-speed, chugging beers behind the wheel, and performing random donuts in patches of desert sand.

In many ways, this car transcends the barrier between film and reality. While the other Mustangs on this list were merely playing a role for a film, Jim Morrison’s Shelby, known as the Blue Lady, is basically doing exactly what it would’ve been if the cameras weren't rolling. This GT500 was gifted to Morrison by Elektra Records’ founder, Jac Holzman, and came painted in Nightmist Blue. Reportedly, this was the only car that Jim Morrison had ever owned, and he thoroughly abused it (both on-screen and in real life). Morrison, usually under the influence of alcohol and various substances, would frequently find himself involved in minor accidents, causing him to temporarily abandon the car to avoid drunk-driving charges, only to return at a later time and have it repaired later. This was apparently a frequent occurrence for the late rock star, and allegedly led to the car’s disappearance. According to legend, Morrison once took out a telephone pole with the Shelby on Sunset Boulevard, walked away unscathed, but left the car with the intention of reclaiming it later on. Sadly, the Mustang had disappeared upon his return and was never seen again.

Sources: Hemmings, Hagerty, Robb Report, IMDB, Mecum Auctions


image beaconimage beaconimage beacon