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How Hollywood Sees the Automotive Future

Want to know what kind of cars we’ll be driving in the future? You could always check out the concept cars at your nearest auto show. Or you could pop a science fiction movie into your DVD player to see how Hollywood imagines the Car of Tomorrow.

As any movie buff will tell you, cars in science fiction films come in all shapes and size. Some are sleek. Some are clunky. Some are luxurious. Others are strictly utilitarian. Some roll, some hover and some actually fly.

Just how “futuristic” a sci-fi car looks tens to depend on several factors:

  • The movie’s future setting
  • The demands of the story
  • The year in which the movie was made
  • The movie’s budget

With these in mind, let’s go back to the future to see how science fiction filmmakers have imagined future cars over the last four decades:

 “UFO” – Straker’s Car (1969)


“UFO” was the first live-action TV series from Britain’s Gerry Anderson, the same man behind the Supermarionation classics “Thunderbirds” and “Fireball XL-5.” Anderson devoted much of his show’s budget into special effects and custom vehicles, including this Citroen-inspired sports car that nicely captures the “mod” ethos of the late 1960s.

“Sleeper” (1973)


Woody Allen’s sci-fi comedy featured a “Jetsons”-like design scheme that included this capsule-like pod car that looked like a cross between the Mercedes 300SL Gull Wing and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

“Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” – Ford Interceptor (1981)


Set in a dystopian future where gasoline was worth its weight in gold, “The Road Warrior” featured a number of customized 1970s muscle cars, most notably this 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe – a model exclusive to Australia, the film’s setting – tricked out with a Concorde front end and an exposed supercharger (for looks only).

”Blade Runner” – Police Spinner (1982)


Celebrated futurist Syd Mead contributed several designs to this Harrison Ford sci-fi classic, including the “Spinner,” a hybrid ground vehicle/flying car. The movie is set in the year 2019 – and we’re still a long way away from flying cars!

“Robocop” – Police Cruiser (1987)


The near-future Detroit Police Department of “Robocop” was supposed to drive a far more stylized vehicle, but the resulting prop ended up looking far too “silly” for the film’s producers. At the last minute, director Paul Verhoeven chose to modify several 1985 Ford Tauruses, whose aerodynamic designs were considered quite radical in the mid-1980s. The sci-fi police cruises were equipped with onboard computers, now standard equipment for modern law enforcement.”

“Back to the Future II” – Biff’s Ride (1989)


Like most sci-fi comedies, BTTFII took a somewhat satirical approach when it came to envisioning the future of automotive design. Its Hill Valley of 2015 was filled with a variety of weird, candy-colored contraptions – most of which could fly! – including this heavily modified pre-1982 European BMW 635. Originally available only as a hardtop, the car had its roof removed so its driver, “Old” Biff Tannen, could be more easily photographed.

“Total Recall” – Johnny Cab (1990)


At this point, automotive design had retreated from the smooth aerodynamics of the 1950s to the clunky “econo-boxes” of the 1980s. This utilitarian ethos was mirrored in the cheese box like design of the robot-driven “Johnny Cab” shuttle in which Arnold Schwarzenegger flees his corporate pursuers.

“Demolition Man” – Police Car (1993)


Although ostensibly a satire, “Demolition Man” took its future car designs seriously. Its police cruiser included GPS, Internet access and self-driving capabilities right out of today’s Google playbook.

“Minority Report” – Lexus 2054 (2002)


The Lexus 2054 was built by the Japanese carmaker at the specific request of director Steven Spielberg, himself a Lexus driver. Designed to run on fuel cells, the car featured numerous advanced safety features, including a crashproof structure and biometric security system. Lexus reportedly paid $5 million to include its brand in the film as well as the right to show the vehicle at auto shows.

“Children of Men” – Unnamed Cars (2006)


“Children of Men” takes place in the mid-21st century when the entire human race has become sterile, children no longer exist, and civilization is just marking time as it stumbles toward a slow, inevitable death. In a world without hope, automotive design has stagnated. Cars look pretty much as they do today, but are worn, beat up and barely functioning – much like humanity in general.

WyoTech Can Prepare You for a Career in Automotive Technology

Do you have a passion for cars past, present and future? If so, consider a career in automotive technology. WyoTech, one of America’s leading schools for auto technology training, can get you ready for a career you’ll love. At WyoTech, you’ll get to work in a modern workshop setting using professional tools, and you’ll have instructors with real auto industry experience to teach you. And after graduation, you’ll have support getting your career off to a strong start with the help of WyoTech’s Career Services professionals.

WyoTech offers Automotive Technology career training at its campuses in Blairsville, Pa.; Laramie, Wyo.; Long Beach, Calif.; Daytona, Fla.; and Fremont, Calif.

For complete information on Automotive Technology career training programs, contact WyoTech today.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

Programs and schedules vary by campus.

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