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Favourite cars of cops and robbers

Eleanor Ford MustangWe take a look at the motors favoured by good guys and bad over the years - on screen and in real life.

For more than 40 years the police chase has been a staple part of Hollywood movies.

No mundane modern motoring worries such as the cost of fuel and car insurance for these action-movie heroes and villains – it's all about the thrill of the chase.

Classic screen cars

Antoine Potten of the Internet Movie Cars Database says: "The main character in these films - whether on the side of the police or a bad guy - will often have an out-of-the-ordinary vehicle.

"It will usually be a classic collector's car or one with high performance that will justify the chase that happens later in the movie."

One of the earliest examples was the 1968 film Bullitt which starred Steve McQueen behind the wheel of a beautiful green V8 Ford Mustang GT Fastback.

In the film, McQueen pursues a black Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco in a scene lasting almost 11 minutes.

Martin Bigg, of VaRaces, an online community of car chase fans, says you can't beat old-school muscle cars like the Chevrolet Chevelle piloted by Tom Cruise in the Jack Reacher movie.

Movie getaway cars

Bigg also cites the indestructible "Eleanor" Ford Mustang (pictured above) in the film Gone in 60 Seconds as a classic screen car.

"Eleanor best exemplifies why a muscle car is the ideal getaway car, as not only does it have the grunt to keep its pursuers at bay but it can take some serious punishment," he says.

"By the end of the destructive 40 minute chase, poor Eleanor is reduced to a crumpled wreck, damaged beyond recognition after wrecking countless police cars - and yet she still lives on!"

Of course, the getaway vehicle is most commonly used after robberies, although it's not only fast cars that have been used to stay ahead of the law.

Ford Transit: Britain's most wanted van

Back in the early 1970s the Ford Transit was dubbed Britain's most wanted van.

Ford Transit VanThis was after a Scotland Yard spokesman revealed it was being used in 95 per cent of bank raids due to its performance and available space.

Real-life machines also have a dedicated following with enthusiasts either buying police cars that are no longer wanted by law enforcement agencies – or creating replicas themselves.

An amazing array of machinery has been used by the nation's boys in blue over the years.

This includes the Austin A35 van, MGB GT V8, Rover 3500, Jaguar XJ6, and a succession of Fords, including Cortinas, Granadas and Mondeos, according to Police Car UK.

Police cars over the years

In the 1950s the Metropolitan Police used the Daimler SP250 DART as their secret weapon in the pursuit of so-called café racers.

Daimler SP250 DARTThese were groups of young motorcyclists who would gather at a local café and put a record on the jukebox.

They would then shoot off on a pre-agreed course with the aim of arriving back before the record finished - exciting times!

Of the modern breed of high performance cars, the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru Impreza have found favour among the UK's police.

These vehicles have also become stars of the small screen thanks to the Police Interceptors series which has focussed on forces in Essex, Yorkshire, Derby and Cumbria.

The forces also put their faith in the BMW 3 Series Touring M Sport and the Audi A4 Avant TDI Quattro SE, to help them keep up with modern day criminals. 

Rob Griffin

Rob Griffin

Rob Griffin is a freelance journalist who regularly appears in national publications, including The Independent and Daily Express. He covers motoring, business, and personal finance issues.

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