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The Cars of John Hughes' Classic Movies

Iconic Cars from Ferraris to Volkswagens to Polka Trucks

Audrey Davis
November 21 2021

Picture this: it’s the night after Thanksgiving, your family is still hanging around, and you’re looking for something fun and inoffensive to watch together on TV. What’s guaranteed to please everyone? 

Look no further than a John Hughes movie. From the teen angst of Pretty In Pink to the hijinks of Home Alone, you’re unlikely to find another writer and director that covers so much ground – even for the gearheads among us. Here are some of the most memorable automotive moments from his films, virtually guaranteed to spark nostalgia and holiday cheer. 

Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) 

No list of John Hughes movie cars would be complete without this one, a ‘60s gem that Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) can’t help but take out for a spin. Over the years, there’s been a lot of concern over the car’s grim fate at the end of the movie, but don’t worry – Hughes and Co. did not wreck a real ‘Rarri. The totaled car was one of three Ferrari replicas used in the film, one of which was sold at auction last year for $396,000. It’s a steep but understandable price tag that probably wouldn’t bother someone like Cameron’s dad, but the rest of us will have to joyride in something else.   

Wagon Queen Family Truckster, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) 

National Lampoon’s Vacation/Warner Bros. 
Although this car may be fictional, the secondhand embarrassment of watching it drive to Walley World is incredibly real. In the movie, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) originally wants to buy a sportier ride, but gets talked into the Truckster at the dealership. The monumentally uncool station wagon was actually a modified Ford Country Squire, which is not much of a step up, making it the perfect vehicle to bring Hughes’s cringeworthy Wagon Queen to life. 

Chrysler LeBaron, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles/Paramount Pictures

Hughes must’ve had a thing for ugly green cars with even uglier wood paneling, because this unique style showed up again in 1987’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles as one of the titular autos helping Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) make their way across the northeast in time for Thanksgiving. Although the car gets burnt to a crisp and partially decapitated by two trucks, Del memorably insists to the police that the Chrysler is absolutely fine, declaring confidently that it “will get you where you want to go.”  

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, Pretty in Pink (1986)

Pretty in Pink/Paramount Pictures

In 1955, then-nascent German brand Volkswagen debuted its first attempt at a style-centric automobile, which they hoped would appeal to consumers who wanted more than mere practicality. And who better to turn to than the legendary Italian coachbuilder Ghia, which had already turned out unlikely ‘50s collaborations with Cadillac and Plymouth? Despite the novelty of these cars in their time, by the ‘80s, driving to school in a Karmann Ghia only proved that you didn’t have the money to buy something newer. Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) learns that the hard way in Hughes’s status-obsessed teen classic, but we still think that her memorable pink ride was pretty great, and worthy of a heroine with a style all her own. 

Polka King Rental Truck, Home Alone (1990)

Home Alone/20th Century Foxx

When you realize that you’ve left your son home alone while the rest of the clan jets off to Paris for the holidays, what’s the fastest way to get home and avoid traumatizing young Kevin more than you already have? Simple: hop in a Budget rental truck transporting the “Polka King of the Midwest” and his very loud band. Kevin, we’re (very slowly) coming for you!

Related: Designer Garage: The Gorgeous Cars of House of Gucci 



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