5 Classic Automotive Movies Reimagined for 2013

RelayRides blogger and auto enthusiast, Brad Iger, shares his thoughts about what classic automotive movies would look like if they were made today

In the mid-twentieth century, cars were king. Youth culture centered around the automobile, and car manufacturers would eventually cater to this need for speed by introducing muscle cars – inexpensive, low option cars with huge go-fast V8 engines. Street racing, cross country road trips, and hanging out at the local drive-in diner were considered Americana, and portrayed in several youth-targeted films of the time. However, as the cost of car ownership rises and technology advances to offer other entertainment options to young people, fewer are buying cars and more are taking public transportation, riding bikes, or using car-sharing services like RelayRides to get around. So we wondered, if mid-century pop culture icons were young today, how would things be different?

If Rebel Without a Cause took place today, would Jim’s car be as important as his iPhone? We think probably not


The modern crime fighting equivilant of Steve McQueen’s character Frank Bullitt might be Jack Bauer from Fox’s 24. Rather than chasing the bad guys in his 1968 fastback Ford Mustang, Bulliitt would be stopping cyber-terrorists in their tracks remotely. And if he had to go out on the field and physically chase down the villains, the San Francisco police department certainly wouldn’t subsidize the fuel costs for his gas guzzling big block Mustang.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s bohemian cross continent journey in his 1957 novel On the Road would be difficult to pull off today. With gas prices at almost $4 per gallon, traveling from New York to Mexico and everywhere in between on four wheels is cost prohibitive without a great job or a trust fund. Going from San Francisco to Denver with only $50 in your pocket, like Sal does in the novel, would not be possible today. Today, he might have gone on a week-long bicycle tour or even just rented Cheryl’s Subaru for a weekend and taken a local camping trip to Big Sur.

Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean is remembered as the Rebel Without a Cause in real life and on the silver screen. But if his character Jim were imagined today, it’d be more likely he’d have a smart phone than a car, as re-imagined by the Los Angeles Times. Though teen angst and bullying certainly hasn’t deteriorated over time, the film–and Dean’s actual fate–may have ended less tragically if cars weren’t involved. The plot might have been that Buzz and his pals cyber-bully Jim, Plato and Judy, but the three stand together, start a blog and anti-bullying Facebook group, and help other students in their school and around the world stand up to bullying.

American Graffiti

If it took place in modern times, the kids in Lucas’s nostalgic classic might be meeting up at Starbucks with their smart phones and laptops rather than gathering in their rides at a drive-in burger joint. Even more likely, they would forego going out at all and stay at home chatting on Facebook, sharing links on Reddit or playing Call of Duty on Xbox live. Since the whole world is now available in our bedrooms, young people don’t need a car to hang out with their friends–they are able to do so virtually. And when they do want to meet up–maybe to spend the weekend at Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco, they download the RelayRides app to reserve Humberto’s Suzuki for the trip.

For many young adults, RelayRides makes a lot more sense than car ownership, leaving disposable income available to pay for smart phones, tablets, video game consoles and other tech items that were not available to our predecessors – fictional or otherwise. Check out the RelayRides marketplace and see how it can save you money and simplify your life.