Raising a glass to the iconic vehicles of cinema at this year’s London Classic Car Show

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Can it really be 60 years since the Mini first hit the streets of the UK?

The Mini is one of the auto world’s true icons, not just because of its popularity or design innovations, but because of its association with The Italian Job, the most iconic motoring heist movie in history. The Italian Job not only made the Mini cool, but it ensured the vehicle would transcend motoring and forever occupy a place in the hearts of film lovers across the globe.

Both the Mini and the Italian Job – which celebrates its own 50 year anniversary in 2019 – are to be honoured at next month’s London Classic Car Show, of which we are a proud sponsor, and these anniversaries got us thinking about examples of other vehicles turned silver screen icons.

A quick watercooler chat at ERS Towers and our list began to grow. From the Ford Mustang so pivotal to Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, to the underwater Lotus Esprit that captured the imagination in The Spy Who Loved Me, to the Triumph TR6 motorcycle in The Great Escape (McQueen again). And that’s before we saw Walmart’s amazing new grocery pick-up advert, which features a whole host of instantly recognisable icons.

One joker also suggested that the Mini is just as synonymous with globally popular man-child Mr Bean as with the Italian Job. However, we’re dismissing this association on the basis that Mr Bean’s Mini did not receive its film debut until the 2007 romp, ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’, which is yet to be lauded as a landmark piece of cinema.

Where we struggled was coming up with modern film car stars. Thanks to product placement and sizeable auto manufacturers’ marketing budgets, new vehicles are more prominent within today’s movies than ever before. So why is it that we don’t necessarily make the same associations with them that we used to?

Well, this may be down to the changing nature of film-making. For example, back in the 1960s films were a lot more basic. Yes, there were stunts, but there little in the way of technology to draw upon. Hence new, surprising or remarkable vehicles really stood out on the screen.

Today the emphasis has shifted; advanced CGI and digital effects take prominence over everything else on the screen. A perfect example is the recent Jurassic World collaboration with Mercedes, which saw the GLE Coupe and other vehicles prominently positioned in key shots over the course of the film. While the GLE Coupe is a fine vehicle – and indeed we have several on our books – the association between auto and movie wasn’t strong enough for us to recall it unprompted, hence we had to look it up online. Sure, the car is given a prominent position on one side of the screen, but when there’s an Indominus Rex on the other side, it’s the dinosaur you remember.

In contrast, we were able to recall the Jeep Wranglers from the original Jurassic Park movie instantly, further evidence that achieving icon status is far more complex than simply occupying screen time.

“At ERS, insuring classic cars is one of our core specialisms and true passions, and we’ve been fortunate enough to underwrite policies for a number of iconic vehicles over the years – from the Rolls Royce 20/25 Pick Up to the Ferrari F40 GT,” said Adrian Moody, Product Manager at ERS. “This is a complex business. If a car has a special history then it’s value will be higher and the risks more significant. In fact, even if it wasn’t the exact vehicle used in the film, the very association can often drive up the value.”

That’s why, as you immerse yourself in a world of iconic vehicles at this year’s London Classic Car Show, it’s worth remembering that there’s a world of difference between insurers that offer free cinema tickets if you’ll insure your vehicle with them, versus insurers that truly understand how cinematic icon status can affect your prized vehicle.

We're inviting brokers to join us at our VIP evening on 14th February, where we'll be hosting a champagne reception, along with paddock preview tours with TV Presenter and car enthusiast, Jonny Smith as well as a limited number of exclusive rides in the parade.

Got a Classic Car risk that needs underwriting? 

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