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Talk about stealing the spotlight RICHARD CROUSE FOR METRO DRIVE Published: June 28, 2011

bumblebee_transformers_dark_of_the_moon-wideTonight, when Transformers: Dark of the Moon opens on screens everywhere, it will be the first in the series without starlet Megan Fox, but what it may lack in sex appeal it makes up for in steel appeal with the introduction of new car characters.

The continuing story of the war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons — two armies of alien robots who disguise themselves on earth by transforming into vehicles — will be enhanced by Autobot Mirage, a cherry red Ferrari 458 Italia and Brains, a blue Mercedes-Benz W212 Autobot inventor, whose design was modeled on Albert Einstein.

The new characters, along with some returning but souped up cars — Autobot Sideswipe, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, is now a convertible, while Autobot leader Optimus Prime is still a Peterbilt 379 truck, but now has a trailer which allows a third mode of transformation — join the long list of movie cars that have stolen the spotlight from their human co-stars.

One of the most well-loved cinematic scene stealers is The Love Bug’s Herbie, a 1963 deluxe ragtop sedan Volkswagen Beetle.

Disney originally looked at Toyotas and Volvos but when casting agents noticed how the crew responded to the Volkswagen, they realized it was the car for the job.

Crew members brusquely kicked the tires and grabbed the steering wheels of the other cars, but when they approached the Beetle, they gently caressed its pearl white paint job.

Back to the Future featured a wide range of cars, like a 1984 Jeep Cherokee Chief but it’s the 1981 DeLorean everyone remembers.

The Robert Zemeckis production scooped up six of the existing 8,543 gull-winged cars, modifying three of them into operational autos for filming, while using the other three for spare parts.

Chases are an exciting way to showcase cars in movies.

Probably the most famous chase sequence sees Steve McQueen’s 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 CID Fastback pursuing two hit-men in a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum through San Francisco in Bullitt.

The 10 minute and 53 second scene took three weeks to shoot and both cars hit speeds of 177 km/h on surface streets.

A little more exotic, but almost as memorable is The Pink Panther’s 1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Cabriolet, Ferrari 250 GT chase.  The beautiful pink convertible is eye catching enough on its own, but even more so when driven by an actor in a gorilla suit!

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