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Movie Stars:
Cars of Back to the Future Part II

March 16, 2012 by Matt

Back to the Future II Part 2 Movie BMW E24 Griff Biff Car Convertible Red Black

The production team for the ’89 film Back to the Future Part II must’ve had a car buff on staff, given the number of obscure and cool cars packed into the movie.

Actually, the obscurity of the cars was probably borne of necessity: It was surely much easier and cheaper to find cars most Americans had never heard of and festoon them with futuristic-looking props rather than build vehicles from scratch. That approach would explain the presence of cars like the heavily-modified pre-’82 BMW 635 shown above. It’s a gray-market imported European version, as evidenced by the slim bumpers, and the roof’s been removed, when the car was never offered as a convertible from the factory. The hood scoop, well… We’ll just leave that alone. Neat car, and it actually pops up for sale on eBay and the like from time to time.

Back to the Future II Part 2 Movie Cab Taxi Yellow Red Citroen DS Griff

The taxicab is a disguised Citroen DS, a car futuristic in its own day, between its looks and its exotic engineering. Citroen valiantly attempted to set trends in both areas, but no other automakers really took to the quirky French manufacturer’s flights of fancy. But a few geegaws duct-taped to the exterior and some extroverted paint and it’s a perfect taxi for the year 2015 (when the film is set).

Back to the Future II Part 2 Movie Ford Probe Car Grey Gray

Several “futurized” first-generation Ford Probes circle the town square in the film. For the record, they do represent a more standard vision than the other two cars in this post of what most folks in the ’80s thought future cars would look like: Sleek, featureless lozenges with faired-in wheels and huge expanses of glass. I think I speak for most car buffs when I say I’m glad their prognostications were off. Sharp-eyed readers will also notice in the background the car from the ’80s cult sci-fi movie The Last Starfighter.

So there’s more to Back to the Future Part II, car-wise, than just my beloved flying DeLorean. The filmmakers’ approach of taking little known vehicles and tarting them up was smart and cheap, if a bit lazy, and didn’t really offer a fully thought-out vision of the year 2015 (three short years away!), instead giving us a kind of veneer of pop futurism. But seeing as most of the movie existed on a brisk surface level and wasn’t attempting to convey any profound themes beyond pure entertainment, the cars do fit.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing cars which featured prominently on film or television. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Movie Stars

2 Comments

  1. Mike B. says:

    Cool article. I just watched the first two Back to The Future movies for the first time in a long time this past weekend. I noticed the same thing you did about modifying existing cars. Thanks for clearing up the taxi, I didn’t know if it was a Citroen or a Saab and that bugged me, haha.

    • Matt says:

      I’m glad you liked it. I need to watch the movies again… We practically grew up on them. The 2nd one in particular had a big impact on me. Never noticed the E24 until I had one, though. The DeLorean and Citro├źn were much more distinctive. :)

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