Born in South Africa in 1975, Charlize Theron was sent to Los Angeles with a one-way ticket to pursue acting after an attempt at dancing and ballet fell flat when she hurt her knee. Gaining momentum since the late 1990s, Charlize got her first big role playing Jill Young in Mighty Joe Young. From there she gained notoriety and has played lead roles in some of our favorite movies including The Italian Job, Monster, Hancock, and more recently, The Fate of The Furious.
Growing up, her father was a motorhead and was always been working on something in the backyard of her childhood home, so Charlize is no stranger to cars and racing, claiming to out-drive her co-stars when they went to driving school to train for The Italian Job. It would only make sense that she drives in her movies; sometimes she drives some of the most amazing machinery and legendary cars—other times, not so much, as we’ll see here.
There don’t seem to be many cars that Charlize can’t handle and she’s parlayed herself into a legitimate action superstar after winning an Academy Award for her role as Aileen Wuornos in 2003’s Monster. We’ll cover some of the cars she’s taken charge of throughout her 20-plus year career, from average everyday junkers to some of the sleekest classics. Enjoy this list of Charlize Theron’s movie cars.
20 NICE: AUSTIN MINI COOPER – THE ITALIAN JOB
The Italian Job may be a remake of the original Micheal Caine movie from 1969 but for any fan who may have seen the older movie before seeing this one will instantly recognize the small UK-made auto and rejoice to see the stunning blonde behind the wheel. After being introduced in 1959, the Mini was a revolution in the automotive world. It proved that compact cars could be roomy, as well as capable, enough to drive on a daily basis. For the movies, however, it served as a nimble yet strong car that could fit into tight spaces small enough to evade the cops when causing certain trouble.
19 NOT SO NICE: 2003 MINI COOPER – THE ITALIAN JOB & YOUNG ADULT
Since we spoke about the original Mini, it was only fit to mention the new Mini that was featured in The Italian Job remake. Though the same blonde may be able to be very capable when handling the new Cooper, the car overall suffers from an inflation caused by modern-day safety procedures that didn’t plaque the original Minis. It could easily be argued that they were small and reliable but their safety features were almost nil; it was the 60s, after all, so safety wasn’t at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Though with this, the modern-day Mini is nothing but a shell of its former self because, even with all the safety features, it lacks the real driving engagement of the original.
18 NICE: TATRA 815-7 “WAR RIG” – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
The new Mad Max movie was nothing short of a great example of what continuing a franchise should look like. The movie has Charlize playing a lead role of a rebel woman who thinks that going back home is how she’ll survive the wasteland. The feat that would not be so easy if it were not for her War Rig, a giant custom Tatra 815-7, according to IMCDb. The rig serves her and her fellow rebels well as they try to fight their way across the barren desert. Tatra has been known for making some solid semi-trucks and military vehicles. Though the true technical specifications about this specific Tatra is anyone’s guess, the company is not shy about crossing the desert on its own with six wins under the company’s belt in the Paris-to-Dakar race.
17 NOT SO NICE: 1986 LADA 1600 POLICE CAR – ATOMIC BLONDE
An awesome car chase in Atomic Blonde features Charlize driving this little Lada while fending off two pursuers. The little Lada isn’t much to look at and most of the chase scene is shot from the inside of the car anyhow. It’s from this unique perspective that the car as a whole can almost be ignored totally. It’s only a few minutes into the chase that you see the plain Lada’s exterior, which has gained some scars before being T-boned into the water. An intense scene plays out afterward, which I won’t spoil too much, but the scene is definitely one to see with the rest of the movie, even if it features such a normal, boring car.
16 NICE: EVERY CAR SHE HACKED – THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS
With the addition of Charlize to the already star-studded roster of the Fast and Furious franchise, it was easy to wonder what she would be driving; a sleek executive sports coupe or maybe a powerful muscle car. The answer is, well, every car that normally wouldn’t be spotlighted in a Fast and Furious movie. Though that may seem unexciting and vague, nothing could be more true about Charlize’s character, Cipher, as she is armed with a team of hackers who exploit “zero-day” programming mistakes in cars’ computer systems. Throughout the movie, she takes control of over hundreds of cars, and though this list talks about car’s she has handled herself, nothing can be quite as cool as simply saying, “Every car.”
15 NOT SO NICE: 1992 PONTIAC GRAND AM – MONSTER
Monster is a wicked intense movie that’s based on the real-life Aileen Wuornos. Charlize is there, though she changed her look so much for the sake of the movie that she’s almost unrecognizable. During the entire movie, Charlize drives different cars which we’ll touch on throughout this article. The Pontiac Grand Am is an average car that doesn’t add anything to the movie besides being a form of transportation. It sort of stands out a little from a spectator stand-point, though, as the Pontiac is a 1990s model in a story that is supposed to take place in the 1980s.
14 NICE: 1971 ALFA ROMEO MONTREAL – ATOMIC BLONDE
What would an undercover MI6 agent be without some beautiful car somewhere in their movie? Bond already has the handsome Aston Martin, so what could be more fitting for a beautifully dangerous woman than an equally stunning Alfa Romeo Montreal? Designed by Marcello Gandini during his time Bertone, the Alfa Romeo is nothing short of eye-catching detail and though the scene where Charlize is seen in it is dark, the outline of the car is still enticing. The Montreal isn’t seen nearly as much as James Bond’s DB5 in his movies but the scene with the Montreal in Atomic Blonde still resonates with us car lovers.
13 NOT SO NICE: 1988 FORD LTD CROWN VICTORIA – MONSTER
The Crown Victoria may go down as one of the quintessential US-made automotive models. Another car that was featured in Charlize’s movie Monster, this late-80s Crown Vic is another car that is so easy to look over, as it should be because what’s going on in the movie is more important than another car nabbed by the infamous Aileen. Though, if we had to concentrate on the average full-sized sedan, we can say that the car definitely fits the timeline a lot better than the red Pontiac mentioned elsewhere in this article. Crown Vics were everywhere and still are in some of the smaller parts of the country that have yet to pick up some sweet Mopar-powered Chargers.
12 NICE: 1967 ASTON MARTIN DB6 – CELEBRITY
Playing an unnamed supermodel in a Woody Allen movie, Charlize takes the keys from Lee Simon, played by Kenneth Branagh, who is best known for playing the lead in Shakespearean movies. For those who wondered what Charlize would look like behind the wheel of an Aston after I mentioned James Bond’s DB5 while talking about the Alfa Romeo in Atomic Blonde, then here’s your chance. The short scene is up online for anyone who is interested in seeing Charlize behind the wheel of this UK-made classic. With clean lines that are definitely reminiscent of Bond’s car, the DB6 is another car worth unknown sums these days.
11 NOT SO NICE: 2000 LINCOLN NAVIGATOR – TRAPPED
Playing the wife of a doctor, Charlize sports this luxurious Lincoln. We’d say that the Navigator really got the US into luxury SUVs. Yes, Cadillac had done it already with the Escalade coming out in the late-90s but it was really nothing more than a dressed-up rebadged Tahoe. The Navigator was an Expedition, sure, but it looked different enough to be distinct from a distance. Lincoln plays a typical part that has been played time and time again in the past, serving as some sort of community worker’s transportation. As such, it plays its part well and is more or less overlooked and forgotten throughout the movie as nothing really spectacular happens to it, nothing like, say, the Navigator from Are We There Yet—that thing got messed up!
10 NICE: 1930 FORD MODEL A – THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
The Cider House Rules is an interesting story, with Charlize acting alongside such other Hollywood heavy-hitters of the time such as Tobey Maguire, Paul Rudd, and Micheal Caine. It’s the simple Model A pickup that Charlize drives in the movie that sits as more of a backdrop than a show-stealing car. The Model A wasn’t a complicated nor an intentionally beautiful car, but it was full of purpose and that was the appeal. To see this antique Model A pickup working on an apple farm is a beautiful reminder of a time gone by and the Model A’s beauty is within its simplicity.
9 NOT SO NICE: 1998 DODGE RAM VAN – THE ITALIAN JOB
Charlize hasn’t only been seen in Mini Coopers in The Italian Job, she’s also spotted in this Dodge work van. Something we don’t see very much anymore today is these old work vans, as most everyone buys some form of the Mercedes Sprinter van. The van is intentionally made to be inconspicuous and for that, it does well, but since Charlize is seen in the van, it counts for this list. Though in no way does it get any honors for being anything the accents the blonde’s looks or has any sort of cultural importance. Not yet, at least, as I think we just might find this to be a sort of a Ford Model T of the day as times moves on.
8 NICE: 1928 CHEVROLET ROADSTER – THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE
Though not playing a central role in this golfing flick, Charlize is spotted in a car at least once when arriving at the plantation. In this scene, she’s driving a period-correct 1928 Chevrolet coupe, which may not be so wonderful in 1931. It certainly ranks up as one of the nicer examples of an automobile from that time period that had already gone through its period of depreciation. Though the scene is short and we only see the vintage Chevy for a few seconds, it’s enough to take us back in time and wonder what driving a three-year-old Chevy was like in that age…or maybe it’s just me.
7 NOT SO NICE: 1990 CHEVROLET C-2500 – NORTH COUNTRY
Another 1980s-based movie, this one is also based off of a true story. It’s about a woman who starts working for a mining operation, only to find that the harassment from her male co-workers is too much to bear, so she helps lead the charge to what would become a historic moment in women’s rights history. Nothing in the way of automobiles is out of the ordinary—as far as small mining towns go—though some of us eagle-eyed car-catchers may have noticed this Chevy being a bit out of place given the time which the story takes place. The 1990 C-2500 is a hard-working truck, there’s no debate about that, though the truck itself wouldn’t have been made for another six years or so.
6 NICE: 1941 BUICK CENTURY – THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION
Playing the attractive Laura Kensington, Charlize’s role in this Woody Allen movie may not be a big one and the car she is seen driving isn’t overly important neither. It’s the style of the times that makes this pre-war Sedanet Century appealing. The beautiful flow and the sleek uninterrupted body lines are a beautiful example of pre-war Americana. The 1941 Century is the end of the first generation and the nameplate wouldn’t be seen again until the mid-50s due to World War II. Though a simple car like the Model A mentioned elsewhere in this article, the Buick is still a stunner for such a small role
5 NOT SO NICE: 1986 BUICK CENTURY – SLEEPWALKING
The polar opposite of the pre-war era mentioned earlier, this one is a bit of a copy-and-paste operation—as most cars from GM still are. This raggedy, old, run-down Buick is not a looker, though it is seen throughout the movie quite frequently. As overlooked as it is, the Buick is a good representation of what we’d find the common lower-class owner driving around because having a nice car wasn’t a priority over just having something that could keep running and do so reliably. We feel that no matter how ugly the car is, it fits in quite well with the movie’s setting.
4 NICE: 1938 HOTCHKISS 864 ROADSTER SPORT – HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
While playing the daughter of a famous mogul, Charlize got to drive a very rare 864 Roadster. Hotchkiss et Cie can be traced back to 1867 as an arms maker out of France but the first Hotchkiss branded car would come around in 1903. Hotchkiss would continue making luxury cars until 1956, though at that time they only produced their own military jeeps. It was a merging with the automotive manufacturer Brandt that spelled the end of the company, with the marque disappearing in the early-70s. The roadster is a gorgeous piece of machinery that fits Charlize perfectly as she drives it around in period-correct clothing.
3 NOT SO NICE: 1988 HONDA ACCORD – DARK PLACES
Nothing is more unassuming and ho-hum like a Monterey Green Metallic Honda Accord with a busted, flip-up headlight. Charlize drives this car throughout this movie, which is about a girl who gets invited to an investigation. Throughout the movie, the abysmal Libby Day drives this down-and-out clunker and the mid-sized Honda does well to represent the type of person Libby is at the beginning of the movie: very bland and sort of lost in her own time. There isn’t much special about them until you dig into the history. Whereas they concentrate more on Libby’s story, we’re sure the Accord has its own interesting tales to tell.
2 NOT SO NICE: 2006 SATURN VUE – HANCOCK
Going from Honda to Honda-powered, the Saturn Vue doesn’t get much screen time in this underrated superhero movie. Seen with both Charlize’s Mary and Jason Bateman’s Ray, the family SUV only has a couple of scenes. It’s hard to tell any specifics beyond that because we don’t get anything beyond some head-on shots. It’s assumed, however, that this is the more eco-friendly Green Line trim, which fits perfectly to the sort of utopian suburban home that Mary has made. Overall, the Vue is nothing more than another rebadged GM product that helped Saturn lose its identity.
1 NOT SO NICE: 1987 CADILLAC COUPE DEVILLE – MONSTER
Perhaps the classiest of the Monster movie’s trio of cars, the Cadillac DeVille is just another underpowered land-barge from the 1980s. Though the Cadillac was one of the nicest cars in the US at the time, that isn’t saying much compared to some of the cars Europe was pumping out. Since then, Cadillac has slowly been climbing back to prominence but as of this movie’s time period, Cadillac wasn’t a whole lot as a company. The Coupe DeVille was right at the top of the line in Cadillac’s model range and is another good example of what you’d most likely have seen in the US at the time.
References: IMDb, IMCDb, Revolvy.com