The Cars of The Godfather

For gearheads, the cars used in The Godfather are nearly as memorable as the human characters. Here’s a quick look back at a few of the vehicles that starred in the ground-breaking 1972 film. 

 

 

The Godfather is a noteworthy movie on a number of counts, but if you’re an auto enthusiast, the cars surely caught your eye. Director Francis Ford Coppola is a bit of a car guy himself and populated the movie with a number of striking period vehicles. Here are but a few.

 

In the scene that became famous for the line, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” Mafia soldier Paule Gatto (John Martino) is assassinated by his own gangmates while sitting behind the wheel of a 1941 Packard Super Eight One Eighty Sport Brougham. Note the Statue of Liberty in the background, a powerful bit of Coppola symbolism.

 

Early in the film, this shot of the California mansion of movie mogul Jack Woltz (John Marley) used a 1937 Cord 812 parked in the driveway to help establish that the studio boss was a man of wealth and taste. Parked at the front door is the posh 1946 Cadillac 75 sedan used to carry Corleone family attorney Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) to the airport.

 

In the scene where Michael Corleone’s Sicilian bride Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli) is murdered in a violent car bombing, Italian car fans may have grieved more for the rare Alfa Romeo Berlina that was destroyed in the explosion: a 6C 2500 Freccia d’Oro (“Golden Arrow”), Alfa’s first postwar production model.

 

This 1954 Packard 5426 long-wheelbase limousine by Henney, one of around 100 produced that year, provided impressive executive transport for young mob boss Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), just visible in silhouette in the rear seat wearing his familiar Homburg.

 

In the Vito Corleone funeral scene, a block-long procession of Cadillac flower cars was used to illustrate that the gang leader and family patriarch (played by Marlon Brando) was a powerful and important man indeed.

 

For the memorable scene in which Sonny Corleone (James Caan) was lured into an ambush by his brother-in-law Carlo and brutally gunned down on the Jones Beach Causeway, three 1941 Lincoln Continental Coupes were reportedly used: a hero car for the lead-in shots, a second car rigged with explosive charges to simulate gunfire, and a third Continental pre-riddled with bullet holes. The unharmed hero car still exists today and traded hands at auction in 2012.

 

9 thoughts on “The Cars of The Godfather

  1. That scene at the toll gate always bothered me. Shooting up a relatively rare car like a ’41 Lincoln. Even if three were used (I understand that the one with the bullet holes was essentially a stripped out body) I hated to see the waste. To echo what Nick just said: It’s interesting that this feature would come out on a weekend that the Godfather Marathon was running. I’ve had the Godfather movies on DVD and often take them out and have a marathon of my own….

  2. They say that Sonny’s death scene was the most expensive to set up and cost the filmmakers over a $100,000.00. Ouch.
    Apparently it was worth it as it definitely is one of the most chilling and memorable scenes in the movie. And Chuck Hannah couldn’t have done a better job finding the right car(s) for Sonny Corleone – probably the most envied vehicle of the 1940s. I also cringe at the thought that two “stunts” had to be destroyed filming this scene.

    Thanks for the post. I am definitely due for a “Godfather” marathon.

    Elena
    Corsia Logistics

    • I was going through a toll booth in Oklahoma one time when the attendantt suddlenly dropped down. I freaked until I realized she had dropped my change. True story.

  3. I was in charge of supplying all the cars for the film there are only two Lincoln’s the one that was shot up at the tollbooth had 147 holes in it I put them all in it I still have two cars left from that I will never sell 47 Cad limo and Salotto’s 40 Buick

  4. Great post! I’m a bit odd, in that I never saw the movie(s) until past the age of 40. I waited until after I had read the book(s) … Of course, I don’t recall the books mentioning any car models, so Coppola was free to choose his own!

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