One Excellent Car: The Buick Roadmaster
Some movies are defined by the cars that are featured on the screen. Where would Back to the Future be without the DeLorean or Smokey and the Bandit without the Trans Am? Even though the car may not be a sexy muscle car or a futuristic sports car, the Buick Roadmaster in Rain Man played a major role in the film.
Power of a Movie Set in a Car
In the film Rain Man, Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman play brothers who take a road trip across America in a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. In the story, Cruise’s character, Charlie Babbitt, receives the car as an inheritance after his father dies. He also learns that he has a long lost brother with autism, played by Hoffman. The movie brought autism into the forefront and Hoffman earned an Oscar for his part as Raymond Babbitt.
Slightly Modified for the Film
Interestingly, there were two convertible cars that were used throughout the film. The were both a creamy beige color with red leather upholstery. The Buick Roadmasters had a 320 cubic-inch engine with Straight-8 Fireball-8 cylinders, as well as the 2-speed Dynaflow transmission. Due to the added weight of the camera equipment, the car had to modified so a cameraman could film the scenes.
In late 2012, one of the Buick Roadmaster convertibles from the film went up for auction. The bidding started at $80,000, but the final amount topped out at just over $170,000. In comparison, the DeLorean from Back to the Future sold at auction for about $500,000. The Batmobile from the 1966 television show sold for over $4 million.
Interestingly, when Rain Man was filmed, one of the cars was rented for slightly less than $360 per week in 1988. The filmmakers predicted they would need the car for about five months, which would have put them at a grand total around $7000 for the course of the film. One can only imagine what the rental fee would be today.