What’s The Car in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?’

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s ode to the golden era of American cinema. Aging leading man Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) knock elbows with the who’s-who of 1969 Hollywood, even running into the Manson family. But for many moviegoers, the real star of the film was the cream-colored Cadillac Coupe DeVille in which Cliff chauffeurs Rick around town.

What was Rick Dalton’s car in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?’

DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton owned a 1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It is cream-colored with a white interior and white vinyl top–according to IMCDB.com. Because he no longer has a license, his stunt double, Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth, drives the car for the entire film.

Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth walking away from DiCaprio's 1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille in a scene from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Brad Pitt and 1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille | Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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In many ways, Rick’s Cadillac Coupe DeVille is central to the film. The historic Cadillac is not only a symbol of the era and of Rick’s past success, but it’s a major set. Aboard the Cadillac, Rick and Cliff drive, chat, and reminisce.

It’s also the Cadillac that Cliff ends up driving to Spahn Ranch. The car becomes central to his first, tense standoff with the Manson Family, when “Tex” slashes a tire and Cliff forces him to change it.

You can see Cliff driving the Cadillac around 1960s Hollywood in the movie clip below:

What was Cliff Booth’s car inOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood?’

Though stuntman Cliff Booth and leading man Rick Dalton may look similar, they are very different characters–and their cars illustrate this. DiCaprio’s Dalton owns an oversized Cadillac Coupe while Cliff Booth drives a worn yet spry Volkswagen Kharmann Ghia.

Light blue 1968 Volkswagen Kharmann Ghia used in filming Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at a charity auction with movie poster in the background.
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood | VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

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After Cliff drops Rick and his Cadillac off at his Beverly Hills home, he jumps aboard his VW Kharmann Ghia. Cliff deftly weaves in and out of traffic, racing all the way home to the trailer parked behind the Van Nuys drive-in where he lives with his dog–Brandy.

The classic cars of ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Brad Pitt on a trailer in a 1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille while filming of 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,' directed by Quentin Tarantino.
1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille filming of ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ | John Rasimus/Future Publishing via Getty Images

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Because the 2019 movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is a period film set in 1969 it is chock-full of classic cars. They include cars by Porsche, Lincoln, and Ford.

Sharon Tate drives a classic, black Porsche 911. The car is central to a long scene in which Sharon drives into town to visit a book store and watch one of her own films. The car used in filming appears to be a 1973 911 S, but obviously that’s an anachronism.

Tate’s husband, Roman Polanski, drives a 1950 MG TD. Even in 1969, piloting the quirky little roadster around the Beverly Hills would have been a statement.

The most menacing car in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the run-down 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie that Tex and other Manson Family members drive to Sharon Tate’s house. In the film, the car’s engine is so poorly tuned it rattles and burbles like an asthmatic. Its piston rings are so far gone that a haze of blue smoke hangs around it, wherever it drives.

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