Don't worry, we will never spoil anything pre-jump, though obviously everything after the break is operating under the assumption you've seen the film to the right, so be warned. And a big tip of our hat to Arbogast on Film for inspiring us with his post The One You Might Have Saved.
Cause of Death: Obliterated by an evil, yet unmanned, Lincoln Mark III which plows through her mobile home.
Verdict: I would have saved her
Reason: If you've never seen The Car, first of all you should stop reading this, and secondly you should track it down right now. It is a fantastic film that is far better than the "good bad movie" distinction it has earned; just a good movie period. The hero of the film is an intrepid police officer played by James Brolin who is incurably likable. Lauren is his girlfriend and not only are these two cute together, but the relationship is made all the more believable by just how goofy they are around one another. The immediate assumption here is that she dies to give Brolin that push-over-the-edge motivation he needs to focus his vengeful resolve to take down the car. The problem is that they make it abundantly clear throughout the film how much he cares about this town and all the people already slaughtered by the rampaging vehicle so her death seems superfluous.
The other reason for her demise in the film, which is totally valid, is vengeance on the part of the car. In an earlier scene she saves damn near the entire town when the car attacks the fairgrounds. She corrals everyone into a cemetery where it is revealed that the car cannot tread on sacred ground. A stand-off ensues wherein Lauren taunts the car in an effort to make the driver reveal himself; to no avail of course. So I can rationalize her death as both a solidification of the car's tenacity and capacity for revenge as well as a caveat for any other character considering trifling with it. All that being said, I still don't find her death entirely integral to the story.
Basically all that happens when she dies is that the last feminine presence in the film is wiped out. The film essentially becomes a sausage fest at that point which is not necessarily a big problem except that the concept of the "final girl" is part and parcel with the horror genre. Is it interesting that they shake up convention in The Car? Absolutely! But I'm a sucker for a pretty face surviving until the last frame and being that Lauren's death doesn't really add anything to the plot, I feel it's an unnecessary sacrifice.
One point that I am certainly not contesting is the necessity of that death scene. It is one of the best kills by a motor vehicle in any horror film and I count myself an expert on cars-gone-wild titles. She is talking on the phone with her back to the window; awash in darkness from the desert night. Suddenly a pair of headlights pop into view like two sinister eyes opening in the distance. It is clear that the car is speeding toward her but it is utterly silent until just before it strikes. She barely has time to turn before it slices through her home like a hot knife through butter. The best part is how long the camera holds on the splintered ruins of her trailer before it fades out. It is effective, beautifully shot, and just plain cool. But any number of townies could have lived in that trailer and gotten pulverized by the car without that scene losing one spec of quality.