If you are reading this, it’s a good possibility that you’re an absolute gearhead and have equal parts motor oil, as well as blood, running through your veins. If that’s the case, you aren’t alone, as yours truly, and pretty much everyone else reading, is the exact same way. But you, and every other gearhead, weren’t always that way. No one is born with a love for the automotive, but instead we are inspired by something or someone to join this strange group of petrol-sniffing car nuts. Sometimes we are inspired by a particular car, maybe someone you knew had a car that you just couldn’t stop obsessing about. A lot of the time, film can inspire people to fall in love with cars.
Film is actually quite often the inspiration behind the love affair with automobiles. It makes sense, as movies glamorize everything, so when a car is one of the focal points of a movie, it seems so very desirable. Whether it be racing movies, action movies with great car chase scenes or just a cool movie character who had a cool car, movies can so often inspire young people to find a love for four-wheeled machines.
So let’s take a look at some of the best car movies.
10. Fast and Furious Franchise
The Fast and Furious movies have, recently, become more about globe-trotting espionage than cars. However, there’s no doubt that the franchise has boosted the interest in cars in young people ever since its inception. Quarter mile times have always been a large test bed for cars, however, the original Fast and Furious movie coined the term “10 second car” and made the quarter mile test very popular. The franchise also brought car tuning popularity to a much higher level. Mitsubishi must be praising the franchise, as I’m pretty sure the brand would have died out long ago had it not been for the popularity of the Lancer Evolution line after the first Fast and Furious film. So while the movies are mostly just bad actors delivering cheesy one-liners and acing highly tuned flashy cars, there’s no denying their popularity and influence on the automotive world.
9. Vanishing Point
Easily one of the most iconic car movies of all time. The epic, massively long car chase, between Kowalski and the police, has gone down in history. The white Dodge Challenger, driven by Kowalski, is world famous and desired by so many car collectors. Watch the movie now, and it’s cheesier than cheesy, being that it was made in 1971. However, for the time, it was epic. The car chase scenes are still wildly entertaining and the Challenger will forever be badass, so it’s worth a watch. But regardless of early ‘70s movie cheesiness, it still inspired so many to get into old muscle cars.
8. The Transporter Series
Much like the Fast and Furious franchise, The Transporter series got progressively worse as the sequels came out. The first one was very much about cars and car chase scenes. Sure, there was a lot of action, featuring Jason Statham punching face like he usually does. But who can forget the incredible car chase at the beginning of the movie, with Statham driving his black on black E38 735i with a 6-speed manual? Sure, technically that exact car never existed, but if you can watch that movie and not search classifieds for E38 7 Series’ afterward, you don’t have enough oil in your veins.
Drive is a bit of a strange movie. It has an excellent case (Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks) good acting and some cool action. But more importantly, it features some very cool driving. Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver. One scene in particular where Gosling drives a Ford Mustang 5.0 and chases a Chrysler 300 SRT8 is very exciting. The movie, overall, is quite good also so it’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t yet seen it.
6. Gone In 60 Seconds (1974)
Not the terrible remake with Nicholas Cage, but the original, which as a movie, wasn’t much better. The actual movie is pretty bad, to be honest. But the chase scene is epic and the longest in movie history, checking in at 40 minutes long. It also features Eleanor, the 1971 Mustang Sportsroof. Not as gorgeous as the 1967 Shelby GT350 from the remake, but still great looking and the actual chase scene is better. Maybe, don’t watch the whole movie, but just the awesome car chase.
While Ronin is more of a spy-thriller than an actual car movie, it still has some of the best car chases in movie history. There’s a chase between an old Mercedes SEL, a ‘90s Audi S8 and some Peugeots through some beautiful twisty French roads. There’s also the thrilling chase between Robert De Niro in a Peugeot and Natasche McElhone in a E34 BMW M5 through the narrow streets of Paris. These car chases are some of the best caught on film and have some of the coolest cars of the ‘90s. Plus it has De Niro, and who doesn’t like De Niro?
4. Grand Prix
Featuring the iconic James Garner, Grand Prix follows four Formula One drivers through the 1966 season. The film features an all-star international cast and some of the best automotive cinematography in the history of filmmaking. When debuted in 1966, Grand Prix was an immediate success. It’s charms have dulled as the years have gone by and now might not seem as epic as it once was. However, after the recent passing of screen legend and car enthusiast, James Garner, Grand Prix is worth a watch. Even if only to remember a time of gentlemanly car enthusiasts, like Garner.
The recent film by director Ron Howard tells the true story of the famous Formula One rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). ‘70s F1 racing was incredibly dangerous and the movie depicts the danger, and bravery of the drivers, so expertly. It also shows the relationship between two rival drivers better than any other film to date. F1 drivers are extremely competitive but also have tremendous respect for one another and Rush is able to depict this with great authenticity. It’s such an emotionally driven story, but it also has some excellent racing, both on and off the track. It’s also a good movie in its own right and is a must watch.
Widely considered to have the best car chase scene of all time, Bullitt is must watch material for any petrol-head. Not only does it feature the ultimate gearhead movie icon, Steve McQueen, but it also features a ice-cool 1969 Ford Mustang 390 Fastback and a Dodge Charger 440 Magnum. Old school muscle cars don’t get cooler than that, and watching the chase between the two is car/movie magic. If you haven’t yet seen it, go now and watch it. It’s must-see stuff.
1. Le Mans
Steve McQueen was quite possibly the coolest car-guy actor of all time. He’s been in numerous films based on cars or racing and was an amateur racing driver himself. His 1971 film about the famous titular race is consider some of the most accurate racing footage ever to be put into film. McQueen pilots a glorious Porsche 917, while there is also a beautiful Ferrari 512. Le Mans is the best car movie of all time and features some of the most accurate racing ever depicted. It’s combination of realistic racing, the Le Mans heritage, the gorgeous cars and the on-screen bravado of one of the coolest actors in history, makes Le Mans the greatest car movie of all time.