These Are the Top Ten Car Movies of All Time
On Monday we asked you what the best car movie was, where the automotive talent or cars used in the film overshadowed their human counterparts. Not all of you stuck to the question asked, precisely speaking. There are countless number of films that could fit into a definition of “car movie,” so we received many, many differing answers.
But there was some consensus amongst you about what your favorites were, and as a bonus, a few of you volunteered some very cool-sounding films we were not aware of so we’ll be checking those out in the future (does anyone have a US copy of Carnapping?).
Without further ado, we’re reporting back in the spirit that you took the question. Here’s what you came up with, so don’t blame us if you don’t agree!
#10 Rush (2013)–The Hollywood version of the 1976 Formula One battle between Messrs. Niki Lauda and James Hunt. A movie with an amazing story (made that much better because it’s based on reality) and an incredible cast, both of cars and actors. While they used CG as little as possible, we’re of the opinion that less computer animation would’ve helped.
#9 Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)–A story that combines the social zeitgeist of its time period and a road movie. Two men, one the driver, and the other a mechanic, traverse the country in search of cars to drag race in their ’55 Chevy, resplendent in primer grey. The movie focuses on the journey across the states, embodying an existential outlook on life through drag racing. The characters appear to be drifting along through meaningless society thanks largely due to the Vietnam War deeming them outcasts, having never fully assimilated to life without war.
#8 Cannonball Run (1981)–Inspired by Mr. Brock Yates’s race, the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, a smorgasbord of movie stars race from coast to coast in the film version of the real-life run. The first one there wins. Hijinx with Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Jackie Chan, Peter Fonda, and so on and so forth, ensue. The real star? A Lamborghini Countach, of course.
#7 Bullitt (1968)–Mr. Steve McQueen plays Frank Bullitt, a cop on the hunt for the mob enforcers who killed a witness. He drives a green Ford Mustang Fastback in case anyone doesn’t remember and duels with a baddies in a Dodge Charger over the hills of San Francisco. His car was so iconic that many years later, Ford released a “Bullitt”-edition Mustang.
#6 The Italian Job (1969)–The original, mind you. Mr. Michael Caine leads a motley crew on a caper to steal a load of gold in Torino. The film helped popularize the Mini internationally (and has some great Mini chase sequences), but the opening scene features a Lamborghini Muira powering through the alps.
#5 C’était Un Rendezvous (1976)–This short film by Claude LeLouch speeds us through the streets of Paris in real-time on an early morning to meet with the protagonist’s girlfriend. The concept, execution, and style are as amazing as the footage. The soundtrack is pure Ferrari, but the movie car is said to be a Mercedes 450SEL 6.9. But everything else is real.
#4 Ronin (1998)–In this film directed by Mr. John Frankenheimer, Mr. Robert DeNiro plays an undercover CIA agent trying to get close to a member of the IRA. John directed all the numerous chase sequences and insisted that no computerized effects be used. And it’s the chases that make this such a compelling car movie (which is why a number of you chose it). A Mercedes 450SEL 6.9, and Audi S8 are two of the films stars. But if you watch closely, you’ll notice some of the Citroëns in the chases get swapped in and out (look for different grilles).
#3 Senna (2010)–The only documentary on the list. It’s easy to say that this film could be about any gone-too-soon Formula One driver. But that’s not true. Mr. Ayrton Senna was the last F1 driver to die during a race and as a triple-World Champion, one of its brightest stars. The movie is a fascinating progression that follows him through his climb up GP’s ladder until his untimely death, and the legacy that he left. Whether you’re a fan of Formula One, or Ayrton, it is a sobering, beautiful tribute both to him and the sport.
#2 Le Mans (1971)–Another Steve McQueen film. This time he plays a racing driver trying to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unlike many other “car movies” Le Mans has a plot, however the look and feel of the film is almost documentary. Steve and the rest of the cast don’t speak for the first thirty-seven minutes. Enjoy the wonderful sounds of the soundtrack. This movie is part of the canon for Petrolisti.
And finally, #1… Grand Prix (1966)– No other movie captures the glamour and danger of the “Golden Age” of Formula One, like Grand Prix. During an era when a racing driver had a good chance of being maimed or killed in any given race, it’s the story of the fictional 1966 GP season. Of particular note is its original racing cinematography that transformed the genre. You must see this movie to understand the genre’s real starting point. Enjoy!