If you were to ask a friend to name off some famous cars in movies you would instantly hear about the Aston Martin with a sexy lady in it from a James Bond movie. You might then hear about the Delorean that catches flame while rocketing back in time in Back to the future. Or you might even laugh about Ricky Bobby and the Wonder Bread Nascar in Talladega Nights. And who could forget the very personal Herbie from The Love Bug. While all are great, we tried to find the best car movies ever produced for the true petrol heads.
Here is our list of the Top 12 greatest car movies of all time. It’s a mixture of racing, action, and automotive adventure. We know we can’t please everyone, so if you don’t like it, you are probably a fan of plug in hybrids and front wheel drive and we’re okay with that. Enjoy!
12. Senna (2010)
Back in the early 1980’s, a bad-ass Brazilian F1 driver by the name of Aryton Senna won three world championships in the sport before he tragically died in front of a live worldwide audience of 300 million people. Senna, follows his atmospheric rise, the struggles he faced on and off the track, and the aftermath of his heart-wrenching accident that changed the racing world forever. It’s an incredibly well-done insight into the life of a legend and the greater world of F1 racing.
11. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max is not your stereotypical car movie by far. That being said, there’s no denying how impressive the fleet of vehicles that appear in these films is. In case you are unaware, every single vehicle you see in this movie was actually built and drove out in that Australian desert wasteland. What’s even more impressive is that much of the film’s special effects – including many of the crashes, explosions, and jumps, were all done in real life, rather than with CGI. The downside is that means many of these franken-vehicles were actually destroyed during filming. Even still, this movie series is a killer one and one you must see.
10. Days of Thunder (1990)
Ever seen Will Ferrell’s, Talladega Nights? Of course you have… then you should probably know that Days of Thunder is the film that it is parodying. In fact, this Tom Cruise stock-car racing movie also features Ferrell’s costar John C. Reilly, Ricky Bobby’s signature slingshot move, and a spectacular NASCAR wreck. In all honesty, this movie is kind of like Top Gun in cars – and that’s certainly not a bad thing.
9. Italian Job (1969)
What is better than a good chase? What’s especially enjoyable about this movie is that it took an otherwise unassuming vehicle, the Mini Cooper, and injected it with a hefty dose of much-needed coolness by taking it on an impressive romp through the crowded streets of Turin, Italy. Funny enough, Michael Caine couldn’t actually drive when this movie was being filmed. This didn’t stop it from being a great movie.
8. The Gumball Rally (1976)
In this overlooked, extremely amusing classic the drivers must race from Times Square to the Pacific Ocean in a cross country race. A fine blend of fast classic cars, excess and silliness makes for the best road-race movie ever. The scene where the Daytona and Cobra race through the LA River is a nugget of cinema gold. Fun fact, the Gumball Rally still exists to this very day.
7. Le Mans (1971)
I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but for those who are not familiar, the Le Mans is a 24 endurance race that takes place over 14.5 kilometers of country roads in France. It’s considered both the hardest endurance race in the world and has acted as a proving ground for vehicle manufacturers and drivers around the globe. The star vehicles of this movie are McQueen’s iconic Gulf Team Porsche 917 and a Ferrari 512LM. While this film is certainly a work of fiction, it’s also a fairly accurate look into the world of high-prestige endurance racing. The racing, and the crashing is very real, and man do these guys have some big pelotas to put their life on the line in huge races like this one.
6. Drive (2011)
This is a more recent film but for the old folks, don’t be turned away. If there was a film that could turn a Ryan Gosling hater into a super-fan, it’s Drive. This neo-noir crime drama follows a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway criminal-for-hire. In the film, Ryan Gosling’s character drives a beautiful 1973 Chevelle. And while it’s certainly not the best year-model of this particular car, it’s still an impressive beast nonetheless – especially when compared to the cars that came after it. In any case, this movie is a thrilling watch for anyone who likes crime films. Honestly after the movie tell me you don’t want some driving gloves of your own, I dare you.
5. Bullit (1968)
If you were to ask a group of American gear heads what the best car movie of all time is, they’re probably going to tell you that it’s Bullitt. You might get the same answer if you’re trying to find out the best Steve McQueen flick, too. Boasting what is likely the best chase scene that will ever be filmed in San Francisco – which takes up an alarming 10 minutes of the movie – this movie also features the most iconic car in film history: a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback in Highland Green with a blackout grille completely devoid of any badges. They strapped camera men to the hood just to get some of the shots, now that’s commitment!
4. The Transporter (2002)
This film balances martial arts, car chases, and a high-pumping storyline. This is also one of the films that put star Jason Statham on the map. It follows the story of a driver for hire who breaks his strict “no questions asked” policy when he realizes that the package he’s been hired to transport is actually a woman. For reference: the transporter’s primary car in the film is a 1998 BMW 750iL Euro model. It was a reminder that BMW’s aren’t just for grandpas, and gave BMW a much needed shot of swag back into their brand.
3. Fast and the Furious (2001)
This is one of the most notorious street-racing movies of all time. Say what you will about the storylines and the acting ability of the cast, but the entire Fast and Furious action saga has some of the best fast-paced adrenaline-pumping car scenes of all time. While it certainly can’t be said that all of the stunts are realistic or even remotely feasible, they’re still impressive nonetheless. When you saw this movie, you should have expected people drifting out of the movie theatre and racing light-to-light trying to live out their fantasies just a little bit longer.
2. Rush (2013)
Following the real-life rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, two Formula One drivers in the 1970s, this film is one of the best cinematic tributes to cars ever filmed. And it doesn’t just look good – it’s also a very entertaining watch, even if you’re not that interested in the driving. This movie stars Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, and Daniel Brühl, the latter of whom really shines in his portrayal of Lauda. If you’ve got a friend or significant other who is reluctant to watch car movies, this is a good one to introduce them to the genre. Try to hold back the tears.
1. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
The pitch is simple: A retired master car thief has to get back in the saddle and steal 50 cars in one night or else his brother is a dead man. What ensues is a whole lot of smoking tires, smoldering Cage, and a parade of excellent sheet metal, including, but not limited to: a 1962 Aston Martin DB1, a 1999 Bentley Azure, 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4, a 1987 Ferrari Testarossa, a 2000 Volvo Turbo Wagon R, and on and on. And if you haven’t seen the famous “Eleanor” mustang chase scene, you are missing out on life.
All of these movies are powered by the one thing we have in common: Automobilia. We love cars, racing, chasing, excitement, modification, showing-off, throwing the top down, finishing first, getting oil on our hands, lapping the slowest guy, repping our favorite team and everything else auto. These movies are a perfect representation of that, and bring us together to share what we love in common.