Cars have been the stars of film for decades. From the early 1900s when cars trundled across the screen, to the fast-moving imaginary cars designed for futuristic film, automobiles are part of Hollywood history. Here is a list of the best films for car lovers.
The original film and its remake couldn’t be more different, but the obsession with cars remains the same. In 1974, Gone in 60 Seconds focused on car stunts and only slightly on plot. In 2000, the film became a smooth car heist movie led by Nicholas Cage and featuring Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi and Robert Duvall. Fifty cars have to be stolen in a night to save a life, including the Shelby GT500, nicknamed “Eleanor”, a rare model. It’s a flashy, fast-paced thriller that’s a pleasure for car lovers of all kinds.
Despite being released in the 2010s, this film is now a car classic. Following moonlighting stuntman Ryan Gosling, named only Driver, the film features a range of stunning automobiles. Ford Thunderbirds, Pontiac GTOs, Cadillacs, Dodge Chargers, Chevy Impalas and more race across the screen, though not all of them survive. This stylish film is a car enthusiast’s dream.
The ultimate in classic heist films, The Italian Job catapulted the humble Mini Cooper into stardom. Though it might not be the first choice of car for a quick getaway, the endearing British automobile captured the hearts and minds of cinema goers. The Italian Job has become a cult classic for its dry humour and sense of camaraderie, but also for its iconic car.
This silly romp about a “Transporter” paid to carry whatever cargo a client requires has become a well-known franchise. Jason Statham’s driver Frank Martin drives a number of cars through the film and its sequels, starting with a 1999 BMW 7 Series E38 and a Mercedes W140 before moving onto a succession of shining Audis. The car chases are ridiculous and the plots thin, but The Transporter films are a must-see for car fiends.
This Edgar Wright-directed film is once again about a heist and a brilliant getaway driver, but this cool film is different because of its amazing score and choreography. Every beat of music lines up with what’s happening on screen, making the car chases some of the best seen on film in a long time. The film features numerous cars, including ones as humble as the Ford Focus, all the way up to a gorgeous 1958 Edsel Pacer. Baby Driver is a fast-paced thriller that really showcases its cars – it’s unmissable!
Though not strictly a car film, this road trip movie features a gorgeous 1966 Ford Thunderbird in turquoise. Running from a crime and their boring suburban lives, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon roar across America into adventure and an unforgettable stunt finale. Though the car isn’t the focus of the movie, it’s a focal part of the couple’s journey, and visually stunning as well.
From the minds of horror legends John Carpenter and Stephen King, this terrifying film features an old red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury with a dark secret. The car is possessed, and it’s after blood. Anyone who crosses the car, or its owner, is in for a nasty death. It’s a standout car film because although cars are usually used as murder weapons on screen, in this movie, the car itself is the murderer.
This Quentin Tarantino flick is all about stunts. Grizzled stunt driver and murderer Kurt Russell hunts and is hunted by his prey, a bunch of seemingly helpless girls on a road trip. He feels invincible in his “death proof” cars, vehicles designed for stunts with a roll cage, that he claims protect the driver from any harm. The two beautiful American muscle cars, a 1970 Chevy Nova and a 1969 Dodge Charger, roar across the screen as a deadly cat and mouse game unfolds. This “grindhouse” style car film is a new classic for lovers of old back-to-back movies shown in the 1960s and 1970s.
Rush is a 2013 biographical sports film directed by Ron Howard. This biographical film covers the famed rivalry between two acclaimed Formula 1 drivers: James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth, and Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Brühl. The two drivers first butt heads at the 1970 Formula Three race at London’s Crystal Palace circuit, and a years’-long competition between the two ensues. This thrilling film brings the best of Formula 1 racing to the big screen.
Never has a car been so firmly put on the map than the DMC DeLorean in Back to the Future. The only model of car to be produced by the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC), this 1980s classic features gull-wing doors, stainless steel body panels and a striking fibreglass body. The car shot to fame in the Back to the Future films, where a modified version travels through time when it reaches exactly 88 miles per hour. The car is so iconic that it’s not recognised for any other reason than being Doc’s time machine.
This silly Michael Bay film is the epitome of a boyhood love for cars. Shia LaBeouf’s nerdy character happens upon an alien race when his beat-up yellow 1977 Chevrolet Camaro turns out to be a Transformer. The aliens have landed on earth to find the Allspark, the object that created their species, to help heal their home planet. However, the Decepticons – another race of aliens – have come to wake all the machinery on earth for their dastardly plans. The Transformers and their car counterparts are the stars of the film, with real love given to showing off the vehicles.
This heart-warming animated feature is set in a world with anthropomorphic cars. Lightning McQueen is a rookie car looking to win the biggest race of the Piston Cup Championship. Along the way, he makes friends with former race cars and finds love. It’s a lovely family tale, and a great showcase for a range of classic and new cars, including a 1960 VW bus, a 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora, and even a “Michael Schumacher Ferrari”, voiced by the famous Formula 1 driver himself.
This hippie comedy features the instantly recognisable Herbie, the 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle. After down-on-his-luck driver Jim Douglas defends a white Volkswagen Beetle from a horrible dealership owner, it follows him home, and turns out to have a mind of its own. Named Herbie, the car helps Jim win races and win the heart of Carole, the attractive mechanic. It’s a cute film that helped to popularise the humble Beetle or “Bug”.
Street-racing subculture hit the big screen in the first of many films in the Fast and Furious franchise. 2001’s The Fast and The Furious saw criminal Vin Diesel and undercover LAPD officer Paul Walker go head to head and eventually join forces in the mean streets of Los Angeles. The film had everything: a focus on family, screeching car races, gang wars, and daring heists. The popularity of that film led to the many sequels featuring blood-pumping car chases that even escalated to tanks and nuclear submarines.
However, the first film’s simplicity won fans over, and it doesn’t hurt that it features some beautiful cars, including a 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS, an orange 1995 Toyota Supra and a custom-built 1970 Dodge Charger.