Best Car Films

17th Dec 2021

By Daniel Hitchman

Greatest car movies of all time

Throughout the decades there have been a number of spectacular cinematic experiences for those who are car enthusiasts.

Deciding which are the best is entirely subjective, but we have compiled a list of car films that we think deserve to be recognised as the greatest of all time. Alongside our choice we have justified why they deserve their place in this list.

Ranging from sensational car chases through to cult classics that influenced an entire generation, there can be no denying the credentials of the movies below.

Bullitt (1968)

Best car chase movie

Recognised for featuring one of the greatest movie car chases of all time, the first mention in this list is rightly reserved for Bullitt.

The plot is mainly centred around Detective Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) and his quest to uncover who murdered a witness. However, it was the car chase between McQueen in a Ford Mustang GT Fastback and two hitmen in a Dodge Charger that stole the show.

Spanning over the course of nearly 10 minutes, the chase took place on the streets of San Francisco, with both cars boasting reinforced suspension to cope with the speeds they were taking the jumps at.

The authenticity of the scene and the unique use of the point-of-view camera angles helped the editor of the film, Frank P. Keller, secure the Academy Award for 'Best Film Editing' in 1969; the only Oscar the film won.

Interesting Fact: Only two Mustangs were used during filming, both of which were owned by the Ford Motor Company. One was used as the hero car, whilst the other was reserved for stunts.

Baby Driver (2017)

Best car movie soundtrack

With incredible car stunts that follow the rhythm of the film's soundtrack, Baby Driver became a box office hit and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Achievement in Film Editing.

After being coerced into filling the role of a getaway driver, a young man called Baby (Ansel Elgort) struggles to leave the life of crime after paying his debts.

During the robberies he has been dragged into, Baby pulls off some truly mind-blowing stunts in order to evade the police. The main hero car that features is a Subaru Impreza WRX, which had been converted to rear-wheel drive for filming.

A large part of Baby Driver's appeal comes from its unique sound design, with the music having been carefully selected based on each scene and its tempo. Mixed with the scintillating on-screen stunts, the music and sequences complement each other magnificently.

Interesting Fact: Baby Driver implements diegetic sound, which is where the sound's (or music in this case) origin would realistically exist in the world of the characters in the scene. It is not simply a soundtrack layered on top for effect.

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Best car racing movie

Featuring stellar performances from Matt Damon and Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari is based on a true story and follows former racing driver Carroll Shelby and engineer Ken Miles as they are tasked by the Ford Motor Company to build a car that is capable of beating Ferrari at Le Mans.

Film director, James Mangold, does a sterling job of showcasing the trials and tribulations that both Miles and Shelby would have experienced during the creation of the Ford GT40, with the pair having to navigate company politics and short timeframes.

The film perfectly captures the ferocious nature of the cars they had to create in such a short period of time. One scene that encapsulates this is when Shelby takes the president of Ford for a spin in one of the prototypes, who subsequently breaks down in disbelief, astonishment and fear.

The final third of the movie surrounds the 24 hours of Le Mans race in 1966, where Ford would accomplish their goal of winning the race, therefore beating Ferrari and making history.

Interesting Fact: Actor Christian Bale lost around 30kg in bodyweight during preparation for the film as it helped him look more like the real Ken Miles.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Most influential car movie

It may not have been a technical masterpiece like other films in this list, but The Fast and the Furious birthed a new generation of car enthusiasts and has gone on to become one of cinema's largest ever franchises.

The story follows Brian (Paul Walker), an undercover police officer who has been tasked with bringing down a street racing gang (led by Vin Diesel) that is responsible for a series of truck robberies. However, he becomes enamoured with the world of modified cars and its personalities, leaving him with a difficult decision to make.

Despite the modest budget, the producers were able to secure and modify a Toyota Supra, Dodge Charger, Mitsubishi Eclipse and Mazda RX-7 (among others), all of which feature in some pulsating racing. The exaggerated effects and somewhat questionable details in some areas only added to the beauty of the film, which has since become a cult classic.

Interesting Fact: The Fast and Furious franchise has developed nine films in total, and has grossed over £4.5 billion worldwide, making it one of the largest franchises in cinema history.

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Best car movie remake

Although the original Gone in 60 Seconds was released in 1974, we are focusing on the remake, which was released in 2000 and featured Nicholas Cage as well as Angelina Jolie.

The narrative is placed on Memphis (Nicholas Cage), a reformed car thief who agrees to steal 50 cars within 72 hours to free his brother, who has been kidnapped by a British gangster. What follows is a series of planned thefts that include the likes of a Lamborghini Diablo and a Ferrari Testarossa.

However, the hero car is a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 called Eleanor. The name was revived from the 1974 original, but in that case it was attached to a Ford Mustang Mach 1 instead; an iconic pony car in its own right.

Thrills are certainly provided in abundance during the final chase, where Nicholas Cage is pursued by police officers as he navigates his way to the meeting place with a looming deadline.

Interesting Fact: Legendary car designer, Chip Foose, was brought in alongside automotive artist, Steve Stanford, to modify the Shelby that they would be using for Eleanor.

Which car movie is the best?

Narrowing the best films down to five choices was no easy task given how many great car movies have been created throughout the decades.

However, we trust you will agree that each of the films above deserve to be recognised, regardless of whether or not you think they should be in the top five.

For more interesting articles, or general motoring tips, then please head over to our blog section, which is updated with fresh content on a regular basis.