While most car movies usually tend to revolve around high speed chases, guns, breathtakingly impossible stunts, more guns, impressive vehicles and beautiful ladies, it’s not always just that.
There are still some gems worth watching out there. Movies pragmatic that have acquired enough recognition over the years to be worth your time.
From old time classics to some of the latest and greatest of the film industry, here’s our take on the 25 best car movies of all time:
25. Grand Prix (1966)
The oldest movie on our list, Grand Prix (1966) is a Formula 1 story portraying some interestingly intimate and unique racing footage like the public has never seen before. Before 1966 we mean.
The most interesting side of this film is how well it managed to combine the racing footage with the emotional side of racing, giving the movie a good introspective nature.
24. Duel (1971)
In Duel, Steven Spielberg’s first feature-length film, the story follows driver David Mann (Dennis Weaver) trying to escape the terrorizing pursuit of a mysterious tank truck across the Mojave Desert.
The action is thrilling and dramatic and has all the ingredients you might expect from a Steven Spielberg movie, especially the ways in which he managed to blend in the mystery and the terror surrounding the innocent driver.
23. The Blues Brothers (1980)
Featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd and well known for its extremely high vehicle collision count, The Blues Brothers has managed to create unrivaled comic situations involving car chases and their inevitable end as either badly damaged or completely smashed.
22. The Driver (1978)
Often overlooked, but with a fantastic sequence of events, 1978’s The Driver is a cat-and-mouse type of story which portrays intense driving sequences with narrow escapes and introspective elements.
21. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Smokey and the Bandit is a classic outlaw film which became the second biggest hit after Star Wars when it came out. The story follows Bandit’s journey, in a lovely black Trans-Am, as he tries to help his buddy Snowman get a truck full of outlawed Coors Beer across state lines.
The story gets complicated by a runaway bride who hitches a ride with Bandit, which also happens to be the sheriff’s daughter in law. Go figure.
20. The Cannonball Run (1981)
The Cannonball Run impresses not only through its all-star cast, among which you’ll see Roger Moore, Sammy Davis Jr., Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin and Jackie Chan, but also through their characters’ reckless driving and unscrupulous and desperate actions to win a race.
But not any race. America’s illegal grand prix.
The film is a superb comedy that depicts the adventures of an ambulance driver and his partner as they take part in this outlaw road race from New York to California.
19. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)
Adapted after the 1963 novel “The Chase”, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry is packed full with action and impressive stunts.
You’ve got Peter Fonda, think Easy Rider, if the name doesn’t ring any bells, teaming up with Susan George’s character, Mary, in a run for their lives after extorting $150,000 from a supermarket manager.
The film is so well made that it seems like the actors and stuntmen were actually running for their lives as they filmed the stunts and hoping they would end up in one piece on the other side.
18. Death Proof (2007)
Moving onto a more serious (to be read brutal) note now, with Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 thriller, Death Proof. The film depicts a killer stuntman, with Kurt Russell in the role, as he commits murders with, you won’t guess it, his own car.
The movie takes an interesting twist when the killer’s latest targets decide to fight back.
17. Ronin (1998)
Ronin is packed with plenty of thrilling high speed car chasing action. But all that action comes surprisingly elegant in style, with enough complexity to the story and a concise plot to keep you in front of the screen to the end.
What’s more, you’ll get to see Robert de Niro, Sean Bean, Jean Reno and Natasha McElhone, all in the same thrill ride.
16. Speed Racer (2008)
Coming from the creators of The Matrix Trilogy, Speed Racer is a blend of impossible car action and crazy animations, following Speed (Emile Hirsch) as he tries to win a cross country car racing rally.
The animations are simply jaw-dropping, with the action often going in directions which are physically impossible, but that makes the movie what it is: a unique and thrilling journey into imagination.
15. The Love Bug (1969)
The Love Bug is the story of Herbie, a gutsy little VW Beetle with a mind pragmatic play of its own doing everything in its humble power to win competitions against supercars on the race track.
A Walt Disney production, this film is one of the best car comedies ever made and a must see if you haven’t already.
14. Baby Driver (2017)
Baby Driver is an epic mix of the classic action-crime-drama movie genres with a superb romance and musical side. The story covers a brilliant young iPod-obsessed getaway driver while trying to escape from a criminal underworld.
The film features impressive car chase action scenes perfectly matched to one of the best rock soundtracks ever made.
13. Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
A classic cross country road movie, Two-Lane Blacktop, puts together the driver, the mechanic and a girl in a charming and melancholic story that unveils itself more and more every time you come back to it.
Beyond the story, the film features some of the most incredible and unforgettable driving scenes in the movie industry.
12. Vanishing Point (1971)
Vanishing Point is another classic to the car chase genre, if that’s really a thing. Following a dishonorably discharged former cop driving a gorgeous white Dodge Challenger across the country with an ever increasing crowd of cops on his tail, the film delivers that epic car chase you’ve been looking for.
11. The Italian Job (1969)
Peter Collinson’s original, The Italian Job, is a ludicrous film, but a charming one nonetheless. The story is about a heist to steal $4 million from the Mafia, using some of the most interesting cars they could think of: Mini Coopers.
It’s a well executed and timeless car chase film sprinkled with that sarcastic English humor perfectly matched with a classic jazzy score by Quincy Jones.
10. The Fast & Furious Franchise
Probably the first title that comes to everyone’s mind when thinking about street racing films, The Fast & Furious franchise has become the standard against which all other car movies are judged.
While the first movie of the series is the best of them all, we still recommend watching the entire franchise if you haven’t already.
9. Bullitt (1968)
Starring Steve McQueen in the lead role as a San Francisco detective, the Oscar winning Bullitt is one of those movies you definitely need to see in your lifetime.
With one of the most famous high-octane car chase scenes in Hollywood and McQueen doing most of the stunts, this film set the bar so high that the rest of the industry struggled to keep up with during the following decades.
8. Rush (2013)
Telling the story of the most well known rivalry in the world of motor sports, the one between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, two of Formula 1’s best pilots, Rush is an immersive experience into life on the racetrack.
Despite some exaggerations and historical inaccuracies, the film wonderfully portrays an alluring world of passion and danger, extreme speed, wit and emotion.
7. Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Another film based on a true story, Ford v Ferrari depicts Ford’s corporate, technological and ideological competition with the legendary Ferrari.
After Ford’s failed attempt to buy the racing giant, he decides to compete with the Italian carmaker in the famous 24 Hours Le Mans race. The film’s focus is not only on the race itself, but also on the real world details that made it possible, with all the hard work, dedication, friendship, willpower and passion.
6. Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior (1981)
No car movie list would ever be complete without mentioning at least one of the Mad Max movies.
While the first film in the series was one of the most successful ever made, with its dystopian story about a self-destructing society, the second instalment in the series, Mad Max 2, released as The Road Warrior in the United States, manages to bring a lot more variety into the mix, with plenty of post apocalyptic vehicles and some of the most interesting characters ever created.
Max comes back on the screen, this time driving a semi-truck instead of that hot supercharged V8 Special, and engages in a more explosive action, with plenty of intense car chase moments and bigger stunts, proving to be a feast for fans of car rampage.
5. Days Of Thunder (1990)
If you loved Top Gun, you’ll probably love Days of Thunder too. You’ll find Tom Cruise again, this time in the cockpit of a NASCAR racing car, as a skillful and determined race driver aiming to prove himself on the racetrack.
The film combines plenty of racing action and just enough drama to be balanced while capturing that competitive energy Cole Trickle, Cruise’s character, has inside and outside the cockpit of his racecar.
4. Drive (2011)
Drive follows the story of a nameless man from Los Angeles who works as a car mechanic and stuntman by day and as a getaway driver for criminals by night.
The film blends elements from the ’70s and the ’80s with new millennial era influences in thrilling car chases and captivating action sequences with occasional unnerving graphic scenes.
Another captivating side of the movie is that comically inexpressive Ryan Gosling playing his character behind the driving wheel of a superb 1973 Chevy Malibu.
3. Gone In 60 Seconds (2000)
Maybe unexpected for some, Gone in 60 Seconds is one of the most captivating car movies ever. It’s got everything a movie like this should have. There’s action, impressive car chase scenes, and drama. And an atmosphere that drags you in and keeps you there till the very end.
The story follows Nicholas Cage as the lead thief who is forced to steal 50 cars in 96 minutes in order to save his brother. Teamed up with Robert Duvall and Angelina Jolie, they make for a very interesting group.
And let’s not forget the cars. The cars you’ll get to see are anything but ordinary.
2. Senna (2010)
Less film and more documentary, Senna depicts the life of the world famous Formula 1 champion, Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian motor-racing legend is portrayed throughout his most intense life moments, from his first races to his tragic end.
The film wonderfully follows both his life on the racetrack fighting against his rival, the French World Champion Alain Prost, and off of it, with his struggles against the politics that infest the motorsport world.
It’s a strong and influential movie, a rollercoaster of emotions that will keep you hooked from the very beginning to the very end.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
We couldn’t help ourselves. We told you a list like this would surely need Mad Max as one of the titles. Well, we decided to include two. Here’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
Set in the same dystopian Australia, it continues on the same mad post apocalyptic world story, with even more dramatic scenery, wonderful visual details and some of the most bizarre characters you’ll ever get to see.
This part of the series follows intriguing and unfamiliar directions as compared with the previous instalments while it fills the screen with nuttier vehicle stunts and mad, mind blowing visuals.
Mad Max Fury Road somehow manages to present so much of its characters despite never slowing down the pace. It’s a thrilling movie in all the good ways and a timeless work of art.
There you go. The 25 best car movies of all time. At least in our eyes. But don’t worry, there’s something for everybody on this list. Pick your flavor and enjoy. If your idea of having fun involves only two wheels, you can also check out our article on the best motorcycle movies of all time.