The Top Car Movies

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The Top Car Movies Ever Made and the One You Voted as the
Best Vehicular Violence and Cool Cars Always Make a Movie Better.
Here are Hot Rod Magazine Top 40 Picks of the Best Car Movies on DVD.

By John Pearley Huffman

The final results are in and the winner of the best car movie of all time, as chosen by you, is "American Graffiti"

The contenders were the winners from the intial voting on the best movie from each era. There were some obvious winners but some surprises as well.
In the 50s to Early 70's era "Bullitt" won handily, which is no shocker, by garnering 64% of the votes.
"Amercian Graffiti" easily won in the Early 70s to Mid 70s category with 42% of the more than 2000 votes. "Smokey and The Bandit" won with 33% of the votes in the Mid 70s to Early 80s era, but "Blues Brothers" (15%) and "Hollywood Knights" (10%) weren't too far behind.
The major surprise was in the Early 80s to 2000s era. The remake of "Gone in Sixty Seconds" with 29% of the votes edged out "Ronin" (16%) and "The Road Warrior" (14%) to take the honors. Anyone who was watching the totals knew this was a fairly up-and-down race as "The Road Warrior" was in front at one point while "Ronin" quickly caught up in the last few weeks but fell short.
So, it was down to "Bullitt" vs. "American Graffiti" vs. "Smokey and The Bandit" vs. "Gone In Sixty Seconds."
Here are the results from the Final Four voting:

"Bullitt" (1968): 21%
"American Graffiti" (1973): 52%
"Smokey and The Bandit" (1977): 14%
"Gone In Sixty Seconds" (2000): 12%

Thanks to all of you who voted!
If you missed the review of the Top 40 Car Movies Ever you can check out the whole list starting just below.
Cars and movies go together like peanut butter and jelly, and for more than a century Hollywood has commingled cars with cinema, each time forcing us to flock to theaters like the obedient lemmings we are. And when affordably priced DVDs started showing up, a lot of us started accumulating collections of car movies that rival our collections of stolen road signs, rubber scraped from defunct dragstrips, and Hot Wheels.
There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of films that could fit into a loose definition of "car movie," so we pared this list of 40 indispensable titles down to include only films available on DVD and only films that were first released in theaters. We stuck with DVDs because the digital transfers are (generally) better than tape, and VHS tapes are a technological dead end. Most DVDs package extras alongside their featured attraction, usually display the film in a letterbox format that preserves the full widescreen frame, and the studios have priced them for people to own rather than rent. The prices quoted here are from at press time (except where noted).

For HOT ROD, a perfect car movie should first and foremost feature hot rods. But not every movie does that and some have the compensating virtues of compelling storylines and amazing car chases. So the films here range from car-centered to just good action; from car-obsessed to cars incidental; from blockbuster to never-heard-of-it. Some of them are really good movies while others are on the list because of strong elements amid the muck, strong historic significance, or just curiosity factor. And some are pure garbage, but garbage we love. Five of these films feature Dodge Chargers in prominent roles, and those are noted in our icon bars. Some of these have fantastic looking women in them, sowe've noted those. And what's the most popular city for filming car chases? Long Beach, California. So we've noted those six films too.
Disagree with us? Fine. Just don't write telling us that Stroker Ace, Driven, Days of Thunder, Cannonball Run 2, Smokey and the Bandit 2, Smokey and the Bandit 3, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Car, The Betsy, Blues Brothers 2000, or The Wild Ride should be on the list. We've already determined that they all suck.

The Top Car Movies Ever Made and the One You Voted as the Best Vehicular Violence and Cool Cars Always Make a Movie Better. Here are Hot Rod Magazine Top 40 Picks of the Best Car Movies on DVD. See if your favourite hot rod movie is there.

American Graffiti

1> American Graffiti (1973)

Director: George Lucas
Stars: '32 Ford five-window, '55 Chevy, '58 Chevy
People: Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Charles Martin Smith,Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Candy Clark, and PaulLeMat
Why: The obvious choice. Despite all those Star Wars movies, American Graffiti is director George Lucas' best film. Four friends in central California face the future dusk-to-dawn one summer night in 1962; cruising, hanging out, wreaking havoc, and ultimately street racing. In 200 years people will still watch this movie to know what it meant to grow up in an America obsessed with hot rods. And they'll still want to drive Milner's '32 and Falfa's '55.
Look For: You know Milner is in trouble when he opens his car's headers.
Trivia: The license number on Milner's car is "THX 138" referringto Lucas' first film, THX 1138.
DVD: Lucas tweaked the film before releasing it on DVD a few years ago (adding a computer-generated sky behind Mel's Drive-In in the opening shot for instance), and it's now available as a "Drive-In Double Feature" with its sequel on a single disc. $17.98

Two Lane Black Top

2> Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

Director: Monte Hellman
Stars: '55 Chevy, '70 GTO
People: James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates
Why: There's a plot in here somewhere, but no one cares. Two itinerant street racers without names (Taylor and Wilson are "The Driver" and "The Mechanic") wander across America until they encounter an older guy in a GTO (Oates) who can't shut up. They stop and street race. Then they stop and drag race. Then there's an impromptu race witha Dodge Charger. It all boils down to attitude - and you either like that or just leave the TV tuned to Lifetime. And their '55 Chevy is solid-axle wicked; a car built when '55s were bad-asses instead of antiseptic nostalgia rods.
Look For: The only movie ever in which a character stops to buy a rebuild kit for a '70 Quadrajet.
Trivia: Richard Ruth, who built the '55, is the guy in the Glendale Speed Center T-shirt at the first gas station they stop at. And yeah, painted black, the '55 was Falfa's car in American Graffiti.
DVD: The limited-edition DVD that came in a tin box with a poster and key chain is now a collectible with some sellers asking $200 or more. So look for a used disc on eBay.

Vanishing Point

3> Vanishing Point (1971)

Director: Richard C. Sarafian
Stars: '70 Challenger R/T
People: Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger
Why: For no apparent reason, Kowalski (no first name) needs to get from Denver to San Francisco in less than 15 hours and has only a white Challenger and a fistful of amphetamines with which to do it. The cops try and stop him, and a lot of excellent high-speed stunt driving ensues. All the '70s counter-culture/existential stuff is bizarre, but the music is still solid. This is the ultimate Mopar movie.
Trivia: Driving the Challenger most of the time was legendary stuntman Carey Loftin.
DVD: $11.24. Make sure you're getting the original 1971 Vanishing Point, and not the insulting 1997 remake.


4> Bullitt (1968)

Director: Peter Yates

Stars: '68 Mustang GT 390, '68 Charger

People: Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset

Why: The chase in Bullitt - the definitive movie car chase - has been obsessed over for nearly 40 years and it still holds up. Sure, too many hubcaps come off the Charger and McQueen upshifts the Mustang so often he'd be in 16th gear by the end of the sequence, but it's ground breaking film making and worth watching once a month. The movie also has Bisset in her jaw-dropping prime and McQueen at his coolest.

Trivia: While McQueen did much of his own driving, it was Carey Loftin who piloted the Mustang during the hairiest stuff.

DVD: At $21.59, the two-disc special edition (featuring documentaries on McQueen and film editing) is worth it.

Gumball Rally

5> The Gumball Rally (1976)

Director: Charles Bail
Stars: '65 Shelby Cobra 427, '70 Camaro, '71 Ferrari Daytona Spyder
People: Michael Sarrazin, Raul Julia, Gary Busey
Why: This is the first genuinely funny car movie. The driving isn't the best (it's good), but the script has wit, there are great cars in every scene, and the viewer winds up wanting to go and organize his own illegal cross-country road race. Or at least drive through the L.A. River in a Cobra. Raul Julia is great as Franco Bertollini, who rips the Daytona's rear view mirror off and explains, "[That's] the first rule of Italian driving . . . What's behind me is not important."
Trivia: Released in August 1976, Gumball hit theaters a couple weeks after Cannonball (number 18 on this list) making it the second film inspired by Brock Yates' Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. That event first ran in May 1971.
DVD: Finally released in August 2005, it runs $11.23.

Thunder Road

6> Thunder Road (1958)

Director: Arthur Ripley
Stars: '50 Ford, '57 Chevy, '57 Ford
People: Robert Mitchum, Gene Barry
Why: Of all the tales of moonshine running, Thunder Road remains the best, first because it has tough-guy Robert Mitchum in the lead, second because seeing a '50 Ford driven hard is always fascinating, and third because the action is so good you almost forget the movie is in black and white. Plus the cops have a '57 Chevy that grabs onto suspect vehicles' bumpers. Filmed on location around Asheville, North Carolina, Thunder Road may not be authentic, but it looks it.
Trivia: The 'shine cars in the film were supposedly bought from actual runners. And the primary stunt driver was Carey Loftin. DVD Details: $11.96

Dirty Mary Crazy LArry

7> Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)

Director: John Hough
Stars: '66 Impala, '69 Charger
People: Peter Fonda, Adam Roarke, Susan George, Vic Morrow
Why: When even the cops have hot cars (a hyped Polara with an "unlimited" top end), it's got to be great. There's a plot involving a kidnapping, but who cares? It's just an excuse for a chase between Sheriff Morrow and driver Fonda with his pal, mechanic Roarke, whining that he's "over-driving" the car. The Charger's smashing fate is well-known, but some of the best action takes place with a '66 Impala. And the incredible low-altitude work of helicopter stunt pilot James Gavin is some of the best ever.
Trivia: The Charger swaps between being a '68 and a '69 several times over the course of the climactic chase. Go figure.
DVD: $14.99

Smokey and the Bandit

8> Smokey and The Bandit (1977)

Director: Hal Needham
Stars: '77 Trans Am
People: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason
Why: For a certain generation, this is the definitive car movie. Reynolds is at his peak, Fields looks as good as she ever would, and Jackie Gleason is funny as Sheriff Buford T. Justice. The plot? To go to Texarkana, Texas, pick up a load of Coors and return it to Atlanta, which was illegal back in 1977. The black Trans Am is iconic by now, and it lays out a coat of rubber every time it launches or turns.
Trivia: Smokey and the Bandit was the second-highest grossing film of 1977 - behind Star Wars.
DVD: For $15.98 you get one disc with both the original movie and its vastly inferior first sequel. But hey, you can skip the DVD altogether. It's on TBS in 15 minutes anyhow.

Blues Brothers

9> The Blues Brothers (1980)

Director: John Landis
Stars: '74 Monaco Police Package
People: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd
Why: Fresh out of prison, Joliet Jake Blues (Belushi) teams with his brother Elwood (Aykroyd) to put their band back together for a concert to save their childhood home. That inspires massive amounts of automotive mayhem, decent comedy, and good musical numbers. The highlight of the driving isn't any of the extravagant pileups of cop cars, but one shot of the Bluesmobile Monaco steaming down Chicago's Lower Wacker Drive at well over a hundred. That shot only lasts a moment, but it's likely the last time any movie company will talk a city into allowing such sheer velocity on a public street.
Trivia: Despite decades of failed redevelopment efforts, the abandoned Dixie Square Mall through which the Blues are chased is still rotting away in Harvey, Illinois.
DVD: The 25th Anniversary edition features both the original filmand a new director's cut and runs $17.24.

Hollywood Knights

10> Hollywood Knights (1980)

Director: Floyd Mutrux
Stars: '57 Chevy, '66 Cobra 427, and numerous street rods
People: Robert Wuhl, Tony Danza, Michelle Pfeiffer
Why: This is a rip-off of American Graffiti - down to the one-night-with-teenagers-on-the-verge-of-growing-up plot. But it's crammed with more great-looking hot rods than virtually any other movie, and more street racing. This was also Pfeiffer's first theatrical film and she never looked better. The humor here is crude and shallow, but alot of us are crude and shallow.
Trivia: That's Popular Hot Rodding's "Project X" '57 starring as Danza's ride. It becomes obvious it's a PHR project car when smoke starts pouring out of it during the street race with the Cobra.
DVD: $11.95

Mad Max

11> Mad Max (1979)

Director: George Miller
Stars: '73 Ford Falcon Coupe
People: Mel Gibson
Why: This Australian movie made on a microscopic budget packed in more anarchic car action than most big-budget movies could ever muster. It made Mel Gibson a star and had the world craving Roots blowers that could be turned on and off. It's still a blast even though half the dialogue is incomprehensibly Aussie.
DVD: $14.99

The Road Warrior

12> The Road Warrior (1981)

Director: George Miller
Stars: '73 Ford Falcon Coupe
People: Mel Gibson
Why: The sequel to Mad Max is better than the original. So intense is the post-apocalyptic action it's shocking that any Australian stunt men lived through the filming.
DVD: $11.23

Le MAns

13> Le Mans (1971)

Director: Lee H. Katzin
Stars: Porsche 917, Ferrari 512S
People: Steve McQueen
Why: McQueen always wanted to make a movie about racing - this one is it and there's barely any of the soap opera that infects most racing films. This re-creation of the 24 Hours of Le Mans remains the standard against which all other racing movies are judged. But don't expect this to hold your interest if you're not committed.
DVD: $11.24

Gone in 60 seconds

14> Gone In 60 Seconds (1974)

Director: H.B. Halicki
Stars: '73 Ford Mustang Mach 1
People: H.B. Halicki
Why: Halicki owned a wrecking yard in L.A.'s South Bay and decided he wanted to be in the movie business. The result is a micro-budget movie whose story makes no sense and acting that makes any 2x4 look like Sir Laurence Olivier. The movie also looks hideous. But the car chase goes on for something like 40 minutes with nearly 100 cars wrecked. And it's still better than the big-bucks remake released in 2000.
DVD: It's $11.96, or $22.48 for the new collector's edition.

Corvette Summer

15> Corvette Summer (1978)

Director: Matthew Robbins
Stars: '73 Ford Falcon Coupe
People: Mark Hamill, Annie Potts
Why: Sweet natured at its core, this story of a teenager's obsession with a Corvette has aged well, even if said Corvette remains as ugly as septic sludge. DVD Details: $11.98

More America Graffiti

16> More American Graffiti (1979)

Director: Bill L. Norton
Stars: '32 Ford, fleets of vintage drag machines
People: Ron Howard, Paul LeMat
Why: It's not half the movie the original was, but this sequel still has enough emotional pull to make it compelling. The racing is OK, though there should have been some street action in here some place.
DVD: Buy the "Drive-In Double Feature" DVD of American Graffiti and this sequel comes along for free.

Funny Car Summer

17> Funny Car Summer (1974)

Director: Ron Phillips
Stars: Jim Dunn's rear-engine '73 'Cuda Funny Car
People: Jim Dunn and family
Why: This list's only documentary follows fireman Jim Dunnthrough the '73 season as he sustains himself through a year of campaigning his radical (and ultimately unsuccessful) flopper. This isn't a slick production, and the '70s-style editing is goofy, but this movie is an honest look at what it meant to be a racer back when the sport still had room for amateurs.
DVD: $9.99


18> Cannonball (1976)

Director: Paul Bartel
Stars: '69 Mustang, '70 Trans Am, '71 Pantera, '68 Charger
People: David Carradine, Veronica Hamel
Why: When it comes to giddy vehicular destruction, this is themost giddily destructive of them all. It's almost too gory for its own good with a bloodlust that dampens the good humor. But if you're in the mood for over-the-top, this, the first of the Cannonball cross-country movies to hit theaters, is the one to watch.
DVD: $17.96

White Lightening

19> White Lightning (1973)

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: '71 Ford LTD
People: Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty
Why: Reynolds as Gator McKlusky is the prototype for Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit a few years later. Here he's an ex-moonshiner hooked up with the feds to break up a criminal moonshine business. Gator, the '76 sequel, is basically the same movie and they both feature solid action. There's something mean about a bench-seat Ford sedan witha 429 and a T-handle-shifted four-speed.
DVD: $13.46; Gator is available separately for the same price.

Deathrace 2000

20> Death Race 2000 (1975)

Director: Paul BartelStars: Scads of kit cars
People: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone
Why: In the far-off future of the year 2000, cartoon cars race across America scoring bonus points for knocking off pedestrians. It's not subtle, it's not lavishly produced, but it's still sorta funny.
DVD: $13.99

Eat My Dust

21> Eat My Dust! (1976)

Director: Charles B. Griffith
Stars: '68 Camaro
People: Ron Howard, Christopher Norris
Why: The plot is nonsense about a nutty youngster stealing a racecar and leading the cops on a chase - hardly original, but it's fun and pretty well satisfied with itself. And when it turned into a hit, Ron Howard demanded he be allowed to head up the virtual sequel, 1977's Grand Theft Auto, starting his Oscar-winning directing career.
DVD: $9.95

The Lively Set

22> The Lively Set (1964)

Director: Jack Arnold
Stars: Chrysler Turbine, Top Fuelers, streamliners
People: James Darren, Pamela Tiffin, Doug McClure
Why: This loose remake of 1954's Johnny Dark has street rods, drag racing, land speed record runs in a streamliner at Bonneville, and a cross-country road race that features Chrysler's experimental turbinecar. It's a car-geek love fest wrapped around a silly plot that, thankfully, doesn't get in the way of the wrench candy.
DVD: A stiff $29 through The Video Beat ( for a low-quality duplicate cribbed off some long-ago broadcast on the American Movie Classics cable channel. As far as we know, it's the only way to get this film, as Universal has thus far declined to release it on video.

The French Connection

23> The French Connection (1971)

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: '71 Pontiac LeMans
People: Gene Hackman, Roy Schieder
Why: This layered police drama is the only movie on the list to have won an Oscar as Best Picture, and it deserved it for many reasons. Not the least of those reasons was the classic chase between Hackman in a commandeered LeMans and a train running on elevated tracks above them. It brought a higher sense of realism to car chases than ever seen beforeand made Hackman a star.
DVD: $24.28 gets you the Five Star Collection two-disc set.

To Live and Die in LA

24> To Live And Die In L.A. (1985)

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Early '80s Impala sedan
People: William L. Petersen, Willem Dafoe
Why: Fourteen years after The French Connection, Friedkin topped himself with the chase in this film. Amid a story about Secret Service agents gone wacko, Agent Petersen drives like a madman, dodging trains and bullets and driving the wrong way on a freeway while his partner - reasonably - cowers in the back seat.
Trivia: Look closely. The traffic on that freeway is flowing the wrong direction; they're all driving on their left. So Petersen is going the right way and everyone else is wrong.

DVD: $11.95

Viva Las Vegas

25> Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Director: George Sidney
Stars: Cobras, Corvettes, and more
People: Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret
Why: Elvis made a lot of car movies, but this is the best. Elvis enters the Las Vegas Grand Prix, then needs money, then blah, blah,blah. What matters is that Ann-Margret was 22 or 23 when this was made and so sexy she could crack granite with one sideways glance. The racing sequences are absurd but cool, with Ann-Margret watching the mayhem from her helicopter and just shrugging off every obviously fatal accident to root Elvis on to victory. And, yeah, the music is pretty good. Ann-Margret blows Elvis away in the talent contest too.
DVD: $11.98


26> Ronin (1998)

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: BMW M5, Mercedes 6.9, Audi S8
People: Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno
Why: The cars are European, but at least they're the hot-rod versions that these modern-day mercenaries drive through three great chases. Unfortunately DeNiro never looks comfortable driving. But at least one character knows the details on his Audi's nitrous system.
DVD: $11.95

Against all Odds

27> Against All Odds (1984)

Director: Taylor Hackford
Stars: Porsche 911, Ferrari 308 GTSi
People: Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Rachel Ward
Why: The moody murder mystery is decent, but the car chase andRachel Ward are spectacular. The chase is pure ego and involves thatPorsche and Ferrari running along L.A.'s crowded Sunset Boulevard atludicrous speeds and ends with both cars intact (that's almost unique).Stunt-driver Carey Loftin was 70 years old when he piloted the Ferrarithrough this chase.
DVD: $9.95


28> Christine (1983)

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: '58 Fury, '68 Charger, '67 Camaro
People: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell
Why: Stephen King's classic tale of adolescent automotive obsession and pure evil embodied in a '58 Plymouth is well paced, fun, macabre, and brutal. And we all want a car that fixes itself.
DVD: $13.45


29> Cobra (1986)

Director: George P. Cosmatos
Stars: '50 Mercury
People: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Neilsen
Why: It's one of the dumbest cop movies ever made with Stallone spewing cheesy dialog like, "You're the disease and I'm the cure." But he drives a nasty '50 Merc that pounds through a harrowing chase scene with pure menace. Watch for the moment when the Merc's speedo shows the car is going 80 mph and the tach shows the engine churning at 8,400 rpm. It's only then that he hits the nitrous.
DVD: $9.97

Hot Rod

30> Hot Rod (1950)

Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Stars: Various rods, '56 Thunderbird
People: Lori Nelson, Frank Gorshin, Chuck Connors
Why: The story is a dopey diatribe against street racing, but the glimpses of early drag racing are worth the pain.
DVD: Another Video Beat special at $29.00. And no, the reproduction is not good.

Hot Rod Girl

31> Hot Rod Girl (1956)

Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Stars: Various rods, '56 Thunderbird
People: Lori Nelson, Frank Gorshin, Chuck Connors
Why: The story is a dopey diatribe against street racing, but the glimpses of early drag racing are worth the pain.
DVD: Another Video Beat special at $29.00. And no, the reproduction is not good.

The Cannonball Run

32> The Cannonball Run (1981)

Director: Hal Needham
Stars: Dodge van, Ferrari 308 GTS, Lamborghini Countach
People: Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Dom Deluise
Why: Brock Yates, who started the whole Cannonball race thing, wrote this alleged comedy where Reynolds and pals scream cross-continent against a bunch of other somewhat wacky competitors. For a movie about an illegal road race, there's remarkably little illegal road racing.
DVD: $9.97

The Driver

33> The Driver (1978)

Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Chevy pickup, '76 Trans Am
People: Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Adjani
Why: The lead character's name is simply "The Driver," the cop chasing him is "The Detective," and the love interest is "The Player." A freelance wheel man for crooks, O'Neal does some amazing things to a Mercedes sedan and ultimately faces down a Trans Am while driving a hot-rod pickup. It's low key but good. DVD Details: $9.98

Used Cars

34> Used Cars (1980)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: '57 Chevy, junk
People: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Deborah Harmon
Why: One of the most cynical comedies ever, it's about two brothers (both played by Warden) with used-car lots opposite one another where a freeway off-ramp will go in. Russell is a salesman trying to buy his way into politics. Wanton destruction includes a '57 Chevy driven with lunacy to induce a heart attack. Director Zemeckis would go on to make the Back to the Future movies and Forrest Gump, but we think this is his funniest film.
DVD: $11.95

Gone in 60 Seconds

35> Gone In Sixty Seconds (2000)

Director: Dominic Sena
Stars: '67 Mustang
People: Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie
Why: The climactic chase is ruined - ruined - by lousy computer graphics during the big jump. But there are people who love this remake. How else to explain all the clones of Eleanor, the faked-up Shelby Mustang?
DVD: The Director's Cut edition is $17.99.

Hot Rods to Hell

36> Hot Rods To Hell (1967)

Director: John Brahm/James Curtis Havens
Stars: '58 Corvette, '56 Chevy, '61 Belvedere
People: Dana Andrews, Jeanne Crain
Why: A movie so bad it's actually entertaining. A family crosses the desert by ugly Plymouth only to be set upon by crazed rodders driving a motley assortment of machines. The dialogue is overwrought and goofy, the production looks consistently lousy, and Andrews overacts enough to fill six more movies. DVD Details: The Video Beat's hazy reproduction is $29.00.


37> Tucker: The Man And His Dream (1985)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Tucker Torpedo
People: Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landau
Why: A beautifully crafted homage to Preston Tucker who determinedly pursued building the "car of the future" despite almost a complete lack of resources in the late '40s. It's not about hot rodding, but it is about the obsession it takes to build a car.
DVD: $11.99


38> Goldfinger (1964)

Director: Guy Hamilton
Stars: Aston Martin DB5
People: Sean Connery
Why: The best James Bond movie and the only one where Q gets to go through all the modifications made to Bond's Aston. And Connery is at his droll, merciless top. This entry collects the award for all the great cars and car stunts in many other Bond movies as well.
DVD: $16.98

The Italian Job

39> The Italian Job (1969)

Director: Peter Collinson

Stars: Mini Coopers, Lamborghini Miura
People: Michael Cain, Noel Coward, Benny Hill
Why: This is the ultimate British car movie with Minis doing amazing stunts and all the blokes talking in indecipherable accents as they plan and execute a gold robbery in Turin. Could it be better? Yeah, they could have been driving Camaros. Skip the remake.
DVD: $9.99

The Fast and the Furious

40> The Fast And The Furious (2001)

Director: Rob Cohen
Stars: '70 Charger, '01 Ford Lightning, and a whole bunch of really hideous, overly done import cars with huge graphics.
People: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel
Why: Exploiting the tuner-car fad that was enormously popular at the time, this film got so much about cars wrong, right down to calling nitrous oxide "noss." But it did get one thing very right: Ultimate tough guy Diesel (who starred in this lightweight flick after acting in the incredibly heavyweight Saving Private Ryan) is scared to death of the blown Charger in his garage that his dad left behind. That perfectly reflects a real world where the import guys are frightened silly of V-8s. But as expected, they crashed the Charger in the end, making us wince. Why do they always have to do that? Really, why?
DVD: $11.98


Ten Car Movies That Weren't On DVD When We Did This List

(A few may be available now - Grand Prix for one):
As hard as we looked, we couldn't find these on DVD. Some are available on VHS, but all deserve good clean digital transfers and widescreen presentations.

  • ¤ Heart Like a Wheel (1983) - The Shirley Muldowney story is a great film with Bonnie Bedalia as Muldowney and Beau Bridges as Connie Kalitta.
  • ¤ The California Kid (1974) - A legendary TV movie featuring Martin Sheen and Pete Chapouris' definitive '34 Ford three-window rod.
  • ¤ The Last American Hero (1973) - A great racing movie based on the life of Junior Johnson and starring Jeff Bridges.
  • ¤ King of the Mountain (1981) - The battle to be the best racer on L.A.'s Mulholland Drive. Stars Harry Hamlin, but it's good anyhow.
  • ¤ Greased Lightning (1977) - Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott, the first African American in NASCAR.
  • ¤ Johnny Dark (1954) - An obsessive young man (Tony Curtis) wants to build a great car. Fantastic early '50s footage of California road racing withsome scenes shot at the Packard proving grounds.
  • ¤ Grand Prix (1966) - John Frankenheimer's epic about the Formula One circuit spectacularly captured the speed of the era. Stars James Garner.
  • ¤ Moonrunners (1975) - The little-seen inspiration for The Dukes ofHazzard.
  • ¤ The Racers (1955) - Kirk Douglas as a Grand Prix driver? Why not?
  • ¤ To Please a Lady (1950) - Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck star in astrangely titled film stuffed full of dirt track and Indy action from the late '40s.


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