Great Car Movies

Great Car Movies
Everyone has their favourite movie that was made more memorable because a car was in it.
Here's our list of movies that no car-lover should miss.

Rebel without a cause (1955)
The oldest movie in our list, Rebel Without A Cause was James Dean's (who played Jim Stark, driving a '49 Mercury) second last major film before Giant, the following year. It was Dean's personal love for fast cars that led to his own death in a 550 Porsche Spyder. Rebel undoubtedly set the template for countless other 'teen' movies with troubled youths getting involved in romance, illegal car races and fights. The most recent movie to shadow Rebel's plot would be The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift with the lead actor being young, from another town, always getting into trouble and has an affinity for cars. Sound familiar?

Ronin (1998)
For those not old enough to remember Bullit or French Connection, Ronin, starring Robert De Niro and Jean Reno, has the Mother of all car chase scenes. Who cares about what the convoluted plot is or what's in the briefcase that everyone in the movie was going after? The film's highlight is arguably the scene where an Audi S8 is expertly driven through the French Riveira, out-foxing persuing a Citroën XMs and Peugeot 605 among others. Directed by John Frankenheimer who also directed Grand Prix, starring James Garner, another car movie classic with cameos from racing legends like Jack Brabham, Bob Bondurant, Jim Clark and even Enzo Ferrari in 1966.

Sword Fish (2001)
Before the September 11th terror attacks on Manhattan, the plot of Swordfish uncannily touched on the possibility of international terrorism and duplicitous counter-terrorist organisations that blur the distinction between the good and bad guys. Aside from Halle Barry, the other reason to watch Swordfish is the heart-stopping chase scene involving a TVR Tuscan Speed 6.

The Love Bug (1968), Herbie Rides Again (1974), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), Herbie goes Bananas (1980), Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)
The series of Herbie movies is based on a lovable Volkswagen Beetle with a life of its own. More than anything this gave serious 'cool' appeal the humble Bug. Created by Disney studios and resurrected again in 2005 with Lindsay Lohan playing the lead, the series features plenty of slapstick humor. How many times can the hood closing on the bad guy gag be funny?

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
The 1970s were the Golden Age of car chase movies and Smokey and the Bandit is a classic example of style over substance. The plot involves smuggling beer (!) and lots of burnouts with Burt Reynolds driving a Pontiac Trans Am. Both were arguably at their coolest. It spawned a series of 'Smokey' films, although like many the original of these Southern Road Chase films was the best

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1967)
Based on a novel written by one Ian Fleming, creator of secret agent 007, the screenplay and theatrical playwright was adapted by Roald Dahl. Based around a magical car invented by Professor Potts, played by Dick Van Dyke, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Potts family embark on an adventure that sees this car fly, float and do thing unexpected of a car. Much like a Bond car would. If you're wondering which car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is based on, it is based on any particular one. A composite of various cars, it was powered by a 26-litre Maybach aero engine!

Cars (2006)
The latest feature from computer animation giants, Pixar once again, manages to entertain both young and old alike. Aside from the brilliant visual and sound effects, car buffs will have fun identifying the movie's characters and their likenesses to actual cars such as a Porsche 911 (996), Ferrari F430 (voiced by Michael Schumacher), Maserati Quattroporte (voiced by a Mrs Mario Andretti) and a voice over by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson among many others. Paul Newman, also stars as Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet.

The Transporter I (2002) and The Transporter II (2005)
Former Olympic diver for Great Britain, Jason Statham is enjoying a second career as an actor and one that seems to specialise in car movies at that (he's credited in at least four movies in this list alone). He plays Frank Martin, a mercenary-like chauffer who specialises in get-away jobs and "special deliveries". In the first movie, Frank's tool of the trade is a previous-generation BMW 735i while he drives an Audi (also appearing in four movies in this list) A8 W12 6.0 quattro.

Harold and Kumar Go to Newcastle (2004)
A buddy comedy movie made particularly memorable not only because Asian actors, John Cho and Kal Penn play Harold and Kumar respectively but also a Toyota Camry is driven in a way that you'd normally associate with American muscle cars. In this sense, the actors and car bring to the film an unexpected but refreshing approach to an otherwise overdone genre in the tradition of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Dude, Where's My Car among others.

The Fast and the Furious (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
As we've mentioned earlier, the latest instalment of the Fast and Furious franchise takes more than a page from Rebel Without a Cause but makes for interesting viewing nonetheless. The original Fast and Furious movie had perhaps the most unique plot of all three films, boosted by the magnetic on-screen of Vin Diesel whom the producers of Tokyo Drift saw fit to include as a cameo at the end of the film. Will Fast and 4-rious be next?

The Matrix Reloaded
Although the second Matrix film was largely a General Motors placement bonanza, an Audi A8 does make an uncredited cameo early in the movie. The most memorable sequence though takes place on a three kilometre-long stretch of freeway that was created from the ground up just for the movie. An untold number of cars get destroyed in the 14-minute scene with vehicle of note being a Ducati 998 superbike, Oldsmobile Intrigue, Cadillac CTS and Cadillac Escalade.

Miami Vice (2006)
Director Michael Mann revisits his catalogue of television work by bringing Miami Vice to the big screen. This time it's Jamie Foxx and Colin Farell who replace the original small screen originals of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Unlike the 1980s TV series that used a fake Ferrari Daytona Spider, the film creators assure us that Ferrari F430 Spider is the real thing.

Gone in 60 seconds (2000)
The remake of the 1974 classic stars Nicholas Cage, who plays, Randall 'Memphis' Raines who has to steal 50 excotic cars by the end of the week to get his brother, Kip Raines played by Giovanni Ribisi out of a bind. As the story line suggests, expect to see lots of mouth watering four-wheel excotica such as Eleanor (named from the original chase film of the 70s) a Ford GT500E Shelby Mustang.

i, Robot (2004)
Audi pulls yet another product placement coup in this futuristic film inspired by novelist Isaac Asimov's robot stories. Will Smith plays Del Spooner, a robo-phobic detective who drives an Audi RSQ with reverse gull-wing doors and spheres for wheels that enable it to spin on a dime. Like many recent films this uses 'product placement' (ie free advertsing) for car manufacturers to great effect

Bad Boys (1995) & Bad Boys II (2003)
The buddy cop comedy series not only features the larger-than-life persona of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, but car enthusiasts will applaud Michael Bay, who directed both films for his attention to detail when it comes to the car chase scenes. In the films, he and his sound effects team take the trouble to reproduce the correct noises made by the cars filmed rather than inserting a generic engine note as was the case for the Fast and the Furious movies. The final chase scene in Bad Boys between a Porsche 911 (type 964) Turbo and an AC Cobra gives the film ones of its magic moments while Bad Boys II will be defined by a Ferrari 575M dodging cars on a causeway in Miami.

The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Borne Supremacy (2004)
Despite the clever plots, both films, based on Robert Ludlum's novels, mirror each other where the action sequences are concerned. Admittedly, the first movie has the better chase scene with Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon drives a Mini through the streets of Paris, showing shades of the (original) Italian Job. The chase scene in Bourne Supremacy is even more dramatic but somehow, the taxi that Bourne commandeers, a Russian-made Volga 3110 doesn't have the same emotional effect as the Mini in the first film.

Batman movies (1943 - 2005)
Despite the many movies and leading actors over the decades, no Batman movie would be complete without the Dark Knight's Batmobile. While the first live-action Batman movie in 1943 featured a standard 1939 Cadillac Series 61 Convertible, it wasn't until Batman: The Movie in 1966 where one of the best known Batmobiles was shown on the silver screen. Driven by Adam West, the Batmobile was based on a 1956 Lincoln Futura concept car. Latter day instalments of the Batman franchise, starting with director Tim Burton's 1998 Batman, had purpose built cars with no resemblance to production models.

Initial D (2005)
The only all-Asian car movie in this list sees the popular Japanese anime series of the same name come to life on the Big Screen.

Purists though, were irked that the Japanese franchise was played out by Chinese actors and was essentially a Hong Kong production. Still, the cars used were of the correct pedigree unlike some other movies in this list.

Bullitt (1968)
No car movie list would be complete without Bullitt. The 'King of Cool' Steve McQueen, who plays Lieutenant Frank Bullitt drives a 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 chasing a Dodge Charger R/T. This is also one of the greatest muscle cars ever built. The combination of McQueen, the Mustang and the Charger is reason enough to acknowledge it as one of the coolest car movies ever made. Bullitt, also influenced the next generation of cop movies such as Dirty Harry, The French Connection, et all.

The Italian Job (1969)
In numerous movie polls, the original The Italian Job is often voted as the greatest British movie of all time by thousands of fans. With well-edited chase scenes that conveyed the speed and excitement of Mini Coopers sipping around the streets of Turin, a moving music score by none other than Quincy Jones and witty one liners "You were supposed to blow the bloody doors off" by Michael Caine, the Italian Job had it all. The remake in 2003 was a car commercial by comparison but was successful enough to spawn a sequel, The Brazilian Job scheduled in 2008 where, presumably the next-generation MINI will be driven around the streets of Rio de Janeiro in yet another heist.

Layer Cake (2004)
The British film industry has been giving us some remarkable gangster heist-type film over the last few years such as Guy Ritchie's Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Layer Cake has many of those overtones, but is far more darker and stylish. Plus its also has an Audi RS6 Avant and a previous-generation Range Rover. Like we said darker and far more stylish…

The Hire (2001)
In 2001, BMW commissioned a series of short films from eight highly-acclaimed directors such as Ang Lee, John Frankenheimer, Wong Kar-wai and Guy Ritchtie to essentially showcase its range of cars. The collection of films runs like a series starring Clive Owen as "the driver" who gets out of impossible situations thanks to the BMW cars he drives. It also features some other A-list talent like Gary Oldman and Madonna. The films are no longer available for download and dvd versions are also hard to come by but are definitely worth watching if you can get a copy.

Vanishing Point (1971)
A cult classic from the 1970s. A car delivery man makes bet that he can drive a 1970 Dodge Charger from Colorado to San Francisco in record time. ('Frisco' as it was referred to in the movie). A brooding film, set for most of the time on endless desert roads, it stars Barry Newman as the enigmatic driver, Kowalski who, fuelled by a handful of amphetamines races against the law and other drivers in a 1970 Dodge Challenger muscle car. A shocking ending, which we won't give away. Order the DVD and watch it…



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