10 Great Car Films

1.    The Italian Job (1969)

This classic film combines British style (supplied by Michael Caine and a fleet of Mini Coopers) with Italian style (Lamborghini Miuras).

The film makers apparently struggled to get Mini’s car maker BMC to supply them with enough Mini Coopers. Despite the free publicity involved, BMC insisted on supplying many of the cars at trade price.

Hearing the situation Fiat stepped in to offer free cars but the producers stuck with the Mini Cooper and the rest is history.

2.   Bullitt (1968)

Set on the steep streets of San Francisco this film starred Steve McQueen and had an extended car chase which captured the imagination of cinema audiences. It is hard to see a picture of a 1968 Mustang GT 390 without hearing the jazzy soundtrack music running through your head.

3.   Christine (1983)

Cars can sometimes take on an almost-human quality and mirror, or indeed shape, the personality of their owner. This is a fact which is the central premise of the film Christine – an adaptation of a Stephen King novel in which a red-and-white Plymouth Fury named Christine seems to be ‘driving’ the thoughts and actions of its teenage owner.

This unusual horror film is a chilling reminder that it’s always best to try and find out a car’s previous history before buying one!

4.   Vanishing Point (1971)

A road movie is often only as good as the cars which star in it and luckily the producer of Vanishing Point had several 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 R/Ts at his disposal. The film’s plot tells the tale of a character named Kowalski as he tries to deliver a Dodge Challenge to a car dealer in record time. Kowalski’s ambition is under threat of being thwarted by the police but he does have the help of a blind DJ and his car’s power certainly gives him a head-start!

5.    Back to the Future (1985)

The character Doc Brown in the film Back to the Future was just the man to modify the DeLorean sport car – converting the vehicle with the gull-wing doors into a time machine capable of travelling back to 1955. Doc Brown’s tradition of modifying the car continues to this day – the only ‘new’ DeLorean cars you will see are re-manufactured versions of original models.

6.   Drive (2011)

This classy film is about an enigmatically-silent getaway driver who allows his clients just five minutes to carry out raids. The driver – no further name is given – never uses the same car twice but doesn’t seem fussy about what car he uses; so long as it can be souped-up enough to outwit the police and other chasing cars.

If the film credits named all the cars used in this film they would have to include the Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300 and many other cars.

7.    Duel (1971)

There are three 1971 films in this list and this is arguably the best. The film has a very simple storyline – a terrified motorist is chased by a mysterious tanker truck – a vehicle whose driver remains unseen. Steven Spielberg, making his directorial debut, held ‘auditions’ before deciding which truck to use but had only one stipulation about the choice of leading car – it had to be red. A Plymouth Valiant was eventually ‘cast’.

8.   Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

This film’s script is all about a car thief who has to steal 48 cars in a week – a great excuse for car experts to try and identify the makes of the cars in question. Do you know your Plymouth Barracuda from your Jenson Interceptor? Watch the film to find out. Re-made in 2000 with Nicholas Cage and a strong supporting cast of new and vintage cars.

9.   Le Mans (1971)

This film features real-life footage of the 1970 edition of the Le Mans 24-hour race and stars racing enthusiast Steve McQueen playing the part of an American driver duelling with a German racing rival. The movie is heavy on racing action and light on dialogue but watching a Porsche 917 and a Ferrari 512 race through beautiful French countryside is never a chore.

10.   Senna (2010)

Senna details the breathtaking highs and tragic lows of driving in the fast lane. Its star is Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna, a man whose daring driving style contrasts with the calculated risk-taking of his team mate Alain Prost. The rivalry between the team mates is examined using never-before-seen racing footage owned by Bernie Ecclestone. The film, which is devoid of talking heads interviews, has no conventional narrator but is wonderfully paced and edited. Even cinema-goers who don’t like Formula One can’t help but love Senna.


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