We love movies. We love cars. We love movies about cars. And there are some really great car flicks out there. Below, thanks to your help, is our list of 12 of the greatest.
This is open to debate, of course, and there are films we love that didn't make this list. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments and feel free to add some YouTube clips to support your choices. In the meantime, click next to see what we're talking about.
12.) C'etait un Rendezvous Director: Claude Lelouch Year Debuted: 1976 Why It's Awesome: With no dialogue and a plot completely suggested by the title (It was a date), the film is a classic piece of motoring cinema, clouded in mystery for years. Who was the driver? What was the car? How much was planned out? Lelouch eventually spilled the beans. It was he, himself, behind the wheel of a Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 with the sound of a Ferrari 275 GTB dubbed over it.
11.) Gone In 60 Seconds (Original) Director: H.B. Halicki Year Debuted: 1974 Why It's Awesome: Despite not being the best written film ever, the original Gone in 60 Seconds is a glorious collection of nearly every car sold in America you'd want to see from 1974. (Check out the Star Car Shootout for a full list). There's an Eleanor, an Intermeccanica, a Miura, a Stutz, a Lime Charger. In the 34-minute chase scene there are nearly 100 cars destroyed. It's everything a car person could want.
10.) Grand Prix Director: John Frankenheimer Year Debuted: 1966 Why It's Awesome:Probably the ultimate film about the excitement of a Formula One season, the film stars a very likeable James Garner and the gorgeous Eva Marie Saint as an entire fake season plays out. With apperances from Jim Clark, Juan-Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill and others, it's truly a joy for fans of open-wheel racing, though others may find it a bit tedious.
9.) Bullitt Director: Peter Yates Year Debuted: 1968 Why It's Awesome: Is Bullitt a car move? Is it a detective thriller? We think it's both. Featuring perhaps the most famous car chase of all time between the classic Dark Highalnd Green Mustang and a black Dodge Charger RT/440, this ten-minute clip alone qualifies it to grace this list. But there's more, including an Austin Healy 3000, Porsche 356 C, and even a Bizzarrini GT 5300 if you play close attention. It's an aster basket full of classic sports car metal.
8.) The Cannonball Run Director: Hal Needham Year Debuted: 1981 Why It's Awesome: We'll admit the film itself is probably the worst movie on the list, written by the lovable Brock Yates. The cast, also, is strange: Dom Deluise, Roger Moore, Burt Reynolds, an early apperance by Jackie Chan, Terry Bradshaw, Jamie Farr, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin. Despite all the problems you'd expect from a film based on the real Cannonball race, the B-movieness is nevertheless part of the film's campy charm. The cheesy performance from Deluise is endearing and the cars, despite everything, are fun to watch. There's a Ferrari 308 GTS, a Dodge Ambulance, Aston Martin DB5, a Rolls-Royce, and even a rocket-powered Subaru driven by Jackie Chan. It's bad, but it's so bad it's somehow wonderful.
7.) The Italian Job (Original) Director: Peter Colinson Year Debuted: 1969 Why It's Awesome: From the opening shot with a Lamborghini Miura winding through the Alps to Mini Cooper S's escaping through the sewers, it's a caper with the soul of a car flick. Great actors (Noel Coward, Michael Caine, Benny Hill) and great cars (Fiat Dino Coupe, Jaguar E-Type, Aston Martin DB4) combine to create an enduring classic, as clever as it is automotively satisfying.
6.) A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) Director: Jean-Luc Goddard Year Debuted: 1960 Why It's Awesome: One of the best New Wave films, with a story by Truffaut, much of it takes place behind the wheel of one car while admiring another (Look, a Talbot!). It's the story of a Bogart-wannabe car thief able to appreciate a classic T-Bird or swoopy Citroen as much as the breasts of the young woman next to him. A film that makes the link between our sometimes painful love with foreign cars and foreign women.
5.) Vanishing Point Director: Richard C. Sarafian Year Debuted: 1971 Why It's Awesome: Watching Vanishing Point is what expect being paranoid on mescaline is like. You're not really sure where you are. You're hallucinating about naked chicks on bikes. The radio is talking to you. You hear sirens everywhere. Sure, the film is a Chrysler lovefest with Chargers, Imperials, and a wicked white 1970 Challenger R/T — but it's from an era when this is a good thing. It also gets props for having the most existential ending to any mainstream car flick.
4.) Smokey And The Bandit Director: Hal Needham Year Debuted: 1977 Why It's Awesome: The other great Hal Needham cross-country trip featuring Burt Reynolds, is fecitiously billed as a "love story between a man and a woman" that's really a love story between a man and his Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Or maybe it's the love story between audiences and crushed cop cars. Whatever it is, we love it for Burt Reynolds' cool, car-destroying swagger.
3.) The Blues Brothers Director: John Landis Year Debuted: 1980 Why It's Awesome: Perhaps the only great musical comedy action road film, The Blues Brothers gives a lowly 1974 Mount Prospect Dodge Monaco police car magical powers and the ability to outrun hundreds of actual law enforcement officers in their shiny new Fords and Mopars. It held the record for the most cars destroyed in one film before the remake which, for everyone's sake, we're going to pretend didn't exist. Seriously, what other flick pits an old cop car against Pinto-driving Neo Nazis and a country western band in an RV?
2.) Mad Max Director: George Miller Year Debuted: 1979 Why It's Awesome: A post-apocalyptic western with Aussie muscle cars replacing the horse, the original Mad Max is a shodown between V8 power over a pretty screwed up piece of turf. The "pursuit specials" of the car are varous Holdens and Fords, with the 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe taking the role of Mel Gibson's famous car. If you can't appreciate the Holden Utes doing battle with the Monaros and Falcons in an arid wasteland you probably don't like cars. Just watch above as Mel Gibson quietly preps to do battle with the "terminal pyschopath" behind the wheel of a stolen pursuit special.
1.) Le Mans Director: Lee H. Katzin Year Debuted: 1971 Why It's Awesome: Steve McQueen's classic film Le Mans is essentially a Le Mans race caught on film. There's no distracting plot or unnecessary romance. Just a lot of close, intense, beautiful, glorious, wonderful racing action. And not just any race. This isn't Days Of Thunder. This is Le Mans. The mother race. "A four-hour sprint followed by a 20-hour death watch." It's a film you could watch with your eyes close, which is a great compliment for a movie with almost no talking - just the dialogue between Porsches and Ferraris.
Mike Austin Memorial Honorable Mention Award Ronin Director: John Frankenheimer Year Debuted: 1998 Why It's Awesome: It's Ronin. Amazing chases. Violence. Minimal plot. David Mamet dialogue. Audis. Pugs. Bimmers. Beautiful