Cars are more often portrayed in written articles and television shows than in movies, but there are a few titles every enthusiast needs to watch. They’re the ones in which vehicles play a starring role instead of serving as an appliance that takes the main character from point A to point B. If your inner gearhead needs a movie binge, here are the best car movies of all time organized in chronological order. No spoilers, we promise.
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
The modern-day Ford GT is the product of a merciless rivalry that placed the Blue Oval in the same arena as an unlikely opponent: Ferrari. After a failed takeover, the two companies spent most of the 1960s punching each other on and off the track via the words and actions of larger-than-life men like Carroll Shelby and Enzo Ferrari. Ford v Ferrari is certainly the best car movie of the 2010s, and the story it tells resonates outside of enthusiast circles to capture the general public’s attention. It won an Academy Award for best film editing and best sound editing.
Based on a true story, Rush details the bitter rivalry that separated James Hunt and Niki Lauda, two of the greatest Formula One pilots of the 1970s. It takes viewers back to one of the most ruthless and exciting eras of Formula One history, and culminates with the fiery 1976 crash that nearly killed Lauda.
Fast & Furious (2001)
Launched in 2001, the Fast & Furious franchise explores an aspect of the automotive world not everyone is fascinated by. Some of the movies have admittedly been cheesy, and tuner cars aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we’re including the ongoing series on this list because it has undeniably done more to bring car culture to the general public than any other series of films. Thousands of viewers became car nuts after seeing footage of a Toyota Supra or a Dodge Challenger in one of the films.
Le Mans (1971)
Le Mans is a two-for-one that lets viewers travel back in time, and gives them an all-access pass to the 1971 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. It’s an excellent look at what it takes to keep a man and a machine going for a day straight, and the toll that racing takes on both. The Ferrari 512LM and the Porsche 917 (two of the greatest race cars of all time) play star-studded roles in this movie.
Bullitt is not strictly about cars — it wasn’t written and filmed to satisfy gearheads — but Steve McQueen’s green Ford Mustang plays such an important role in the film that it inspired a commemorative, limited-edition model released in 2018. This action thriller takes place in San Francisco, and it features one of the greatest car chases in Hollywood history. It’s a must-watch.
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