The rigorous testing regime automakers put their new models through is nothing compared to some of the car chases Hollywood has come up with. Cars are jumped, bottomed-out, drifted, shot at, set on fire, and generally grossly mistreated for the viewer’s pleasure. We’re not saying a good car chase makes a good movie, but it certainly helps. Here are some of our favorite chase scenes, ranked in the order they were released in.
The car chase in Bullitt is one of the greatest in movie history. It shows Steve McQueen racing a 1968 Ford Mustang through San Francisco’s steep latticework of streets. He drifts around corners, runs stop signs, and catches air on a regular basis. The movie and the chase scene remain so popular that Ford added a limited-edition, Bullitt-badged Mustang to its lineup in 2019. The coupe used in the chase miraculously survived. It was owned — and kept out of the public eye — by an enthusiast for decades, but Ford convinced his family to display it at the 2018 edition of the Detroit Auto Show.
Want it? You’re in luck, because it’s headed to auction in early 2020. Keep in mind it’s expected to fetch millions.
Mini fans love The Italian Job because the original model plays a starring role in it. It’s used as a getaway vehicle by bank robbers who lead police officers on an improbable car chase through Turin, Italy. The sewer scene is famous, and it was recreated with modern-day Mini models during the movie’s 2003 remake, but our favorite part of the chase is when an Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti follows the three Minis onto the test track located on top of Fiat’s historic Lingotto factory.
Speed, destruction, and stunts; the final scene in the 1974 classic Gone in 60 Seconds has it all. Unlike the remake released in 2000, the original movie was filmed when computer-generated imagery was in its infancy so 90 percent of the stunts are real. If a car looks irreparably damaged, it actually is. 127 cars were destroyed or mangled during the entire film. It helped that Toby Halicki, the man who wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film, owned a junkyard in real life.
Driving through Paris is stressful enough as-is, so imagine having to navigate through the French capital in an E34-generation BMW 5 Series while being chased by a Peugeot 406. The epic, action-packed chase in Ronin is one of the most exhilarating pursuits of the 1990s, but it’s also good for sight-seeing and car-spotting.
The opening scene of Baby Driver shows Baby skillfully outrunning a Ford Crown Victorian Police Interceptor while avoiding other motorists, delivery vans, and other obstacles commonly found in big cities. The car chase scene is real, it wasn’t filmed using computer-generated images, and nailing it required more than a good stunt driver. One of the five Subaru WRXs used during the opening sequence was converted from all- to rear-wheel drive to make it easier to drift.
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