In Hollywood, cars are often expandable objects put in films to be rolled, crashed, jumped, set on fire, or otherwise completely destroyed. They’re rarely the main focus of a movie, and when they are the odds of learning something interesting are low. What can Herbie: Fully Loaded teach you about the original Volkswagen Beetle?
If you want to watch something more in-depth, there are several excellent movies and documentaries lurking right under the radar. Some tell the story of a specific model, others highlight the men and women involved in creating it or racing it, while a few unabashedly provide car-themed entertainment for gearheads. Here’s the spoiler-free list of the best car movies you can stream on Netflix this December.
Ayrton Senna was considered one of the greatest Formula One pilots ever to line up on the starting grid. He was quick, smart, and his humble personality won over legions of fans. He won three championships before his untimely death during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, and everyone agrees he would have taken home additional titles if his career hadn’t been cut short. This documentary relies on historical footage to give viewers a look at his life on and off the track.
This action-packed, R-rated movie portrays Ryan Gosling as a man with an unusual amount of talent behind the wheel. He lives in Los Angeles and regularly works as a Hollywood stunt driver, but his skills quickly catch the attention of gangsters in need of a getaway driver. Gosling’s character ends up finding out easy money isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Shelby American (2019)
We suggest streaming Shelby American if you’ve just watched Ford v Ferrari and are eager to learn more. This documentary zooms out of the bitter rivalry between Carroll Shelby and Enzo Ferrari to look at the broader picture. Shelby didn’t always build race-winning cars; he raised chickens to support his family, raced cars made by his future competitors, and suffered from serious health problems at a relatively young age. Archive footage of men like Zora Arkus-Duntov and Henry Ford II makes Shelby American one of the most comprehensive documentaries about this larger-than-life Texan.
Apex: The Story of the Hypercar (2015)
While the sports car has been around for over a century, the hypercar is a relatively new breed of machine. The definition of a hypercar varies depending on who you ask, but the Bugatti Chiron, the Porsche 918 Spyder, the Ferrari LaFerrari, the McLaren P1, and anything made by Koenigsegg are all undisputed members of the club. As its name implies, this documentary dives into the history of the automotive industry’s most elite segment.
The 24 Hour War (2016)
The 24 Hour War was directed by Nate Adams and Adam Carolla, the same men responsible for Shelby American. It takes another look at the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari but it shows it through a different lens. It’s a documentary, not a Hollywood blockbuster, so the overall tone is less sensational and more matter-of-fact. Both movies are worth watching if you’re interested in one of the greatest conflicts ever to emerge from the world of racing.
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