Ten Great Car Movies Through the Decades

Here are ten of our favorite car movies of all-time — enjoy the ride.

Cars have had starring roles in some of the most iconic movies throughout history.

The innovation and beauty of the vehicle combined with the skill and adrenalin of the driver can make for classic edge-of-your seat action.

And not all great car films involve high-speed chases, with cars also defining our culture and personal journeys like no other machinery seen on screen.

So this week, to accompany our interview with car enthusiast Magnus Walker, we bring you ten of our favorite car movies of all-time.


Director John Frankheimer and cinematographer Lionel Lindon pioneered many of the filmmaking techniques that would be used and developed in this genre for the next 50 years. Following the fate of four drivers through a fictionalized version of the 1966 Formula One season, ‘Grand Prix’ features real race cars and cameos from real F1 drivers. It won Oscars for Film Editing, Sound and Sound Effects and the innovative split-screen race scenes can still get pulses racing today.

Watch on Amazon

BULLITT (1968)

Steve McQueen stars as police detective Frank Bullitt in one of his defining roles — featuring a legendary 11-minute chase scene that has been imitated for the last five decades, and perhaps never topped. Directed by Peter Yates, ‘Bullitt’ won a Best Film Editing Oscar and its legacy has endured, with the 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback driven by McQueen in the film selling for a record $3.7 million at auction earlier this year.

Watch on Amazon


Not all great car flicks — or even car chases — feature the most muscle-bound cars. Directed by Peter Collinson, ‘The Italian Job’ has achieved British royal status — like the Mini Cooper car that takes the starring role. Capturing the era’s camp charm, Michael Caine at his swaggering best, and a car chase lasting the entire third act, it’s a classic Swinging 60s romp.

Watch on Amazon


Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by George Lucas, ‘American Graffiti’ transports us to 1962 small-town California. Despite being made just 11 years after the date it was set, it already felt like wistful nostalgia on its release, set before the Vietnam War and assassination of President John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr that would follow. And for the generation it featured, this coming-of-age movie was a reminder the simpler days where cars, music and friendship were the most important things in their lives.

Watch on HBO


Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro as insomniac Travis Bickle in one of his best roles, this unnerving film delves into the darkness of the human mind and New York City from the vantage point of Bickle’s iconic yellow cab. And if you took a New York taxi in 1975 there’s a chance De Niro was your driver, with the meticulous actor spending two weeks working the NYC cab beat in order to get into character for the role.

Watch on Netflix

REPO MAN (1984)

It’s part road movie, part science fiction, part comedy and mostly undefinable madness. Repo Man, directed by Alex Cox, stars Emilio Estevez as a young punk rocker recruited to a car repossession agency who gets caught up in the chase of Chevy Malibu that may have radioactive aliens in its trunk. ‘Repo Man’ was so weird that, legend has it, the film was nearly canned before it hit the screens, but when music execs heard the brilliant punk soundtrack they pushed for it to be released — and it soon gained cult classic status.

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This classic buddy movie follows its title stars — played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon — on an eventful trip across the US in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird. Directed by Ridley Scott and also featuring a young Brad Pitt, ‘Thelma and Louise’ expertly unites the literal and personal journey captured by the best road trip flicks with humor and heart.

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Few movies portray one man’s love for his car with quite the heft of ‘Gran Torino’. Director and star Clint Eastwood plays disgruntled Korean War veteran and former Ford factory worker Walt Kowalski who joins forces with his teenage neighbor to protect his treasured 1972 Gran Torino — a symbol of his happier days — and in doing so finds new fuel on the final straight of his life.

Watch on Netflix

DRIVE (2011)

Starring Ryan Gosling as a strong but silent Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, and Carey Mulligan as his neighbor in need. Beautifully crafted by director Nicolas Winding Refn and with a brilliant soundtrack of ethereal electropop, ‘Drive’ is both elegant and brutally violent, retro and slickly modern, dark but a whole lot of fun.

Watch on Amazon


James Mangold directs this recent movie which mixes modern and traditional filmmaking techniques — and has timeless storytelling at its heart. Based on the true story of the Ford team who set out to end Ferrari’s dominance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France, it combines thrilling racing scenes — which were filmed without the use of any CGI — with real-life drive from its human story of the relationship between American automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and fearless British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale).

Watch on HBO

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