Editor's Choice: Top 3 Car Movies of All Time
Sure, we could give you a "Best Car Movies of All Time" list, but you can find that on Google. We all have our favorite car movies for a reason, so here are the Top 3 picks for each of the Driving Line editorial staff.
Ali Mansour's Top Three
Days of Thunder (1990)
I was around eight years old when Days of Thunder came out in theaters. I don’t recall going to see it, but I know it quickly become a movie I watched repeatedly once it was out on VHS (remember those?). I even had the Matchbox cars and the knock-off ones you could get from Hardees in a kids meal! As an adult, I still think it’s a great film. Growing up in the south, NASCAR was more of a relevant part of my childhood, so that also makes it hit closer to home.
Dust to Glory (2005)
I’m not certain Dust to Glory fits perfectly into the “car movie” category, but it’s one of the best at capturing the sometimes brutal relationship between man, machine, and mother earth. Using the Baja 1000 as its backdrop, the movie follows along a group of racers seeking the thrill and accomplishment of surviving the Baja 1000. The off-road world is rarely championed in a feature film, but this is about as close as it has come. Having participated in the Baja 1000, I can tell you that this film hits close to home. For anyone who considers themselves an off-road enthusiast, it’s a must see.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Driving a Pontiac while rocking a heavy mustache and cowboy hat will likely get you banned from most school yards and public parks these days, but in 1977 it made Burt Reynolds the coolest guy on the planet. When it comes to iconic car movies, Smokey and the Bandit is simply one of the best. It mixes just the right amount of humor and action to keep you entertained. Every serious car collector should own a Bandit Trans Am at some point in their life. Mustache is optional.
Justin Pagtalunan's Top Three
The Love Bug (1968)
I remember popping in the VHS tape to this movie many times during my childhood and laughing at the unthinkable situations race car driver Jim Douglas was getting into with his VW Beetle, Herbie, who literally had a mind of his own. Whether it was racing on three wheels or crossing the finish line in two pieces, you can’t help but love this feel good, underdog classic. I wasn’t even into cars when I fell in love with this movie, but there was something about the unthinkable bond between Jim and Herbie that I understand more now than ever. As Mr. Douglas said, “The bond between man and his automobile, how he hates it sometimes, mostly how he loves it.”
Other than the car lifestyle, I’m all about that Disney life. The animated movie Cars is the perfect bridge between the two worlds for me. You won’t find a real-life car in this animated movie, but Pixar did a great job of taking the attention to detail to make this one of the most accurate car movies out there. From NASCAR references to using actual Route 66 landmarks, this is one movie that really has some legit curb appeal and leaves you wanting to yell "Ka Chow!"
The Fast and The Furious (2001)
Everyone has their dirty little secrets and for me it’s enjoying a tuna sandwich, on white, with no crust while catching Toretto and O’Conner race around Los Angeles. This movie highlights some the worst stereotypes in the import tuner lifestyle - street racing, pink slip bets, neon underglow, and stealing DVD players from moving semi-trucks. It’s so bad that it’s good and you can’t help but laugh as you recite quotes from the movie in Vin Diesel’s deep, raspy voice. For every riced out VW Jetta or Mitsubishi Eclipse, they do include cars like the Toyota Supra or the Mazda RX-7. You don’t watch this movie for the accuracy, you watch it because you love cars.
Jonathan Wong's Top Three
Though it’s more international spy and action packed thriller than it is a heavy car theme, Ronin does have some of the most epic car chase scenes of all time, running throughout France on the streets of both Paris and Nice. Plenty of explosions, a multitude of crashes and bullets flying. The lengths people will go to in order to secure a mysterious case, however, this is a worthwhile watch if you can pull it up on Netflix or from the used DVD bin (Actually, most of these movies are available to rent via YouTube!).
Back to the Future (1985)
This time travel fantasy needs no explanation, and that DeLorean with its gullwing doors, flux capacitor and Mr. Fusion will always be great reminders of my childhood. Today, the car has seemingly become a collectible of sorts, with DMC restoration houses located throughout the country to bring them back to life for owners in a variety of ways. The hardcore DeLorean enthusiast, however, will do their best to create their own BTTF replica, and in most cases will succeed. The original DeLorean from the first film wins for the flaming time travel exit, but the flying version from the second scores major style points once the wheels fold underneath for takeoff.
Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman (2015)
A true documentary highlighting Academy Award-winning actor, Paul Newman’s lucrative side-racing career is a must-see if you consider yourself a Newman or a racing fan in general. Produced in part by comedian, Adam Carolla, this is an excellent look into his relationships with many from the racing world and to see the rare type of Datsun race cars that Carolla has taken to restoring — and racing with — himself. You can see some of his collection from our recent visit to a private screening earlier this summer: HERE.
Kristin Cline's Top Three
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
With just enough of a plot to provide structure for what is mostly a two-hour car chase fueled with part maniac, part kick-ass baddassery - all set in place with real-life relics of the past that have been fabricated into something that could believably live in the future. The fact that the director actually sought to pull as much of these stunts off first-hand rather than in post-production also adds further props in my book. And the strong lead female role played by Charlize Theron, who can drive, fight, and fix things, seals the deal as my first-choice top movie car flick of all time.
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Not to be confused with the modern Nicolas Cage version, the original Gone in 60 Seconds was created by a dude who owned a junk yard and wanted to make movies. So what did he do? Wrote, produced, and starred in it while he drove around his hometown of Long Beach and wrecked a ton of cars in the process - creating what would become one of the most famous car chase scenes Hollywood had ever seen. In my book, absolutely nothing else needs to be said about this movie - seriously, just go see it!
The Gumball Rally (1976)
This third movie was a hard one for me to narrow down... really almost any Steve McQueen movie or a number of the James Bond films could qualify. But I couldn't leave out the comedic cross-country race portrayed in The Gumball Rally. With a great variety of cars, plenty of cooky laughs, and an epic scene driving down the LA River... this classic will never get old.