We all love to go to the movies, and we all love cars. When Hollywood combines these two loves into one blockbuster film, it is a real treat for car enthusiasts, especially when the vehicle is the star of the show. Here’s a list of some of the best movies that highlight cars as both props and subjects.
1. The Car (1977)
The Car, starring James Brolin and Kathleen Lloyd, is a 1977 American science fiction action film directed by Elliot Silverstein. It’s about a man who buys a car that has a mind of its own. The movie was released in the US in 1977 and re-released in 1979 and 1983.
The movie follows Robert Golic (Brolin) as he purchases an old Plymouth Satellite from his co-worker Marvin Baines (Christopher Joy). He discovers that the car is haunted by its previous owner, an old woman named Mrs. Ferguson (Lloyd). She tells him that she used to possess people’s bodies, but now she possesses cars instead because they never let her down or talk back to her.
2. Death Race 2000 (1975)
Death Race 2000 is a 1975 science fiction movie directed by Paul Bartel. The film was based on the novel Death Race 2000, which was written by Ib Melchior and published in 1975.
The film’s plot follows a dystopian future where people engage in government-sponsored murder races as a form of entertainment. In this world, drivers are required to kill each other or be killed themselves (so it’s not exactly exciting). One driver named Frankenstein (David Carradine) gets his nickname because he finds bodies at crematoriums and uses them as replacements for his own damaged body parts.
The most memorable vehicle from this movie was called “The Grim Reaper,” which featured an engine capable of propelling the car at over 200 mph while producing flames up to 30 feet long. This vehicle also had an onboard flamethrower for extra firepower!
3. Christine (1983)
Christine is about a killer car that goes after the bullies who used to terrorize its owner, Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon). The movie is based on a novel by Stephen King, who also wrote the screenplay. It was directed by John Carpenter. It stars Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, and Alexandra Paul in lead roles with supporting performances from Harry Dean Stanton, Robert Prosky, and Ed Lauter.
Christine was released in 1983 and received mixed reviews by critics. The film earned $21 million at the box office against a small budget of $10 million, making it one of the most profitable horror movies ever made.
4. Vanishing Point (1971)
This classic 1971 movie starring Barry Newman was directed by Richard C. Sarafian, who also directed the 1974 film The Longest Yard. The plot follows a truck driver named Kowalski, who has been tasked with delivering a car to San Francisco in only 15 hours. He plans on making the delivery in his modified Dodge Challenger, and he’s determined not to let anyone or anything stand in his way.
Vanishing Point was filmed entirely on location at various locations throughout Utah’s desert regions (with one scene filmed near Moab). It features several great scenes of Kowalski racing through the desert landscape; he even drives off a cliff at one point! There are plenty of other cars featured, including some vintage trucks and sedans—and there’s even an ill-fated drag race between a Pontiac GTO Judge and Kowalski’s Challenger toward the end of the film.
If you are interested in investing in classic cars (like the Pontiac GTO Judge), you should definitely watch Vanishing Point.
5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
F. Gary Gray’s 2001 feature film adaptation of the 1965 book by the same name is one of the most successful films in the Fast & Furious franchise. Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Michelle Rodriguez as members of a gang who compete in illegal street races, it grossed over $207 million worldwide.
The movie was shot when there were no Hybrid, Plugin Hybrid, and All-Electric Vehicles around. The Fast and Furious is a true classic indeed!
It spawned nine sequels: 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Fast & Furious (2009), Fast Five (2011) and Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015), The Fate of the Furious (2017), and F9 (2021).
6. Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
The film follows H.B. Halicki as he tries to steal 48 cars in one night to win a bet, despite being forced to work with a group of amateur thieves. The movie is notable for its high production value and impressive stunts, which inspired an entire generation of young people interested in car culture and racing.
7. Fast Five (2011)
Fast Five is a 2011 film starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. The film is the fifth installment in a franchise that began with The Fast and the Furious (2001). It is about a heist following Dominic Toretto (Diesel), who has been living in Rio de Janeiro for two years with his girlfriend, Letty Ortiz (Pataky), but returns to Los Angeles, where he reunites with Brian O’Conner (Walker).
The cast also includes Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs, Tyrese Gibson as Tej Parker, Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar, Kurt Russell as Frank Petty, and Elsa Pataky returning from Fast & Furious 6.
8. Need for Speed (2014)
Need for Speed is an action film directed by Scott Waugh, written by brothers George and John Gatins, and produced by DreamWorks Pictures. It is based on the video game series of the same name published by Electronic Arts. The film stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots (as Maggie), Kid Cudi, and Michael Keaton.
The film follows mechanic and street racer Tobey Marshall (Paul), who sets off to race cross country as revenge against Dino Brewster (Cooper), who framed him for vehicular manslaughter. The film was released in North America on March 14, 2014, in RealD 3D and 2D formats.
Need for Speed received generally negative reviews from critics and grossed $203 million worldwide against its $66 million budget.
9. Cars 3 (2017)
In the third installment of Pixar’s Cars series, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is now retired from racing and living with his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). When a new generation of racers comes along who have faster cars and more advanced technology than what McQueen has, he decides to get back into the game.
The film was directed by Brian Fee, who also worked on Planes and Planes: Fire & Rescue. It was released in 2017 by Disney.
10.Wheels on Meals (1984)
In this martial arts comedy, Jackie Chan stars as Sing Lung, a Chinese cook who gets involved with a group of con men. Sing’s family has just been evicted from their home by the evil landlord (Sammo Hung), so he schemes to make money and get revenge by pretending to be a master chef who can cook up an amazing meal for the prince.
The film is directed by Sammo Hung, who also co-stars as one of the con-men along with Jackie Chan and Dennis Chan (no relation). Wheels on Meals was released in 1984 and rated R for violence and language. Its runtime is 88 minutes.
Car Movies are the Best Movies!
We hope you enjoyed our list of beloved car movies. There are so many types and kinds of cars that movie options are almost endless. We tried to include films that were both well-known and loved by fans, but also some hidden gems that you may not have heard of just yet.