From action and horror to animation and comedies, movies about cars come from a variety of genres and appeal to a wide range of audiences. Whether you’re looking for new or vintage automobiles, a thrilling car chase or impressive driving skills, you’re sure to find something you like on our car movies list.
While there are some amazing movie cars out there, like the bat mobile and Doc’s DeLorean time machine, this list focuses on movies about cars and the act (or art) of driving them. In these movies, cars aren’t merely eye candy; they help carry the film.
Check out our list of car films. All have an average score above 65%, according to Rotten Tomatoes and many have reached cult classic status or were Oscar nominees or winners.
“The Hitch-Hiker” (1953)
This suspenseful film noir follows two friends held at gunpoint by a hostile, psychopathic hitchhiker running from the law. The film was inspired by Billy Cook’s real-life murders and starts with text reading, “This is the true story of a man and a gun and a car.”
“Grand Prix” (1966)
Hailed as one of the best films about auto racing, “Grand Prix” follows the stories of four Formula One drivers at various stages in their careers. The movie won Oscars for film editing, sound and sound effects.
Starring Steve McQueen and featuring a classic car chase through San Francisco, this thriller on our car movies list tells the story of a cop (Lieutenant Frank Bullitt) on a mission to bring a mob boss to justice. It won the Oscar for best film editing and was nominated for best sound.
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968)
Inspired by Ian Fleming’s story “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car,” this family-friendly movie follows an eccentric inventor and his family as they use the magical car he creates to go on a fantastical adventure.
“The Italian Job” (1969)
Comedy meets crime in this British film featuring a car chase with three Mini Coopers and an iconic cliffhanger of an ending. A remake would come out in 2003, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton, among others.
“VW Käfer in Herbie-Optik” by GillyBerlin is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“The Love Bug” (1969)
The first of what would become a series of movies, “The Love Bug” tells the tale of an anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie. The car’s iconic look — with its cream-colored paint job, red, white and blue racing stripes and number 53 — is still recognizable today.
“The French Connection” (1971)
Two New York detectives trail a heroin smuggler in this fast-paced crime drama based on true events. Not only does this film feature one of the greatest car chase scenes of all time, it won the Oscar for best actor, best directing, best film editing, best writing and best picture.
“Le Mans” (1971)
“Le Mans” tells the story of Porsche driver Michael Delaney (Steve McQueen), troubled by personal conflicts, as he prepares for and participates in a 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans, France. The film features real footage from the 1970 Le Mans race.
“Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971)
This road movie follows a mechanic and driver duo as they leave California in their 1955 Chevy. After picking up a hitchhiker, they find themselves in a cross-country race for pinks against a Pontiac GTO. “Two-Lane Blacktop” is both a cult film and a part of the Criterion Collection.
“Vanishing Point” (1971)
Barry Newman plays a veteran turned driver for hire in this action movie. Featuring a 1970 supercharged Dodge Challenger and a nail-biting police chase, “Vanishing Point” is a classic that’ll keep you entertained.
A young Steven Spielberg directed this TV film about a man commuting to work in a Plymouth Valiant until a truck hellbent on killing him begins its pursuit. This action-thriller was Spielberg’s debut and has been hailed as one of the best TV movies ever made.
“American Graffiti” (1973)
This coming-of-age story, directed by George Lucas and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, follows a group of friends cruising around their Modesto, Calif. town on the last day of summer. The film was nominated for five Oscars.
“Death Race 2000” (1975)
The indie and sports genres collide in this film about a dystopian future where drivers participate in a homicidal, Transcontinental Road Race. Though it faced mixed reviews upon release, the movie is now appreciated for its camp and over-the-top violence.
“Taxi Driver” (1976)
Directed by Martin Scorsese, this must-see film follows a troubled loner named Travis (Robert DeNiro) who becomes a cab driver in New York City. The film received four Oscar nominations.
“Goodbye Pork Pie” (1981)
This road movie follows two teens in a stolen yellow 1978 Mini — named Pork Pie — as they pick up a girl and try to evade the police. The 2017 remake “Pork Pie” is also worth a watch. This well-done reimagining was written and directed by the son of the first version’s director.
“Christine” by Conal Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Based on Stephen King’s novel by the same name, this horror-thriller directed by John Carpenter centers around a boy and his 1958 Plymouth Fury, named Christine, that seems to have a murderous mind of its own.
“Heart Like a Wheel” (1983)
This biographical film tells the story of Shirley Roque, a woman who follows her dreams of becoming a drag racer despite the fact that racing was seen solely as a man’s sport.
“National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983)
A family’s road trip from Illinois to a theme park in California goes off the rails in this adventure comedy. “National Lampoon’s Vacation” was a box-office success and continues to live on as a beloved cult classic, inspiring multiple sequels.
“Repo Man” (1984)
Dark, edgy comedy meets science fiction in this cult classic and Criterion film. When a recently fired, punk-rocker named Otto (Emilio Estevez) begrudgingly becomes a repo man, he quickly realizes how exciting, strange and wild the job can be.
“Tucker 48” by strobie42 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (1988)
This film tells the story of an auto-loving inventor (Jeff Bridges) who dreams of designing a car that would challenge the industry. It was nominated for three Oscars.
“Thelma & Louise” (1991)
A true road film, “Thelma & Louise” follows two women (played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) as they embark on a road trip that goes wrong. It won the Oscar for best original screenplay and was nominated for best actress, best cinematography, best directing and best film editing.
“The Fast and the Furious” series (2001-Present)
These action films are packed with exhilarating street races, mind-boggling stunts and plenty of fast, flashy cars. This series began in 2001 and shows no sign of stopping, with a ninth movie set to release in May 2021.
This animated movie about anthropomorphic cars follows a race car, named Lightning McQueen, whose egotistical dreams of fame and fortune are changed by the charm of a small town and its inhabitants.
“Death Proof” (2007)
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, this “grindhouse” thriller follows a stuntman (Kurt Russell) who uses his “death proof” car to terrorize a group of young women. The film is a tribute to slasher films and muscle cars from the 1970s.
“Gran Torino” (2009)
Directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, this film tells the story of a Korean War veteran named Walt. After a teenage neighbor tries to steal Walt’s prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino, and pays for his wrongdoing with chores, the two form an unlikely bond.
Ryan Gosling stars as an unnamed stuntman and mechanic who also midnights as a getaway driver. After falling for his neighbor Irene, the driver agrees to help her ex-husband with a heist that turns deadly. “Drive” was nominated for best sound editing and has been recognized for its hyper-stylized imagery.
“Filming of the movie Rush Opentrack Track Days 14th May 2012 Brands Hatch THP_8920” by Opentrack Track days is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
This biographical sports drama stories the intense, 1970s rivalry between two Formula One drivers: James Hunt of Britain (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda of Austria (Daniel Brühl).
“Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)
In a brutal, post-apocalyptic world, a drifter named Max (Tom Hardy) and rebel named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) stand together against a tyrant. This film revitalized the Mad Max series and won a number of Oscars, including costume design, film editing and production design.
“Baby Driver” (2017)
When a young, music-obsessed getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) wants to put his life of crime behind him to be with the girl he loves, his boss has other ideas. The film received three Oscar nominations.
“Logan Lucky” (2017)
In this quirky crime comedy, two brothers (played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) team up with their sister (Riley Keough) and a convicted felon (Daniel Craig) to pull off robbing Charlotte Motor Speedway during one of NASCAR’s biggest races of the season.
“Ford v. Ferrari” (2019)
Staring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, this film depicts the rivalry between a car designer and a driver, leading to an epic showdown where Ford challenges Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans race. This movie won Oscars for film and sound Editing.
Have any other films to add to our car movies list? Share them in the comments.
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If you’re a fan of cars on the big screen, don’t forget to read our post on famous movie cars. And if you’re looking for movies all about the journey, check out the Epic Road Movie Roundup.
This post has been edited and expanded to include suggestions from our members.
16 Thoughts on “A Car Movies List for the Ages”
How about “The world’s fastest Indian” …This is a great (documentary based) story about a man’s life passion and obsession to come to Bonneville (from New Zealand) with a re-done Vintage Indian Motorcycle to set a land speed record … In my opinion it’s a car guys/gals story, a love story and a life experience story… rolled up in one.
Back to the Future
Two for the Road – Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney in their primes.
I loved the movie Rain Man.The story line was great. It made you think about life and how that might have been you story.
Smokey and the Bandit!
Hi, Ken. Great suggestion! We actually included “Smokey and the Bandit” on our Road Movies List: https://magazine.northeast.aaa.com/daily/life/lifestyle/an-epic-road-movie-roundup/
How about 1977’s The Car? It featured a demonically redesigned Lincoln Mark III by none other than George Barris himself. It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it has become a cult classic over the years and is beloved by multi generations of car/horror enthusiasts. It’s definitely worth a spot on your list!
Why is it that every time A publication makes an effort to help during a stressful situation and are trying, in cased you missed it, to put up movies for the families (agreed that a few of these aren’t for children (or mine an grandchildren. And since you’re trying to punch holes in the list that there team worked to put. There are always going to be movie missing and some of those are appropriate got children (but it is each parents. right to pick for their children, I surely did when they were younger . That being said, I totally agree with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang no matter what are your are. Our son and his wife love the Fast and Furious (the 9th one is coming out-he has tried to get to sit down but it just my style. AAA thank you for the efforts and work you have done, I applaud for taking the time to thing about the many working parents that are home doing this virus. From all the statements from the President, Governs and Mayors it appears that this will get worse before it begins to get better, you efforts are appreciated as your are helping parents “cope” with kids that are sick of being inside. Debbie
Gone in 60 Seconds
How is “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” not on this list? The car is the title character.
Ditto/tritto Vanishing Point.
Bond movies usually have some cool cars, but that doesn’t make them car movies.
The Art of Racing In The Rain
How about “The Man with the Golden Gun”?
Many of these movies have cars in them, but they are hardly car enthusiasts’ movies!
One of the best car movies was not a “car movie”: how about “A Man and A Woman” (“Un Homme Une Femme”) which has footage of testing of a rally-prepped Ford Mustang as well as a Ford Formula 3 (I think) car, and much footage of that same Mustang in the Monte Carlo RallY?
Not to mention the all-night drive of John-Louis Trintignant in said Mustang to meet his love interest, Anouk Aimee?
“Vanishing Point” (1971)
You missed “Vanishing Point”, the best car movie ever!!!