Top 25 Car Movies Of All Time

Top 25 Car Movies Of All Time
24 Oct 2019
By Ronnie Lawson-Jones

Welcome to All Car Leasing’s take on the top 25 car and driving films of all time. Here, we catalogue the very best cinema has to offer for fans of cars, driving and racing. These films may or may not be primarily about driving but driving will be a major part of the film. We’ve decided to follow up on some of our most popular top lists articles such as best racing games and car customisation games to be able to offer a definitive must watch list for our petrol headed visitors.  

We love everything to do with cars - the aesthetic, the feel and the experience. We also love cars outside of reality in video games, TV and film. It was a real joy to watch over 50 driving films over the course of two months to curate this list along with the helpful hand of the internet movie database (IMDb).

As we feel our opinion alone may give a biased list, we’ve decided to use the IMDb score to rank them from bottom to top - that way we are recommending the best universally accepted driving films of all time and anyone who uses this list to decide what to watch next won’t be disappointed!

Without further ado, we begin with number 25.

25. The Italian Job (2003)

The Italian Job 2003

IMDb score - 7.0/10

Starring - Marky Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton

Many people were nervous when an American remake of the classic 1969 British heist film was announced but what resulted was a very well received ‘homage’ to the classic which was praised for its action sequences, modernisation and being faithful to the original.

A classic heist storyline with characters you can really get to grips with in a modern setting. Remakes are always tricky but we’re pleased this one was done right. But will the original still rank higher?

24. Taxi (1998)

Taxi

IMDb score - 7.0/10

Starring - Samy Naceri, Frederic Diefenthal, Marion Cotillard

Next up is the French comedy classic Taxi which sees ex record breaking pizza delivery man Daniel Morales embark on a new career as a taxi driver - the taxi being a white Peugeot 406. The film is an all out driving caper which sees Daniel get involved with criminals and using his incredible driving skills avoids the law while getting from a to b in blistering speed.

The film was a box office success and critics reviewed it favourably.

23. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Smokey and the Bandit

IMDb Score - 7.0/10

Starring - Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Jackie Gleason

Smokey and the Bandit is a 1977 action comedy film with a heavy emphasis on driving with Burt Reynold’s character Bo Darville keeping the police busy while Jerry Reed’s Cledus Snow transports 400 cases of Coors (couldn’t ask for a better product placement) across the country. The film features one of the most iconic American muscle cars of all time - the Pontiac Trans Am.

The film was a sleeper hit and wasn’t initially a blockbuster but over time grossed a whopping $300 million from a tiny budget of $4.3 million. The film was praised for being an all-out fun flick from start to finish giving a broad appeal whether they were fans of driving films or not.

It spawned two sequels but the less said about them the better.

22. Death Proof (2007)

Death Proof

IMDb Score 7.0/10

Starring - Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson

Death Proof is Quentin Tarantino’s homage to 1970s slasher/muscle car films. It seems Russell’s stuntman Mike McKay who uses his ‘death proof’ car to stage the murders of several women...until he finally meets his match in Zoe Bell and Rosario Dawson. The famous cars are a 1970 Chevy Nova and 1969 Dodge Charger.

Death proof is oftentimes bonkers and gory and one of the more over the top flicks Tarantino has ever made - it’s a film that received mixed reviews, broke even in the box office but one that lives on in people’s memories as a proper homage to grindhouse, low budget horrors. However, if you’re a fan of Tarantino and you’re into cars then you can’t go wrong with this.

21. Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors

IMDb score 7.1/10

Starring - Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes

A bit of a bonkers film that isn't really about cars but cars do feature quite heavily. Holy Motors is regarded as somewhat of a French-German cinema masterpiece and perhaps not the film you would expect in this list.

Expect to be thrilled and mesmerised by Denis Lavant’s performance as he takes you through a thrilling tour-de-force. This is no fast and furious so be warned!

20. Locke (2013)

Locke

IMDb score 7.1/10

Starring - Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson

We are so surprised that more people don’t know about Locke. A film that was critically acclaimed and well-received with high marks from the most mainstream press. Starring Tom Hardy as a man with a dark past who, during an hour and a half drive from Birmingham to London has 36 speakerphone conversations with the important people in his life.

The entire film is set in Locke’s car and although it may not be the fastest or exciting drive it certainly is one of the most gripping. Well worth a watch.

19. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Fast and Furious 6

IMDb score 7.1/10

Starring - Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson

The first entry from the highest-grossing driving film franchise of all time is the 6th. Fast & Furious 6 sees Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs character reassemble the ‘furious’ Dominic and Brian to track down a team of mercenaries in exchange for amnesty for their criminal past. Fast & Furious 6 was praised for its high speed driving action, this may not sound like a surprise but considering every Fast film has action sequences it takes a hell of a lot of effort to keep pleasing returning audiences.

This was a box office success raking in over $800 million from a $160 million budget. This is one of the best driving films where speed and high-performance cars are the focal points.

18. Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

Two Lane Blacktop

IMDb score - 7.2/10

Starring - Janes Taylor, Warren Oates, Laurie Bird

Two-Lane Blacktop is a back to basics driving film for those who have a love of old school American muscle. The synopsis is simple - 2 men drag racing across America in a ‘55 Chevy. What more do you need?

Two-Lane blacktop was not commercially successful but did gain cult status over time which is a recurring theme with a lot of driving/racing films throughout the ages. Critically, it was very well received with many critics citing its excellent direction, score and undertones of counter-culture

17. The Driver (1978)

The Driver

IMDb score - 7.2/10

Starring - Ryan O’Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Adjani

The Driver is another classic driving film with an emphasis on the driver and not so much the car. The Driver sees Ryan O’Neal play a getaway driver who has fallen under the suspicion of a detective played by Bruce Dern. Isabelle Adjani plays the distraction which helps The Driver get away with it.

Back in ‘78 getaway driver films were not as common as they are today and helped influence other films such as Drive (2011) and Baby Driver (2017). At the time this was neither a critically acclaimed film or a box office success but time has been kind and has now achieved cult status.

16. Speed (1994)

Speed

IMDb - 7.2/10

Starring - Keanue Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock

Everyone’s probably seen or heard about the massive 90s blockbuster that was Speed. Set on a bomb rigged bus, Speed saw Reeves’ character try and stop a bomber from detonating a bus full of passengers. The bomb will go off if the bus goes below 50 miles per hour. The entire film is pretty much a non-stop vehicular rollercoaster that keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

This is a high octane thriller that smashed it at the box office raking in $350 million from a $30 budget. This is technically both a racing film and a driving film all in one despite cars not really being a big part. A must watch!

15. Vanishing Point (1971)

Vanishing Point

IMDb score - 7.2/10

Starring - Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Charlotte Rampling

Vanishing Point is described as an American-German neo-noir action road film. If that doesn’t grab you I don’t know what will. The basic premise is Newman’s character Kowalski delivering hot rods for a living with highway cops always right behind him.

Initially, it was not well received by critics but it was a box office success making $12 million from a $1 million budget. However, the film aged very well and has gained cult status over the years and sits as one of the finest examples of driving cinema.

14. Furious 7 (2015)

Furious 7

IMDb score - 7.2/10

Starring - Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson

The second Fast and Furious film to feature on our list is the seventh which goes to show that a long running series with loads of sequels really can continue to get better and not have their quality degrade just to make a box office smash.

Furious 7 sees Jason Statham’s Shaw seek revenge against the ‘furious’ for what happened to his brother and once again a load of souped up cars and action sequences are involved. Furious 7 featured Walker’s likeness to retire the character.

The film was praised for its action sequences and for their tribute to Walker. It was a box office smash hit raking in $1.5 billion from a $190 million budget.

13. The Italian Job (1969)

The Italian Job 1969

IMDb score - 7.3/10

Starring - Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill

One of the most iconic and critically acclaimed driving films of all time is the original Italian Job. The film is essentially a driving caper set on the continent featuring several memorable lines and scenes and of course the iconic Minis. If you’re a fan of cars, driving and British humour then you’ve probably already seen this one.

If you haven’t - what are you waiting for? Driving films don’t get much purer than this one.

12. Fast Five (2011)

Fast Five

IMDb score - 7.3/10

Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson

The final Fast and Furious film to feature on the All Car Leasing list of the best driving films of all time is Fast Five. The fifth film of the series is the one that’s achieved the highest score on IMDb and perhaps most notable for the introduction of Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs character for the first time.

Fast Five was praised as usual for its action sequences and over the top thrills from start to finish. Critics also noted that it was able to breathe new life into the franchise following the downturn in positive reviews from the first to the fourth. As you can probably tell with the other two in the list that the best reviewed Fast films began with number 5.

This is a must-watch for anyone who’s into the racing and danger aspects of driving films.

11. Thelma and Louise (1991)

Thelma and Louise

IMDb score - 7.4/10

Starring - Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel

Thelma and Louise is one of the most famous films of all time. Period. Two besties set out on a road tripping adventure, escaping the law and having the time of their lives. This was both a box office and critical success with praise heaped on the two main stars Davis and Sarandon as well as for the soundtrack.

Thelma and Louise may well be one of the best ‘road trip’ driving films of all time and an example of how a driving film doesn’t have to macho and masculine to be awesome.

10. Bullitt (1968)

Bullitt

IMDB score - 7.4/10

Starring - Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughan

Bullitt is arguably one of the Steve McQueen’s greatest performances ever. The film isn’t strictly a car/driving film but heavily features two of the most iconic cars (this film could be argued made these iconic) - the ‘68 Mustang GT and the Dodge Charger in one of the most legendary movie car chases ever.

This film is simply a wet dream for fans of American muscle cars and even if you’re not the film itself will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Bullitt was a critical and box office smash raking in $42 million from a $4 million budget.

9. Collateral (2004)

Collateral

IMDb score - 7.5/10

Starring - Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

I debated putting this film in the list as I was worried many wouldn’t think it was a driving film. However, it takes place in a Taxi for such a long time that I can’t see it as anything other than a driving thriller. Arguably one of Tom Cruise’s most underrated performances in a film opposite Jamie Foxx who plays the victim for a change.

This is one of my favourite films ever and I believe many viewing will have enjoyed how the Taxi cruising through town creates a simmering tension at all times which really drives the performances and plot forward.

8. Two for the Road (1967)

Two for the Road

IMDb score - 7.5/10

Starring - Audrey Hepburn, Abert Finney, Eleanor Brown

Two for the Road is an old school romantic comedy focused around a couple examining their 12 year marriage over a road trip to the south of France. This is a film for the car aficionado as it features a Mercedes 230SL, MG TD, Triumph Herald, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, VW Microbus and a Ford Country Squire.

The cars are used to emphasise the time jumps between sequences. Two for the Road is a seriously good film which subtly hints at just how important yet subtle cars and travelling is to a relationship and families. A must watch for fans of classic cars (of course the cars weren’t classics at the time). The film made a loss at the box office but was critically acclaimed.

7. Duel (1971)

Duel

IMDb score - 7.6/10

Starring Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone

Duel is a road horror TV movie released in 1971 which is directed by none other than Steven Spielberg in his very first full length feature. It sees Dennis Weaver’s David Mann try to escape from the never ending pursuit by the truck driver.

The Truck Driver is never seen fully once in the film which creates a massive amount of tension and terror from start to end and is one of the best examples of a chase style of driving film you are ever going to see. It is a simple, low budget film which has been widely praised for keeping the viewing constantly terrified of when the truck will appear next and if David will ever actually escape alive.

Why the truck driver is after Mann is never explained. Watch this if cars and horror is your thing.

6. Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver

IMDb score - 7.7/10

Baby Driver is one of the newer films on the list and one which has some of the best performances, best driving scenes and best soundtrack of all time. Baby Driver is a simple story of ‘Baby’ who owes a debt to Doc and to repay that debt he must be the wheelman for a couple of more heists. Problem is, even when the debt is paid Doc still wants more from Baby.

This is an amazing film that will keep you hooked on the fantastic interactions between the all star cars, the incredible driving sequences and the stunning soundtrack.

5. Taste of Cherry (1997)

Taste of Cherry

IMDb - 7.7/10

Starring - Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari

It’s incredible that this film is not more known - it is a cinematic masterpiece. It is a driving film at heart but with a serious story behind it which is rare in a film of its genre. The plot focus on Mr. Badii is planning to commit suicide and is travelling over the country to find someone who will assist him. The film tackles the topic of mortality and dignity in death with the driving portion a vehicle for the plot to move forward literally and metaphorically.

This is a must watch for fans of cinema but if you’re looking for classic cars and driving thrills then this isn’t the one for you.

4. The Yellow Mercedes (1993)

The Yellow Mercedes

IMDb score - 7.8/10

Staring - Ilyas Salman, Valérie Lemoine, Micky Sébastian

The Yellow Mercedes is a Turkish film which delves deep into the mind of a labourer as he drives from Germany back to his native Turkey. It’s not necessarily a traditional driving film but like so many other films from the list the Yellow Mercedes is an important plot tool to drive the character and story, forward.

The film was critically acclaimed and a masterpiece of both Turkish and World cinema.

3. Drive (2011)

Drive

IMDb Score - 7.8/10

Starring - Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston

Drive is a sensational action drama which sees Gosling play a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver. The film is widely regarded as one of the best of all time and certainly in most, if not all, top 10 driving films of all time lists. Drive is praised for its editing, pacing, soundtrack and a truly organic relationship between the characters.

Drive is just as much about the driving as it is about the people. In its essence it is a heist movie but modernised to fit with the world in which it is based in - 2011. We thoroughly recommend everyone to watch this film as a blueprint of how effective having so little driving in a film can be in a driving film when done right.

2. Max Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max Fury Road

IMDb score - 8.1/10

Starring - Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth entry in the Mad Max series and the sequel to Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. It is the first without Mel Gibson at the helm. Interestingly, both Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron have appeared in separate films which have already featured in this list of best driving films ever made.

Fury Road can only be described as a non-stop action driving thrill ride with some of the most incredible vehicular sequences ever captured on film. It does have a plot, which is great, but for the sake of this list it is the driving sequences that have made it so popular. This film is the ultimate for people looking for driving thrills and needs to be seen to be believed.

1.Rush (2013)

Rush

IMDb score - 8.1/10

Starring - Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde

In our opinion, the best driving film of all time is Rush. It is the Hollywood retelling of the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda from the 1970s. It pips Mad Max to the post because it is the ultimate blend of driving action sequences, drama and realism. We honestly feel that fans of driving and racing will get everything they’ve ever wished for in this film. It was widely acclaimed by critics and was a box office success making $98 million from a $38 million budget.

The portrayal of the Formula 1 legends was near perfect by Bruhl and Hemsworth and viewers will be sucked in by the thrills and suspense. This is an amazing film.

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