Okay – most movies, unless they’re set in a fantasy land or space, feature cars in them. So what makes a movie a car movie, then? To us, car movies are those movies where the cars are just as much the main characters as the actual heroes and villains. 

Throughout the history of film, we’ve seen so many great car movies come to light. Today, a lot of us are still staying at home and social-distancing, which means most of us are watching more television and movies to pass the time and stay connected with friends and loved ones. If you’re an auto-enthusiast like we are, why not introduce your family or friends to some of the most iconic car movies ever made? To help you narrow down your watch list, we’ll take a quick look back at some of the best car films you can stream today. 

  1. Ronin (1998)

Directed by the legendary American film director John Frankenheimer, Ronin is a gripping action-adventure spy thriller – and one of the best car films out there. Featuring two great car chase scenes between an S8 and M5 chasing around a lightning fast Citroën XM, Ronin is a car-lover’s fantasy for sure. 

Where to watch: Stream on Tubi, Rent for $3.99 on YouTube or iTunes

1. The Italian Job (1969)

It’s a classic crime caper comedy – a British thief attempts to steal gold ingots from Italy by having his computer expert friend cause a major traffic jam in Turin. Of course, chaos ensues, and the iconic Mini Cooper gets plenty of screentime. There’s a reason why this one is a beloved cult classic! 

Where to watch: Rent for $2.99 on YouTube 

2. Back to the Future (1985)

Ah yes, one of the most iconic films of 80s youth. Between a great soundtrack and truly iconic characters, Back to the Future has enough fun and charm to win over movie lovers of all ages. But arguably one of the most iconic parts of the film is the legendary DMC DeLorean that Doc Brown transforms into his very own time machine. 

Where to watch: Stream on Netflix

3. Ford v. Ferrari (2019)

While this car movie is right off the presses, so to speak, it’s a well-done look into the legendary 24 Le Mans race between Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles back in France of 1966. A truly great race movie (no CGI whatsoever!), Ford v. Ferrari shows in intricate detail the process of building a race car from scratch, and competing it in one of the toughest races ever. 

Where to watch: Rent for $5.99 on YouTube or Amazon Prime 

4. Grand Prix (1966)

If you think about it, a lot of what made The Fast & The Furious franchise so great was the cues it took from Grand Prix four decades earlier. Another film directed by John Frankenheimer, this car movie basically invented the racing genre of film. Plus, most of the race cars filmed are the actual cars (and in some cases, actually driven by their real-life drivers) that were featured in ‘66’s Formula One races. 

Where to watch: Rent for $1.99 on YouTube or Amazon Prime

5. Thelma & Louise (1991)

Okay, so car-lovers might not think of this particular pick as one of the best car films made, but hear us out. Thelma and Louise run off in their iconic, sky blue 1966 Thunderbird and basically reinvent the road-trip genre as we know it. Classic. 

Where to watch: Stream on Tubi, Rent for $3.99 on YouTube, iTunes or Google Play

6. The Fast & The Furious (2001)

No list of the best car films would be complete without mentioning what is probably the most influential car movie franchise ever created. While we absolutely love standout titles like Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious 7, there’s no denying the magic of the first film. Featuring some of the most iconic chase scenes in modern film, the first Fast & The Furious has a little something for every car-lover. 

Where to watch: Rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime or YouTube

Of course, this is just scratching the tip of all the best car films out there. This list is by no means exhaustive, but just a jumping off point. What are your favorite car movies? Let us know! 

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    9 Comments

    1. Can’t forget Mad Max! That’s one of the quintessential car movies

    2. Love this list. I love that it adds where I can find each movie. I definitely wouldn’t mind paying to watch Ford v. Ferrari. That may be the movie for this weekend. I stopped pretty early on the Fast and Furious movies. They seemed to go on forever. Back to the Future is definitely a classic.

    3. Considering I have only seen 2 of these movies, I know my next rainy day line up!

    4. Ronin is an iconic movie, and the way they filmed the car chase is awesome. (Heres the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL0Hhq0VFIY )

      Also, Italian Job is still one of my favorite movies. You would be amazed how many vehicles were destroyed to make the first and second iteration of those films.

    5. I love car movies, growing up some of the big ones were the smoky and the bandit films, And let’s not forget death race 2000.

    6. Tuna no crust

    7. Out of the listed 6 I’ve seen 3 of course fast and the furious! But I love seeing these classic cars roar to life in newer movies its super cool!

    8. To this day, Back to the Future is one of my all-time favorite movies. Who hasn’t idly fantasized about owning that Delorean?

    9. I so need to watch Ford v. Ferrari!

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