For automotive enthusiasts, there’s nothing more refreshing than when a movie gets it right. The engine sounds are mostly correct, characters know how to pronounce “Porsche” properly, the cars obey the laws of physics, and no one sounds like they’re reading a spec sheet when talking to fellow knowledgeable car people.
Let’s look at five car movies that nailed it and are rightly beloved by car enthusiasts.
1998’s Ronin is arguably John Frankenheimer’s magnum opus. The plot doesn’t matter. The characters do things for vague reasons to people that have unclear motivations. But who cares?
Natasha McElhone drives a BMW 535i into oncoming traffic while Jonathan Pryce holds on for dear life. Robert DeNiro fires a rocket launcher from the sunroof of John Frankenheimer’s personal Mercedes 450SEL 6.9. They put nitrous in an Audi S8. Its bonkers, fun, and car chases are the entire reason to watch the movie.
Think of another movie that has had so much impact on the values of a specific car. Try finding a factory green fastback Mustang from the late sixties without someone mentioning Bullitt in the description. Want to do a muscle car restoration that will also be a good investment? Late 60’s green Mustang fastback.
Steve McQueen was an avowed car fanatic, having owned some legendary cars himself, such as his Ferrari 275GTB and Mercedes 300SEL 6.3. But thanks to Bullitt, and its extended chase featuring Steve in the Mustang mentioned above chasing a black Dodge Charger, there’s one car that has become synonymous with McQueen.
3. Smokey and the Bandit
Okay, so if two movies caused a specific car to rise in value, the other would be Smokey and the Bandit. There are two leads in this movie, Burt Reynolds and his black “screaming chicken” Trans Am.
That 180 horsepower smog strangled Pontiac stole the movie. Well, the ones in the film used the recently discontinued 455, but that didn’t matter. The car was cool and did a fantastic job of outrunning Jackie Gleason’s Buford T. Justice.
4. Baby Driver
2017’s Baby Driver features Ansel Elgort as a getaway driving prodigy. Realism was the name of the game for writer/director Edgar Wright and rather than featuring supercars, he wanted to do what actual getaway drivers do to stay under the radar and featured as many average vehicles as he could.
The first car chase features a red Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, and we get to see some great drifts. Later, driver Elgort pilots a Chevy Avalanche and makes good use of its bulk. He even makes a Toyota Corolla and giant Mercedes S550 do insane tricks.
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
Having to single out one Mad Max movie and its cars is like picking a favorite child, but how could we pick anything other than Fury Road? Director George Miller gave us this practical effects masterpiece in a world where movies are increasingly CGI fests. Yes, even the fire shooting guitar worked in real life.
The cars are a treat, and eagle-eyed enthusiasts can have a field day spotting all of the wacky creations, including an Australian Charger with tank treads, a twin V16 Cadillac abomination, and of course, Max’s old Falcon Interceptor.