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The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

We've compiled a list of the greatest motoring movies of all time – movies somewhat related to cars and driving, that is.

5 months ago
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Thanos Pappas
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Like most people, you’re probably either working from home or not working at all due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

With less time spent in traffic and more time in front of the TV (although we recommend doing some workout sessions to stay fit and healthy) you’re probably already hankering for high-quality car movies.

We’ve compiled a list of the greatest motoring movies of all time – movies somewhat related to cars and driving, that is.

To save yourself from wasting time watching the flops of the century or overrated blockbusters, we’ve included films with a relatively high score in IMDb, movies that were well received by both critics and the general audience.

While the list is in chronological order, we’ve chose to merge multi-film series by referring only to the best of the bunch.

If you haven’t already, check out part one of our series here.

Now fire up the DVD player, it’s time to get watching.

Taxi (1998)

Director: Gérard Pirès
Writer: Luc Besson
Staring: Samy Naceri, Frédéric Diefenthal, Marion Cotillard Duration: 1:26
IMDb score: 70

A French comedy focused around Daniel Morales, a taxi driver with amazing skills and a lack of respect for the traffic code.

With a touch of a button, his white Peugeot 406 sedan deploys a number of active aerodynamics and transforms into a race car. In order to make things right with his driving record, Daniel has to chauffeur a police inspector and help him catch a gang of bank robbers. 

Due to the success of the first film, the producers made a series of sequels: Taxi 2 (2000), Taxi 3 (2003), Taxi 4 (2007) and Taxi 5 (2018), which followed a decade later with a different cast.

None of the follow-ups was close to the original.

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Director: Rob Cohen
Writers: Ken Li, Gary Scott Thompson
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez
Duration: 1:46
IMDb score: 6.8

We couldn’t make a list of car movies without a notable reference to The Fast Saga, a franchise with cumulative box office takings of US$5.8 billion.

The later Fast & Furious instalments grew in budget and touched a wider audience by becoming full-blown action movies, but true petrolheads will always remember the original, which was all about street racing and modified cars.

For those not familiar with the story, The Fast and the Furious follows the story of undercover police officer Brian O’Conner, who has the task of arresting a gang of car thieves headed by Dominic Toretto. In order to collect evidence he joins the family and quickly becomes one of them.

The movie captured modern street racing culture, and inspired the continuation of the story in a number of sequels: 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Fast & Furious (2009), Fast Five (2011), Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015), The Fate of the Furious (2017) and the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw (2019).

The premiere of the ninth movie, F9, was postponed for next year during the coronavirus pandemic, while the tenth and final film (for now) of the series will follow later.

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

The Transporter (2002)

Directors: Louis Leterrier, Cory Yuen
Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Matt Schulze
Duration: 1:32
IMDb score: 6.8

Yet another French action film franchise with a car playing an important role is The Transporter. Frank Martin is a highly-skilled army veteran – as a driver and as a martial artist – and undertakes special deliveries for unknown clients in his black E38 BMW 7 Series.

The script was actually inspired by BMW’s own short-films. The Transporter received mixed reviews but struck a chord at the box office, prompting the studio to make it a trilogy.

The Transporter 2 (2005) and The Transporter 3 (2008) followed, before a more recent reboot titled The Transporter Refueled (2015).

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

Deathproof (2007)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thorms, Mary Elizabeth Windstead
Duration: 1:53
IMDb score: 7.0

An American thriller with a strong ‘70s flavour created by Quentin Tarantino might not be for everyone, but it features some seriously cool cars – even though one of them is mainly used as a lethal weapon.

The story is about stuntman Mike McKay, who stalks and murders two separate groups of voluptuous women inside his “death proof” Dodge Charger. Another vehicle in the film is a white Dodge Challenger, identical to the main car of Vanishing Point (1970).

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

Drive (2011)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Hossein Amini, James Sallis
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
Duration: 1:40
IMDb score: 7.8

A drama film about a professional stuntman and car mechanic in Hollywood who also works as a getaway driver at night.

He forms a bond with a woman and her son who are living next door, but the situation becomes more complex when her husband is released from prison. The driver’s personal vehicle is a Chevrolet Malibu (1973) but we also get to see a Ford Mustang (2011), among other cars.

The script is based on a 2005 novel with the same name. The movie was praised by critics for its cinematography, soundtrack, and action-packed scenes containing strong violence.

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

Rush (2013)

Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Peter Morgan
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Duration: 2:03
IMDb score: 8.1

One of the best racing movies of the last decade presents the intense rivalry between two Formula 1 World Champions of the ‘70s – James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

The movie is full of racing action. It focuses on the 1976 season, including the horrible Nurburgring accident that almost cost Niki Lauda his life.

Besides a (relatively) accurate insight into the strong relationship formed between the drivers before and after their main battle for the world title, you get the chance to watch McLaren and Ferrari single-seaters racing head-to-head. The film received positive reviews from the critics and audience.

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Duration: 2:00
IMDb score: 8.1

The Mad Max franchise started with George Miller’s and Byron Kennedy’s trilogy: Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2 (1980) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) starring a young Mel Gibson.

Even though we love the originals, we chose the more recent instalment for our feature. Why? It was pretty damn cool. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) maintains the post-apocalyptic nature of its predecessors and follows the adventures of a rebel woman aided by a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max trying to escape the army of a tyrannical ruler.

As you can guess there’s a lot of car chases through a post-apocalyptic wasteland and a flotilla of scary-looking custom vehicles designed just for the film. Fury Road was widely acclaimed by the critics and became a massive hit at the box office. A sequel is under development.

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

Baby Driver (2017)

Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx
Duration: 1:53
IMDb score: 7.6

An action film for people who love fast-paced car chases. Baby is a young getaway driver, who showcases his amazing driving skills in his 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX while entranced by the music playing through his headphones.

In the movie he is forced to collaborate with a crime boss and help a gang of outlaws in a heist. Most of the scenes were shot in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

You’ll also notice the red Subaru has been converted to rear-wheel drive to become more suitable for a series of driving manoeuvres while trying to escape police.

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

The Mule (2018)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Nick Schenk, Sam Dolnick
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patrick L. Reyes, Cesar De León
Duration: 1:56
IMDb score: 7.0

The Mule is not exactly a car movie, but it includes a great deal of driving and is cool enough to be featured in our list.

A 90-year-old veteran who loves growing rare flowers and has a somehow problematic relationship with his family finds himself working as a drug mule for a Mexican cartel.

While this is obviously not the ideal job for an elderly person, he accepts the challenge and becomes very good at it. After all, a Korean War veteran driving his rusty Ford F-250 would never catch the eye of a police officer.

As he earns more money he abandons his good old truck for a brand new Lincoln Mark LT. The film received generally positive reviews and did very well in the box office. The script is based on a true story, inspired by an article published in The New York Times.

The best films for petrolheads: Part 2

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Staring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts, Remo Girone
Duration: 2:32
IMDb score: 8.1

The most recent film on our list is Ford v Ferrari.

The script was inspired by the real story of engineering mogul Carroll Shelby and the racing driver Ken Miles, who got a blank check signed by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans.

Eventually, both of them took their mission very seriously, turning their passion to developing the best race car ever to wear the Blue Oval, the GT40. The film is full of riveting scenes with plenty of racing action, even if keen drivers might notice a few inaccuracies on the engine noise and the use of the accelerator.

The movie is long but you won’t notice, because it’s also enthralling. Critical response was frenzied, and the film won both the Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing in the latest Academy Awards.

Let us know if you agree with our selection and don’t forget to mention your own favourite films in the comments section below! 


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