20 Greatest Car Movies

1) Bullitt

Dodge Charger finished in a sinister shade of black? Check. Tough guy with leather gloves and impossibly earnest expression? Check. Hard-nosed accomplice with steely eyes and white mac? Check. Ford Mustang Fastback looming in the rear-view mirror, paragon of insouciance Steve McQueen at the wheel? Check. A minute or two of developing tension? Check. A sudden dab of throttle to herald several minutes of tyre-smoking, opposite-lock action through and around San Francisco? Check. Same green VW Beetle cropping up repeatedly in the background? Check. Gunfire? Check. Wimbledon Stadium tactics? Check. Charger ploughs into fuel station and explodes? Check. Baddies incinerated? Check. McQueen drives away as though he’d done nothing more taxing than switch radio channels? Check. Nine and a bit minutes of timeless cinema. ~ SA

2) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

All together now: "Bang bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, our fine four-fendered friend." Based on Ian Fleming’s book, and with a script written by Roald Dahl, how could this film possibly fail? Probably the most endearing caricature of a car, ever (although see Herbie, below…). Who hasn’t dreamt of owning a flying car? The film hero was based on the aero-engined racing Chitty Bang Bang, built and raced by Count Zborowski at Brooklands in 1921. At the time, it had a Mercedes chassis and a 23-litre, six-cylinder Maybach engine. It reached a speed of 100.75mph in its debut appearance in the Brooklands Short Handicap. ~ EB

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April 7, 2009