The automobile has provided a backbone for modern life almost as long as movie theatres gave drivers a destination. Perhaps that’s why vehicles and movies feel so intrinsically linked:
Cars are a conveyance for the body, movies are one for the imagination. Moreover, movies have repeatedly showcased the possibilities of what man can do in cars – first, to build and perfect them, and later, to push them to unimaginable feats of speed, strength and endurance. Or, if nothing else, movies taught us to appreciate and even fetishize their design and power; as a prop or plot device, audiences learned to associate specific vehicles with both tangible and metaphorical goals to attain, representing freedom or opportunity just as much as beauty, wealth or status.
As a result, choosing the best or even quintessential Car Movies is a challenging task. Not just individual films but entire franchises revolve around the cars and trucks characters pilot – in races, in chases, pursuits and escapes, as prizes to be won and locations where drama unfolds. Cars engineered for one scene or sequence evolved into the singular reason to watch that movie, years or even decades later. Advancing technology–and increasingly fearless drivers–rendered early trailblazers obsolete with stunts that thrill the pulse and eclipse expectations. Nevertheless, the choices listed below highlight more than a century of cars on screen, some for the ones that appear on screen and some for what people do when they sit in the driver’s seat, but all celebrating the marriage of movies and motor vehicles.