There are many reasons someone becomes a gearhead. Perhaps it’s time spent under the hood as a kid? Maybe they grew up around a relative’s or friend’s cool car? Or, then again, they could have caught car fever from watching a great car movie.
Keep reading for some of John’s best car film picks.
Smokey and the Bandit
I remember the first movie that really made me fall in love with a car. It was Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds.
Now there are a lot of reasons to like Smokey and the Bandit, whether for the humor, the car stunts, the music… Everything about the movie as I watched from the back seat of my parent’s car at the local drive-in was lost on me, other than the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that stole the show.
Seeing that Trans Am shining in black with gold pinstripes, and the firebird emblazoned across the hood—that was cool, and I was hooked.
As the years went on there were other cool car movies that caught my eye. How about Stephen King’s Christine?
Directed by John Carpenter, it’s a movie about a teenage car guy, buying a vintage 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that beautiful candy apple red, tail-finned beauty?
Or how about the Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback (Bullitt- ‘599) driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt? Raw road power, and in one of the best chase scenes ever filmed.
Storyline? Who cares? Skip right to the chase scene, where an equally famous 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum, driven by the bad guys, shared in the spotlight.
The Spy Who Loved Me
Now here’s a twist. It seems that there is always one glaring oversight when you see lists of the best car movies of all time, and that’s James Bond films.
James Bond movies have featured some great cars. Sure, these cars are all doctored up to shoot smoke from the exhaust, fire bullets and missiles, eject passengers, and a whole slew of other features we can only dream about having in real-life cars, but they can’t be overlooked.
My favorite Bond car though? Wet Nellie. Wet Nellie was a custom-built submarine, created for The Spy Who Loved Me. It was in the shape of a Lotus Esprit S1 sports car. Wet Nellie wasn’t even a real car, but you’d never know that from watching the film.
Again, it was a pretty cool car from a 6-year-old’s point of view and imagination.
The Lively Set
Finally—and I must admit this is a recent discovery—a movie called The Lively Set. It’s about a young mechanic that develops a turbine car engine.
The movie was inspired by the extremely cool 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car, back in the day, when Americans and American car manufacturers believed anything was possible.
Chrysler featured the Turbine Car at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. They released 50 cars through a no-charge user program.
It had an amazing engine that would run on anything combustible, from gas and kerosene to tequila. Though the Turbine car didn’t last, its legend did.
So, what movie or movies had an influence on you, gearhead?