What Makes a Good Car Movie?

What Makes a Good Car Movie?

When you think of a great car movie, a few probably come to mind right away. Maybe you’re a big fan of the Fast and the Furious franchise, or maybe you’re more old-school in your love of car films, and you think Grand Prix gets the checkered flag. 

When it comes to car films, everyone has their favorites, and it’s hard to pin down which one is the real winner — but, we can all agree that there are certain factors of car movies that can make or break the film. 

Is it a high-speed chase that makes a car movie great? Does it have to be about racing? Or, are you more focused on cool car tech or characters who really seem to know what they’re talking about? 

Let’s cover some of the key components that make a good car movie, and round up some of the greatest of all time in the process. 

A Love of Cars

One of the greatest things about the Fast and the Furious franchise is that you can tell that almost every character truly loves the cars they’re dealing with. Granted, as the franchise has gone on, the stories have become more involved and dramatic. The focus has shifted away from the simplicity of street racing and has focused on everything from crime to corruption

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, you know every movie in this franchise is going to have a killer car chase and plenty of characters who love their vehicles. If you’re a gearhead, seeing actors know what they’re talking about can make it easier to relate to the movie and get more enjoyment from the dialogue. 

Other movies that often feel like love letters to cars and gearheads alike include:

  • Bullitt (1968)
  • Days of Thunder (1990)
  • Rush (2013)
  • Drive (2011)

Whether you love the classics or you’re into films made over the last decade that showcase incredible cars and skilled driving, it always makes car movies more realistic when the actors involved have some knowledge about the vehicles they’re working with. 

Futuristic Fantasies

Some of the greatest car movies of all time are either completely unrealistic or utilize technology that may not actually exist. The Love Bug has stood the test of time because it showcases a fantasy many car owners would love to live out – a car you can communicate with. 

Other car movies like Total Recall (remember the Johnny Cab?) and Mad Max have also maintained success over the years because of their futuristic endeavors. Even the DeLorean from Back to the Future has remained a staple in pop culture because of its fantastical capabilities. 

There’s no denying we have a fascination with futuristic vehicles. You can see it in the cars being manufactured today. Advancements in technology have made cars safer than ever. We already have features like parking assist, blind-spot assist, and built-in GPS.

Self-driving vehicles haven’t yet been perfected, but they will likely become the “norm” at some point, no matter how futuristic that might seem. 

With that in mind, there’s no doubt that car movies will continue to push the envelope. As real-world technology continues to advance, the tech used for cars in movies will also change, giving audiences new sci-fi futuristic vehicle fantasies to drool over. 

A Speedy Soundtrack

What makes a cool car different on the silver screen than in the real world? 

Often, the music that’s playing behind it when it’s involved in a chase, race, or just cruising down a long stretch of highway. 

One of the best films in recent years to combine incredible driving with amazing music is 2017’s Baby Driver. Nearly every aspect of the movie feels perfectly timed with the soundtrack, including the car chase scenes (and there are plenty!).

If there’s one thing the film proves, it’s how important the right music is when it comes to portraying a specific feeling or trying to capture certain emotions. 

While the Baby Driver soundtrack took things to the next level, think about any of your favorite car movies and the music behind them.

High-intensity chase scenes would be a lot less dramatic without the right music, and the hero cruising away at the end of the film wouldn’t be as impactful without a perfect song to lead into the credits. If you’re a fan of car films, it’s important to give credit to the soundtracks behind them – the music often feels like another character in a supporting role. 

Closing Thoughts

We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to good car movies, and with more vehicle-centric films made every year, it will be interesting to see how some of these components change. For now, however, it’s the people, the fantasy, and the music that all add up to a great film that car enthusiasts and movie-lovers alike can enjoy.

What are your thoughts on car movies? What are your favourites from years gone by? Do you think there are any that really stand the test of time? Do let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

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