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18 Aug 2014 Features

101 top best car movies street machine

Street Machine counts down 101 of the all-time best car movies. What's your favourite?

Street Machine counts down 101 of the all-time best car movies. What's your favourite?

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Mad MaxMad Max (1979)

No surprises that Street Machine readers voted this baby their favourite car movie ever! A landmark Aussie film by any standards, Mad Max has it all – a gaggle of awesome cars and bikes, fantastic landscapes and some of the best dialogue you’ll hear anywhere. In fact, it is entirely possible to spend a whole day conversing with family and friends using Mad Max quotes. Try using “Kick it in the guts, Murray” in a sentence today.

Running On EmptyRunning On Empty (1982)

Despite having a much lower profile than the Mad Max series, Running On Empty slotted into second place by a mere handful of votes. It’s not hard to see why, with heaps of street racing (and crashing) in some classic muscle cars. Like Mad Max, Running On Empty makes the most of Australia’s wide open spaces. Highlights: The cars, including a GTHO, ’70 Dodge Challenger R/T, a tough Monaro and a blown ’57 Chev. Lowlights: Tight jeans, scary 80s haircuts. Best quote: “Green. Green is nice.”
Read the review

Gone In 60 SecondsGone In 60 Seconds (1974)

You voted for the original version of this cops and crims caper over the remake by a huge margin. Why? Probably the 40-minute car chase where our hero’s Mustang evades an army of cops, destroying around 90 cars in the process! All the stunts are painfully real too. Recently re-released, so should be easy to find.
Read the review

The Fast And The FuriousThe Fast And The Furious (2001)

There might be plenty of rice-burners in this flick, but Vin Diesel’s blown black Dodge more than makes up for it. Wins the Most Unnecessary Gear Changes In Just 400 Metres Ever award. And just how does the Dodge manage to pop its front wheels up, while smoking the rear tyres at the same time?

Mad Max IIMad Max II (1981)

Max’s coupe goes feral and gets blown sky high. Look out for heaps of other fun stuff, like a twin-turbo Landau and the legendary truck crash.
Read the review

BullittBullitt (1968)

Features one of filmdom’s most famous car chases through the streets of San Francisco between a ’68 ’Stang GT 390 and a ’68 Charger 440. It set the standard for EVERY car chase made since.
Read the review

Days Of ThunderDays Of Thunder (1990)

Get out the DVD and crank the surround sound and subwoofer action for the awe-inspiring experience of NASCAR in your own home.

The Blues BrothersThe Blues Brothers (1980)

A personal favourite of the Street Machine team. Great music, hilarious dialogue and the largest, stupidest car chase of all time. Best quote: “It’s got a 440-cubic-inch plant. It’s got cop tyres, cop shocks, cop suspension and it was made before catalytic converters, so it will run good on regular gas.”
Read the review

Vanishing PointVanishing Point (1971)

A pill-popping ex-racer named Kowalski bets he can deliver a Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours. Freaky stuff – watch out for the naked sheila on the minibike in the desert. Read the review

Midnite SparesMidnite Spares (1983)

Cool Aussie flick, with possibly the only P76 chase sequence ever! Read the review


xXxxXx (2002)

Vin Diesel stars as an extreme sports star forced into espionage by the US government. Vin drives a ’67 Pontiac GTO, complete with a rocket launcher and flame thrower. The upcoming sequel is said to star a brand new Pontiac ‘Monaro’ GTO!

Diamonds Are ForeverDiamonds Are Forever (1971)

Bond, Las Vegas, and orbiting space lasers. Crazy stunts, including a chase scene with Bond escaping down an alleyway in a Mach 1 on two wheels.

CobraCobra (1986)

Features Stallone rollin’ in an incredible custom 1950 Mercury, complete with Moon discs and nitrous. Great to see an old car serving it up to more modern machinery. Shame the dialogue is such rubbish.
Read the review

Die Another DayDie Another Day (2002)

Car chase between a Jaguar XKR and an Aston Martin Vanquish in this spectacular advertisement, sorry, Bond movie.

The Bourne IdentityThe Bourne Identity (2002)

Excellent spy flick starring Matt Damon. More proof that if you are running from the cops in the tight streets of a European city, it is hard to beat a Mini.

GoldfingerGoldfinger (1964)

Legendary gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 makes its debut, as does the famously named Pussy Galore and Oddjob with his deadly bowler hat.

The Man With The Golden GunThe Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Has arguably the best-ever Bond chase scene, involving an AMC Hornet that does a loop. Yee-haa!

Mission Impossible 2Mission Impossible 2 (2000)

An Audi TT and Porsche Boxster duel at the start of the film. More a car fight scene than a car chase scene.


The Chain ReactionThe Chain Reaction (1980)

Known overseas as Nuclear Run, starring Steve ‘The Goose’ Bisley, Hugh ‘Toecutter’ Keays-Byrne and some mean Aussie iron.

Dirty DeedsDirty Deeds (2002)

Gangster movie set in the Sydney in the late 1960s. Watch out for the tail-happy car chase between an FB Holden ute and a flash Holden Prem.

Running From The GunsRunning From The Guns (1987)

Another obscure but cool Aussie car flick, with an XY GT and a Cobra replica.

FreedomFreedom (1982)

Young bloke gets retrenched from his job making twin carby manifolds for grey motors, so he steals a 911 Turbo. Best Bits: Soundtrack by Don Walker and his mates from Cold Chisel.
Read the review

StoneStone (1974)

Okay, so it’s a biker movie, but it’s Aussie and it’s weird. The 500-bike strong funeral procession is pretty special, as is the Z900 chase through the streets of suburban Sydney.

Metal SkinMetal Skin (1994)

Dystopic exploration of illegal drag racing and modified car culture in suburban Australia. Some nice racing scenes, plus a chase in an Auscar!
Read the review

Two HandsTwo Hands (1999)

Some hot Aussie cars in this flick, including a cool XB coupe.

The Big StealThe Big Steal (1990)

Danny wants a girl and a Jag. Jags are nice, but Danny’s mate’s Monaro is nicer.
Read the review

In The RedIn The Red (1999)

Australia’s answer to The Fast And The Furious.


The French ConnectionThe French Connection (1971)

Not really a car film as such, but The French Connection does feature an awesome scene in which copper Gene Hackman commandeers some hapless punter’s car and proceeds to mangle it while chasing down a train. Filmed in real time and without permission from the authorities, every crash and every near miss is real.

Gone In 60 SecondsGone In 60 Seconds (2000)

Not a patch on the original, but it polled well thanks to the sex appeal of the film’s star – a Shelby Mustang GT500.

The Italian JobThe Italian Job (1969)

Pommy crims punt a pack of Mini Coopers through the streets of Turin. Best bit: Still very funny. Worst bit: You’ll end up saying ‘guvner’ a lot.
Read the review

RoninRonin (1998)

Great chase scene filmed in real time and a single take, featuring an Audi with nitrous.
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The Seven UpsThe Seven Ups (1973)

A couple of Pontiacs race through the streets of NYC, pulling heaps of air in the process.

Grand Theft AutoGrand Theft Auto (1977)

It’s not often that you get to see a Rolls drifting or a VW being chased by a bus. Add in all the great crashes and you’ve got a classic movie.

Dirty Mary, Crazy LarryDirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)

The car: Dodge Charger. The hook: Awesome chase action and amazing final sequence.
Read the review


ShoppingShopping (1994)

A violent Pommy flick about ram-raiding, starring Jude Law.

Two Lane BlacktopTwo Lane Blacktop (1971)

James Taylor races his heavily worked ’55 Chev against a Pontiac GTO for pink slips. Trivia: The same Chev was used in American Graffiti.

Repo ManRepo Man (1984)

“It’s 4am. Do you know where your car is?” For broad minds only.

The Cars That Ate ParisThe Cars That Ate Paris (1974)

A small country town engineers road accidents for profit.

The FJ HoldenThe FJ Holden (1977)

Promoted as a happy slice of nostalgia, but is actually a bleak look at what it was to be a young adult in western Sydney in the 70s.


Ferris Bueller’s Day OffFerris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

The epitome of 1980s cool. Watch for the destruction of a very collectable Ferrari 250 GT California.

Better Off DeadBetter Off Dead (1985)

Cult teen comedy starring a very young John Cusack and a ’67 Camaro. A very funny flick that stands up well to repeated viewings.

Back To The FutureBack To The Future (1985)

Michael J Fox is sent back to 1955 in a time machine constructed from a 1981 DeLorean – a stainless steel-bodied, gullwing-equipped, mid-engined sports car.


DrivenDriven (2001)

Stallone does an open-wheel version of Days Of Thunder.

Funny Car SummerFunny Car Summer (1974)

A fireman decides to race an experimental Funny Car.

Le MansLe Mans (1971)

Don’t expect much of a story (our hero, Steve McQueen, doesn’t say a single word until half an hour into the movie) but it has some awesome race action.
Read the review

Grand PrixGrand Prix (1966)

Probably the best motor racing flick ever. Features real footage of grand prix racing shot at Monza and Monaco, among others, complete with all the spills.

Heart Like A WheelHeart Like A Wheel (1983)

A biopic of Top Fuel legend, Shirley Muldowney. 
Read the review


ChristineChristine (1983)

A young fella buys a crusty 1958 Plymouth Fury and is pleased when it magically restores itself. He is less pleased to find it is possessed by evil!
Read the review

DuelDuel (1971)

A travelling salesman and his six-pot Plymouth Valiant are hunted down in the desert by one seriously pissed-off truckie. The ultimate road rage flick.
Read the review

The CarThe Car (1977)

A strange car terrorises the people of a small town. So bad, it’s almost good. Custom work by George Barris.

Death Car On The FreewayDeath Car On The Freeway (1979)

A freak in a van gets his thrills running innocent citizens off the road.
Read the review

Wheels Of TerrorWheels Of Terror (1990)

A possessed car stalks kiddies in a village, so the bus driver gets behind the wheel of a stomping supercharged V8-powered bus to save the day.

The WraithThe Wraith (1987)

Horror show plot showcases some very cool street machines.
Read the review


American GraffitiAmerican Graffiti (1973)

Some of the coolest cars to ever appear on celluloid, and inspired thousands of ’32 Ford builds across the world. Watch out for a young Harrison Ford behind the wheel of a nasty ’55 Chev.
Read the review

The Hollywood KnightsThe Hollywood Knights (1980)

Think American Graffiti meets Porkys and you are there. Stars a blown ’57 Chev, Tony Danza, Michelle Pfeiffer and Fran Drescher! Not for kiddies. Best bits: A race between a Cobra, a T-bucket and the ’57 Chev.
Read the review

Dragstrip GirlDragstrip Girl (1957)

Rite-of-passage story about an 18-year-old girl encountering boys, hot rods and drag strips. B-grade with a capital B.

Hot RodHot Rod (1979)

Pertinent in this day and age of the conflict between sponsorship, financially struggling racers, and getting hoons to race in relatively safe environments.
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Hot Rod GirlHot Rod Girl (1956)

A concerned cop organises supervised drag racing after illegal street drags get out of control.

The Wild RideThe Wild Ride (1960)

This hot-rods-and-juvenile-delinquents flick stars Jack Nicholson.


Smokey And The BanditSmokey And The Bandit (1977)

The Bandit is Burt Reynolds driving a Pontiac Trans Am, pursued by the gormless Sheriff Buford T Justice. Trans Am sales went through the roof after the film’s release.

Cannonball RunCannonball Run (1981)

Another race-across-America movie with an all-star cast, including Burt Reynolds, Jackie Chan and Roger Moore. So bad it’s actually good, as are the sequels.

Corvette SummerCorvette Summer (1978)

Mark ‘Luke Skywalker’ Hamill stars as a young bloke who’s out to recover his stolen ’Vette. Not sure if it is meant to be a comedy, but damn, it’s funny!
Read the review

Catch Me If You CanCatch Me If You Can (1989)

A school must raise $200,000 or it will close. The solution? Win the cash at the illegal street drags of course! Look out for a nice ’68 Chevelle and ’57 Chev.


Fast CompanyFast Company (1979)

Good-guy-versus-bad-guy dragster movie, but with more real-than-real feel, thanks to a driver’s-eye view of a Funny Car pass.

TuckerTucker (1988)

The story of Preston Tucker, who tried to take on Detroit’s Big Three with his own car. Not exciting, but interesting.

Banzai RunnerBanzai Runner (1986)

A cop gets involved with drug-running desert racers. As you do.

Black Moon RisingBlack Moon Rising (1986)

Tommy Lee Jones stars in this spy flick, driving a prototype car dubbed Black Moon.

Thunder RoadThunder Road (1958)

Robert Mitchum plays a bootlegger in a 1950 Ford being pursued by the feds.
Read the review

The California KidThe California Kid (1974)

An insane sheriff runs speeding drivers off mountainsides, until a victim’s brother rocks up in his hot rod.

CannonballCannonball (1976)

Another cool race-across-America flick.
Read the review

Daddy-ODaddy-O (1958)

Drag racer Daddy-O traps his best mate’s killers and scores with a hotty.

Death Race 2000Death Race 2000 (1975)

A cross-country race where drivers score points by killing pedestrians.
Read the review

Death SportDeath Sport (1978)

Sequel to Death Race 2000, but set in the year 3000.

Desert SteelDesert Steel (1989)

Rival racers risk their lives in a big off-road race.

The Devil On WheelsThe Devil On Wheels (1947)

A son is inspired by his father’s reckless driving to become a hoon. Was misguidedly used in drivers education programs in the States, inspiring many teenagers to become hot rodders.

The RockThe Rock (1996)

Ferrari versus Hummer. ’Nuff said!

The Fast And The FuriousThe Fast And The Furious (1954)

The original. Falsely charged with murder, the hero attempts to elude the law by stealing a car and entering the Pebble Beach race to make it over the border.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966)

Three go-go dancers get mixed up in the hot rod scene in the California desert.

Gumball RallyGumball Rally (1976)

Cross-America race with a Ferrari, a Cobra, a Merc SL and a Camaro zooming 2900 miles in 34 hours.

The JunkmanThe Junkman (1982)

Made by HB Halicki, the lunatic behind the original Gone In 60 Seconds. This time he manages to destroy 60 more cars than he did the first time around!

The Last American HeroThe Last American Hero (1973)

Chronicles the life and minor crimes of a whiskey-runner turned stock car racer.

The Love BugThe Love Bug (1968)

Spawned a whole series of sequels, including one where Herbie gets it on with a Lancia. The Herbie series subliminally affected the subconscious of an entire nation (Mexico), so they continued building VW Beetles way past their use-by date.

MalcolmMalcolm (1986)

Mechanical genius turns to a life of crime and builds the ultimate getaway car-cum-motorbike.

My Science ProjectMy Science Project (1985)

This sci-fi flick features the only other known Mad Max-style switch for activating a car’s supercharger (in which they outrun electricity!). Has some cool 1980s lines, too.

Rebel Without A CauseRebel Without A Cause (1955)

Made James Dean the poster boy for most of the hot rod generation. Dean plays Jim Stark, a troubled teen from the right side of the tracks who is alienated from his parents and peers. The climactic scene is a real cliffhanger.
Read the review

Red Line 7000Red Line 7000 (1965)

Top racing footage does not make up for an otherwise dull movie.

C’était Un Rendez-vousC’était Un Rendez-vous (1976)

Possibly the most infamous footage of a street-driven car ever. The eight-minute film features one continuous, on-board shot of what was originally thought to be a Ferrari being driven fast across early-morning Paris. In fact, it was a Mercedes with dubbed Ferrari engine noise to make it sound more powerful.

Return To Macon CountyReturn To Macon County (1975)

Billed as two guys, a chick and the hottest ’57 Chevy on the road, this flick stars Nick Nolte and Don Johnson as two young blokes who get mixed up in drag racing and get in trouble with the law.

Van Nuys BlvdVan Nuys Blvd (1979)

Cool movie about a hick that visits the infamous Van Nuys Boulevard to test his car and his drag racing skills against the locals.

Vanishing PointVanishing Point (1997)

Very similar plot to the original with a near-identical Dodge as its star car. However, the more-developed plot is like a padded bra – all anticipation and then a big letdown when all is revealed.

Viva Las VegasViva Las Vegas (1964)

Regular Elvis movie but worthy of note because he plays a race car driver who has to find a new donk for his machine. A story many of us can relate to.

White LightningWhite Lightning (1973)

Another bloody ‘moonshine’ flick with Burt Reynolds playing some south-western hick, this time named Gator McGlusky, with some nice fast chase sequences.
Read the review

RPMRPM (1998)

Comedy about a car thief pulling off the job of a lifetime.

TaxiTaxi (1998)

It’s French, but it’s a classic. Really.

LandspeedLandspeed (2002)

Straight-to-video tale starring Billy Zane, about a jet-powered land speed team trying to break the 1000mph barrier.

The DriverThe Driver (1978)

Ryan O’Neal stars as a getaway driver for hire.
Read the review

Used CarsUsed Cars (1980)

Starring Kurt Russell, this baby features some spectacular stunts.

HooperHooper (1978)

Burt Reynolds plays an ageing stunt driver. Look out for the rocket car jump!
Read the review

Deuce CoupeDeuce Coupe (1992)

Two brothers love the same chick, so it’s lucky they both love cars and speed as well. Nice drag racing scenes.

Born To RunBorn To Run (1993)

US telemovie now available on video. Lots of nice street racing action.
Read the review

Dead End Drive-InDead End Drive-In (1986)

Aussie flick about a drive-in used as a concentration camp for society’s riff raff. Weird, with some nice stunts.