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What’s better than watching old movies? Turning on a film about cars! Over the years, we’ve seen many iconic franchises, such as Cars and The Fast and the Furious. However, those movies are newer, considering the history of film. What are the best old car movies from when your grandparents were growing up? We’re talking about the days of VHS tapes and analog video. Let’s find out the best old movies about cars.
Old Car Movies Criteria
First, let’s discuss the criteria for our list. The movie had to premiere before 2000 for us to consider it old, so we’re sorry for the Transformers fans. Also, the film must predominantly feature a car or multiple vehicles, as they should be integral to the plot.
The 8 Best Old Car Movies
Without further ado, let’s discuss the best old car films of all time. While there are plenty of worthy films, these eight stand out among the crowd.
1. Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an endurance motorsports race in Le Mans, France. If you don’t want to watch all 24 hours, you can watch the 1971 film “Le Mans” for a shortened version.
This film follows Michael Delaney, who tries to overcome the death of a fellow Porsche driver at the previous year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Delaney has a fierce rivalry with the Ferrari drivers and develops romance along the way. Will he avenge his old friend’s death and win the race? Will he find love in a hopeless place?
2. Grand Prix
If you like open-wheel racing, watch “Grand Prix” from 1966, featuring James Garner, Yves Montand, Brian Bedford and other actors from the Golden Age Hollywood. Formula One fans will enjoy cameos from real F1 drivers, such as Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and Phil Hill.
“Grand Prix” tells the story of the 1966 Formula One season but in a fictitious way. You’ll see four drivers — one from the U.S., the U.K., France and Italy — as they take on the season on different paths. Each driver battles with love and one another on the racing circuit, with the plot climaxing at the Italian Grand Prix.
3. The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix
What if we told you one of the best old car movies wasn’t made in the United States? “The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix” is a 1975 Norwegian film about open-wheel racing. In fact, it’s the most popular movie in Norway, with a 28-year run in theaters ending in 2003.
“The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix” is unlike most old car movies you’ve seen because it’s a stop-motion film. The movie centers around Theodore Rimspoke and his fellow animal friends. Theodore enjoys open-wheel racing but finds out one of his former employees stole his race design and later a Formula One championship. Rimspoke and the gang enter the Pinchcliffe Grand Prix to spite his nemesis and win in spite.
4. Days of Thunder
If you’re a NASCAR fan, you probably expected this movie to be on this list. Filmmakers have tried to capture the essence of stock car racing in films, but it’s hard to recreate the magic. “Talladega Nights” and “Logan Lucky” have tried, but this one takes the cake. Watch “Days of Thunder” in a tire snack bowl to get in the racing mood.
“Days of Thunder” follows the story of Cole Trickle, who wants an Indy 500 trophy but settles on racing in NASCAR. His dreams are nearly cut short after crashing with his bitter rival, Rowdy Burns. Despite the hatred, the two drivers bond during rehabilitation. Trickle even finds a love interest during this time! After trials and tribulations, Trickle finds victory lane for the biggest win of his career.
5. Taxi Driver
“Taxi Driver” is more than just one of the best old car movies — it’s one of the best films ever from Hollywood. Martin Scorsese made the film, so it’s not a huge surprise it ended up on this list. Plus, “Taxi Driver” was the film that launched his directorial career.
If you like psychological thrillers, this movie is for you. “Taxi Driver” is about a guy who becomes a taxi driver out of necessity because he has chronic insomnia. Travis, the protagonist, has big dreams to save the world by cleaning up New York City and other ambitious goals. It’s well worth the watch if you want to be a bigger movie buff.
6. Thunder Road
“Thunder Road” is one of the oldest movies on the list, premiering in 1958. In fact, it’s old enough to qualify for the Golden Age of Hollywood, considering this era ran until the mid-1960s. While it wasn’t an initial success, “Thunder Road” became a cult classic for car enthusiasts over the 20th century.
The film is loosely based on a true story depicting moonshine smugglers in Knoxville, Tennessee. In “Thunder Road,” Lucas Doolin, Robert Mitchum, returns from the Korean War and needs to make money, so he works for his family’s moonshine business. However, nothing is easy, so he has to navigate conflicts with his brother, rival moonshine sellers and law enforcement. Will the cops ever get him?
7. Grand Theft Auto
We know what you’re thinking — no, this has nothing to do with the video game series Grand Theft Auto. However, if you look hard enough, you’ll likely find a mod recreating the people and cars in this game.
“Grand Theft Auto” from 1977 is a fun film with Ron Howard, whom your grandparents probably loved in “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days.” Howard plays Sam Freeman, who wants to marry Paula Powers. However, Paula has gotten in trouble for stealing her parent’s Rolls Royce. The two jet off to Vegas and start a furious race on the highway. Everybody’s looking for the couple, as the wealthy parents offer a huge cash prize for anybody who finds them.
8. The Italian Job
If you like crime movies and downright tomfoolery, “The Italian Job” is an excellent film to put on your TV screen. This movie is a caper film, meaning you’ll get to see the crimes through the criminal’s eyes.
In “The Italian Job,” you’ll follow Charlie Croker, who just left prison. However, Charlie is bold enough to risk returning, as he wants to steal gold from a security truck rolling through Turin, Italy. How are they going to do it? Charlie will get a hacker to cause a traffic jam inside the city. Then, they’ll barge inside the truck and steal the gold. This plot isn’t too far off from the big heist in Grand Theft Auto V.
Tuning Into the Best Old Car Movies
Older films are fun to watch because they take you back to simpler times. There weren’t cellphones in sight — only vibes. Old car movies are memorable for auto enthusiasts because you’ll see classic cars and some outdated jalopies. These eight motion pictures top our list, so use these ideas for your next movie night.