Typically, the internet is packed with surveys breaking down the best car chase movies. But as with the evolution of movie making, the car chases have we watch today are far different than 50 years ago. So after having spoken with a number of experts in the field – including some original stunt men who started in some of these legacy movies, we have the following list of top movies – by decade.
1950’s Thunder Road – (1958)
Missed this one? While it is really all about the motorcycles, this classic Robert Mitchim is based on a returning war hero (Korean War) who comes home to take over the family moonshine business only to have gangsters and local police try to shut him down. If you like classic motorcycles at speed, this movie, which features lots of original stunts, is amazing.
1960’s Bullitt – (1968)
The obvious choice of many, this cool chase between low flying muscle cars on the hills of San Francisco is a classic. A speed contest between a 440 Dodge Charger and the 390-powered ’68 Ford Mustang, it cemented McQueen’s legacy as a stunt driver in the movies – even though he only did part of the piloting, Carey Loftin handling most of the “hard stuff.” If you haven’t seen this one – where have you been?
1970’s Gone in 60 Seconds – (1974)
The original creation of H. B. Halicki, this crude car chase movie includes a 40+ minute car chase as the world attempts to catch the ’71 Mustang driven by Halicki himself. It's a crash and dash romp through Los Angeles. While the remake with Nicholas Cage decades later was fun and had more plot, the original for car folks cast the die for car chase movies to come.
1980’s Against All Odds – (1984)
At a time when Magnum, P.I. was all the rage on TV, the Ferrari 308 was the car to have if you wanted to be cool. This epic car chase down Sunset Blvd, between a Porsche 911 cabriolet and a Ferrari 308 GTSi was filmed on that legendary road in 15-minute bursts on a Sunday morning – that was all local traffic could be held. One little known fact; the “hero” cars (there were two of each vehicle) were rented by Eddie Paul, the stunt coordinator, and returned to the local agency after the filming. We only hope they took out the maximum insurance coverage.
Set in France, if you like cool fast import vehicle flying around the mountains roads and crowded highways of Europe – you are going to love this movie. In particular, the chase see between the Mercedes 600, Audi S6 and random high speed Peugeots while guys with machine guns and shoulder mounted rockets fire from open sunroofs, check it out!
2000’s Bourne Identity – (2002)
Mini Cooper’s may not be your cup of tea but to watch Jason Bourne wheel this tiny machine through Europe while chased by CIA agents and Interpol is a thing of beauty. Yes, the Mini is a piece of crap, but the drifting seminar put on by Bourne is impressive and includes a significant amount of sidewalk “surfing” to avoid the local motorcycle cops reminiscent of the classic viral video, “Rendezvous” when a Ferrari 512 BB runs crosstown in Paris. Check it out:
2010’s Fast Five – (2011)
This pick came from Mike Ryan, the stunt man who was intimately in this now classic car chase. The movie involves a variety of amazing stunt capped off by twin Dodge Chargers towing a bank vault. The damage inflicted in the surrounding vehicles is epic and entertaining. Ryan’s part? Driving the vault that was actually a semi- truck outfit with a huge push bar. The full vault was dropped in during post production. To see Ryan’s work first hand – check out this video: