Bullitt, which was first released on October 17, 1968, stars the legendary Steve Mcqueen as he plays a San Francisco police lieutenant, Frank Bullitt, who is assigned the task of protecting a notorious criminal’s short-tempered brother so he can be presented as a witness against the mob.
The film is known for its famous ten-minute car chase scene that is shot through the streets of San Francisco and is widely known as the best car chase in cinema history. The car chase involves a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT and a Dodge Charger 440 Magnum as they speed through the steep, narrow streets of San Francisco, weaving through cable cars and losing hubcaps. Two identical 1968 Mustang GT fastbacks were used throughout the filming, both were owned by the Ford Motor Company as part of promotional advertising for the vehicles. The vehicle had special features such as lower ground clearance and performance grade shocks that improved the overall handling and execution.
Recently in January of 2020, the original Bullitt Mustang was driven by Steve McQueen himself in the film, sold for $3.4 million at an auction in Florida with only 65,000 miles on the odometer. Steve McQueen was even reported as trying to buy the Mustang back in the ’70s but was denied by the family that bought it. Imagine that!
Ford re-released the Mustang Bullitt as limited-edition models in 2001, 2008, and 2019 in that beautiful green. In 2021, Ford announced that they would be discontinuing the Bullitt Mustang after three generations of models and one legendary car chase scene.
The most recent movie on the list, Ford v. Ferrari, follows American automotive designer Carroll Shelby, (Matt Damon), and British race car driver Ken Miles, (Christian Bale), as they set out to design and build a new Ford racing car to defeat the commanding Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans in Paris, France.
A rift began between the two motor companies when Ferrari hastily pulled out of a deal that involved Ford purchasing the Italian automotive company. This sudden shift of heart was due to a compromise surrounding the freedom Ferrari owners would have had over their respected racing team. Henry Ford responds by upgrading Ford’s racing team, by hiring Carroll Shelby, owner of Shelby American and former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner in 1959, who was forced to retire early due to underlying health issues. Shelby then recruits his British racing friend, Ken Miles, to assist with the construction of the historical race car.
As a result, Shelby and Miles produced the Ford GT40 Mk 1 racing car with the hopes of breaking Ferrari’s winning streak and bringing back the Le Mans 24 Hour trophy to the Ford Motor Group and the United States.
The Fast & Furious Series (2001 – Forever, probably)
It would be wrong to make a list of our favorite car movies without including at least one guilty pleasure film from the automotive industry, the Fast and Furious franchise.
And why not just add the entire series.
The Fast & Furious franchise is a series of action movies centered around street racing, heists, and souped-up sports cars. The movie that started it all, The Fast & The Furious, was originally released in 2001 and stars Paul Walker as an undercover cop, Brian O’Conner, who is sent to investigate major automobile hijacking when a series of events lead him to become more associated with the heist crew. The films have seen worldwide success and have had big-named actors like Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock ” Johnson playing significant roles in the franchise.
As of now, there are ten movies in the Fast & Furious series, and we’ve seen a new addition to the series about every 2 to 4 years. Just recently, the studio announced the production of Hobbs & Shaw 2 and the Fast & Furious 10, with both most likely to be released in the next couple of years. The franchise also includes TV series, video games, and even its own theme park ride at Universal Studios. In all, the series has grossed over $6 billion and is in the top-10 top-grossing movie franchises of all time, not bad for a guilty pleasure series.
Maggie Peyton (Lindsey Lohan) has dreams of following in her father and older brother’s footsteps by becoming a professional NASCAR driver. Her father Ray Peyton Sr., (Michael Keaton), doesn’t approve of his daughter’s dream and wants her to pursue a career in journalism instead. As a college graduation present, Ray takes Maggie to their local junkyard to buy her a car. A small white Volkswagen Beetle catches her eye, and with a little help, Herbie is running faster and smoother than ever before. Before they know it, Maggie and Herbie might just get the chance to show their skills on a professional speedway.
The first movie to introduce the remarkable Number 53 Volkswagen was released in 1968 called The Love Bug. Since then, five other movies have been released that follow the sentient Beetle and its adventures around the world.