Films are full of famous cars, from James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, to Bo Darville’s 1977 Trans Am. Car chases are iconic too because they are action-packed and full of suspense. Suspension of disbelief is important when watching a chase, especially when cars are facing oncoming traffic at high speed and managing to get through safely. But it’s still entertaining to watch! Here are five of the best car chases in film history.
The Italian Job, 1969
The Italian Job features the trio of Michael Caine, Benny Hill and Noel Coward plotting to steal a gold shipment in Turin. One of the stand out scenes is when they put the gold bars in three Mini Coopers and use a planned escape route. The scene is exciting because the Minis are used creatively. The cars are driven over rooftops, through tunnels and down flights of stairs.
The French Connection, 1971
The French Connection has one of the most heart-stopping car chases in history. The scene involves Detective Jimmy Doyle driving a 1971 Pontiac LeMans and chasing a criminal in a train above him. The scene was shot in New York during a time when there were no permits from the city. During the scene, traffic was controlled by the NYPD tactical force and unaware pedestrians were coming into contact with the Pontiac.
Gone In 60 Seconds, 1974
Gone In 60 Seconds is about an insurance investigator called Maindrian Pace who has a double life as the leader of a professional car theft ring. A South American drug lord wants Pace and his crew to steal 48 cars. The most difficult car that Pace is tasked to steal is a 1973 Mustang code named ‘Eleanor.’
Eventually, the police are tipped off and chase Pace through several cities covering Long Beach to Carson. The result is a 40 minute chase which sees 93 cars destroyed.
Ronin stars Robert DeNiro as ex CIA agent Sam and the main car chase scene in Paris is one of the greatest of all time. The film was directed by John Frankenheimer, who developed a reputation for compelling car chases with The French Connection and Grand Prix. The Paris scene involved a lot of stuntmen and there were no CGI tricks involved.
Arguably the most famous car chase of all time, Steve McQueen pits his Ford Mustang against hitmen who are trying to run him down. The other car that’s used in the scene is a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T. It has the kind of high-octane action that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats even after all these years.