My Top 5 Car Movies (documentaries)

I was going to write about just one of these films, but then I figured why not turn it into a list? There have been some absolutely brilliant motorsport films in the last few years. Here, in no particular order, are my Top 5 Car Movies.

Note: All these films are documentaries. As is pointed out in comments, there are many fiction/action movies featuring cars. I haven’t considered them for this list. Maybe that’s for another time 🙂

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Truth in 24 II – Every Second Counts

This is at the top of the list as it’s the movie I just finished watching. If you’ve seen Truth in 24 then you’ll know the drill for this one. It’s basically an 83 minute ad for Audi’s TDI endurance racing team and their campaign at LeMans.

Don’t let the fact that you know the drill put you off watching it. It’s compelling viewing. The quality of the Audi racing team is apparent for all to see and it’s little wonder they’ve won 10 LeMans races in 12 years.

BONUS: iTunes users can get access to Truth in 24 II, in high definition, for free. I just watched it tonight via my little Apple TV box. Free access is available in U.S., United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

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Truth in 24

Whilst the sequel is good, I’d really recommend you watch the original first. It’s a great insight into the dedication and teamwork required to run a LeMans team. The Audi crew’s commitment and professionalism is remarkable and the risks these guys take to drive in this race are breathtaking.

Here’s a 60 second trailer, but the full Truth in 24 film is available on Youtube.

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TT: Closer to the Edge

If you think guys who race at LeMans are risk takers, you need to see TT: Closer to the Edge.

OK, this doesn’t strictly fit within the title of “Car Movies”. This movie is all about motorcycle racing, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) and the ….. unique personalities that put their lives on the line to win the ultimate bike race. The action is intense. The people are funny, inspiring and scary all at the same time and the movie is wonderfully made. You can’t help but cheer for men like Guy Martin.

Highly recommended. Tip: I don’t know if a 3D version is available on DVD, but it was at the cinema and it was a great way to see this film.

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Senna

There might be five motorsports fans who haven’t seen Senna yet and if you’re one of them, then repent, watch it, then go forth and sin no more.

More than any of the other movies on this list, Senna draws out the extreme talent that’s needed to succeed at the top level of motorsport. It’s a fascinating insight into Ayrton Senna’s life and career, using a lot of old film presumably from family movies, combined with interviews and racing footage. It’s also a bird’s-eye view at the power plays and politics in Formula 1, which I assume are only more prevalent today.

There are two versions out there – a 3-hour version and a 100 minute version. See the long one. You’ll be glad you did.

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Love The Beast

Love the Beast was made by Australian actor, Eric Bana (The Hulk, Blackhawk Down, Munich, Chopper). It’s the story of his love affair with a car that he’s owned since he was 15 years old. The film follows his campaign in a race called Targa Tasmania, a 5-day tarmac rally on public roads right here in my back yard.

There’s some stunning driving footage in this film and it’s a wonderful showcase for this premier motorsports event. The film is more about Bana and his friends, and the way the car has bound them together, acting as a campfire for them to gather around over the years.

This film features appearances by Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno and Dr Phil McGraw. All three contribute to the discussion about car culture and try to give their insight into why cars are such powerful magnets for some men. Dr Phil is particularly impressive.

Watch it with your wife.

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Got any recommendations of your own?

Comments are open!

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15 Comments

  1. Not necessarily a “car” movie but one of my favorite car-related sequences in a movie is the chase scene in San Francisco, California, USA from the movie BULLIT with Steve McQueen. Totally awesome!

  2. I must admit I have not heard of any of these films before, but they all sound interesting. “Love the Beast” sounds very interesting….a study of car culture. : -)

    1. Jose, do you mean the ‘Transorfmer’ films? I’ve not heard of Transporter movies.

      If you mean the Transformer ones, then the answer from me (as far as this list is concerned) would be ‘no’. They’re fine for special effects and a bit of filler for an afternoon, but all five of these films are documentaries about real people who take real risks or achieve real things in activities that are incredibly demanding and, of course, life threatening.

      It’s the crossover between cars, culture, achievement and risk that makes all five of these films so compelling.

      UPDATE/EDIT – I’ve just searched IMDB and found the films you’re talking about (with Jason Statham, right). Looks like it might be good watching, but they still wouldn’t make this list.

      Maybe I need to do another list of fiction/action movies featuring cars? Ronin, The Italian Job, etc.

  3. Your choice is much too sophisticated for me 😉 , so here are my Top 3 car movies:

    1. Christine
    (Never seen a better “description” about the dark sides of car obsession. The end sucks.)
    2. Le Mans
    (Steve McQueen in a Porsche 917 on the Hunaudières, what more can you ask for?)
    3. Vanishing Point from 1971
    (I really don’t know why I love that movie…maybe it is just because of the Dodge Challenger driven by Kowalski.)
    4. Die Evolution des Driftwinkels
    (Documentary about the history of rallye racing, you know it, forgot the english title…)
    5. Vincent will Meer
    (German road movie, not a car movie, a guy with tourette syndrome escapes with two others from their clinic in a…yes you were right…Saab 900. Even a good movie without looking at the car.)

    P.S. Eggs and I have the same problem.

  4. I’d recommend some movies from Browns, considering they are primary surfers, the motosport movies are quite good.
    On any sunday – Bruce Brown
    Dust to Glory – Dana Brown

  5. I like the list Swade, and saw the Senna movie at the local cinema. Unfortunately all the sub titles were off screen (? poor formatting at the cinema) but I got the general gist.

    I’m about to take a drive up to the local video shop to hire ‘Love the Beast’ on the strength of your recommendation. I only hope I can bridge the gap to Aussie culture after living here 20 years but not growing up here in the 70’s (I’m all Escorts, Porsche 911’s rallycross etc) rather than Aussie muscle cars. What will be more of a test is to see whether I don’t throw a brick at the set – at Dr Phil. An ordinary guy getting paid zillions to make fairly obvious observations about his fellow humans ….and people (mostly women) seem to hang on his every word as though he is some sort of guru.

    This next bit is slightly off topic in a sense but a suggestion of what SHOULD be made a movie of:
    Have you ever read “Unless I’m very much mistaken.. the Autobiography of Murray Walker”?
    Now that would be compelling viewing. I’ve read the book several times and it’s just as though he’s reading the story to you. The narrative style is wonderful.

    Will let you know how the movie goes.

    1. Ian, I was cynical about Dr Phil when I walked into the cinema, but came away impressed. In fact, I thought he was the most impressive of the three ‘special contributors’. Approach him with an open mind on this one.

      I haven’t read Walker’s book in a few years, but yes, it was great.

      1. *”Hello, do you have a copy of ‘Love the Beast’?”
        – “Yes we have one in store, available for 7 nights”
        * “Thanks I’ll be there shortly”……

        10 min later, at a rather large video rental outlet:

        -“It should be here, or in the next row…but they do get put in the wrong spot sometimes. I’m sure I’ve seen it….somewhere”

        After a 30 minute search (unassisted by the assistant) no sign of said disc, so I settled for a Russell Crowe movie and a disc full of Clarkson, the last 20min of which had him belting round Lyddin Hill in an Escort Mexico. Not a bad way to while away an afternoon off sick with a headcold.

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