Movie magic

16 October 2020

­Relive the auto action

Lots of cars and motorcycles are parked in Melbourne garages right now, not being used all that much. And for people that enjoy driving, that might be a bit hard to take. But we can all get a bit of auto action at the moment without leaving our couch. Here are my top 10 auto-themed movies…

  1. Le Mans. A 24-hour race, exotic 1970s sports cars and an almost non-verbal Steve McQueen. What’s not to like?
  2. Grand Prix. John Frankenheimer’s Formula One masterpiece from 1966 featured rare innovations like in-car cameras that allowed viewers to experience the thrill of racing in a new way. Look closely and you’ll see plenty of real-life F1 drivers, including Jack Brabham.
  3. Rendezvous. This 1976 cult classic runs only to eight minutes and was difficult to find until a 2003 DVD release, but the site of an unseen car (with a dubbed Ferrari soundtrack) dashing through the quiet pre-dawn Paris streets is mesmerising. Just don’t do this at home!
  4. The Italian Job. The three Minis driving through impossible situations carrying stolen loot outshine a crashing Lamborghini Miura and Michael Caine’s Aston Martin DB4 convertible, but only just.
  5. Tucker: The man and his dream. Starring Jeff Daniels and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this charming movie shows what can be done when someone really puts their mind to something. But sometimes things only go so far…
  6. Christine. When a man becomes obsessed with his Plymouth Fury things take a turn for the worse. Can a car really be that charming? Stephen King’s masterpiece was outshone by the film for once in this 1980s classic.
  7. Mad Max. For me, the low-budget original with Mel Gibson and a bunch of locally-built classic Falcons racing across the arid Australian landscape captured the era in a way that later sequels did not.
  8. Goldfinger. Every James Bond movie features exotic cars in unlikely situations, but the Aston Martin DB5 that 007 drove through Switzerland, machine guns ablaze and ejector seat… ejecting, set the tone for every ‘car’ movie that followed.
  9. Ronin. That car chase through the streets of Paris set the bar for realism and excitement. And the scripted mention of the Audi S8 (“something very fast”) was a low point in product placement. Still, it’s unmissable. 
  10. Bullitt. Come on, you can’t be serious about car movies without this one. Steve McQueen in his 1968 Mustang GT 390 chasing a shady bad guy in a black Chysler Charger 440 up and over the streets of San Francisco has never been bettered.

Words: VACC CEO, Geoff Gwilym. As featured in the Herald Sun 16 October 2020.

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