Best Car Movies to Stream Tonight (2024)

Best Car Movies on Streaming

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Best Car Movies: Quick Overview

There are so many streaming options that it’s hard for us gearheads to know where to watch our favorite flicks (we have a tendency to scroll endlessly through movies trying to pick something!).

Though movies can appear and disappear occasionally, here are the five best car movies you can stream right now. These selections are available on streaming providers like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix. Some are classics, and some are newer, but any one of them will make for a great movie night.

#1: Grand Prix

John Frankenheimer’s mid-century masterpiece follows the lives of four racers and their teams across the entirety of a season when racing was at its most dangerous. There’s romance and team politics, but the on-track action is the gold standard that makes Grand Prix one of the best car movies ever.

Stellar Cast

If there’s a single lead, it’s James Garner as the American racer, Pete Aron. Yves Montand plays Jean-Pierre Sarti, very French, very fast. The legendary Toshirô Mifune is Izo Yamura, a Japanese racing boss who will win, no matter the cost.

The love interests are played by Eva Marie Saint (as Louise Frederickson), Jessica Walter as Pat, and fashion model Françoise Hardy as Lisa. And don’t forget Brian Bedford as Scott Stoddard and Antonio Sabato as Nino Barlini.

Groundbreaking Visuals

Frankenheimer puts you in the driver’s seat (literally). There are extended camera shots from the most breathtaking angles, enough to make even the most jaded gearhead swoon. How about a full lap, at racing speed, around Monaco from the perspective of a Ferrari’s radiator? The multi-pane editing technique set the trend that Hollywood followed for about a decade after.

And The Sounds!

Grand Prix is more than just wide-screen visuals. The attention paid to sound editing is also a master class. Ferraris sound like Ferraris, BRMs growl with Cosworth V8 power, gear changes make that signature “snik-snak,” and the tires squeal just right. As much as car people love to find continuity errors in car movies, you’ll find very few here.

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The lives of four competitive Grand Prix drivers come to a head in this Oscar-winning and action-packed film.

Year: 1966
Best Car Movies Class: Racing, Classics

#2: Ford v Ferrari

James Mangold’s film is a modern take on the storied rivalry between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari. Ford v Ferrari chronicles the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 with Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), Ken Miles (Christen Bale), and the whole gang at Shelby Racing at the time.

The much-hyped 2019 film has since earned a reputation as one of the best car movies on any streaming service.

Le Mans, Back In The Day

One thing Ford v Ferrari gets right on the money is the look and feel of Le Mans back in 1966: rural and remote and raw and rustic. There’s no dividing wall from the track either, so try not to fly off into those trees at 200 mph – good luck!

With the amount of motoring eye candy in Ford v Ferrari, don’t be surprised if you find yourself pausing to soak it all in. In addition to the up-close detail shots, the whole vibe of what the paddock was like at Riverside or inside Shelby’s race shop on a hot SoCal day is excellent.

As expected, there is plenty of hot-headed energy in Ford v Ferrari. Shelby and Miles go at it, physically and verbally; Hank the Deuce blows his stack, and everyone is amped up, but that’s just how it was. 

More Ford v Ferrari

After you watch Ford v Ferrari on Hulu, take a look at the book Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans. Preston Lerner of Road & Track fame wrote the book, which was published in 2015 by Motorbooks. Working alongside Lerner was Dave Friedman, who served as Shelby’s official photographer in the 1960s. 

Enter the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari, which culminated at Le Mans in 1966.

Year: 2019
Best Car Movies Class: Biopic

#3: American Graffiti

Not all good car movies are about racing. In fact, not all of “the best car movies” are even about cars. Look at George Lucas’ American Graffiti. Sure, the cars are cooler than James Dean sitting on a block of ice, but the movie is really about four teenagers in the early 1960s on their last night of summer vacation.

Before They Were Stars

American Graffiti is one of those bona fide pictures that launched a thousand careers. Dig this cast of then-unknowns: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Suzanne Somers, Mackenzie Phillips, and Harrison Ford.

The rest of the cast is just as solid, if not as famous now: Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Wolfman Jack, Bo Hopkins, and Manuel Padilla Jr.

American Graffiti - best car movies on streaming.
According to IMDb, Universal thought so little of American Graffiti that it sat on the shelf for six months. Convinced it would flop, the studio was surprised when the film was successful after its eventual release. Universal also objected to the title.

Hot Rods & Cool Cars

Milner’s Duce Coupe, Falfa’s nasty ’55 Chevy, Bollander’s showboat Impala. And that ’51 Mercury Coupe. Chopped, channeled, dropped, and Frenched, the Pharaoh’s ride still gets me.

Where Were You in ’62?

Nothing seems as important as it does when you’re 17. Everything is do or die, make or break, and American Graffiti drives that home. Looking for love, falling in love, losing love, and, most importantly, knowing who’s got the fastest car in town. It’s all in this masterful piece of cinema. 

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Before George Lucas told us about a galaxy far, far away, he made an unexpected hit about teenagers in Modesto, California.

Year: 1973
Best Car Movies Class: Coming-of-age

#4: Rush

Speaking of Ron Howard and American Graffiti, we come to yet another one of the best car movies in Rush. Faithful to its subject matter, Howard tells the real story of the knock-down, drag-out rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). 

If you haven’t seen Rush yet, here is a brief summary: Hunt was a 24/7 party boy, and Lauda was cold and calculating. And yes, it really all went down like that

Amazing Shots

Howard, who also did Apollo 13 and got into a fight with Homer Simpson on Springfield Squares, knows how to speak the gearhead language. We get to savor some delicious cars in Rush, and if you dig ’70s vintage GP machinery, this is your movie.

The way the cars are filmed is the best thing since Frankenheimer and Grand Prix (Howard put a camera on a wheel gun during a pit stop). The dirt and grease seem as if they are flying right out of your screen; it’s that up close and personal.

There are a lot more Niki Laudas in racing these days than James Hunts, but there are still a few. Rush is a great way to remember that even though Formula 1 is a billion-dollar business, there’s still room for guys with big personalities.

Rush is available on Netflix now, but regardless of the streaming service, it’s one of the best car movies of our generation. 

Rush follows the rivalry and odd friendship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Grand Prix season.

Year: 2013
Best Car Movies Class: Biopic

#5: Le Mans

Like other films on this list, Le Mans is the spitting image of racing in the 1970s. Although one of the best car movies in history, there are things about Le Mans that make it difficult to watch if you are a casual moviegoer.

All Action, No Talk

Only sparse dialogue complements the documentary style of Le Mans (director Lee H. Katzin used live footage from the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans). Unlike a standard narrative drama, Le Mans does not spoon-feed any information, requiring viewers to piece things together on their own. 

Relatively Unknown Cast

Another thing that may work against Le Mans for the casual viewer is that besides the legendary Steve McQueen, there are no well-known stars in the other roles. 

Of course, we’re not casual viewers here at Automoblog, so the casting isn’t an issue for us, not when there are Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s to gawk at.

When it comes to us gearheads, McQueen has always been one of our best representatives. However, Siegfried Rauch, McQueen’s main on-screen rival, gives a performance that still holds up over 50 years later. 

Best Racing Sequences of All Time

For the diehard fans, the question is if Le Mans is better than Grand Prix? Check out the racing sequences as the big 917s and 512s are dueling down the three-plus mile-long Mulsanne straight before you answer. Internally, our Automoblog team debates which is better, but I aim that Le Mans is the better film.  

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Steve McQueen stars as an American endurance driver racing the 24 Hours of Le Mans, filmed on location in 1970.

Year: 1971
Best Car Movies Class: Adventure

Best Car Movies Conclusion

For us, it’s hard to pick a favorite on this list, but nothing beats a good car movie when you have a day or a weekend off. Le Mans and Grand Prix are all-time classics, but Rush and Ford v Ferrari are two newer films that raised the bar in terms of what a car movie can be. And who can argue with the masterpiece that is American Graffiti?

If you want more high-octane suggestions, take a look at this list of the best car movies on Hulu or the best car movies on Amazon Prime

Longtime Automoblog writer Tony Borroz has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He lives in the northeast corner of the northwestern-most part of the Pacific Northwest.