Stars: Barry Newman, Cleavon Little
Star car: 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
The story: Antihero, with help from a blind DJ, tries to deliver a car in record time.
Why it works: It's an antiestablishment fable dripping with the Vietnam era's distrust of authority. A man versus The Man battle waged over a tasty big-block-powered car. Government distrust is still a pretty hot topic. So is the Challenger.
Quote: "And there goes the Challenger, being chased by the blue, blue meanies on wheels."
Stars: Barry Newman, Cleavon Little
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Gene Barry
Star cars: 1950 Ford coupe, 1957 Ford Fairlane
The story: Noir-ish cops versus moonshiners melodrama.
Why it works: Cheesy dialogue, karate chops, wooden acting make it good-bad, but there's some jaw-dropping stunt driving. And lots of cars blowing up. One of the best speed traps ever: gasoline on spike strips so the car will careen out of control, flip over and crash — into a nearby power station. And blow up.
Star: Mel Gibson
Star car: Australian Ford Falcon
The story: Super Cop Max takes on a motorcycle gang in the near future — a tale of revenge driven by post-apocalyptic cars and crotch rockets.
Why it works: Drama, suspense, violence, dark humor, and that wicked, supercharged Falcon screaming across Australia's empty vastness. It's simple, low budget and gritty.
Quote: "Look, any longer out on that road and I'm one of them, a terminal psychotic — except that I've got this bronze badge that says that I'm one of the good guys."
Stars: Michael Sarrazin, Gary Busey, Raul Julia
Star cars: Shelby 427 Cobra, Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona, Porsche 911 Targa, Camaro Z/28, Dodge Polara
The story: Fictionalized account of Brock Yates' highly illegal cross-country Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.
Why it works: For starters, it features two of the flat-out sexiest cars ever built — the 427 Cobra and Ferrari Daytona — duking it out at high speeds in Manhattan, the L.A. River, and everywhere in between. It's far more car-centered than the ridiculous Cannonball Run.
Stars: James Garner, Eva Marie Saint
Star cars: 1960s Formula 1 racecars
The story: The Euro-cool world of open-wheel racing.
Why it works: A throwback to when men actually drove Formula 1 cars (without computer controls) and stunts were with actual vehicles (without computer controls). The race footage, especially the in-car stuff, is still awesome. Racing purists may think Steve McQueen's Le Mans is more deserving, but this film's storyline is more engaging, soap opera or not.
Quote: "There is no terrible way to win. There is only winning."
Stars: H.B. (Toby) Halicki
Star cars: Many, including a certain Ford Mustang Fastback named Eleanor.
The story: Car thief has to boost 48 cars in a week. Mayhem ensues.
Why it works: The first half is probably studied in film school as how not to write, cast and act in a movie. But the cars on the thieves' hit list are super-fine, and the final 40 minutes have to be seen to be believed. Yes, Halicki hurt himself hitting that light pole. How could he not?
Quote: "I bet five more cars have been stolen in just the time I've been here."
Stars: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel
Star cars: Mitsubishi Eclipse, Toyota Supra, Honda Civic, Mazda RX-7, Dodge Charger R/T, Volkswagen Jetta
The story: Cop goes undercover in L.A.'s import street-race scene to bust a ring of electronics thieves.
Stars: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Richard Petty
Star car: Porsche Carrera, Hudson Hornet, Willys MB, Ford Model T, Volkswagen microbus
The story: Racecar hotshot finds himself off the beaten track and learning life lessons from a bunch of small-towners. Did we mention they're all cars?
Why it works: Tire crumbs flying and roof flaps opening prove this was animated by gearheads. Sharp-eared viewers will dig the insider cameos.
Quote: "Turn right to go left! Guess what? I tried it, and you know what, this crazy thing happened. I went right!"
Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd
Star car: The Bluesmobile — 1974 Dodge Monaco
The story: The Brothers raise money to save their childhood orphanage and put their old rhythm-and-blues band back together. Why? They're on a mission from God.
Why it works: Is there any other movie with as much vehicular carnage? Maybe over-the-top stunts go on too long, but you've been talking about them driving through that mall for years, haven't you? And the music isn't bad either.
Stars: Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford
Star cars: 1932 Ford coupe, 1955 Chevy, 1958 Chevy Impala, 1951 Mercury coupe, 1956 Ford Thunderbird
The story: A memorable last night of cruising for a group of high school friends.
Why it works: Milner's coupe. Falfa's '55. The Pharaoh's '51 Merc. A cop car leaving its rear end on the street. That ghostly white T-Bird with Suzanne Somers. Plus we like the lesson: When faced with life's big questions, hit the road.
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry, Paul Williams
Star car: a 1977 black Pontiac Trans Am with gold eagle paint scheme, one of the most iconic automotive symbols in American film history!
Herbie is an anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle, which is featured in several Disney motion pictures starting with the 1969 film The Love Bug. In the franchise, the car has a mind of its own and is capable of driving itself, and is a serious contender in auto racing competitions. Throughout most of the franchise, Herbie is distinguished by red, white and blue racing stripes from front to back bumper and a racing-style number "53" on the front hood, doors, and engine lid.