Why do we watch certain movies more than others? Being gearheads, I think it’s because there are certain films we see ourselves in more than others. This list is hardly authoritative, but I’d like to know if you see agree with this list and why you think it is – or is not – a top 10 movie for gearheads.
The Living Daylights
Bond. James Bond. If there’s anything better than being licensed to kill and getting an Aston Martin as a company car, it’s being licensed to kill and getting an Aston Martin company car through Q Branch. Now, Bond is perhaps best known for his DB5, he’s driven a few BMWs, and his movies are full of Fords, but why do we, as gearheads, enjoy the antics of Mr. Bond? Which was your favorite Bond car? Personally, I love how they featured so many gadgets on the V8 Vantage in The Living Daylights.
One word puts such delicious visions in your head, doesn’t it? A raw, gritty car chase through San Francisco. The purity of American Iron engaged in a no holds barred game of cat-and-mouse. There is no musical soundtrack. There is no sensational explosion upon impact. There is no BS. For me, the Bullitt chase is top shelf because it is realistic and believable, but why do you like it?
Back to the Future
Few movie cars are so memorable they practically define a generation. Find any car guy who was old enough to handle solid foods and get himself across the living room to the TV in 1985 and you’ll find someone who can tell you all about Doc Brown’s time machine (and maybe a little bit about John DeLorean). This gearhead is holding off on an EV purchase until Mr. Fusion shows up. Why do we still love this car?
The Fast and the Furious
Hold on, hold on. Before you hit the back button, I’m NOT including TFATF here because it was any kind of cinematic masterpiece, or even remotely accurate in terms of technical details. The above, FWD, non-turbocharged Eclipse shifts through 7 gears on its way to spinning out in reverse in the opening scene of the franchise. The average gearhead could write a book about everything wrong about this movie and its impact on the sport compact scene, but how often do you still use lines from this movie to joke around with your friends? I don’t know about you, but I still enjoy lecturing my buddies on “granny-shifting, not double-clutching like ya should,” and greeting someone’s shiny new engine with “2JZ, no shit.” It’s just fun. How did TFATF impact your life?
Okay. I’ll come right out and admit it. My favorite character from the Cannonball flicks? Not the hot chicks in the Countach. Not Deano and Sammy in the Ferrari. Not even Jackie Chan in the rocket-powered Subaru. It was Him. Yes, Him. And while I’ve since grown up and think illicit speed contests like the ones marketed as gimmick rallies are damaging to the efforts of legitimate motorsports all over the world, I still love the idea of unbridled speed across the open highway. What would Him say? I dunno. I want to know what you say.
The ultimate dystopian adventure. The sad story of a gearhead trying to live a decent life in a rough world who sees everything that matters to him – his friends, his wife, his child – taken by foul smelling monsters who live without fear of reprisal. When Max takes his revenge, he does so in a way immediately clear to every gearhead on the planet – hr gets behind the wheel of the biggest, baddest, most righteously evil machine he can get his hands on, and he runs those bastards down one by one. I’ve never seen an XB GT Falcon like the Interceptor in the flesh, but I know I want one. Do you?
While there were plenty of holes in the plot and cheesy acting, Msr. Frank, the Transporter, is perhaps what many of us gearheads would like to see ourselves become. Successful entrepreneur, self-employed, drives a sweet car, drives it better than just about anyone else, and gets to play with guns between kicking all kinds of badguy ass. Sure beats a day at the office, right? While the later installments of this franchise started to look more like Crank, the first kept things simple. Frank had rules. Do you? What are they?
Dazed and Confused
“I hope you brought your wood screws, ’cause I’m gonna blow your doors off, man.” Wooderson never grew up. He got a job working for the city to put enough change in his pocket to cover his rent, beer, smokes, and engine mods. This movie hearkens back to simpler times, when we spent our paychecks buying music, polishing the ride, and partying with friends. Dazed and Confused is packed with enough vintage steel to make just about anyone want to find a muscle car, a drive-in, and a kegger on a Friday night. Think back to when you first started driving, was it anything like this? Can we ever get back that feeling? How?
Why do we like this movie so much? They never tell us what’s in the case, Larry didn’t deserve to die like that, and the girl gets away (or does she) in the end. Is it because this is an epic heist flick with epic car chases? Or is it the references to Bushido and seeing honor among thieves? For me, it’s a little bit of both. I think the real story here is not so much the pursuit of the case, but the pursuit of meaningful connections against the odds.
Love the Beast
Okay, this list really isn’t in any particular order. It’s almost entirely subjective, but Love the Beast comes in at #1 in my book for the best gearhead movie of all time and I’ll tell you why. Eric Banna is a famous movie star. He’s pretty much set for life, right? Well, he could go out tomorrow and buy probably any super- or hypercar he wants and pay cash for it. He even races new Porsches all over the place on a regular basis. And yet, he still hangs on to his old Falcon XB.
Not only does he hang onto his original car, he hangs onto his original friends, and together they do what all of us wish we could do – build the everloving shit out of the project car we’ve got and take on the world. Doesn’t matter if it’s not the best platform for this type of racing. Doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it. We’re going racing, we’re doing it our way, and we’re doing it with our friends.
Watching this movie, you get the feeling everything about it is real. For all the other movies above, full of characters we’d like to be, Love the Beast shows the characters we already are, more to the point, Love the Beast shows the world just how important we – the gearheads of the world – are.
So, gearhead, what say you? Why do you think my list is solid? Why do you think it’s not? How could we make this list even better? What movies did I leave out?
Go fast with class and press on regardless.