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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

These 8 car movies from 1971 brought hot rubber to silver screen | Hagerty Media

With the era's racing films and road movies, James Bond and , the 1960s gave us the genesis of the modern action film, but the decade that followed defined and refined it. Stunts and stunt driving were more impressive than ever, and there was a boom in road movies and car chases.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/entertainment/these-8-car-movies-from-1971-brought-hot-rubber-to-silve...
94 REPLIES 94
Wile
Pit Crew

Agreed first one always better than remake even though it came out a couple years later
Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

LOL the Dirty Harry Ford brings back memories. My first car was a Dark Green 1968 Ford Galaxie 302V8. Man that was a long time ago, a lot of water under the bridge since.
GUYR
New Driver

Vanishing Point is so much more than the best car chase movie, it touches on so many things that have to do with everyone in some way , do the right thing , never give up ,falling in love, losing a love. Next to Bullitt, it has such a cult following , myself included . If you haven't seen it , I highly recommend it. Please take into consideration it was shot in 1970 and doesn't have todays computer generated effects. Once you see it , when it's over , you will want to see it again.
Wile
Pit Crew

Very true
JCR
New Driver

They are good , but there is only Vanishing Point! 😉
Wile
Pit Crew

I agree Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry was missed and was one definitely should be on the list, It’s in my collection.
KeenAutos
New Driver

I know the article is about the 70's car movies, but I'm surprised these two movies are not on an honorable mention list; "The Italian Job" (1969) with Mini Cooper's and "Gone in 60 Seconds" (1974) with the Mach 1 Mustang.
Padgett
Intermediate Driver

If not limiting to 1971 then the field is wide open and included quite a few turkeys. OTOH one of the best (with many imitators) was the Gumball Rally (1976) though most versions cut out the Jaguar sequences

OlCampaigner
New Driver

My earliest favorite car movie was "Thunder Road" with Robert Mitcham. Nothing like a flat head V-8 '49 Ford.
Dave404
Detailer

If you watch Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Peter Fonda turns into a dirt road while being chased by a cop and says, "Remember Robert Mitcham in Thunder Road? I'm gonna powder his face".

drhino
Instructor

Yes. Real movies with real driving! Before the “special” effects crap that has cars defying the laws of physics.
DontFooseMyCar
New Driver

It is so refreshing to read a thoroughly researched article written by someone who respects the subject matter.
Hagerty knows cars!
VaCarGuy
Pit Crew

Not '71 but...Viva Las Vegas with Elvis and Ann Margaret. Great cars from the past.
mschratter
New Driver

Help!

I’d love to get a copy of the opening black and white photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images. I’ve scoured the internet but have had no luck.

Anyone have some ideas? Thanks in advance.

mschratter@gmail.com
Kewina50
Intermediate Driver

Many will agree that this list of flicks is a good one! The one that still gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand is "Duel". I recall the first time I viewed that film. I kept wondering how Weaver was going to keep the slant-6 out the Pete's way. To this day I can't help but think of the "Duel" movie any time I see a Conventional Peterbilt tractor! Makes me glad I've got gobs of "go" under the hood. Just in case!
acmehemi
New Driver

Vanishing Point!!
With Mississippi Queen in the soundtrack.....
I have had my 70 Challenger R/T for 47 years........Plum Crazy and White.
And yes, it was a Camaro that went into the dozers - you can tell by the deck lid that went flying.
Sneakyone
Pit Crew

As a side note the Chevy in Two lane Blacktop is running a 69 427 L88 a real beast of motor.Fast fwd to the black trans am in Smokey and the Bandit ..when you hear that exhaust note coming out of that trans am it’s (sorry Pontiac fans) that same Chevy L88 exhaust dubbed in .Love when I tell my Pontiac friends that bit of trivia.
br427
Intermediate Driver

Think you are wrong on both counts. Research the 55s, they had built 454s. As for the exhaust note on the TA, it was from a 400 Pontiac with a hot cam, and I know because I had 20 of them. And don't forget the shift kit where it lays about 20 feet of rubber going into second gear.
davy442
Pit Crew

partly correct. One of the two lane chevy's had a 427 L88. The other car had a LS5 454, both with tunnel rams. I believe the smokey bandit cars were equipped with race like 350 chevy's, and i believe all the movie trans ams were destroyed.
Sneakyone
Pit Crew

So the article with the best info is “15 little known facts about Harrison Ford’s “American Graffiti “1955 Chevy 210....article states 3 engines were sourced from GM (1) 1969 L88 and (2) 454s and the 454s were used as the”voice” over for the Trans Am

davy442
Pit Crew

I actually spoke with Richard Ruth 5 years ago about this. His contract was initially for him to build 2 "identical" '55 chevy drag cars. However, Chevrolet donated the engines and transmissions to him, so he took them and didn't complain, as they were free, and one was a crate L88 427, and the other a crate LS5 454. The third '55 chevy was a later add on to the original agreement, with additional compensation. And as it was planned to be crashed, not much custom work was performed on that vehicle. It was used for 1 or 2 scenes in Two Lane Blacktop, and then used in American Graffiti as the '55 that crashes and burns. It was then discarded, and no longer exists.
Sneakyone
Pit Crew

“...This vehicle ended up seeing some action as a sound -recording vehicle during filming of Smokey and the Bandit”.That from the article written by Ben Levine titled Five most iconic chevys in cinema history ...That’s one of the two times I read it.I think the other time I read it was when I was reading about American Graffiti.I don’t think it was dubbed over when the trans am was right in front of the camera they wouldn’t need to ,but when your filming distant shots and action sequences they use sound effects and in this case they used the 55 Chevy with the big block.The info is out there not making it up out of thin air.

MoPar-or-NoCar
New Driver

A friend of mine's mother, of all people, drive the exact copy (factory OEM unmodified) of that Trans-Am, he "borrowed" it once while his parents were out of town; car was anemic and a big disappointment. My perspective at the time was big-block MoPar's so I guess I was expecting too much from that wheezing 400.
Bill
Detailer

Missed my favourite, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Peter Fonda, Susan George, Adam Roarke.
blitzed
Pit Crew

some of these are available on Amazon Prime, including The Last Run and A Man and a Woman.
cactus
Pit Crew

A lot of the movies you guys mention are not from 1971. I reviewed two of the eight movies mentioned for the student newspaper of the University of Texas in 1971, LeMans and Two Lane Blacktop. I was the only "car guy" on the staff. I played the LP soundtrack from A Man and a Woman a few night ago, and I have the LP record cover framed from the movie Grand Prix hanging on the wall in my den. Grand Prix is still the best car movie ever, in my humble opinion.
BiffNotZeem
Pit Crew

Vanishing Point is THE movie on the list.

I did a Vanishing Point road trip three years ago. As I was leaving Cisco, UT, where the opening and ending were shot, a new white Challenger was driving in.
Jnick
Intermediate Driver

Who could forget “It’s a mad,mad,mad, mad, mad World”? Zany snapshot of 1960’s California complete with a Chrysler Imperial, Plymouth’s, Jeep’s, a nice gas station engine fight scene, lots of goofy 1960’s street racing, not quite so dark as some of the others.
-Nate
Detailer

Amazing ~ I remember reading the paperback book 'Two Lane Blacktop' before the movie and all these years I thought I'd seen a '57 Chevy not a '55 .

I'm old enough to have enjoyed seeing all these films in the theater on the big silver screen where they belong .

-Nate
TimK
Detailer

I've seen all of these movies except Diamonds are Forever and The Last Run. I don't know why I didn't see Diamonds are Forever, maybe I'll watch it next time it comes on my ROKU. I never heard of The Last Run but being a George C. Scott fan I will look for it. I wasn't impressed with 2 Lane Blacktop but the others I thoroughly enjoyed.
But I have a few questions. Why in movies and TV shows from the 40s, 50s and early 60s, the driver frequently exits the car from the passenger side? Why, in almost every movie or TV show involving a car chase, why do we constantly hear the driver shifting gears? Always up and never down. Especially when a truck is involved. Why do we hear tires screeching on dirt roads? When a speedometer is shown, why is it never the correct one for the car that it is supposedly being driven? In older movies and TV, no matter what make car is shown, the sound of the engine cranking is always from a Chrysler gear reduction starter? Why in older movies and TV when driving a car with a 4 headlight system, the high beam bulbs are always the only ones lit. Back then when on high beam all bulbs would light. Why, also, at night the streets were always wet like it had just rained? I remember Mad Magazine in one of their spoofs of a TV show they showed a night scene and a guy was drawn in one of the boxes watering the street with fire hose with a logo on his coveralls that said, "Making It Look Like It Just Rained Company."
Just some observations that mean nothing, the sun still comes up everyday.
1Hot340
New Driver

Film sound editing can be frustrating and filming in daylight hours they use high beams and filters to create nighttime. I agree with your premise that it's all what it is but I'm on board.
What me worry?
1Hot340
New Driver

Harold and Maude, Omega Man, A Clockwork Orange. Mustang, Jaguar, and a Durango 95. Whoo hoo!
BlueBimmers
New Driver

Dave beat me to it. Was totally thinking Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. Was a jarring ending when I watched it at a tender age.
ELDee
Pit Crew

For crazy driving and a bunch of laughs, how about Clint Eastwood in The Gauntlet'
02-orignal-ownr
Detailer

I realize it's not a 1971 movie, but the original "Italian Job" (1969) had one of the most amazing movie car stunts I've ever seen: a Mini-Cooper jumps through the open doors of a boxcar while the train is moving. No CGI then, and it's obvious from the film this is real--no models, no fakery. True, the train is moving pretty slowly, but it's still moving, and when you consider the physics of timing that jump so that the car is neither too early and hits the edge of the boxcar's entry door, nor too late and hits the edge of the exit door...I've often wonder how many Minis were written off practicing that scene...

All in all those chase scenes were much better than those in the re-make.
Ricklandia
New Driver

Of the list, the only one I haven't seen is "The Last Run" but if it's out there I will find it. All the rest are classics, to be sure and I remember them all well as a kid starved for car culture [where I lived at the time it was pretty rare]. But one missed on the list of 1971 exclusives, and another huge influence on my sponge like pre-adolescent brain was George Lucas's "THX1138". Yes, THAT George Lucas. It was a dark, dystopian tale of the future he wrote just out of college [long before his happy/fluffy kids SciFi movies later in the decade] that won him critical acclaim but was a failure at the box office. But what I remember most was the car chase scene toward the end of the movie, two "dressed for the future" Lola T70's in a chase scene that got my heat pumping. Back then I didn't know they were Lola's per se, but as a young boy fixated on whatever tales and photos I could get my hands on regarding European racing, especially LeMans, in the pages of magazines like Road &Track, I knew they were special. I would stay up to all hours of the night to watch that movie when it made it's rare appearance on TV [this was long before the days of VHS let alone cable TV] just to catch a glimpse of those magnificent [in my eye] cars speeding at insane speeds in an underground world.
kknutsen
New Driver

Not 1971, but Return to Macon County with Nick Nolte and Don Johnson is a bad ass car movie. Johnson's '57 Chevy is set up for drag racing and they get into some trouble being from out of town.
240ZV8
Pit Crew

In Vanishing point, I recall Kowalski parks his challenger in one scene and pulls the column shifter into park! The rest showed the famous pistol grip shifter.
mpzz
Detailer

I understand that the average moviegoer would find Two Lane Blacktop and LeMans to be boring, but to a car guy they were engrossing. And years later, the literally two lane roads of Two Lane Blacktop (almost no interstates back then) used to travel between classic small towns with their classic gas stations (NOT convenience stores) is a nostalgia overload. The car chase in The French Connection qualifies it for the list as does the automotive duel in Duel. Never heard of The Last Run, but Vanishing Point is probably the King of all Car Movies.
But Dirty Harry? It has nothing to do with cars or car chases, and the Bond movies were just stupid, not to mention the '71 Mustang was so ugly it killed off the car in favor of the Pinto-based Mustang II!
Merkin2021
Pit Crew

Nearly all the nation’s freeways were completed by 1970, but that just makes “Two Lane Blacktop” all the more evocative for us boomers who grew up in small towns and knew which 20-something guy with a dead-end job was at the top of the pecking order on a given year by selling his soul to a finance company in order to own a 455 GTO or a Hemi Challenger. The freeways bypassed these towns.
64jeepsrt
Intermediate Driver

Does anybody remember the movie "Hot rods to hell" it came out in 1967, had some cool hot rods in it.
61Rampy
Advanced Driver

Omg, one of my favorite movies! Not that it was a good movie, I thought it had the worst acting ever. Dad, (Dana Andrews), a guy who hasnt any idea what the gas pedal even does is driving his 60 (maybe 61) Plymouth at like 40 mph tops on his way to a hotel he purchased. He encounters bad-guy hot rods, he is scared to push his Plymouth any faster, but he gets to hotel unscathed. Hot rod guys find him and his sorta-hottie daughter and torment them some more with their cars. He gets revenge by fooling them to crash headon into his car (if i recall correctly), totalling theirs out. I watch the movie because its sooooo bad.
Nickster
New Driver

On the Beach for amazing 50s and 60 race and sports cars, Viva Las Vegas for the same.... And Ann-Margaret's legs....
Merkin2021
Pit Crew

You got most of ‘em. Rather than that tail-ender Scott movie of little consequence, I wish you’d included Roy Hill’s 1978 classic “The Driver.” In it, Ryan O’Neal plays a laconic-to-the-point of hilarity professional getaway driver whose life seems devoid of everything but getting Bruce Dern’s goat. Dern gets his revenge, doling out what must be his own ad libs, mocking any sympathetic character by shredding them with his sarcasm, and eventually getting the audience on his side.

When O’Neal, who lost all his creds for “Barry Lyndon” when he made this movie, is not sitting on his bed playing old “Speed Racer” episodes in his unconscious, he is piloting the most unlikely getaway cars you can imagine. He destroys a lovely early-60s Mercedes sedan in kind of an audition, and goes on to out maneuver a Firebird while at the wheel of a ridiculously souped-up Chevy pick-up.

Everybody knows pick-ups can’t handle, but O’Neal’s dead-pan brilliance sets him apart. I’ll leave it at that, in case you want to watch this film. In the scant hope you can find a copy, “The Driver” can be viewed as a high-brow satire of car chase movies, or an existential exercise involving a post-modern American philosopher who earned his knowledge by navigating the sea of petroleum that made his country what it is, and now is in the process of destroying it.
Jigger
New Driver

Cristine!! That Plymouth was amazing