Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Automoblog earns from qualifying purchases, including the movies featured here. These commissions come to us at no additional cost to you.
This list of the best car movies on Amazon Prime is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of what’s available for streaming if you want some high-octane action after work one night. We also included a couple of car series on Amazon Prime in case you feel like binge-watching something over the weekend.
Below is a short synopsis of each film and its trailer, along with a link to watch it on Amazon Prime.
#1: American Graffiti
Set in Modesto, California, this George Lucas coming-of-age tale is just as relevant today as it was in 1973. On the final night of summer, Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfus), Steve Bolander (Ron Howard), John Milner (Paul Le Mat), and “The Toad” (Charles Martin Smith) meet outside Mel’s Drive-In. What transpires after is what some deem the “end of innocence” for film’s youth as Lucas masterfully captures what it’s like to be at the proverbial crossroad between our teenage years and adulthood. And there are greasers too!
The music is right for the film’s subject matter, with the original soundtrack featuring the likes of Bill Haley and the Comets, Buddy Holly, Del Shannon, The Platters, Chuck Berry, and The Beach Boys. Wolfman Jack’s husky voice is even heard. From a gearhead’s perspective, it’s a wonderful movie with Milner’s yellow Deuce Coupe, Falfa’s menacing ’55 Chevy, The Pharaohs’ Mercury, and The Blonde’s (Suzanne Somers) Thunderbird.
American Graffiti, which arguably put Harrison Ford on the map, later inspired David Fincher when he was directing Fight Club in 1999.
#2: The Grand Tour
Smoking, foul language, and stuff blowing up! That’s an excellent way to sum up what happens when “the guys” get back together. The Grand Tour is an Amazon-produced series starring those three lovable petrolheads from BBC’s Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May take their shtick of automotive mayhem on the road this time around, and it’s awesome!
You have four seasons to binge on Amazon Prime with many of the same antics that made Top Gear a hit. It’s three friends on a fantastic journey with terrible jokes, bad hairstyles, wild cars, and the lot. Our favorite episodes are seven and eight in season one, in which the trio goes across Namibia in custom-built beach buggies. The Motown Funk and Chinese Food for Thought episodes in season three are pretty good too!
Rush is Ron Howard’s take on racing’s two unlikeliest frenemies, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). Fantastically shot and wonderfully edited, Rush is a no-nonsense look at Grand Prix racing in the mid-70s as the meticulous Lauda squares off against Hunt, a 24/7 good-time party boy.
You don’t have to be a racing fan to appreciate the storytelling here, especially as Brühl and Hemsworth bring Lauda and Hunt to life on screen. Those who have worked in Motorsports can tell you that drivers are, generally, a taciturn bunch. They don’t talk much. And when they do, it’s not about their feelings or what it’s like to crash and almost die. In his directing of Rush, Howard has captured this aspect more so than any other modern racing movie. It’s easily among the best car movies on Amazon Prime.
#4: Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman
Adam Carolla and Nate Adams take inspiration from the book written by Matt Stone and Preston Lerner to document the life of the talented Paul Newman.
Although an accomplished actor, Newman always had a lasting itch for cars, entering the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona at age 70 and racing until he was 82. During the 1970s, Bill Freeman and Newman had a strong North American Can-Am team. By 1983, the Academy Award-winning actor, who once made Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” was alongside Carl Haas as an owner in the IndyCar Series.
Newman starred in a number of memorable films, including Cool Hand Luke, Slap Shot, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Hustler, and Road to Perdition. Not counting the latter movie, one of Newman’s last roles was as the voice of Doc Hudson in the Disney movie Cars.
Carolla and Adams get it right in Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman. If you need some good inspiration about someone chasing their dreams well into the winter of their life, don’t skip this one.
#5: The 24 Hour War
Admittedly, we were one of the few dissenting voices among the myriad of positive reviews of Ford v Ferrari in 2019, but The 24 Hour War is more our style. Adam Carolla and Nate Adams, who worked together on the Newman biopic, reunite for one of the most famous battles in racing history: the Ford and Ferrari rivalry that culminated at Le Mans in 1966.
Carolla and Adams packed The 24 Hour War with a stellar list of interviewees, including David Hobbs, Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Piero Ferrari, A.J. Baime, John Surtees, Charlie Agapiou, Mario Andretti, Bob Bondurant, and more. The “star power” here is what makes The 24 Hour War one of the best car movies on Amazon Prime.
#6: Greased Lightning
“Richard Pryor Drives ’em Wild” was the tagline for Greased Lightning, the 1977 film loosely based on the life of Wendell Oliver Scott, the first African American to compete full-time in NASCAR’s Grand National Series. Scott was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 after accumulating 495 starts, 20 top-five finishes, and 147 top-10 finishes.
In the starring role of Scott, Pryor is supported by Pam Grier, Beau Bridges, and Cleavon Little from Temperatures Rising fame. Although the cinematography has held up well over the years, this is one film we think could use a remake. Perhaps Kevin Hart would be up for playing Scott?
#7: The Gymkhana Files
Race car driver Ken Block put the word “hoon” into the modern lexicon. The Gymkhana Files takes you behind the scenes of the viral video franchise that attempts to outdo itself once again, all while racing in the World Rallycross Championship. This eight-episode series documents the making of Gymkhana 10 and includes never-before-seen footage from Block’s prior films.
Highlights of the Prime Original Series include Block and Hoonigan co-founder Brian Scotto taking the Ford Mustang Hoonicorn to Detroit, the 1991 Ford Escort Cosworth RS on steel rims in episode four, and a Ford Fiesta RS WRC on a frozen lake in Sweden.
This William Friedkin loose remake of the French film The Wages of Fear from 1953 isn’t exactly a car movie, but it has some of the craziest driving you’ll ever see. Sorcerer is the story of four guys on the lam in the South American town of Porvenir who are offered a handsome sum to transport a lethal shipment of nitroglycerin through the jungle. Hollywood icon Roy Scheider (The French Connection, Jaws, The Rainmaker) plays death-row convict Jackie Scanlon who leads the group.
Although the film tanked when it debuted in 1977 – likely due to being released about the same time as Star Wars – it’s remerged as a forgotten classic, with some even saying it’s Friedkin’s best work. For us, it’s a winner and one of the best car movies on Amazon Prime (without technically being a car movie).
#9: A Sicilian Dream
We came across A Sicilan Dream while randomly scrolling through Amazon Prime one night, decided to watch it, liked it, and then wrote a review about it. The 2015 documentary film, helmed by Philip Walsh, explores the backstory of the grueling Targa Florio race that wound its way through the sublime Sicilian landscape for nearly 70 years.
Coming in at just over an hour in length, A Sicilan Dream is a montage of the sights, sounds, and impressions of the Targa Florio, or in other words, what it was like “to be there.” Walsh gives screentime to famous competitors, like Alain de Cadenet, who nearly bought it while running there in the early 70s, officials, and most delightful of all, locals. Little old ladies who saw Tazio Nuvolari race before the war and old guys who snuck around as kids.
The Targa Florio is gone now, along with the other two that made up the holy trinity of open road races, The Mille Miglia and The Carrera Panamericana. We’re collectively poorer for that, but if you want a pretty good look at what it was like, grab a snack and throw on A Sicilian Dream.
#10: Gone in 60 Seconds
Even though you have probably already seen it a dozen times by now, the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds is still good fun while lounging in your living room on a lazy Saturday night. Nicolas Cage plays Randall “Memphis” Raines, who attempts to “boost” 50 cars with his old crew in one night to appease the vicious Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston). Those 50 cars are Calitri’s asking price in exchange for the life of Memphis’ younger brother, Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi).
Cage, Eccleston, and Ribisi are joined by an all-star cast of Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall, Will Patton, Delroy Lindo, Scott Caan, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Peña, and Master P. As far as the cars go, Eleanor is the undisputed main event, but she’s not alone in Gone in 60 Seconds, starring alongside a host of Ferraris, Cadillacs, and Porsches.
For us, it’s Vinnie Jones as Sphinx, the mortician, that really makes it one of the best car movies on Amazon Prime. Here is our favorite line from the movie, as spoken by Jones: “If his unpleasant wounding has in some way enlightened the rest of you as to the grim finish below the glossy veneer of criminal life, and inspired you to change your ways, then his injuries carry with it an inherent nobility. And a supreme glory. We should all be so fortunate. You say poor Toby. I say poor us.”
Best Car Movies On Amazon Prime Bonus Flick: Le Mans
If you have seen everything on this list already, Steve McQueen’s ode to the most famous sports car race in the world is a good bonus pick. Real Porsche 917s, believable replicas of Ferrari 512s, Lolas, support-category 911s, and little French heaps. From a car spotter’s perspective, this movie is spot on!
The cinematography is innovative and compelling, as much of the movie was shot during the actual running of the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans. Whether you know much about racing or not won’t really matter. Like how people who know little about cars can still get into The Fast and the Furious, you don’t have to be a racing scholar to enjoy Le Mans (although there are books if you want to become a racing scholar).