Say you’re a gearhead, and Hulu is your steaming service of choice. What, prey tell, are your options if you’re in the mood for some commercial-free, car-oriented entertainment? Though movies can appear and disappear from time to time, here are the best car movies on Hulu. Some could be called classics, some are newer, and others are obscure, but all of them are well worth your time.
#1: Ford v Ferrari
Helmed by action director James Mangold (Logan, The Wolverine, Cop Land), Ford v Ferrari tells the story of the time Ford (both the man and the company) decided to beat Ferrari (again, both the man and the company) at their own game at The 24 Hours of Le Mans. The much-hyped 2019 film has since earned a reputation as one of the best car movies on Hulu.
Men Behind The Machines
FvF stars Matt Damon as the legendary Carroll Shelby and Batman himself, Christian Bale as Ken Miles. One thing Mangold gets right is that, when motivated enough, Shelby was a tough SOB. And Miles, although a great test and setup driver, had an extremely short fuse. Damon and Bale butt heads like two big horns in May. There are other standout performances from the great Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca and Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II, CEO of Ford.
Ford v Ferrari: The Cars
The cars – our reason for being a gearhead – are lovingly displayed. The action is more than just Le Mans, as there’s Daytona and SoCal club racing and lots of testing. The sound design is excellent, and the old pits at Le Mans really take you back. Watch Ford v Ferrari, if nothing else, for a trip down memory lane.
The Big Race
Sure, we all know how this turns out, but that doesn’t make Mangold’s take on the story any less entertaining or gripping. It ain’t over till it’s over, as The Wise Man said, end even here, that might not be enough. While all the racing is happening, there are behind-the-scenes schemes and machinations, personality conflicts, and the like. All of that is a nice dish to the main course.
Enter the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari, which culminated at Le Mans in 1966.
Year: 2019 Best Car Movies Class: Biopic
#2: Initial D
Much to my surprise, I found that Hulu has the original Initial D in its lineup. Not the movie but the original anime series (although I recommend the movie too). Initial D will need no introduction to hardcore JDM types, but for those of you not in the know, let me explain. It’s a homegrown Japanese street racing show like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, except only its good. Very, very good!
There’s Always a Rivalry
Takumi Fujiwara is our main guy. An unassuming and aloof tofu delivery driver, he’s a Japanese kid witha rocket-hot AE86 he can sling around mountain curves in ways Vin Diesel could only dream about. There are race teams, rivalries, and egos aplenty; the Akina SpeedStars and the RedSuns are like the Jets and Sharks in West Side Story, bothproviding that dramatic impulse gearheads will quickly recognize.
Subbed & Dubbed
We get two seasons (80 episodes) of Initial D anime on Hulu. You get your choice of subbed or dubbed. If you want the original, as seen in Japan, you can watch those with English subtitles. Okay with dubbed? Then Hulu’s got you covered there too. Even if JDM stuff isn’t your cup of tea, watch Initial D to see what all the fuss is about.
The RedSuns and SpeedStars battle on Mt. Akina in this Japanese street racing manga series by Shuichi Shigeno.
Year: 1998 Best Car Shows Class: Anime
The deservedly respected Pixar film somehow manages to entertain kids, adults, and enthusiasts at the same time. It still holds up after all these years, and when you’re not laughing your head off, it’s incredible just how accurate all the motoring details are.
Makers We Know & Trust
Cars is a Pixar joint and was yet another in a long line of hits from the Emeryville-based animation studio. John Lasseter directed it with the screenplay by Lasseter, Dan Fogelman, Joe Ranft, Kiel Murray, Phil Lorin, and Jorgen Klubien. What’s worth noting is all these Pixar staffers are like us. They all drive interesting vehicles, and Lasseter was known to have impromptu car shows on the Pixar lot. Cars is a good movie because it was made by writers, directors, and animators who know their stuff.
Sure, some of the cars are generic-looking (like Lightning McQueen), but the others are spot-on down to fasteners. There are old tow trucks, wheezy Fiats, 911s, and beyond cool lowrider Impalas. The best is Newman’s 1951 Hudson Hornet. If you don’t get just how serious a ’51 Hornet could be, buy me a beer sometime, and I’ll fill you in.
Voices We Miss
To say the voice cast in Cars is stellar completely undersells it. Check it out: Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, George Carlin, and, best of all, the aforementioned Paul Newman (Winning is still one of our favorite movies). They even worked Richard Petty, Humpy Wheeler, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Jr., and Michael Schumacher into the script.
Funny enough, the plot of Cars is as old and time-worn as Mater’s fenders. Young gun wants to win the big race, yadda yadda. Snore! How Boring. But remember, Toys was only a kid’s movie about toys coming to life (that’s not new either), and it’ll have you crying by the end. If you haven’t seen it in a while, Cars is probably better than you remember.
While stranded in Radiator Springs, racing ace Lighting McQueen discovers there is more to life than fortune and fame.
Year: 2006 Best Car Movies Class: Family
Look, we’ve all had bad vehicles. We all have horror stories about breakdowns, money pits, and clunkers we couldn’t wait to get rid of (for me, it is always Lucas “electrical systems”). But I bet none of us had a car literally trying to kill us. Such is the story of Christine, based on the 1983 book by Stephen King and brought to life (literally) on screen by director John Carpenter.
Balanced & Talented Cast
The main cast was a bunch of young, then-unknown actors who later went on to very productive careers. Keith Gordon plays Arnie Cunningham, a nerdy boy who buys Christine, a fire engine red 1958 Plymouth Fury. Christine has all the classic ingredients: a huge powerplant, vintage white-wall tires, blacked-out windows, and a mind of her own!
John Stockwell is Dennis Guilder, a former football player and Arnie’s best buddy. Alexandra Paul is Leigh Cabot, Arnie’s on-again, off-again girlfriend; let’s just say she’s a little threatened by Arnie’s car. The young stars are offset by some old and established talent like Robert Prosky as garage owner Will Darnell and the great Harry Dean Stanton as Detective Rudy Junkins.
Good Guys & Bad Guys
Like many of King’s stories, Christine has the standard, but well-loved characters, from the overlooked lonely kid and the too-cute girl to the bullies, well-meaning old people, and just plain mean old people. Over 40 years later, King continues to be a bestseller with this methodology, and Christine has since become a cult classic.
“Whoa, whoa. You better watch what you say about my car. She’s real sensitive.”
Year: 1983 Best Car Movies Class: Thriller
Thanks to the legendary Pontiac GTO, true gearheads have known DeLorean’s name since the 1960s. Yet those same gearheads were shaking their heads in the early ’80s when the whole DeLorean Motor Cars (DMC) saga started. Although the details of DeLorean’s life are well known by now, one of the best car movies on Hulu is this 2018 film directed by Nick Hamm, starring Jason Sudeikis, Judy Greer, and Lee Pace.
Cars & Cocaine
There’s a line uttered by Sudeikis, playing real-life FBI informant Jim Hoffman, that echoes what I said to myself in 1982 when the words “DeLorean” and “cocaine” were coupled all over every availablemedia outlet: “Who the hell is stupid enough to fund their car company with coke!?” DeLorean’s unicorn company went up in smoke, leaving a giant crater when it finally landed.
Pace pulls off a believable DeLorean, which wasn’t easy given the automotive executive’s stature in his heyday. Pace has that same strange charisma the actual DeLorean had, like a light you can’t help but look at, one he can switch on any time he chooses. Sudeikis doesn’t miss a beat as Hoffman, a desperate drug runner now on a Federal leash. And Judy Greer is flawless as the “I’m trying to be supportive here” wife of Sudeikis.
An FBI informant lures auto magnate John DeLorean into an undercover sting for cocaine trafficking.
Year: 2019 Best Car Movies Class: Drama
Are These The Best Car Movies on Hulu?
For now, given how fast things come and go from our favorite streaming services! If you’re tired of wrenching on your project car and subscribe to Hulu, we’ve got you covered in the car movie department. Did we miss something? Anything else on Hulu? Hit us up on Twitter and let us know.
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.