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12 Incredible Car Films with Actual Driving That’s Not CGI

Movie theaters exist for a few reasons. The hair-raising vibration, retina-expanding sound, and visuals of a high-speed car chase are darn near the top of the list. Yet, the audience can tell the difference between a real-deal chase and a CGI-generated imitation—it’s the difference between a Porsche Panamera and a Mazda Miata.

You don’t have to be in the theater to enjoy these top-notch automotive movies with real driving, not CGI junk.

1. Drive

Drive Ryan Gosling
Image Credit: FilmDistrict.

Drive is a masterclass in dialogue-minimal cinema. While striking cinematography and a gritty Los Angeles backdrop help, the roaring engine of the Ford Mustang and Chrysler 300 (with after-market enhancements, of course) do the heavy lifting.

Look at the film’s title. It says it all, and Drive lives up to the name.

2. Rush

Rush Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Despite what Vin Diesel might tell you, a self-respecting director cannot make a film like Rush without placing the driving above all. While Ron Howard stylized the film in a way you could mistake for CGI, he used real vintage Grand Prix cars and legendary racing locations. Rush is the real thing.

3. Baby Driver

Baby Driver Ansel Elgort
Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

This musically-powered moving starring Ansel Elgort falls in the highest cohort of car-centric movies. A film with many influences but a wholly original concept and execution, Baby Driver is a cinematic shot of adrenaline.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road Riley Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Courtney Eaton
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

As the years pass, directors gain access to a greater and greater videographic arsenal. A few directors, including Mad Max: Fury Road’s George Miller, take complete, unfettered advantage of that arsenal. The result is an endless furor of epic chase scenes that leave your palms sweaty and feet pressed to the floor.

Does anyone else smell gasoline? Or is the roommate just watching Mad Max: Fury Road again?

5. The Transporter

The Transporter Jason Statham
Image Credit: EuropaCorp.

When prime Jason Statham is your leading man, you know the stunts will be authentic. While The Transporter had plenty of hand-t0-hand combat and pistol play, it’s ultimately a movie about one cool-headed, quick-handed, steely-nerved, Cockney-accented driver.

6. Ford v Ferrari

Ford V Ferrari Christian Bale, Matt Damon
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Ford v Ferrari had the potential to be one of the many overly campy, shallow period pieces that have hit theaters in recent years (looking at you, Hidden Figures). Its stellar critical reception is a testament to the film’s hyper-authentic driving sequences, among other assets.

7. Ronin

Ronin Robert De Niro and Jean Reno
Image Credit: United Artists.

A cops-and-robbers story led by Robert DeNiro and Sean Bean, Ronin has all the trappings of a great action mystery. That includes at least one epic car chase scene that strikes the viewer as completely authentic.

8. Gone in 60 Seconds

Gone in 60 Seconds Angelina Jolie
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Gone in 60 Seconds does not waste time with optional movie features like good acting or a hole-free plot. Gone in 60 Seconds is all about sexy, horse-powered, high-priced, and shockingly stealable cars. We’re talking Ferraris, Porsches, and Hummers—the cream of the automotive crop circa 2000.

9. The Fast and the Furious

The Fast and the Furious Vin Diesel, Paul Walker
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Ok, hear me out. The original The Fast and the Furious had plenty of CGI, especially when the drag racers pressed the NOS button. However, the original movie also thrived on real-world driving scenarios.

By the fourth Fast and Furious film (Fast & Furious is the archetype of a CGI-reliant racing film), much of the love for good ole’ street racing had left the building.

10. Days of Thunder

Days of Thunder Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Looking for a NASCAR-centric film with plenty of rubbin’ and racin’? Check out Days of Thunder, which carries director Tony Scott’s penchant for high-octane action. For all the criticism Days of Thunder received, a lack of authentic, slick racing scenes was not in the complaint box.

11. Death Race

Death Race Jason Statham
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Death Race is precisely the movie you’d expect to be 1000% CGI-generated, but somehow it’s not? With a shockingly qualified cast and a shockingly entertaining viewing experience, Death Race is criminally underrated (pun intended).

12. The French Connection

The French Connection Gene Hackman
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Let’s show some love for the classics, why don’t we? The French Connection is a classic American crime thriller from 1971, based on a true story about New York City detectives’ pursuit of a French heroin smuggler. The film stars Gene Hackman as the tough and determined detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, who becomes obsessed with catching the elusive criminal.


This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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