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The 10 Best Car Chases of the 70’s

Posted in Car Chase, Car Stunts, Lists, Movie Cars, Movies, Videos by MrAngry | February 3rd, 2010 | 22 Responses |


Bullitt, released in 1968, is sometimes credited with the car chase boom of the 70s

For those of you around back then, the 70’s were awesome. We had bell-bottoms, disco and the Pontiac Trans Am. We were also inundated with the 70’s style car chase. You see, in the 1970’s they would generally use the same car throughout the entire chase scene. If directors could, they would try to get away with using only one car for a more authentic look and feel. Damage that occurred during filming could now be seen throughout the entire chase. These were filmed before computers, high end editing software and product placement. The results are some of the best car chases ever captured on film.

1. Vanishing Point: 1970

1970 Dodge Challenger

Kowalski. He was an ex-motorcycle racer, ex-racecar driver and ex-cop who’s all hopped up on speed (the drugs, not MPH). His job? Transport a supercharged 1970 Dodge Challenger to someone else in the movie who is not in any way important. There is also a naked chick on a motorcycle whose kinda’ hot.

2. The French Connection: 1971

1971 Pontiac LeMans

It’s Gene Hackman, a 1971 Pontiac LeMans and an elevated subway platform in the boroughs of NY. It was also the first rated “R” movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture… go figure.

3. Fear is the Key: 1972 – Part 1

1972 Ford Gran Torino

Barry Newman, who plays Kowalski in “Vanishing Point” is back, but this time driving a 1972 Ford Gran Torino. He plays Talbot, a Dude who’s searching for the answers that will lead to the hopeful capture of his family’s murderers.

On a sad note, the entire movie is actually crap, but the chase makes it worth checking out.

4. The Seven-Up’s: 1973

1973 Pontiac Ventura

Very similar to “The French Connection”, but this time it’s Roy Scheider (Jaws) and a 1973 Pontiac Ventura. This is very close to the 1971 Pontiac LeMans that Hackman drove in the above. You know in hindsight, they probably could have just named this movie “The French Connection II: Cops Who Drive Pontiac’s”, although I’m not sure if that’s Oscar worthy.

5. White Lightning: 1973

1971 Ford LTD

Burt Reynolds plays an ex-moonshiner who’s all pissed off because Ned Beatty shot and killed his younger brother. This flick is actually the prequel to another movie called “Gator”, that takes place a few years down the line. Reynolds however drives a boat in that one. I mean that’s cool an all, but this one’s better… trust me.

6. McQ: 1974

1971 Cadilliac DeVille / 1970 Plymouth Satellite

Ok, this is not the best car chase in the movie. The best one had to do with a 1972 Pontiac Trans Am, but I couldn’t find it anywhere so you guys are getting this one. It’s the second best chase in the movie and takes place on a beach, which is nice, because most people love the beach.

7. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry: 1974

1969 Dodge Charger / 1972 Dodge Polara

You’ve got a 1969 Dodge Charger (BOOYA!), a U-boat sized ’72 Dodge Polara cop car and a helicopter that’s being flown by a REALLY tweaked county Sheriff. This chase is often over looked, but is seriously one of the coolest ever done.

8. Blazing Magnum: 1976

1971 Ford Mustang / 1969 Buick Special

Ok, I’ll say it, this movie sucked. Basic plot: A Police Captain searches for the people who murdered his little sister… bla… bla… bla. HOWEVER, there is a bitchen’ car chase that goes back to what I said in the beginning of this post in regards to the amount of damage that the cars take – that alone makes it worth watching.

9. The Driver: 1978

1974 Chevy C-10 Stepside / 1974 Pontiac Trans Am

So, have you guys guessed what this movie is about yet? No… well then, I can’t help ya’. Just hit the play button and enjoy Ryan O’Neal flinging around a pretty hairy Chevy Stepside pick-up.

10. Smokey & the Bandit 1977

1977 Trans Am / 1977 Pontiac LeMans

I will not lie ladies and gentleman, this is my favorite movie of all time next to the Cannonball Run. Its one-liners, car chases and ridiculous plot constitute about 2-hrs. of pure hilarity. It has also got Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason. For those of you young guys who haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and get this classic, two hour long, Trans Am commercial.

I FORGOT ONE… SHIT! I hate when I do that… anyway, here it is. The chase scene from the original “MAD MAX” in 1979. This is where Max Rockatanski was born.

Yo’ Samsquanch – DUUUDE… thanks for pointing that out man.

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22 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    I remember the movie “The Seven Ups” – – it was filmed in Seattle when i lived in the area. I can’t watch videos at work, so i don’t know if this scene was shown here, but during the main chase scene when the cars are flying downhill on a steep Seattle street, you see a lady open her car door right in front of one of the cars and get it blasted off. This was NOT a scripted part of the scene – – she had, unbeknownst to the film crew, turned onto the blocked off street from an alleyway they were unaware of. She was unharmed, and the (very shaken) film crew thought it looked so cool that they offered her money so they could use the shot and it was included in the movie.

  2. DominusOminous says:

    The chase scene in the original Longest Yard really deserves a mention, even if only as # 11. Where else have you ever seen a Citroen SM put through its paces like that? The bridge jump trick was great, and the audacity of Burt’s character dumping the car was heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time.

  3. Wumpa says:

    Really? No mention of the original Gone in 60 Seconds? The whole back half of the movie was a car chase. WTH?
    The trailer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh6WNRoqLXI
    The start of the chase

  4. Robolasse says:

    What? No Convoy (1978, Sam Peckinpah)?

  5. Dave B says:

    @Andrew –

    Um, the Seven Ups took place and was filmed in NYC, not Seattle.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070672/locations

  6. Wumpa says:

    How come you delete my comment mentioning THEE best car chase movie of the 70’s?

    Toby Halicki was a car chase genius creating car chase movies.

    Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) should be #1 on any car chase list.

  7. Wumpa says:

    oh, sorry. After rereshing from posting the second comment, I see my first post.

    So, um, yea, Good article,

  8. Samsquanch says:

    What about Mad Max (1979)? That movie had great car and motorcycle action.

  9. Hujik says:

    Great race against time through Paris from Claude Lelouch’s 1976 movie: http://videos.streetfire.net/video/Cetait-un-Rendezvous_145681.htm
    Alos Bullit and Italian job are definitely missing in this list.

  10. Greghis Khan says:

    What about the Blues Brothers? OK, it was released in 1980 but that means it was shot in the 70’s, so let’s include it, mkay?

    Awesome car chases that always ended with a huge pile of cop cars and someone in the distance complaing about their broken watch.

    Unbeatable, esp. when the bluesmobile is being chased by a motorhome full of angry redneck country musicians.

  11. fraggerron says:

    WHAT!! No starsky and hutch or the dukes of hazzards

  12. Daniel says:

    Wow, the chase in “Fear is the Key” is the best ever. Great top 10 and thx for posting!!!!

  13. What about the Wild Car Chase “Le Coup / Le Casse / The Burglars” 1971 J.P.Belmondo / O.Shariff

    Some stages were closed, but for the most part of the chase, it was real.

  14. deathbyrabbit says:

    For completionists, McQ’s “other” chase is on Youtube at:

  15. Jason Ellis says:

    I know this movie wasn’t made in the 70’s but I can’t ever think of all-time great car chases without thinking of To Live In Die In LA. Even a Wang Chung soundtrack couldn’t screw that movie up!

  16. JOHNNY BOY says:

    GUYS GUYS GUYS !! COM ON, YOU MUST CHECK OUT THE 1970 MOVIE “BREWSTER McCLOUD” STARRING BUD CORT AND SHELLY DUVALL, SHE DRIVES A ORANGE 70′ HEMI ROADRUNNER PISTOL GRIP 4SPD. W/ DANA AND AIR GRABBER HOOD! ALSO IN THE MOVIE 70′ SILVER Z28 W/ CRAGARS, AND A HOT PINK GREMLIN 4SPD. W/ CRAGARS! AND OF COURSE A 440 H.P. PLYMOUTH POLICE CAR.THE MOVIE IS STUPID BUT THE CARS AND THE CHASE SCENE IS COOL, THEY SMOKE THE TIRES HARD ON THE ROADRUNNER A FEW TIMES!! I ALSO LIKE THE MOVIE “THE CAR” FROM 1977 STARRING JAMES BROLIN.

  17. Spuffler says:

    Vanishing point biker chick was Gilda Texter. Don’t ask.

  18. Dave C says:

    Leaving Gone in 60 Seconds off this list is unforgivable.
    Another tidbit, the French Connection chase was filmed on OPEN STREETS, they got no film permit, and just did it on the fly against real traffic. Try that one today.

  19. james says:

    how about MISTER MYJESTIC with charles bronson they chase thrue feilds not on roads he drives a 68 ford truck

  20. David says:

    I don’t suppose the Gumball Rally (1976) counts, since the entire movie is a race, & not a chase scene! But it is my favorite!

  21. mrlmm001 says:

    You forgot Two lane blacktop from 1971 and the best, 1974s original Gone in 60 seconds, moving violation from 1977 and lots more, I have over 150 movies from 60s to 90s on cars.

  22. HERP says:

    WTF?!