7 Furiously Great Car Fetish Movies

There is one crucial difference between mere car movies and outright car fetish movies. Car movies – the ones that feature races and car chases – are about the drivers. Car fetish movies, on the other hand, tend to care about the cars just as much – of not more so – than the drivers. In a car movie, a car’s make and model will serve to reflect on the taste of the man (and it’s always a man) who owns it. In a car fetish movie, a car’s make and model will be listed so as to make the gearheads in the audience salivate. It doesn’t really matter who drives the car, so long as we get to see it in action.

The Fast & Furious series rides the line between character and fetish. Sure, we get a vicarious thrill watching Paul Walker and Vin Diesel drive fast, and, at least in the more dramatically successful films, we understand who the characters are and why they’re committing the crimes they are committing. But at the same time, each film features at least one scene (usually three or four) of the drivers at an underground street racing competition, showing off their custom paint jobs, souped-up homemade engines, and wicked sound systems. In these scenes, the cars clearly matter more than any of the people standing near them. Well, with the possible exception of the hot, hot models in tiny, tiny shorts. Which arouses you more: the bikini babe, or the wicked neon blue Shelby GT500 with an all-aluminum supercharged 5.4L V8, 550hp, and 6-speed manual transmission?


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There is certainly something gloriously pure about the car fetish film, that is most certainly in the tradition of the age-old exploitation and grindhouse movie tradition. In a car fetish film, you don’t need drama. You don’t even really need a story or interesting characters. All you need is access to awesome cars, and an editor clever enough to construct interesting race sequences. Indeed, in such movies plot can feel like a hindrance, and human beings like nothing but a visual obstruction, in front of the cars.

These films can be awesomely fun, so long as the filmmakers don’t have any illusions beyond what they’re doing. They are shooting the cars. If they are pretending to have a story, then the films fall apart. I refer specifically to the Michael Bay Transformers films. Those films, at least in fits, are most certainly about the souped-up supercars that the titular transforming robots transform into. The character of Bumblebee, for instance, turns into a new model with every passing film, clearly just showing off the chassis, chrome rims, and giant noisy motors in a way that evokes centerfolds and wet flesh. The Transformers movies, however, get lost in special effects and military fetishism as well, causing them to read as chaotic and dumb.


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And car fetish movies, despite the sexual name of the subgenre, aren’t just for adults. Kids have more vehicle fetish movies than any other audience. Consider the popularity of the Pixar/Disney film Cars. Sure, little kids don’t tend to know the makes and models of cars, and no real makes or models are listed in the movie, but Cars directly humanizes a little-boy car fetish perfectly. You like playing with fast, red cars? How about if the car could talk? What if all the cars could talk? You want to see that movie? The answer, adults, is going to be a resounding “Yes!”

Further consider something like Thunderbirds (in all its iterations). A team of heroes who require access to fancy, color-coded rockets, hovercrafts, submarines, and airships in order to mount daring rescues. Sure, we may “care” about the Tracy family, but the appeal of Thunderbirds is the vehicles. The shape, the color, the capability of these massive, amazing ships. We, particularly as males, fall in love with big noisy machines at an early age, thanks to some of these movies, and some of us never fall out of love with them.

Here is a short list of some of the most entertaining car fetish movies out there. Keep in mind: These are not movies about people. These are movies about cars. Noisy, fast, amazing cars.


Slideshow: Seven Furiously Great Car Fetish Movies

Witney Seibold is a contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. You can follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.


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