The 10 highest grossing car movies of all time include six from just one franchise. Yup, you guessed it – The Fast and the Furious movies, which completely dominate the list, including taking the top three spots.
And of all the blockbuster car movies in history, there is one that completely obliterated the others in terms of box-office takings: Furious 7, released following the death of its star Paul Walker, which made $1.5billion – nearly double its closest rival, Fast & Furious 6.
But this list also includes some surprises. Here are the 10 highest-grossing car movies of all time, based on how much they made at the box office worldwide.
10 Days of Thunder – 1990 ($157million)
The only film from the 90s to make this list, Days of Thunder was one of the films which cemented Tom Cruise’s name as an industry big earner and is the movie which sowed the seed of his romance with Nicole Kidman and led to their marriage.
It sees young upstart racing driver Cole Trickle (Cruise) join NASCAR. But while he has the talent, his temper and inexperience threaten to get in the way.
While the movie got mixed reviews from critics at the time of its release, it has gone on to become a classic in the world of automotive movies – and more than proved its worth at the box office.
9 The Fast and the Furious – 2001 ($207million)
Where it all started for the biggest car movie franchise of all time, te original Fast and the Furious movie may not have been a movie worthy of artistic praise but it gave car fans exactly what they wanted: a high-octane thrill-ride full of fast cars and attitude.
In it LA cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) infiltrates the underground street racing scene and is tasked with stopping a team led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) from hijacking a truck and stealing a haul of electronics gear.
But his loyalties are tested when he falls for Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster).
8 2 Fast 2 Furious – 2003 ($236million)
The second film in the franchise, its success cemented the future of the Fast and the Furious movies as a box-office behemoth – despite the omission of Diesel due to his commitments filming xXx.
Walker reappeared as Brian O’Connor, though, alongside Tyrese as the ex-convict friend who he recruits to help him take down drug kingpin Carter Verone (Cole Hauser).
The film got particularly poor ratings from most reviewers, but despite a properly rotten rating of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes still cashed in for the studio making $236million from an estimated $76million budget.
7 Gone in Sixty Seconds – 2000 ($237million)
Love him or hate him, in this loosely-based remake of the 1974 film of the same name Nicolas Cage did what he does best: be Nicolas Cage.
Starring alongside Angelina Jolie, he plays Randal ‘Memphis’ Raines who heads a crew as they bid to steal 50 cars in 72 hours – including the iconic 1967 Ford Shelby GT500 known as Eleanor.
While the film received overwhelmingly negative reviews, that didn’t stop millions of people from going to see it.
6 Fast & Furious – 2009 ($363million)
The fourth Fast and the Furious film came eight years after the original. While Vin Diesel returned in a cameo in the third movie, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (the only movie in the series not to make this list), this was the first movie since the original where the original cast – Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster – were reunited.
It also marked a return to the big time at the box office, making $363million – four times its $85million budget.
The quality of the filmmaking, however, was decidedly low with the movie receiving just 28% on Rotten Tomatoes from 173 reviews.
5 Cars – 2006 ($462million)
Half way through the list and it’s time for our first animated movie. Although not your normal “car movie”, it’s pretty hard to deny – given the name – that this is a movie about cars.
It’s also a movie that no doubt inspired a whole new generation of young car fanatics with its well-received mixture of poignancy and wit.
Produced by Pixar and Disney, Cars featured the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman and Larry The Cable Guy among others and tells the story of racing car Lightning McQueen after he ends up arrested in the dusty town of Radiator Springs by accident – and discovers what friendship really is.
4 Cars 2 – 2011 ($559million)
Cars 2 came half a decade after the original, as four-time Piston Cup winner Lightning McQueen goes overseas with his rusty buddy Mater to compete in the World Grand Prix.
But things get complicated when Mater gets involved in, of all things, international espionage. It didn’t receive as much critical claim as the original film, but managed to top its predecessor’s ticket-sales success.
Joining Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy (Mater) doing the voices were Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer and Eddie Izzard.
3 Fast Five – 2011 ($626million)
Getting into the top three highest-grossing car movies of all time, and they’re all Fast and the Furious hits.
But Fast Five, the team behind the franchise have got it sussed – and each subsequent movie just seems to do better than the last.
Fast Five saw the introduction of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as DSS agent Luke Hobbs starring alongside Walker and Diesel, along with Ludacris, Tyrese and Jordana Brewster back as Mia.
Unlike some of the predecessors, Fast Five received mainly good reviews from critics and Dom and Brian try to carry out “one last job” in a bid to gain their freedom.
2 Fast & Furious 6 – 2013 ($788million)
The all-star team – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson et al – returned again for the sixth instalment of the Fast and the Furious franchise. But this was the first movie in the series to move its focus away from underground street racing, which producers believed was putting a barrier on the number of people who wanted to see the films.
The trick seemed to work, with the movie grossing around $160million more than its predecessor. The plot takes place after the successful heist carried out by the team in Fast Five, with them all in retirement.
DSS agent Hobbs promises to let them come home, but only if they help him in a mission to bring down a team of mercenaries.
1 Furious 7 – 2015 ($1.5billion)
And so here we have it, the most successful car movie of all time – and by a country mile. Fast & Furious 7 was released following the untimely death of Paul Walker, forcing producers to rewrite the script and use CGI and his two brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins to complete filming.
Not only is it the highest-grossing car movie in history, it is also the sixth highest-grossing movie – across all genres – of all time.
It took in $1billion in just 17 days, the fastest movie ever to cross the billion-dollar threshold. The plot features Jason Statham’s character Deckard Shaw – who had a cameo in Fast & Furious 6 – looking to get revenge from Vin Diesel’s Dominic for leaving his brother in a coma.
Watch for this No1 spot to be replaced on April 14, 2017 – when the next instalment, Fast 8, is set to be released.