In the 1980s, Hollywood unleashed a wave of high-octane, big-budget car chase films that took the genre to new heights. Building on the success of car chase movies from the previous decades, these films catered to the audience’s insatiable appetite for thrilling stunts, crashes, and explosive action. In this article, we’ll take a nostalgic ride through the 1980s, highlighting the top 10 car chase films that deserve a spot in your movie collection. From comedy to action and everything in between, these forgotten gems will transport you back to a decade of pure automotive mayhem.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984) – A Wild Ride Begins

Kicking off our list is “Beverly Hills Cop” from 1984, an action comedy film starring Eddie Murphy in one of his most memorable roles. The movie follows the street-smart cop Axel Foley from Detroit, who ventures to Beverly Hills to solve a personal crime. While the film is light on vehicle chases, there’s one standout sequence at the beginning. Set in Detroit, it features a thrilling chase involving a loaded semi-truck fleeing from the police. Axel finds himself hanging on for dear life in the trailer section while chaos ensues, including a fruit truck, a taxi cab, and a myriad of parked cars becoming collateral damage. This exhilarating chase sets the tone for the rest of the film, ensuring you’ll be hooked until the very end.

Against All Odds (1984) – Unleashing Mayhem on Sunset Boulevard

Next up is “Against All Odds” from 1984, starring Jeff Bridges and James Woods. This film delivers a spectacular street race scene on the iconic Sunset Boulevard in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. Bridges’ character, driving a Porsche, and Woods’ character, behind the wheel of a Ferrari, engage in a high-energy pursuit, narrowly avoiding other cars and forcing everyone into defensive driving mode. The thrilling chase reaches its peak when a garbage truck enters the scene, abruptly ending the fun. The scene’s impactful lighting, camera angles, and the addition of a cool dog riding shotgun in the Ferrari make it an entertaining and visually stunning chase sequence that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Licensed to Kill (1989) – Desert Destruction and Explosions Galore

“Licensed to Kill” from 1989 brings Timothy Dalton’s James Bond to the forefront in a stunt-filled chase sequence through the desert. In this adrenaline-pumping scene, Bond finds himself maneuvering a tanker truck tipped up at a 45-degree angle to avoid an incoming missile. What makes this chase truly remarkable is the fact that it was a real stunt without the use of CGI. The filmmakers spared no expense, delivering a high-octane spectacle with explosions, flaming trucks careening off cliffs, and a heart-stopping near miss with a passing plane. Kudos to the producers and stunt team for creating this action-packed wreck fest that showcases the sheer audacity of ’80s car chase movies.

Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) – Bigger and Better Jumps and Smashes

At number seven, we have “Smokey and the Bandit II” from 1980. This film reunites the beloved team for one last score – transporting an elephant from Miami to Dallas in just nine days for a hefty payday. Packed with comedy, drama, and even more spectacular stunts, this sequel ramps up the excitement with bigger and better jumps and smashes. Sheriff Justice and Junior are back in pursuit of the Bandit and Cletus, leading to a series of unforgettable chases. Not even a roller coaster ride is spared from the havoc. The grand finale resembles a civil war cavalry charge, only with cars and trucks instead of horses. With brigades of Canadian Mounties, Texas Rangers, and a fleet of semi-trucks, the film culminates in a demolition derby of epic destruction.

Cobra (1986) – Stallone’s Intense Action Ride

In 1986, “Cobra” hit the screens, a film based on a screenplay written by its star, Sylvester Stallone. Stallone takes on the role of Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, who must protect crime witness Ingrid Nudeson, played by Brigitte Nielsen, from an underworld cabal of social darwinist radicals. “Cobra” delivers intense action from start to finish, and it all begins with a thrilling chase scene. Stallone’s character drives a 1950 Mercury two-door coupe, inflicting massive abuse upon it as he takes on a squadron of bad guy motorcyclists. The town becomes a battleground, with the black Dodge pickup serving as Cobra’s weapon against the relentless attackers. The film escalates to a jaw-dropping climax where an entire town is literally decimated. This chase-packed, action-filled ride showcases Stallone’s trademark toughness and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The Junkman (1982) – A Carnage-Filled Masterpiece

Our number five spot goes to “The Junkman” from 1982, a film that epitomizes unrestrained destruction. This over-the-top movie was produced, directed, written, and even starred H.B. Halicki, the mastermind behind the epic “Gone in 60 Seconds” crash-a-palooza tour de force in 1974. “The Junkman” takes vehicular carnage to a whole new level, featuring over 150 cars, trucks, motorcycles, and airplanes meeting their spectacular demise on-screen. With a plot that takes a backseat to the on-screen action, viewers are treated to an endless display of wreckage that fills the movie’s running time. Additionally, fans of the original “Gone in 60 Seconds” film will be delighted by a cameo appearance from Eleanor, the iconic 1973 Ford Mustang. “The Junkman” is a symphony of destruction that will satisfy any enthusiast of explosive car chase films.

To Live and Die in L.A (1985) – Innovative Chases and Edge-of-Your-Seat Action

Coming in at number four is “To Live and Die in L.A” from 1985. This neo-noir thriller, directed by William Friedkin, renowned for his work on “The French Connection,” showcases his expertise in crafting intense car chase scenes. The movie follows two secret service agents on a mission to catch a money counterfeiter played by Willem Dafoe. The chase sequences in “To Live and Die in L.A” are nothing short of innovative and exhilarating. One standout scene takes place on an L.A freeway, with the escape car heading against traffic, providing nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat action. The filmmakers don’t stop there, delivering additional crash-tastic goodness on side streets and even in the paved-over L.A River. With its relentless pacing and expertly executed chases, “To Live and Die in L.A” solidifies its place as a standout car chase film of the 1980s.

The Terminator (1984) – Car Chases in a Dystopian Future

At number three, we have “The Terminator” from 1984, a film that introduced the iconic character and kick-started a franchise that continues to captivate audiences today. In this sci-fi thriller, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the relentless cyborg assassin sent back in time to eliminate the mother of a future resistance fighter. As Sarah Connor and her human protector attempt to escape, they find themselves engaged in exhilarating car chase scenes. One particularly memorable chase unfolds as they flee from the unrelenting pursuit of the Terminator. The action-packed climax occurs when they continue their escape in a pickup truck while the Terminator gives chase on a motorcycle. Explosives, near misses, and a spectacular tanker truck crash and explosion add a stunning exclamation point to the film’s vehicular chase sequences. “The Terminator” stands as a glorious example of thrilling car chases within a dystopian future setting.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) – A Post-Apocalyptic Vehicular Free-for-All

Claiming the runner-up position is “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” from 1981, the second film in the Mad Max franchise. Starring Mel Gibson as the titular character, this post-apocalyptic action masterpiece takes place in a desolate wasteland. Max Rockatansky finds himself defending humble settlers from a marauding band of violent mobile marauders who stop at nothing to steal their fuel supply. The vehicles themselves are works of art, pieced together from found objects and repurposed machinery, creating a monochromatic dystopian aesthetic that is both mesmerizing and terrifying. Throughout the film, shorter chase scenes build anticipation for the climactic mechanical melee, where Max’s fuel truck is besieged by a platoon of bloodthirsty land pirates. It’s a vehicular free-for-all like no other, with wreckage, explosions, and non-stop action. “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” elevated the bar for action movies, and its car chases are an adrenaline-fueled triumph.

The Blues Brothers (1980) – Comedy, Music, and Epic Car Chases

And finally, taking the top spot on our list is “The Blues Brothers” from 1980, a film that combines comedy, music, and some of the most epic car chases in cinematic history. Jake and Elwood Blues, played by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, embark on a mission to raise $5,000 to save their orphanage from foreclosure. As they’re pursued by all sorts of adversaries, their trusty Bluesmobile becomes the centerpiece of a series of outrageous car chases and jaw-dropping destruction. One unforgettable chase takes place through a shopping mall, leaving a trail of demolished stores in its wake. And in the grand finale, the streets and freeways of Chicago become a battleground, with the Bluesmobile performing a backflip and the villain’s Pinto falling off an uncompleted freeway overpass. “The Blues Brothers” delivers comedy, music, and some of the most exhilarating car chases of the 1980s, making it the ultimate car chase film that you may have forgotten about.


The 1980s gave us a plethora of thrilling car chase films that still hold up to this day. From the streets of Beverly Hills to the post-apocalyptic wastelands, these movies delivered unforgettable action, heart-stopping stunts, and incredible car chases that left audiences on the edge of their seats. Whether you’re a fan of comedy, action, or intense drama, there’s a forgotten gem from the 1980s that will satisfy your craving for high-speed excitement. So, hop in, buckle up, and prepare for a wild ride through the nostalgia of these top 10 car chase films from the 1980s.


  1. Q: Are these films available for streaming or purchase? A: Most of these films are available for streaming or can be purchased on DVD or Blu-ray. Check your favorite streaming platforms or online retailers for availability.
  2. Q: Are there any modern car chase films that can rival the classics? A: While the classics hold a special place in our hearts, there have been some impressive car chase films in recent years. “Baby Driver” (2017) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) are noteworthy examples.
  1. Q: Did any of these films win awards for their car chase sequences? A: Although specific awards may not have been dedicated solely to car chases, many of these films received critical acclaim for their action sequences and overall cinematic achievements. Some films, like “The Terminator” and “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” received accolades for their groundbreaking visual effects and innovative storytelling.
  2. Q: Are there any honorable mentions that didn’t make the top 10 list? A: Absolutely! The 1980s had an abundance of car chase films, and narrowing it down to just 10 was a challenge. Some honorable mentions include “Bullitt” (1968), “Escape from New York” (1981), and “Lethal Weapon” (1987), all of which featured memorable car chases that deserve recognition.
  3. Q: Can I introduce these films to a new generation of movie enthusiasts? A: Definitely! These films showcase the excitement and craftsmanship of classic car chase sequences. Sharing them with a new generation can help them appreciate the artistry and thrill of practical effects and high-speed action, providing a unique cinematic experience.
  4. Q: Are there any recent films that pay homage to the car chase films of the 1980s? A: Absolutely! Filmmakers continue to draw inspiration from the ’80s car chase genre. Films like “Drive” (2011) and “Baby Driver” (2017) pay homage to the classics while adding their own modern twists, combining action, style, and memorable car chase sequences.
  5. Q: Are car chase films still popular today? A: Car chase films continue to captivate audiences worldwide. The blend of high-speed action, adrenaline-pumping sequences, and skillful filmmaking keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. As long as there’s a passion for thrilling escapades, car chase films will always find an enthusiastic audience.

Remember, buckle up and enjoy the ride as you revisit or discover these incredible car chase films from the 1980s. From the comedy of “The Blues Brothers” to the post-apocalyptic intensity of “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” each film offers its own unique thrills and unforgettable moments. So, grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and immerse yourself in the heart-pounding world of ’80s car chase cinema.