Summer is known as a time to enjoy cars. Whether you’re attending a local cruise night, doing some underground drag racing, or taking a road trip vacation, warm weather and long sunny days just seem to go hand in hand with cars. In some areas, the renaissance of drive-in theaters has created another way to enjoy the summer in your car. Perhaps the ideal evening would be a drive in marathon of the best car movies of all time.

The problem becomes one of deciding what is the best car movie. Is it the best movie that includes cars or the best use of cars, even if the movie itself is less than stellar? Does the movie need to be about cars or racing, such as the ever popular “Smokey and the Bandit” or more recent classic “Cars” or is it enough that cars play an important role, such as in “American Graffiti?”

Some would argue that any film featuring hot rods, racing, or both is guaranteed a spot in a movie marathon. However, there is a vast difference in quality — and audience — between “The Love Bug,” “Gone in Sixty Seconds” and “The Road Warrior.” Add in James Bond movies, auto theft movies, and historical movies about cars and the auto industry like “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” and the rankings become even more difficult.

Several magazines, blogs, and even car associations have taken reader/viewer polls to try to determine the question democratically. Some lists have “Bullit” topping the list while others give the award to “Thunder Road” or the aforementioned “American Graffiti.” Other popular titles include comedies like “Used Cars” and cult films like “Repo Man.” Classic films like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Word” end up next to newer franchises like “The Fast and the Furious.”

American Racing WheelsUltimately all these films have one thing in common: they inspire the imagination with images and sounds of the fastest, greatest, hottest cars. They provide a connection between the cars on the screen and the ones at home and allow even the everyday car owner to dream that his car could achieve such feats, if only he had the right paint job, bought cool vintage wheels (click here to see some examples), or souped up his engine.

What gets your vote as best car movie ever — and why?

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