But the simple chase movie about a guy trying to drive a 1970 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours eventually unravels into an existential commentary about police brutality, racism and the overall post-Woodstock malaise that overtook America in the 1970s.
What starts off as cheap thrills morphs into a very deep, chilling experience.
4. The French Connection (1971)
"The French Connection" won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and part of the reason had to be its inventive car chase where Gene Hackman’s character chases a drug dealer through the streets of New York.
The only thing is, Hackman is in a car and the drug dealer is riding on an elevated train.
Friedkin later admitted breaking a lot of laws while filming the sequence, as he did not have the proper permits. Many of the point-of-view shots of Hackman's character took place with real traffic and pedestrians.
3. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
"Smokey and the Bandit" is one of those movies that is difficult not to love.
Everyone from a small child to an elderly grandpa can get pure enjoyment out of the story of the Bandit -- played by Burt Reynolds -- trying to get from Atlanta to Texarkana, Texas, and back in under 28 hours while running blocker for 400 cases of illegal Coors beer.
The movie is basically one long car chase that is stacked with incredible stunts and crashes, but it is the film’s enthusiasm, comedy and characters that really elevated it to an all-time classic. It was the second biggest hit of 1977, right behind "Star Wars."
2. The Blues Brothers (1980)
"They're not going to catch us," Elwood Blues tells his brother Jake in the film "The Blues Brothers" as they are being chased by the police. "We’re on a mission from God."
The sight of the Bluesmobile crashing though a mall as shoppers dive out of the way is one of the most unforgettable stunts in the history of film, as is the climatic chase where dozens of police cars, a Winnebago and a car full of Illinois Nazis are annihilated as the Bluesmobile zigzags its way through downtown Chicago.
Like its main characters, the film was also on a mission from God. Its mission was to create one the most hilarious, chaotic and destructive car chases of all time, and this mission was accomplished.
1. Bullitt (1968)
Forty years after its initial release, the chase scene from "Bullitt" still stands out as the greatest of all time.
In a 2004 poll by Choices Video, 5,500 British film fans voted "Bullitt" the greatest chase ever.
The 10-minute sequence features Detective Frank Bullitt -- played by Steve McQueen -- driving a 1968 Ford Mustang while chasing a 1968 Dodge Charger through the steep streets of San Francisco.
Everything that you see in the scene was really filmed, because it was made before CGI effects and quick editing existed. The long, unedited takes of the Charger whipping around corners and flying in the air as it hits jumps are the types of things you just don't see in movies anymore.
In 2007, Bullitt was chosen to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress because of its "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance".
It might look a little tame by today's standards, but the crime drama rewrote the rules for action films and car chases, making "Bullitt" the "Citizen Kane" of car chases.