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TV’s Monumental Car Chase Moments

We’ve enjoyed some iconic TV car chases over the years! Films, drama series and sitcoms have all featured some of television’s monumental car chase moments that never grow old.

© Allstar Picture Library Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

The Italian Job

The Italian Job is the famous 1969 crime caper starring Michael Caine as thief Charlie Croker, who’s instrumental in carrying out an ambitious £3.1 million gold bullion heist in Italy.

An all-time favourite nostalgia film, it features an epic car chase through Turin’s busy streets and even underground through the sewers.

Three Mini Coopers, two Jaguars and a bus are involved in the elaborate plan to steal the gold from a convoy of security vehicles.

As film car chases go, this one was spectacular and involved precision timing and stunt drivers for the Minis, who trained extensively at Crystal Palace racetrack in London.

Filmed in both Turin and the UK, The Italian Job spawned the iconic Michael Caine line, “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” It was uttered by his character Croker when the criminals’ attempt to break into the gold bullion van using explosives resulted in its total destruction.

Voted the best one-liner of all time in a 2003 poll, a 2011 survey of film fans by Sky Movies saw The Italian Job taking the award for the best British film in history.

The 1275cc Austin Mini Cooper S cars used in the film prompted Mini sales to increase by 20% after its release.

Smokey and the Bandit

Released in 1977, Smokey and the Bandit is a comedy drama film packed with exciting car chases, epic jumps and plenty of thrills.

Starring Burt Reynolds as trucker Bo “The Bandit” Darville, who had 28 hours to haul a bootleg lorryload of Coors Beer from Texas to Georgia; he had been offered £65,000 by Big Enos Burdette, a wealthy Texan, to complete the journey for a planned celebration at the end of the Southern Classic motor race.

The Bandit agreed to take on the risky job and recruited the help of fellow trucker Cledus “Snowman” Snow, played by Jerry Reed. The plan was for The Snowman to drive the truck, while The Bandit drove a black 1976 Pontiac Trans Am to divert police attention from the illegal beer.

However, when runaway bride Carrie (Sally Field) jumps into The Bandit’s car and demands he takes her to Georgia, things start to unravel. Her jilted fiancé is the son of Sheriff Buford Justice, who chases them all the way.

The legendary Smokey and the bandit car chase was filmed at various locations around Georgia including Cumming, Jonesboro, McDonough and the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sadly, the five Pontiacs used in the film didn’t survive, but in the early 2000s, the original Pontiac Trans Am LE which inspired their design unexpectedly surfaced.

Legend has it a 1977 photo of the black and gold car convinced Reynolds this was what The Bandit would drive. It was sold to a Pontiac dealer in California for only £6,000 in 1977 and disappeared off the radar for three decades.

Its current owners, a mother and son, bought it for an undisclosed sum in the new millennium. They liked the rare 455 V8 engine, the “snowflake” wheels and the odometer reading of 45,000 miles. On reading the documentation, they realised the Trans Am’s unique history, causing the car’s value to rocket overnight.

Today, it’s insured for £1.1 million and has a video filmed by Reynolds confirming its authenticity.

Only Fools and Horses

Now this one might surprise you; Derek “Del Boy” Trotter’s yellow three-wheeler Reliant Regal van in iconic BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses isn’t the type of vehicle associated with high-speed car chases! However, John Sullivan, scriptwriter of the Christmas special entitled Dates, excelled himself when he turned it into an unlikely racing car.

The hysterical Only Fools and Horses car chase began when Del’s little brother Rodney pretended to be a “bad boy” to win a date with Nervous Nerys. He creates an image by acting aloof and wearing a leather biker jacket to impress her.

However, he takes it too far when he swears at a gang of youths who are playing loud music from their open-top sports car. As they start to chase him, he put his foot down to try and escape. He and Nerys go flying through the air, on the brow of a hill, leaving her in tears.

After racing at high speed through temporary traffic lights, Rodney races off again, but police officers at the scene give chase.

This later leads to Del Boy being arrested when the police discover he’s the owner of the yellow three-wheeled van – all because Rodney thought he should be “more macho” on the advice of his well-meaning but misguided friend, Mickey Pearce!

Tomorrow Never Dies

You can choose any James Bond film if you’re looking for a great car chase scene, but Tomorrow Never Dies, the 1997 movie starring Pierce Brosnan, is exceptional.

Dashing superspy 007 drives his spectacular BMW 750i through Germany from the back seat using his mobile phone to control it at high speeds.

The Tomorrow Never Dies car chase took three weeks to film. Most of the sequence took place at Brent Cross car park in London, with only the final leap being filmed on location in Hamburg.

Unfortunately, one stunt where three vehicles were set alight produced clouds of thick smoke that weren’t anticipated. A worried member of the public reportedly called the fire brigade!

At the time of filming, the BMW 750i was the marque’s flagship sedan and was available in an extended-length limousine shape too.

Its gadgets included a secret compartment behind the passenger airbag that concealed a fingerprint-protected safe. Bond hid his gun and a stolen GPS encoder in there. It also emitted tear gas from behind the wheel arches and even had a rocket launcher hidden in place of a sunroof fitted with 12 rockets!

The remote-control mechanism controlled via 007’s mobile phone was used to good effect during the car chase scene, which took place mostly in a carpark. He used the device to start the car and drove it by simply moving his finger across the app on his mobile device’s screen.

Perhaps the Bond car’s most useful feature was its tyres that could re-inflate themselves in the event of a puncture. This would certainly come in handy on today’s busy roads in rush hour!