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Top Ten British Film Car Chases

Written by Andy Roberts

This is a deeply personal top ten, one borne of television viewing during my formative years; others of my vintage might have cited 11 Harrowhouse, The Mackintosh Man, Villain or Get Carter while I have left out The Italian Job as it is so well known.

One point – some of these do seem to feature Jaguar S-Type carnage but this is a reflection of how cheap they were in the 1970s rather than my antipathy towards Browns Lane’s products.

 

10) Psychomania 1971

The story so far – Shepperton is under attack from a gang of toad-worshipping zombie-bikers whose crimes range from murder to invading Fine Fare. Luckily the police, who have only two squad cars – a Jaguar S-Type and a Rover P6 2000 TC– are on the trail, resulting in chase sequences that are slightly less convincing than Wacky Races. However, the scene with the 1964 Thames Trader is a classic, of sorts.

9) The Deadly Bees 1966

This is a film that, not to be overly blunt, is quite magnificently bad in almost all departments. Complementing the titular villains (who do resemble coloured Styrofoam) is a chase between an Austin A35 Van and a 1954 Land Rover that is so lacking in ambition that it is dramatically on a par with the BBC test card.

8) Universal Soldier 1971

Nothing to do with Jean-Claude Van Damme but an action thriller with one of the most offbeat casts of any picture (a long-haired George Lazenby, Edward Judd and Germaine Greer) plus a splendid dash through the Home Counties in Mr L’s GTE. Cue the immortal line from an irate PC - ‘we’re chasing a mad b*st*rd in a red Scimitar!’

7) Deadly Strangers 1974

There are few great films starring the Maxi; National Lampoon’s European Vacation is one and this extremely taut drama is another. Who is the escaped inmate from a secure institution; Hayley Mills’ hitchhiker or Simon Ward’s extremely sleazy Maxi Mk. II driving sales rep…?

Terror Mortal - Deadly Strangers (1976)

6) Callan 1974

‘Turn left, Schneider old son, turn left!’. A film that is a tribute to Joe Wadham, driving ace and the lynchpin of the famous stunt firm Action 99 Cars. The white Range Rover used in the elaborate game of cat and mouse with the villains' S-Type has completely tinted black glass to hide the fact that Wadham bore no resemblance to the lead actor Edward Woodward. A low-budget classic.

Callan

5) The Blue Lamp 1950

Shot in the actual bomb sites of London, with genuine Met police officers playing small on-screen roles. The staging of the hoods’ Buick coupe being chased through Notting Hill and North Kensington by police Humber Super Snipes and Wolseley 14/60s remains a masterpiece even after nearly 70 years.

11684-the -blue -lamp -0-230-0-345-crop

4) Brannigan 1974

A testament to the skills of another great stunt expert, Peter Brayham, who famously really did drive a 1966 S-Type over an open Tower Bridge. Meanwhile, John Wayne, in his only British film, reputedly wrecked the gearboxes of more than one Capri 3000 GT Mk. II in his attempt to drive an RHD car with ‘a stick shift’.

Brannigan

3) Hell Drivers 1957

One of the greatest casts in cinema history – Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan, Sid James, Herbert Lom, William Hartnell and a young Sean Connery – combined with various Dodge 100 ‘Parrot Nose’ tippers that are not driven in accordance with the Highway Code and you have a film masterpiece. Just beware of Lorry No. 13…

Hell Drivers

2) The Wrong Arm 1962

One of Peter Sellers’ last, and most fondly remembered black and white British comedies, remembered by countless filmgoers for Lionel Jeffries as Inspector ‘Nosey’ Parker of the Yard and the Met’s Wolseley 6/ desperately trying to catch an Aston Martin DB4 GT. Favourite line – ‘Ere! They’re working that bell to death, aren’t they?’

 

1) Robbery 1967

Much more than the film that gained director Peter Yates the director’s seat for Bullitt, Robbery has one of the finest chase scenes of all time. The police S-Type, driven by Mr Wadham, the getaway Jaguar 3.8 Mk. 2, the pin-sharp cinematography and the fact that this is stunt work at its finest all seamlessly combine to make Robbery absolutely unforgettable.

 

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