Car Crash (1981) – ripper car movies

Not even the mob can stop them


OKAY, let’s set the scene for the veritable car crash that is Car Crash. It’s an Italian, Spanish and Mexican co-production filmed in the United States with the English dialogue horribly dubbed, sometimes with different English dialogue or by different voices. If it wasn’t for the cars, you’d swear this was filmed in 1971 and not 10 years later.

Confused? Well, get used to that feeling, as the seemingly simple plot has more twists and turns than Pikes Peak.

When gifted stock car racer Paul (Travolta) and his best mate and ace spanner man Nick (Mezzogiorno) refuse to throw a race for local mob figure Wronsky (Palacios), the pair become a target for Wronsky’s goons. Their race car and tow rig are shot up and then confiscated by the gangsters, leaving the mates high and dry without a set of wheels.

Paul and Nick make a pact to beat Wronsky at his own scam by legitimately taking out the $200K first prize at the aptly named Imperial Crash stock car race.

Their good friend Paquito (Romano) donates his hotted-up Firebird to the cause and the pair make a cross-country beeline for the race.

Along the way, they meet young Kombi-driving spunk Janice (Obregon), whose tight red leather pants soon drive a wedge between Paul and Nick. The trio is thrust into competing with eccentric English millionaire Kirby (Steiner), whose spoilt, Richie Rich-ways look set to derail any chance that the Firebird will make it to the Imperial Crash in one piece.

It is then revealed that Janice was planted by Wronsky to split up the pair and foil their racing plans, but she soon sees the error of her ways when her status with the mobsters becomes ‘expendable’.

A last-ditch effort is made to rebuild the engine for the Imperial Crash, where all rules are out the window and only the strongest team will survive to be crowned the winner.


CAR Crash is a confusing, terrible movie that kept me oddly fixated by just how bad it was. I’ll admit, the car action comes thick and fast, but there’s far too much camera undercranking employed (we all know a stock Kombi could never go that fast), as well as the embarrassing use of model cars and dioramas to emulate many of the trickier stunts. But by far the biggest insults were Nick referring to a Hemi as a ‘Hem-eye’ and the boys cleaning a six-cylinder crank then swinging a greasy inline donk over the Firebird’s engine bay – it’s supposed to be their ‘rebuilt’ big-block!


  • 1973 Pontiac Firebird
  • 1973 Volkswagen Kombi
  • 1964 Cadillac De Ville Sedan
  • 1977 Pontiac Trans Am
  • 1970 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 1975 Chevrolet Chevelle
  • 1973 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1974 Ford Gran Torino
  • 1971 Ford Mustang
  • 1971 Plymouth Satellite
  • 1973 Chevrolet El Camino


  • Vittorio Mezzogiorno
  • Joey Travolta
  • Ana Obregon
  • Ricardo Palacios
  • John Steiner
  • Carlos Romano
  • Antonio Lopez

Antonio Margheriti

Stock-car and dirt-track racing, street chases, and the weirdest of cat-and-mouse pursuits around the grounds of a posh manor

A gun race car driver and his mechanic friend decide to take on the mob in a deadly winner-takes-all dash for cash


Actor Joey Travolta is the older brother of screen legend John.