As much as it is a haven for TV show bingers, movie series completionists and general procrastinators (hello, me), Canadian Netflix is actually quite the outlet for the car geeks among us, too. You just have to know where to look, as in addition to great Hollywood blockbusters with a heavy car concentration, a host of documentaries is in the archives to please your inner grease monkey.
The Fast and the Furious series
We should start with the meat and potatoes, though. We Canadians are lucky in this regard. While the Americans may get all the best Hot Wheels models before we do (if we do at all) and about 12,000 different varieties of Oreo cookies, they don’t get the (almost) full complement of God’s gift to car movie buffs. Canadians, on the other hand, get every version, save for the latest Furious 7 entry.
Smokey and the Bandit
If you prefer your camp to be of the “good ol’ fashioned” variety as opposed to the “Vin Diesel in a tight shirt” variety, then it doesn’t get much better than this. The legendary black n’ gold Pontiac Trans Am, big rigs and a healthy helping of characters named “Cletus” “Junior” and at least two “Enoses” populate this gem of a classic American car chase flick.
One of the best F1 drivers of his time was also one of the most divisive; indeed, the competitive streak required to maintain that drive and focus is bound to rub some – well, many – folks the wrong way. This documentary, released in 2010, features interviews with F1 scribes, racers, and the man himself. Worth watching whether you’re a Senna fan, an F1 fan, or just love seeing big personalities caught live in their prime.
For those with more of a two-wheel persuasion, this could be just the ticket for you. Narrated by Liam Neeson and centred around the lives of Ireland’s Dunlop family -- brothers William and Michael and their father Robert and uncle, Joey -- Road is actually a rather sobering look at the world of top-tier motorcycle racing. Joey and Robert both succumbed to injuries after separate crashes, and it’s interesting to see how disenchanted William is with racing professionally, a job that many boys, girls, men and women would classify a “dream job”.
While it’s no longer being produced, Netflixers still get the chance to catch all 12 episodes of this docu-series, centred around Corvettes and the people who drive them. Indeed, when you’re one of the longest-serving nameplates in the car world, there’s enough variety to fill more than 12 episodes.
A Faster Horse
More of a Mustang person than a Corvette person? Have a look at this little doc. Indeed, while it’s centred around the development of the latest gen of the car, parallels are drawn between it and models past. Everything Mustang is discussed, from the origins of the model, to its role in Hollywood, to how it’s changed over the years.
Revenge of the Electric Car
While we get the “revenge” angle of this doc (director Chris Paine also directed 2006’s Who Killed the Electric Car?), the way it looks forward is the bigger take-home. Watch as we see the current global stars of the E car game – Musk, Lutz and more – before they were doing their best Steve Jobs impressions on the worldwide stage, and before they were being snarky in the pages of Road & Track magazine.
We head back to motorcycle racing and the Isle of Man TT for this little ditty. Only this time, the stars of the show have swapped their high-revving gas engines for electric power, and narration duties have left the world of the Taken film series for the BBC’s Long Way Round TV series. The latter features Ewan McGregor, who narrates this doc about the world of electric motorcycle racing, which actually beat the FIA’s Formula E to the punch when it came to top-flight electric racing.
Journey to Le Mans
If you're looking for a Tom Kristensen/Derek Bell/Emanuele Pirro biopic, look elsewhere. Journey is all about providing a compelling look at what it takes to get to Le Mans, and hopefully, to finish. Focusing on the small Jota Sport privateer team, rarely will you get such a close look at the grit required to make it at this level. Steve McQueen in his heyday could’ve taken notes.
BONUS: Top Gear
Do we really have to explain why? 18 seasons of glory, before it all went to you-know-what.