Anti-hero Kowalski has had an eventful and troubled life as a Vietnam vet, policeman, motorcycle racer, and off-track racer. He is now reduced to the more mundane job of a car delivery driver. In his latest assignment - delivering a car from Colorado to California - he starts down a path of self-destruction for no apparent reason. The car, a supercharged Dodge Challenger with no equal, has given him the chance to begin his journey out of society and into the abyss.
He outruns the police in several states, brooding all the way over his past, and digs himself deeper and deeper into trouble with the law. He also meets a variety of characters along the way. His exploits are reported by a funky DJ and he becomes a counterculture hero.
Although Kowalski seems to drift through life with no purpose, like the protagonist in "The Stranger," he never loses his humanity. This is evident when he encounters a total jerk in a Jaguar who taunts him and engages him in a drag race. After the Jaguar driver runs off the road and crashes, Kowalski runs back to see if he is alright, putting himself at risk of being caught by the police, who are in pursuit and not far off.
The movie ages well. The early 70's images don't come off as corny, but rather as a clear snapshot of the time, much like "Saturday Night Fever" gives a snapshot of the late 70's. This is not just another car chase movie with fruit stands being knocked over. It's a thoroughly enjoyable tale of existentialism and defiance that reflects the tensions of the period.