The Fast and the Furious hit theaters with a vengeance and introduced the world to a ragtag crew of street racers and the cops trying to bring them down. Over the next seven films, the franchise has grown in scope, plot, and the cast has expanded well beyond the original's stars, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster.
Where the early films centered on a small crew and their world of local street-racing, the latest installments have grown to include international spy rings, government conspiracies, and military-industrial complexes. The cast has added Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Statham, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Charlize Theron, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Lucas Black, Elsa Pataky, and Kurt Russell—while also dealing with the tragic loss of Paul Walker in 2013.
But alongside the growing cast of established action celebrities, the stars of the films have always been the cars. With more films in the works, including the forthcoming spin-off Hobbs & Shaw starring Johnson and Statham, the franchise hopes to add to the $5 billion in revenue it has already collected. All that cash has contributed to the vehicles that feature in the movies transforming from tuned and modded imports into legit modern hypercars like the Bugatti Veyron, Koenigsegg CCXR, and Lykan Hypersport.
But Hollywood earns a living convincing audiences to shut down the rational parts of their brains—and the Fast and Furious franchise is no different. Especially in the earlier films, plenty of the cars that showed up were little more than props. Keep scrolling for 10 cars that no street racer would ever drive and 10 that were legit the moment they left the factory.
20 Can't Keep Up: Volkswagen Jetta
A Volkswagen Jetta played a major role in the franchise's first film, The Fast and the Furious, all the way back in 2001. Driven and worked on by Jesse, the car was clearly out of place in any real-world racing scene. But the first movie certainly required a fair amount of suspension of disbelief from audiences and Jesse's Jetta—famously lacking brake rotors—lost to Johnny Tran and his tuned-up S2000 at Race Wars and Jesse sped away rather than facing the ignominy of defeat. Johnny Tran had his revenge, to be sure, but at the very least, viewers were spared from having to convince themselves a front-wheel-drive commuter car could ever hope to win a street race.
19 Can't Keep Up: Mitsubishi Eclipse
Fans were introduced to Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner as part of the original cast of the Fast and Furious franchise's first film. The undercover cop-turned-morally ambiguous hero spent the whole time trying to convince Dom and the crew (not to mention the audience) that he was a legit street racer. And while his Mitsubishi Eclipse might have been, at the very least, more potent than plenty of the other ricers in the movie, its all-wheel-drive setup and heavy curb weight make it less than ideal for actual competition. It turned out that both Paul Walker and his character were pretty solid drivers but there was little hope of this one ever becoming a 10-second car.
18 Can't Keep Up: Honda Del Sol
The Honda Del Sol was one of the earliest Hondas to actually look like it might have the potential to be a sports car; especially when done up in full Fast and Furious style, complete with stickers, a radical paint job, body kit, and wheels, most fans might have thought a new Honda was hitting the streets. But in reality, the Del Sol is just a rebodied Civic and its Targa top is merely an illusion that hopes to trick sillier drivers into thinking Honda had a mid-engined coupe other than the NSX. Much like most of Hollywood trickery, this Del Sol was little more than a facade.
17 Can't Keep Up: Acura Integra
A little-known fact about The Fast and the Furious that very well could have changed the course of the franchise is that Ja Rule was supposed to have a larger role. In the first film, Ja Rule drove this Acura Integra that, to be fair, is one of the best front-wheel-drive cars ever made. Lightweight, sleek, and equipped with a peppy, high-revving engine from the factory, the Integra—especially in Type R trim, which included a limited-slip differential—was another car that represented Honda's determination to release a few perfectly upgraded versions of their base cars under the Acura nameplate. Just don't mistake it for a car likely to take on truly tuned-up beasts.
16 Can't Keep Up: Chevrolet Monte Carlo
In the franchise's third installment, Tokyo Drift, the action drifted farther away from the (already tenuous) plotlines that had powered the first two films. Without a real starring role for any character that appeared beforehand, Tokyo Drift introduced fans to Lucas Black's Sean Boswell by showing him beating a Dodge Viper in a race through a construction site. His car? A home-built Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The resultant mayhem would get Boswell sent to Japan, where he would become enamored of drifting culture, but the movie lost viewers almost immediately by suggesting a boat of a car like the Monte Carlo could ever beat a Viper—no matter how much wrenching had gone on under the hood.
15 Can't Keep Up: Volkswagen Touran
While in Japan, Lucas Black's character becomes friends with Twinkie, played by child rapper Lil Bow Wow (now just Bow Wow). Twinkie isn't a racer, per se, but he does have a pretty unique ride. His Volkswagen Touran was a car that audiences watching in the United States wouldn't have recognized particularly quickly. And it wasn't just the extreme Hulk paint job and fist-punch bodywork; the Touran was never sold on these shores, instead being marketed in overseas markets as a tiny minivan perfect for commuting around the tight streets of foreign cities. Just think about how slow minivans already are and then realize that this one is even slower because of Japan's automotive tax bracket system.
14 Can't Keep Up: Buick Grand National
A Buick Grand National makes an appearance during a memorable scene at the beginning of Fast & Furious, as Dom's car while the crew is attempting another series of wild stunts to capture a fuel tanker. As hard to believe as the entire scene is—especially driving under a rolling and bouncing fuel tank—even less believable is the fact that a Grand National would have been Dom's choice for the mission. Yes, it's a classically boxy coupe that can be thought of as the late-1980s version of a muscle car but with a curb weight over 3,500 pounds and an automatic transmission, even the impressive-for-its-time turbocharged V6 couldn't be tuned enough to reach any serious performance levels.
13 Can't Keep Up: Jensen Interceptor
Letty resurfaces in Fast & Furious 6 with some memory loss but the same tough-girl attitude that fans always loved. Unfortunately, she was now on the wrong side of the law (or the wronger, anyway) and more importantly, was working against Dom and his crew for most of the movie. Along with forgetting most of her life, family, and friends, Letty must have forgotten just about everything she knew about cars because her Jensen Interceptor is a terrible choice for spirited driving. Sure, the Interceptor came with amazing styling and a series of big Chrysler V8 engines maxing out at 7.2 liters of displacement—but this UK-built grand tourer was intended for stately cruising, not aggressive cornering.
12 Can't Keep Up: Ford Mustang
The climax scene of Tokyo Drift contains one of the more ridiculous chases in the entire franchise—and that's saying something, given the other seven movies (so far). In the leadup to the denouement, Sean Boswell has reconnected with his father and angered the entire city of Tokyo (if not the entire nation of Japan) by trying to learn how to drift properly. He decides to put the work in to turn a first-gen Mustang Fastback (a la Steve McQueen) into a drift car and run it on a scary hill race. But as beloved as the Ford Mustang might be, there's no way it could ever hope to keep up with a tuned and lowered car with an experienced drifter at the wheel.
11 Can't Keep Up: Honda Civic
One of the biggest flaws in the original film that any gearhead would spot instantly is that Dom and crew use Honda Civics for their pursuit vehicles during their highway heists. Civics are popular in tuner culture—then and now—because they're lightweight, easy to work on, and, most of all, cheap. But despite all the Honda Civic's accolades over the years, there's approximately a zero-percent chance that anyone hoping to do real driving around (and under) semi trucks would ever pick this model as their vehicle of choice, no matter how much NOS it had in the trunk or how dark its window tint might be.
10 Legit Racer: Toyota Supra MkIV
The original film in the franchise helped introduce a solid cast of would-be superstars to the world but it also brought the world of street-racing tuner culture into the mainstream. Few cars could have better epitomized the ideal spec for a street racer than Brian's Toyota Supra, from the fourth generation that truly took the model line up to entirely new heights. Stock, a MkIV Supra was impressive but it's well known that the legendary 2JZ-GTE could easily handle turbo upgrades, ECU work, and any other kinds of mods and crank out hundreds more horsepower to all four wheels reliably.
9 Legit Racer: Dodge Charger
Dom and his Dodge Charger have become interlinked throughout the Fast and Furious franchise, with the car receiving screen time—not to mention massive upgrades and changes—in just about every film. The Charger was already one of the most iconic cars ever built but with Dom's constant tinkering, it has truly become a beast. For most fans, the modern four-wheel-drive, mid-engined, ice-drifting insanity is a little much and they'd rather see things go back to basics: clean lines, huge rubber, and a ridiculous blower poking up out of the hood. Sure, it's more of a straight-line dragster (and the supercharger was more of a prop) but in Dom's hands, it was the perfect tool.
8 Legit Racer: Nissan Skyline GT-R
Much like Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto will forever reside in Fast and Furious fans' minds together, Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner will always be connected with his love for the Nissan Skyline GT-R. When the early movies came out, domestic audiences probably weren't even sure what that car was (other than legendary and seriously fast) but audiences around the world were well aware of the impressive sports car from Japan. With a twin-turbo straight-six and all-wheel drive, the Skyline GT-R had taken a rally racing formula and used it to dominate tarmac races for about a decade, even if it wasn't legal to import to the US until recently.
7 Legit Racer: Yenko Camaro
For fans of the modded-out imports that make up the majority of the early Fast and Furious films, Dom's Charger and a couple of muscle cars in Miami must have seemed a little out of place. But for fans of grass-fed US beef, the Yenko Camaro in 2 Fast 2 Furious was a treat. This legendary lineup of Camaro came about when Don Yenko, a successful race car driver who retired and starting selling Chevys at his dealership—was unhappy that Chevy wouldn't drop an engine into the Camaro that could allow it to challenge their own Corvette. So, he went ahead and did it himself, swapping in the 450-hp 427ci V8 from the Corvette and other go-fast goodies to create a limited run of 106 special-edition monsters.
6 Legit Racer: Honda S2000
Honda created some awesome cars during the 1990s and early-2000s that proved the brand wasn't just all about boring commuters. Probably the second-best car in the company's history, the S2000 was a lightweight, nimble sports car that combined an inline-four engine capable of revving to a sky-high 9,000 RPM, a buttery six-speed stick shift, and a factory limited-slip differential. A tuned version piloted by Johnny Tran in the first film was a treat but it's no wonder an S2000 had to make it into 2 Fast 2 Furious. In the first race scene of the movie, Devon Aoki's character, Suki, drives a custom pink S2000 that perfectly fits the Miami neon vibe.
5 Legit Racer: Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII
In 2 Fast 2 Furious, Tyrese Gibson's Roman Pearce has replaced Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto as Paul Walker's running mate. In the film, Roman is pumped up to receive a purple Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GTS but anyone who knows anything knows that Brian got a much better car when he took the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII. A four-door, hardtop sedan might not look at sweet but the Lancer Evo is a straight-up rally racer for the streets, known to be more intense even than Subaru's WRX STI—and maybe even a bit too uncomfortable for daily driving and everyday life.
4 Legit Racer: Nissan Silvia S15 Spec-S
The Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world and Leonardo Da Vinci may have worked on perfecting that enigmatic smile for over a decade. The Mona Lisa of drifting, though, is a car that will not be legal to import to the US for almost another decade. The Nissan Silver S15 Spec-S had an analog sent to these shores, the Nissan 240SX, but that model lacked many of the go-fast features that made the S15 so perfect for drifting. Sean Boswell borrowed Han's S15 in Tokyo Drift, promptly giving it a hiding because he had no clue how to actually manage a car through tight turns without losing the tail end.
3 Legit Racer: Honda NSX
Probably the greatest car that Honda has ever made, the Acura NSX that domestic gearheads covet was sold as the Honda NSX overseas. A nicely customized Acura NSX appears as Tej's car in 2 Fast 2 Furious (marking the introduction of Ludacris to the franchise), while a slightly more stock Honda NSX appears in the fourth and fifth films being driven by Michelle Rodriguez's Letty. Whichever marque it was sold under, the NSX was purpose-built to take on Ferrari-level performance at a fraction of the cost and with a mid-mounted VTEC V6, a spaceframe chassis, and some of the best handling characteristics of any car ever made, Honda knocked this one out of the park.
2 Legit Racer: Ford GT40
Okay, so in reality, the Ford GT40 that showed in Fast Five may have been a replica—but that doesn't mean it's not one of the greatest cars ever made. The real deal doesn't technically count as a supercar because it was really just a homologated race car with little to differentiate it from the Le Mans winners of 1966-69. The GT40 may just be the United States' greatest car, representing the ultimate result of Ford's team-up with Carroll Shelby to beat Ferrari at their own game. Even a replica is a car to be reckoned with, as this was a car that was a world-beater in its own time.
1 Legit Racer: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Chevrolet was left in the lurch when Ford teamed up with Carroll Shelby to produce the likes of the Cobra, GT40, and a slew of special-edition Mustangs. On the street, their Corvette stood in a class almost entirely of its own but on the track, it couldn't keep up. So Chevy began a test run of what would become the Corvette Grand Sport, complete with weight savings including thinner body panels and aluminum construction, which were complemented by an all-aluminum, 377ci V8 cranking out 550 horsepower. Only five were ever built, sadly, and the car that appeared in Fast Five was a replica that merely tugged at the heartstrings of fans watching the film.
Sources: The Fast and the Furious Wiki - Fandom, IMDb, and Wikipedia.