The Fast and the Furious is one of the most successful franchises of all time. With an overall box office take of about $6.6 billion (and growing pretty much every movie), it’s hard to see an end to the franchise anywhere in sight. For instance, the first movie made just $350 million worldwide, whereas the latest film, Fate of the Furious, brought in $1.5 billion. With success like that, why would Universal ever stop? Two new movies are already slated for 2019 and 2021.
With the success of the films and how many eyes are on each movie, they act as some of the best publicity for car companies that money can buy. Companies like Mitsubishi and Nissan practically throw their cars at Universal in the hope they’ll make it into the Fast and Furious movies. In fact, some of the movies are actually used as platforms to launch/unveil upcoming models from these car companies (a little more on that later).
Besides the overall box office take growing exponentially with each movie, so too does the budget. The first movie had a budget of just $38 million, practically making it an expensive indie, whereas the latest had a whopping $250 million. Given those kinds of figures, it's no wonder we see some of the coolest cars on the planet in each and every movie—the production crews can afford them! And they can also afford the best stuntmen and action scenes.
Each car is unique in The Fast and the Furious universe. Here, we highlight 18 little-known facts about the cars from the franchise and cherry pick them for your enjoyment. So enjoy!
18 The Cars in 2 Fast 2 Furious Were Personally Picked by a Cast Member
The late great Paul Walker, who helped explode the Fast and Furious franchise into the $6.6-billion Hollywood blockbuster monstrosity that it is today, was a key factor in the second movie of the franchise in terms of personnel. Paul Walker was responsible for actually picking the cars used in the movie. And even though Walker (and Vin Diesel, except for a cameo) didn't return for the third installment, Tokyo Drift, they were both back in all the subsequent movies (until Walker’s untimely death).
First, the 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 used by Walker in the movie was his own real-life racing car.
The other cars chosen by him in the film include the 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII, the 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GTS, the Dodge Viper SRT-10, the Dodge Stealth, the 2000 Acura NSX, the Ferrari 360 Spider, the 1993 Mazda RX-7, and the 2001 Honda S2000, among others.
17 This Awesome Car Was Bought by a Different Superstar
This iconic 1995 Volkswagen Jetta from the original The Fast and the Furious movie was, in the movie, driven by Jesse, played by Chad Lindberg. In the movie, Jesse was a member of Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel's) crew, as a mechanic and software designer who helps navigate Dom’s highway truck heists.
In reality, the Jetta is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, has automatic transmission, and is set up with a customized stereo that actually has a Playstation 2 inside the car. But did you know that after filming, the car was sold to another Hollywood superstar? Yup, Frankie Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle fame ended up buying the car. Muniz is a racer in his own right and bought the car after seeing the movie so that he could use it in his own races.
16 Paul Walker’s Iconic Car in the Films Is Illegal in the USA
That’s right—Paul Walker’s Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is actually illegal in the US. The GT-R series of Skylines is known for its awesome design, handling, and power (2.6-liter turbo engine with 276 horsepower). The car has won the Japanese Touring Car championship 29 times in a row (which is a record, in case you were wondering). Suffice to say, people love this car.
However, the 1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R failed to meet street-safety regulations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, making it impossible to import legally to American markets. The car can bypass the safety restrictions, though, by being reassembled, which is exactly what was done in The Fast and the Furious. The car was provided by Kaizo Industries and made legal for road use, though it was seized by government agents in 2009 and exported in 2012 to GT-A Germany.
15 Going Through the Whole Gamut of Nissan GT-Rs
The fifth film, Fast Five, does a good job of going through the entire catalogue of Nissan GT-Rs, by year. In the film, when three of the characters first arrive in Rio, they're driving a KPGC10 Nissan Skyline GT-R, which was first produced by Nissan between 1969 and 1972. It was a legendary car in the local Japanese touring car racing circuit.
The GT-R then went on a 16-year sabbatical until 1989, when the R32 Skyline GT-R was unveiled.
This model won the Japanese JTCC Group A series of championships four years in a row. The car was eventually replaced by the R35, which is based on a V36 Skyline. Towards the end of the film, Paul Walker is driving an R35.
14 Lots of Publicity Deals Were Made Due to the Films’ Successes
Since the franchise became a $6.6-billion behemoth, it's no wonder that car companies around the world want a piece of that action. The cars in the Fast and Furious movies have been seen by millions of eyes around the world, and it’s hard to beat that kind of publicity. Many car companies have used that to their advantage, using the films to promote their upcoming car releases.
For instance, in Tokyo Drift, Mitsubishi gave four prototype R32 Skylines to the production team at Universal, and Volkswagen put the movie’s cars in their commercials, effectively giving each other cross-promotion.
In 2 Fast 2 Furious, the Dodge Viper shown in the film was the first of the newly shaped models, and the production team managed to get a hold of four of them by promising that they wouldn’t be damaged.
13 Open Casting Call… For Cars??
By the time the third film in the franchise (and sixth chronologically), Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, came out, the franchise was on its last dying legs. This was the first (and only movie) not starring either Paul Walker or Vin Diesel. After this film, executives at Universal considered making Fast and Furious a straight-to-DVD franchise—but boy... are they glad they didn’t, because Furious 7 raked in over $500 million (domestic and international) in its first weekend, which is over $400 million more than what the first film in the franchise brought in.
But when the stakes were dire and budgets were tight, the executives did something unheard of—offer an open casting call for cars. To save money, basically, people showed up and brought their cars to a designated place, and filmmakers chose select drivers and cars that would be featured in background sequences of the film.
12 There Were no CGI Effects in this Tunnel Chase…
In fact, there weren’t a lot of CGI effects in any of the scenes in the 2009 movie Fast and Furious (even when the cars flew out of the back of an airplane personnel carrier—from the sky). The creator of the franchise has stated that 99 to 99 percent of the time, during all of the stunts throughout the franchise, there was a stunt person (or an actor) in the cars. They wanted things to look real, so they filmed the stunts “practically,” even though this was much more dangerous.
In one of the most far-fetched chase scenes—a sequence through smuggling tunnels in Mexico—the production team built open areas in a warehouse with orange cones to denote blocked-out paths, then added walls, pillars, and such with CGI in post-production. But the cars were actually there.
11 The Real Hemi in the First Movie Wasn’t Actually Destroyed
The 1970 Dodge Charger R/T is the main car driven throughout the franchise by Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel. Even though Dom drives countless cars throughout the series, this is the one car that the tough guy is scared of driving. The muscle car in the film has a 528 ci supercharged Hemi engine, and the Charger has a year-older body style of the 1969 Charger (“General Lee”) from the Dukes of Hazzard TV series.
At the end of the first film, there’s a huge crash where the Charger is destroyed. In actuality, the real Hemi-powered Charger wasn’t destroyed, but there were four other lookalike models made (powered by lesser engines), and these were the ones that were destroyed in filming the movie.
10 This Suped-Up Monte Carlo
One of the most important cars in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift was this 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, driven by Sean Boswell (the 17-year-old student and expat living in Japan, the role played by Lucas Black).
This Monte Carlo is a first-generation model, highly modified. First, the design was inspired by old NASCAR race cars. It was fit with a 4-speed transmission with 4:88 rear gears.
Originally, in the film, it was going to be fitted with a 632 Big Block engine that would've given it over 900 horsepower, but instead, the production team opted for 350 blocks, another one with a 509, and one that was never used with a 572. Another significant tidbit: the Monte Carlo at the time had the best power-to-weight ratio out of any Fast and Furious car on set. After being stripped for the movie and left with only the bare essentials, the usually-4,000 lb car weighed only 2,000 lbs.
9 They Went Through 300 to 400 Cars in the Newest Film
You read that number right. In a movie that has a budget of over $250 million, we have to wonder how much of that money went to buying the actual cars that were destroyed. McCarthy has estimated that they went through about 300 to 400 cars during filming and that about 230 were destroyed entirely. It's necessary to have that many cars, he says, because the movies aren’t shot sequentially. So often, they’ll film a scene where a car is destroyed but then need that same car for a scene earlier in the film.
McCarthy told Bloomberg, “In Cleveland, we had zombie cars—cars we would rent and wreck and return them. We’d go through 60 to 70 of those a day.” Ouch.
8 That’s a “No” From Ferrari
The Fast and Furious franchise is well known for going through absurd amounts of super and exotic cars during filming. But there was one particular car that even they couldn’t get their hands on: a LaFerrari—the ultimate in exclusive supercars from the Italian automaker. Apparently, the LaFerrari isn’t even for sale unless you’ve gotten approval from Ferrari (and you have to already be a Ferrari owner). According to car coordinator McCarthy, in Furious 7, they wanted to use a LaFerrari as the car that held the God’s Eye Chip. And though they tried, Ferrari said, “No thanks. We don’t need the press. Our cars sell themselves.” In the end, McCarthy went with one of the rarer supercars out there, a Lykan Hypersport.
7 It Would Cost Between $50,000 to $90,000 to Make Your Car into a Fast and Furious Car
The car lovers at Jalopnik actually took the time to parcel out how much it would cost to make an average car into a suped-up car as seen in a Fast and Furious movie. And the number they came up with is… very specific, at $70,845, though an approximate range would be between 50 and 90 grand.
Here are some of the customizations and costs it would take: $8,500 for a custom paint job; $3,500 for a carbon-fiber hood, trunk, and aerodynamic body kit; $175 for window tint, $5,600 for forged, light alloy tires and rims; $150 for LED undercar lighting. And that’s just the exterior.
Some other mods: a $7,500 turbo kit with 650 horsepower; a $1,200 Nitrous Oxide system; a $12,000 “built engine.” a $1,400 programmable engine computer; $750 engine dynamometer tuning; a $1,400 titanium exhaust; a $1,800 twin disc clutch; a $1,000 limited-slip differential; a $1,800 adjustable coilover suspension system; $550 upgraded anti-sway bars; $500 chassis-strengthening stress bars; a $4,400 upgraded big brake kit; a $2,500 roll cage; $3,600 carbon-fiber racing seats; $3,500 in-car entertainment; and $800 gauges to monitor the drive-train.
6 Vin Diesel’s ’68 Charger R/T in Furious 7
The main car Vin Diesel drives in Furious 7 is a ’68 Charger that doesn’t street race. Instead, it goes off-roading, which took a lot of modifications to enable the car to do that without being terrible at it. This car was Dennis McCarthy’s favorite car in the film, so he put a lot of heart into building it.
The team built seven of them from scratch. (They also built six Lykan Hypersport replicas, which usually cost $3.4 million but were built much cheaper by W Motors.) Anyway, the chassis and the body of the Charger took a week to build and have extra fender and wheel room. Computers cut the parts after the team had worked with CAD. It's built with a 500-horsepower engine with rear-locking differential (so that both rear tires will spin).
5 Michelle Rodriguez’s ’66 Corvette in Fate of the Furious
In the newest film of the franchise, Fate of the Furious, Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty drives an awesome-looking ’65 Chevy Corvette. The car is owned by Brian Hobaugh, a famous Corvette connoisseur, and then, it was modified. It was revved up with widebody fenders, but on the inside, the car was plagued with rust. It took a whole structural reinforcement to get it into fighting shape for the film. Because of the aforementioned time limitations, McCarthy and his team worked fast but didn’t bother painting between the doors or under the hood.
The car didn’t have a motor, so McCarthy inserted a 400-horsepower Chevy crate motor with a 4-speed automatic transmission. It also had modded power steering and Wilwood power brakes so that it could perform the necessary stunts.
4 Vin Diesel’s “Ice” Charger in Fate of the Furious
Another iconic car driven by Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto in the eighth installment of Fast and the Furious is the Charger called the “Ice” (because that’s what it was driven on). This is a widebody Charger with an all-wheel-drive setup and a Luxury Sport motor. This Charger was based on a design by Ken Block's Hoonicorn widebody ’65 Mustang notchback.
The team molded the car to Vin’s specifications, hoping to match its looks with Dom’s personality (and to make it possible to drive it over a frozen lake). The team threw in a 550-horsepower motor close to the firewall so that there’d be room for the driveshaft to pump power to the front wheels and enable its all-wheel-drive capabilities.
3 The "Skyline" From Tokyo Drift
Though the first two movies were a bit fantastical, that can be expected in an action-packed thriller/car movie. But Tokyo Drift managed to make some good changes, namely, much more cleanly imported cars. One of those clean imports was Paul Walker’s Nissan Skyline GT-R which, in fact, wasn’t even a Skyline at all. Or a Nissan.
The car was a “kit car” made from a Skyline GT-R R34 chassis imported from Kaizo Industries.
Its engine was swapped with a Nissan RB26DETT, making it a street-legal R34. (Paul Walker was also a client of Kaizo’s for his own racing habits.) The car was imported without a drive-train, which made it legal to import, and then was installed by Vildini Motorsports in California. Walker had to fight the production team to keep gaudy lights and chrome off the car, but the end result is a classic, solid build.
2 List of Cars from Newest F&F Film
While we all have to wait until 2019 for the ninth installation from the Fast and Furious franchise, let’s take a moment to gawk at what we were given in the eighth installation, Fate of the Furious. In this film, Vin Diesel (aka Dominic Toretto) drives a 1950 Chevy, a ’61 Impala, a ’68 Dodge “Ice” Charger, a Dodge Plymouth GTX, and a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
Michelle Rodriguez rides around in a Demon, too, as well as a 2008 Local Motors Rally Fighter, a Harley-Davidson bike, and her ’66 Corvette Stingray.
Ludacris drives a Modern Mercedes AMG GT and a Ripsaw Tank(!)
Tyrese Gibson: SRT Demon; 2008 Bentley Continental GT; Lamborghini Murcielago.
Jason Statham: Modern Jaguar F-Type
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: ’95 Land Rover 110; International MXT; Modern Dodge Ram 3500.
1 This Isn’t the Only Film This Car Is In
In the franchise, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner drives this lime-green 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse in the first film, The Fast and the Furious. It’s used in his practice runs leading up to his first street car race, but he can’t seem to get it under control without sliding out. During the race, the car starts to fall apart from overheating due to NOS, but Brian needs to win to gain Dominic’s approval (Vin Diesel), so he ignores the warnings and lets the car die.
It returns from the wreckage to be used later in the film before being destroyed during a huge shootout wherein a bullet hits the engine/nitrous and the car explodes. Despite all that, this same 1995 Eclipse is the same exact car used in another movie, Sex Drive, a 2008 film about a high school graduate who goes on a road trip while trying to lose his virginity.
Sources: FastandFurious.wikia.com; superstreetonline.com; jalopnik.com