19 of the coolest cars in the Fast and Furious franchise
This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Fast and the Furious saga, and Fast 9 is now showing in theaters. It started small, with its very first film centered on Los Angeles street racing—and a heist crew of mysterious drivers. Over the course of nine films, though, the series has become a global affair that gives us glimpses into car cultures all over the world, taking us from Havana drag races in The Fate of the Furious to the Touge runs in Tokyo Drift. Though much has changed for Dom’s crew in two decades, the franchise has always celebrated sweet cars, from exotic imports to American muscle.
In this franchise, cars are character. Brian loves Nissans, Mia prefers an Acura, Dom is all about Chargers. Brian’s devotion to imports and Dom’s loyalty to American muscle—and the pair’s ongoing argument over which is better—are reflected in the saga’s diverse selection of vehicles. Mia might be a Toretto, but she’s a perfect match for Brian with their shared taste for imports. (She will appear in F9 driving a silver 1974 Chevy Nova SS, which will no doubt please her brother.)
Sometimes decisions are made in movies that sacrifice art for product placement, and characters can be saddled with the wrong car for the sake of sponsors. But this is rarely the case with the Fast and Furious movies: they use so many cars—and so many kinds of cars—that these choices can be organic to the story. Picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy explained his approach: “I always try to tie the cars into the characters. [ . . . ] My goal at the end — if you see the car onscreen, the fans of the franchise will know that that’s gotta be Tej’s car, or Roman’s car. You have an idea before the door opens and the character gets out, you know whose car it is. That’s what I strive for.”
This ethos obviously carries through in the newest entry. F9 finds Roman and Tej in a Pontiac Fiero strapped to a rocket engine. A Toyota Supra makes a cameo in the trailers, with a paint job just like Han’s VeilSide Mazda from Tokyo Drift, promising the character’s return (and justice for Han). Helen Mirren finally fulfills her dream of driving fast in one of these movies when her character Magdalene Shaw rides with Dom as her passenger in a Noble M600 supercar. And, of course, there will be a new Charger for Dom. F9 will introduce a mess of new vehicles to the Fast and Furious pantheon, but each film has showcased countless incredible cars. Here’s an appreciation of some of the coolest so far.
Dominic Toretto’s Chargers are at the heart of this series, and it all began with his father’s ’70 Charger, first introduced in The Fast and the Furious. Dom continues to honor his father’s legacy and their love for American muscle with cars like the silvery Maximus Charger from Furious 7 and the satin-gray Ice Charger from The Fate of the Furious. Though he’s driven newer models, he seems most at home in these second-gen Chargers. (You can read all about Dom’s Charger affinity here.)
1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse
In his bid to beat Dom in a street race in The Fast and the Furious, Brian overuses NOS and the car starts to fall apart. In the end, Dom wins the race and the pink slip, but the car meets a tragic fate during a shootout with Johnny Tran and his rival crew. Known as “the green car,” this was Brian’s very first race car, making it a sentimental favorite for fans of the franchise.
2002 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII
U.S. Customs Service gives Brian the Evo for his undercover mission in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Its aesthetic — from the paint job to the body kit — was a tribute to the Eclipse that Brian drove in The Fast and the Furious. Since the Evo didn’t make its debut in America until 2003, Mitsubishi donated four of them to production, and 2 Fast 2 Furious helped make the car a hit in the States.
1969 Yenko Camaro SYC
In 1967, American race car driver Don Yenko did what Chevy wouldn’t (at least not yet): drop a 700-pound engine in its car. Yenko ultimately converted fifty-four 427-powered Camaros that year. Brian wins a Yenko in a race for pinks in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and this one had over 500 horsepower and a Borg Warner Super T-10 transmission. The car that was used in the film’s heroic jump was just a shell filled with expanding foam, while one of the stunt cars was saved by the company Year One and restored to its former glory.
1997 VeilSide Mazda RX-7
Han’s orange-and-black ride in Tokyo Drift is instantly recognizable. Production bought it directly from VeilSide, and it boasted a number of impressive modifications, including a revamped audio system, an HKS turbocharger, an HKS intercooler, a Skyline GT-R fuel-line, Rotora brake system, and, of course, a little bottle of nitrous. *Chef’s kiss.*
2001 Nissan Silvia S15 Spec-S
Han’s Silvia is “the Mona Lisa of the Drift World.” According to Twinkie (Shad Moss, aka Bow Wow), Han rebuilt it from the ground up, with “forged pistons, bigger turbo, new rods, new crankshaft.” And then Sean (Lucas Black) turns it into a crumpled beer can during his first race against DK (Brian Tee). While preparing for Tokyo Drift, Dennis McCarthy noticed that about half of the cars featured in Tokyo’s car shows or drifting events were either S14 or S15 Silvias. And there’s a good reason why: they are lightweight, inexpensive, easy to modify, with balanced weight distribution and rear-wheel drive—all of which makes them perfect cars for drifting.
1967 Ford Mustang Fastback
Like Dom and his Charger, Sean has a special connection with the Mustang because it belongs to his father. In his final race against DK in Tokyo Drift, Sean and his friends restore it, and Han’s wrecked Silvia finds a second life when its engine gets transplanted into the Mustang. Production actually built a fully functional ’67 Mustang using parts from ’68 Mustangs.
1987 Buick Grand National
Dom drives the Grand National during an attempted heist of a fuel truck in Fast & Furious. Production used eight of these cars for filming, including an ’85 and an ’86 that were modified to drive in reverse, with their engines placed in their trunks. It was lowered slightly and given NASCAR-type wheels, but the car doesn’t require much to get it moving fast. With its turbocharged V-6, the boxy Grand National was one of the cars that rescued us from the Malaise Era, a time period hardly remembered for barn-burning performance. The powerful Buick is a hero in its own right.
1970 Chevelle SS
The Chevelle is Dom’s car for daily use in Fast & Furious. It first appears in The Fast and the Furious as a red car, but Dom modifies it overnight in Fast & Furious for his audition race to prove himself to Arturo Braga and his crew. Dom sands the Chevelle down, repaints it gray, and gives it American racing wheels. Dennis McCarthy called this car “pretty much cool on every level.”
1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport
“Nitromethane tank, Ford full size, Continental tires.” This was Fenix’s car in Fast & Furious. Dom believed Fenix killed Letty, and so this car became Dom’s white whale. Fenix’s Gran Torino came replete with a Ford 429 Cobra Jet engine, Hotchkis suspension, and Coys C-67 Gunmetal 18-inch rims.
1965 Ford GT40
The Ford GT40 is the car that Mia was lucky enough to steal during the train robbery in Fast Five. Considering the fact that a real 1965 Ford GT40 is both rare and breathtakingly expensive, production used replicas instead: two kit cars as the hero, which were “only” $80K each (a bargain compared to its usual price tag of $3.9M in Good condition), and a stunt car they built using a Racecar Replica kit and $30K crate motor.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Dom and Brian stole—and destroyed—this Corvette during Fast Five’s train robbery. The pair use the car to escape the train, and then drive it off a cliff. The Grand Sport was born in 1962, created by Chevy in response to the Shelby Cobra and intended for GT racing. Mongoose Motors created 12 replicas for Fast Five based on the Grand Sport convertible. The hero car was equipped with a 502 GM performance crate motor, a Borg Warner Super T-10 transmission, and C3 Corvette suspension.
1971 Jensen Interceptor
When Letty returns in Fast & Furious 6, she’s on Owen Shaw’s team driving a ’71 Jensen Interceptor. This is on technical adviser Craig Lieberman’s list of the top 10 worst cars in the franchise, but Letty and her modifications are what make it cool. On its surface, the Interceptor is a British car, made and manufactured in England, but this one is American at heart, powered by a V-8 crate engine from GM. It reflects where Letty is at in the Fast and Furious saga: having forgotten her past, she now lives a life in Britain with a new crew, but she’s ultimately unchanged at her core. Divested of its luxuries, the interior boasts Sparco R100 street-racing seats, a roll cage, and AutoMeter gauges. The glossy finish is gone, too, replaced by a more menacing matte paint job.
1970 Ford Escort MK I RS1600
The Ford Escort is one of the many cars purchased by Tej at a London car auction in Fast & Furious 6. During the film’s centerpiece chase in pursuit of Owen Shaw, his crew, and the tank they stole, Brian uses it to save Roman’s life when he’s nearly crushed by said tank. This rally legend is a hugely popular car in the U.K., and it was unsurprisingly the most admired on set; Dennis McCarthy called it “the ‘Cuda of the United Kingdom.”
1970 Plymouth Barracuda
Its glossy black paint, matte gray hood, and rear spoiler make for a lethal-looking ‘Cuda. The car makes a brief appearance at the end of Fast & Furious 6 in Dom’s driveway, but figures more prominently in Furious 7: Dom drives Letty in this car to Race Wars, where he hopes to jog her memory, and when Letty races in it, she wins against an Audi R8. Known as the Fast Cuda or the Cudanator, this car was custom built by Salvaggio Designs with a 540-cubic-inch Keith Black Hemi. It reappears at the end of the film with Letty back in the driver’s seat (and meets a grim end).
Only seven were ever made, and Vin Diesel owns one for real. In Furious 7, Brian and Dom crash this $3 million supercar through not one but two buildings—but thankfully not for real. Lykan actually built the bodies for production, gave them rollers on a Porsche Boxster chassis. The authentic Lykan HyperSport features seats stitched with gold, and headlights embedded with the buyer’s choice of jewels: rubies, diamonds, sapphires. Not only is it beautiful and extravagant, it’s one of the fastest cars in the world.
1994 Toyota Supra MK IV
After the Eclipse was destroyed, Brian owes Dom a “10-second car,” and gives him a junked Supra that they lovingly restore — for thousands of dollars. (It just sold in real life for $550,000. Stranger than fiction?) It pays off, though, and the Supra beats a Ferrari in a street race after the Ferrari’s owner taunts Brian and Dom, bragging that his car is more than they can afford. According to Barrett-Jackson, the auction house that auctioned off the Supra, it features “a Bomex front spoiler and side skirts, TRD-style hood, APR aluminum biplane rear wing, and 19-inch Dazz Motorsport Racing Hart M5 Tuner wheels.” Under its hood is an ultra-powerful 2JZ-GTE engine, which Jesse (Chad Lindberg) correctly predicted would “decimate all.”
Brian also notably drives off into the horizon at the end of Furious 7 in a 1995 Toyota Supra Mark IV, a car owned by Paul Walker.
The GT-R is one of Brian’s favorite cars, and there’s been one in just about every single Fast and Furious film. Brian races a ’99 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 at the beginning of 2 Fast 2 Furious, a car that Dennis McCarthy called “ahead of its time.” When Brian drives to Rio with Mia in Fast Five, their ride is a special vintage find: a 1971 Nissan Skyline GT-R KPGC10. Paul Walker himself owned a 2002 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R, which was featured in Fast & Furious. The GT-R is a legendary car, and a Fast icon.
1966 Corvette Sting Ray
Letty drives the Rally Red widebody ’66 Sting Ray in New York in The Fate of the Furious. It was a shabby barn find that production restored, replacing its 327 cubic-inch V-8 with a 400-hp Chevy crate engine. Getting it to drive on two wheels took a whole day of shooting, and it’s the kind of stunt that’s very hard on a car, which is why they used a replica. Dennis McCarthy explains: “C2 Vettes were bad ass, right off the assembly line. Add in period-correct fender flares, huge rubber and a bunch of power being fed through a Muncie four-speed transmission to the independent rear suspension, and you have a combo for Letty that can’t lose.”