Compared to everything that’s come after it, 2001’s The Fast and the Furious was a fairly low-budget experiment using lots of rented cars and innovative tricks by the picture car department. The most famous car of the franchise, Dom’s Charger, was actually a 1970 Dodge with a bunch of ’69 Charger parts thrown at it. Production built five Chargers in total, only three of which were stunt cars. As for the Toyota Supras, the first movie had eight on set, including Hero 1 and its backup, plus several stunt cars in various tunes and completion. While 2 Fast 2 Furious used five genuine GT-Rs, by the time Fast 4 came around, only the main principal car was an R34 GT-R, the backups and stunt cars were less powerful, rear-drive JDM Nissan Skyline GTTs.
Led by vehicle coordinator mastermind Dennis McCarthy for the FF movies, Universal’s movie car department isn’t crazy to wreck real collector vehicles for the sake of its action scenes. In most cases, junkyard cars are chopped together and dressed up for one last ride, or custom stunt cars using reproduction parts over a safe tubular chassis. There are also process cars mounted to trailers for low-speed closeups on the actors, and Mic Rigs, which are bodyshells on a truck’s lowered frame, invited by Mic Rodgers. As former technical director Craig Lieberman points out in a recent video, Dom’s first Charger might have been a real 1970 car, yet thanks to its starring role, it also sold for $85,000 even as a wreck.
Quite famously, The Dukes of Hazzard production went through 1969 Chargers so quickly in the early 1980s that by the late seasons, the team first modified orange AMC Ambassadors to fool the audience, only to use radio-controlled miniatures for the final year. On the other hand, NBC had little more than 20 Firebird Trans Ams to shoot four seasons of Knight Rider.
Based on the research of British insurance firm Insure the Gap, the movie geeks at Screenrants reported last year that the total number of cars destroyed in the Fast & Furious movies is as follows:
- The Fast and the Furious: 78 cars
- 2 Fast 2 Furious: 130 cars
- The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift: 249 cars
- Fast & Furious: 190 Cars
- Fast Five: 260 cars
- Fast & Furious 6: 350 cars
- Furious 7: 230 cars
That totals to 1,487 wrecked vehicles, yet if we add The Fate of the Furious,
the upcoming Fast 9, and perhaps even spinoffs like Hobbs & Shaw to the picture, that figure climbs well past the 2,000-car mark. Some hero stunt cars get full restorations to then live happy lives, while others go to museums right as the crew left them, while less important “zombie cars” are considered to be disposable casualties of our entertainment.
The bottom line is that out of the literally thousands of trashed FF vehicles, only a few were desirable originals, and that trend in the industry is unlikely to change as the custom movie car business invents better solutions to support the studios’ ideas for high-octane carnage.
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