The Fast and Furious: Rejected Cars
The Fast and Furious: Rejected Cars
In this video, I cover the cars that were rejected for the first movie. Basically, why we picked what we picked and why some cars were ruled. Full transcript below the video.
REJECTED CARS FROM THE FAST & THE FURIOUS
What would have happened if this car had replaced the Supra as the main car in the first Fast and Furious movie?
Would Supra prices still be so crazy?
What if Johnny Tran drove a Mustang instead of an S2000?
Would Race Wars spectators have been run over?
This and more in a moment.
There have been many great cars in the Fast & Furious movies over the years, but the cars from the first movie have become icons. Some of them have sold for insane prices at auctions after the film’s main star, Paul Walker died in 2013.
The manner in which cars are normally chosen for a movie goes something like this: the Director, Producers and the Picture Car Coordinator discuss the options and a decision is made based on a myriad of factors.
The car needed to fit the character, it needed to be suitable for the action sequences written into the script, and had to fit into our meager $2 million dollar budget. While the movie had a $39 million budget, only $2 million could be spent on cars.
Obviously, I’d be recommending all of the popular tuner cars that we’d COMMONLY see at street races or car shows at that time, which.
We would need four identical cars for any character. If we were going to use a Supra, we’d have to have a total of at least four Supras that were cosmetically identical. This meant that whatever car we used, we’d have paint and modify the other three to look exactly the same.
Universal decided that renting the Hero car from a private individual was cheaper than building it from scratch.
The cars had to be easy to buy here in the USA. I can’t stress that enough – ONLY CARS THAT WERE BEING SOLD IN THE USA AT THE TIME WOULD BE CONSIDERED.
The cars had to be a representation of the current tuner car culture in the USA. That meant NO MORE than one commonly known European car. No Russian cars, no Australian cars, and no cars that are NOT sold new in America.
Supercars were ruled out completely – this movie was about the tuner culture and we didn’t have the budget for Lambos or Ferraris, anyway. Old school imports were ruled out. RX3s
By comparison, these movies today have $7 million dollar budgets or more for picture cars.
As Technical Advisor, my job was to present options and make recommendations. While sitting in that first production meeting, I went up to the grease board and explained the food chain of Japanese tuner cars of that period.
Remembering that filming of the first movie started in Spring of the year 2000, so my suggestions were predictable:
At the top of the list was the Skyline GT-R. R32s, R33s or R34s, would be great for this movie.
The Acura NSX, the MKIV Supra, and the Nissan Z32 300ZX had to be at or near the top of the list.
The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 was worthy of consideration and in fact, it had been written into the very early version of the script.
(15,539 of regular, and only 4,304 were VR4s. Dodge made 9,651 Stealths. )
The FD RX7 should also be on this list.
For second tier cars, I recommended the following
The Honda S2000
The Nissan 240SX – this was before drifting was big in the US.
The SW20 Toyota MR2
The 5th generation Honda Prelude
The S140 or S160 Lexus GS
The 2G Mitsubishi Eclipse
Then cars like the 3rd gen DC2 Acura Integra came next followed by:
The AE86 family, the Levin, Trueno, Corolla family.
Further down the line were cars like the Honda Civics and DelSols, Honda Accords.
Some cars that COULD have made the cut included cars like the Lexus IS, but IS was not released in the US until July of 2000, too late for consideration.
The WRX didn’t arrive in America until 2002 so all we had was the less exciting Impreza.
The Evo didn’t arrive officially on our shores until 2003.
The E46 M3 did not go on sale until October of 2000, making it also too late for any consideration.
When we got into more serious discussions, right off the bat, we summarily rejected a whole slew of cars:
- No RHD cars would be considered – this movie was about the Japanese tuner scene IN THE USA. Yes, I’m aware that some RHD cars were already here in the USA but using them would be impossible because we’d have to fly three more over from Japan, then purchase things like body kits and wheels for them. That was not in our budget nor did we have the time to do this. Further, it was thought that RHD cars would confuse audiences.
- Hyundais were rejected flat out. At the time, Hyundais were econo-boxes and not held in high regard in the tuner market. There were virtually no bodykits and no power mods for these cars back then and speaking frankly, no one ever grew up with a poster of a Hyundai on their well, saying to themselves, “someday, I’m gonna own that beauty.” While Hyundais are much better today, in 2000, they were economy cars with a reputation of extremely poor quality.
Kias were ruled out, largely because these cars had also been completely ignored by tuners. The Kias in the 90’s were ugly, slow, and saddled with many of the same mechanical and quality control issues that plagued Hyundais.
- All Mercedes vehicles were rejected. Why? Because back in 2000, not too many teenagers were bringing modded Benzes to the street races and Dom’s crew wasn’t rich.
- The VW Beetle was specifically mentioned in the meeting. The final verdict was ‘it’s not a manly car.’ And given that Michelle Rodriguez was a badass, no one wanted to hand her the keys to a VW Beetle, no matter what body kit we’d slap on that thing.
- BMW Z3s were rejected on the same grounds – that they were effeminate or might be viewed as such by audiences. I’ve seen some fine examples at car shows around the country, but we didn’t have the time or budget to scour the country for a manly Z3 and frankly, Universal wasn’t too hot on convertibles – it makes it harder to hide the stunt driver’s face when a movie character is supposed to be behind the wheel. Ultimately, it was a German car and at the time, they just didn’t fit into a movie about street racing in the USA.
- All of the domestic sport compact cars were ruled out –None of them were deemed to be “desirable” or interesting to audiences. Why not?
Because the consensus in the room was that nobody was going to be excited about cars they can rent at the airport. IN the USA, cars like Cavaliers, Sunfires, Saturns and Ford Focuses were not popular in the tuner culture. Moreover, here in California in the year 2000, you almost NEVER saw one of these modified. They just never caught on in Southern California.
- Mazda had the 323 and the 626 at that time, but both were rejected because almost no one was making cosmetic or performance mods for them. Frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to find one of these at the street races back then – unless someone’s mom came looking for their teenager.
- The Miata was discussed, but an S2000 was chosen over the Miata because it was deemed to be more masculine.At the time, the Miata was mostly thought of as a car for girls. The world knows better now, but back then, the Miatas were simply not on the same level.
- Fiats weren’t being sold in America back then, so they were out. Same with Alfa Romeos.
- British brands like Aston, Jaguar and the others had no place in a tuner film. Rejected without a second glance.
- Eddie Paul tried to place these cars, which were Vauxhall VX220 also known as Opel Speedsters. Those cars were Frankensteins. They had Ecotec four bangers, and a Lotus chassis.
This movie was focusing on the American tuner culture, and these cars didn’t exist here. Not to mention, they were ugly and no aftermarket modifications existed for these cars at the time. They were summarily rejected but sat in the Picture Car Warehouse for months.
With the list narrowed down, we start looking at real life examples.
RJ and I organized weekly casting calls for cars. We invited people who had nice examples of the cars that made it to our list.
TEXT ON SCREEN
Skyline GTR s
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4s
Toyota MRS (SW20)s
The Lexus GSs
The Nissan 240SXs
The Acura Integras
the AE86 family which in America means the Corolla family
Honda Civics and Del Sols
Each week, we looked at 2 or 3 examples of each type of car to present to the production team. Casting was held on Universal’s back lot.
I’ll take a moment to explain the reasons for choosing the cars we did.
Brian ended up the Eclipse to start off with, then he would transition into MKIV Supra.
The Supra fit the requirement largely because of the one piece targa roof. The scene where the roof is ejected was written into the script from the beginning.
Since the the 300ZX had a two piece roof, it was ruled out.
The Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR4 could have won this role since there was a targa version, but the examples we showed to the production team were not to their liking so it didn’t make the cut.
The FD3S RX7 was our choice for Dom. The roll cage was a deal-breaker because Vin could not get into the car. Once the roll cage was removed, it was accepted.
My original thought that an E36 BMW M3 or Audi A4/S4 would do the trick, especially since he was the techie guy. An example of each of these cars showed up to our casting call, but neither of them was riced out enough to get Director Rob Cohen excited.
In the end, the VW Jetta that we showed to Rob was the one that he HAD to have, so we rented it.
My objection to this was that this car was supposed to be Jesse’s dad’s car. I don’t know any 40 year old man who would be driving that car.
For Vince, I thought an SW20 MR2 would be a good choice. However, since the actor was too big for the car.
I then suggested a Lexus GS, either the S140 or S160, using maybe a VIP theme, but Rob wasn’t excited about the examples we presented.
The Honda Prelude was also too small. There were plenty of RHD cars we could have looked at, but all RHDs were rejected for the reasons I mentioned earlier.
In the end, Picture Car Captain, David Marder, decided to just rent my Maxima because Vince’s car really had only one big scene and it didn’t really matter what he drove.
At the time, I originally thought that Letty would have looked good in an SW20 MR2 if they didn’t accept that car for Vince, but she 240SX got selected instead.
I learned later that mounting cameras and lights to the MR2 would be much harder than with the 240SX and that’s why the 240 was chosen over the MR2 and so the MR2 had been rejected completely.
Mia was a nursing student in the movie, so her car could be a bit more toned down. An Integra was one of the cars I endorsed, and I think a big part of the reason for choosing this particular car had to be that the actual owner was a lady by the name of June Shih.
Although the script originally read “Pete Tran” in the script, what was really interesting was that this character was to supposed be driving a Mustang. As you would expect, my hand went up in that meeting instantly.
My argument was that a) at the time, here in So Cal, I had Mustangs was not popular among the Asian tuner crowd and b) I felt that a Mustang was absolutely the wrong choice for a movie focusing on Japanese import cars.
Ultimately, bad guys get black cars in movies or at least they did back then, and it was a coincidence that co-technical Advisor RJ De Vera owned was a BLACK Honda S2000.
David Marder asked RJ if he’d be willing to loan the car to production and a deal was struck. No stunt cars were needed, so this was an easy decision.
Hector’s role was so minor that we didn’t need to spend much time on this choice. We simply chose a Honda Civic owned by a guy named Nick Stewart. It was a simple rental and no clones or stunt cars were built. And after all, you can’t have a movie about Japanese tuner cars with some Honda Civics.
Ja Rule’s character needed something a bit flashier. Fortunately, we ignored the cars with 20-inch spinners and selected Bill Kohl’s red Integra. No changes were made to that car. No stunt cars or clones were built of this car, either.
Played by RJ De Vera who is much better at Gran Turismo than he was portrayed to be on film, this car was a last minute deal. We took one of the extra Honda Civics we originally delegated for the heist sequences and slapped on a body kit, wheels, paint and decals. No stunt cars and no clones were built of this car.
I always saw Leon in some sort of hardcore project car, like an AE86. It just seemed to fit – but that didn’t happen.
Instead, Leon got the R33 GTR that we rented from MotoRex through Sean Morris. The R33 was originally white, so Universal painted in yellow and added decals. No stunt cars were built, nor were any clones built.
BUILDING THE CLONES
Once the cars were rented, we began the process of building clones.
The cars we rented were designated Hero 1. The Hero 1 car is the nicest, shiniest car of the bunch and it is used for closeups, interior shots and not much else.
Hero 2 is a pretty detailed cosmetic replica of the Hero 1. Hero 2 is used as backup if Hero 1 breaks down or if the Hero car needs to be in two different locations at the same time.
Then we get into stunt cars. The number of Stunt cars depends on how many stunts the cars will do. In Tokyo Drift, they had 10 Evos. For this film, we had two stunt cars for each Hero 1 car, in most cases.
There’s also a buck or process car in some cases. The buck is for sound stage work and green screen work.
And in a couple of cases, we’d cut a car into a shell and mount it to the MicRig. As an example, with my Supra, there were actually SIX additional cars. Two hero cars, two stunt cars, a process/buck and a MicRig.
Today, the process of building movie cars in the recent Fast movies is different. Instead of renting the Hero cars, these movies have a $7 million dollar budget just for cars. They can now buy or build them any way they want.
The cars in the later movies that Dennis McCarthy and his team build – like the Flip car, the Ice Charger are truly special.
But what’s different is that in the first couple of movies, the cars stayed with the characters all the way through the movie, in most cases.
Now, the cars they use in these movies are lucky to survive one scene. And this is why the cars from the first few movies are truly special – and more collectible.
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