From the Mitsubishi Eclipse to the Toyota Supra, the original 2001 hit “The Fast and the Furious” turned many cars into stars. But even more cars didn’t make the cut, as Craig Lieberman, a technical advisor for the early films in the franchise, explains in this video.
First off, the original movie focused on tuner cars, and producers only wanted cars that were available in the United States at the time. That ruled out JDM models, rare muscle cars, and supercars, although some exceptions were made (including Dominic Toretto’s Dodge Charger) and these rules were relaxed in later films.
Many cars that met those ground rules still didn’t make the cut, though. Producers turned down the Volkswagen Beetle, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and BMW Z3 for not being “manly” enough. Lieberman also noted that convertibles were usually avoided because it made it hard to hide stunt drivers’ faces (remember that Johnny Tran’s Honda S2000 was always shown with the top up).
1992 Toyota MR2
The script also originally had Brian O’Connor starting out in a Mitsubishi 3000GT, then switching to an Eclipse. However, none of the modified 3000GTs that showed up to the car casting call impressed producers, and the Supra was a better fit because of its removable large roof, which was needed for the truck-chase scene later in the movie, Lieberman said.
Toretto was always slated to drive an FD Mazda RX-7, but other members of his crew could have ended up in different cars. Lieberman originally suggested an E36 BMW M3 or Audi S4 for Jesse, who got a Mark III Volkswagen Jetta instead. Initial car ideas for Vince included a Toyota MR2, Lexus GS, and Honda Prelude, but Lieberman’s own Nissan Maxima was chosen instead. Leon went from a Toyota Celica to an R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R.
The original script also named a Ford Mustang as Tran’s car (and referred to the character as “Pete”). That didn’t make sense in a movie about tuner cars, but the change from Mustang to S2000 actually came about because producers saw a modified black S2000 they liked. Villains always drive black cars, the theory went.