Fans of “The Fast and the Furious” may have always wondered why such a minor character had one of the coolest cars in the film. We’re talking about Leon and his bright yellow R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R.
Once again, Craig Lieberman, technical director for the first three “Fast and Furious” films, has answers. He sat down with Sean Morris who was the GT-R’s caretaker, a car lovingly named “Big Bird.”
Morris worked for MotorRex at the time, a company that was responsible for importing a handful of R33 GT-Rs legally into the U.S. MotoRex and its history of importing more than just a few R33s is a story for another day, however, because it also brought in R32s and even R34 models.
The car used in the film was originally white with black graphics but was painted yellow in the end. There were discussions about whether or not the car should even be in the film, and Lieberman seemed to hint the car definitely deserved a spot. There was a catch. Since it would have been extremely expensive to air freight duplicate R33s for the movie, only the single car was used for just a few shots. There was also worries of upstaging Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and his hero car, the Toyota Supra with the GT-R.
Now, what happened to the exact car used? It was imported on a temporary basis at the time, and frankly, it was forgotten about at MotoRex. Morris raced the car a handful of times, blew the engine, and then decided to sell the MotoRex car to a buyer in Georgia. That buyer never put the car back together as intended, so it was then purchased by someone in Wisconsin. Eventually, bureaucracy got the best of the GT-R. After the Wisconsin owner got VINs for the R33 GT-R and another GT-R, the government swooped in and charged the individual with modifying VINs on vehicles and frankly a lot of things that don’t sound very nice.
Thus, in a plea deal, the yellow R33 GT-R was confiscated and crushed. Leon’s car is, unfortunately, gone.