FAST & FURIOUS 6
Vehicular Warfare: Muscle Meets Sophistication
Although Fast Five embraced the elements of a
heist-driven plot, the cars remained at the forefront of
the full-throttle driving that fans have come to expect
from the franchise. The testosterone-fueled Dodge
Chargers hauling a vault through the streets of Rio
were emblazoned in movie memory and set the bar
extraordinarily high for action in Fast & Furious 6.
Independent of its European setting, the filmmakers
would not consider making another Fast film without
incorporating American muscle cars in the film's fleet.
Classics including a 1969 DODGE
DAYTONA (Dom), 1971 MARK-
1 FORD ESCORT (Brian) and a
1969 FORD ANVIL MUSTANG
(Roman) would end up sharing
the road with sexy European
models like the 1970 JENSEN
INTERCEPTOR (Letty), 2012
ASTON MARTIN DB9 (Shaw)
and a 2012 LUCRA LC470 (Tej)
based on the stunning 1960s Lister
Jaguar race car.
Also joining the frenetic
fray is the 2012 ALFA ROMEO
GIULIETTA (Brian), the sultry
Italian replica 2002 ENZO FERRARI (Tej) and
a powerful arsenal of military vehicles (Hobbs'
NAVISTAR MXT and a modified 10-ton CHIEFTAIN
TANK based on the World War I-era 42-ton version) as
the chase kicks into high gear throughout Europe.
Motorcycles also return to get a piece of the action.
A HARLEY-DAVIDSON (Han), a Ducati Monster
(Gisele) and a KTM 690 DUKE burn some rubber on
the streets of London and Tenerife.
Dom's 2010 DODGE CHALLENGER, Brian's
2010 NISSAN GT-R and the stalwart vault-hauling
2012 DODGE CHARGER return to the fold, along
with other contemporary street racers like the
SUBARU BRZ, 2008 BMW M5, MERCEDES-BENZ
G-WAGON and 2012 (as well as the classic) RANGE
ROVER, among others.
Picture car coordinator DENNIS McCARTHY
(Fast Five, Fast & Furious and The Fast and the
Furious: Tokyo Drift) is a frequent Lin collaborator,
now on his fourth tour of duty with the franchise, and
oversees all aspects of the film's fleet of cars. He is an
admitted muscle-car fan who is in auto heaven when
culling the short list of cars for films.
Lin and McCarthy's desire to keep all car selections
organic to the story and incorporate as many classic cars as possible into the film's mix of vehicles became
easier with Morgan's technocentric plot points. One
of Shaw's gadgets can cripple any new model car by
disabling its embedded computer chip, the brains of
any modern-day racer. In fact, one of the more sweat-inducing action sequences has Dom's team discovering
firsthand how the device works. Dom and the crew take
the offensive -- not to mention the millions of dollars at
their disposal -- and procure stunning old-school rides,
thus maintaining the tradition of including American
heavy metal in every film.
Among those American classics, the 1969 Dodge
Daytona Charger was the standout. The Daytona, a prime
example of American heavy-metal craftsmanship, was
a car that McCarthy had been trying to slide into the
franchise since he began work on Tokyo Drift. A fan of
the Dodge as well, Lin understood McCarthy's desire to
utilize the car, and the director finally found a scenario
that worked the car into the film. Recalls Lin: "I felt
that it was time to look at the Daytona for Dom, but it
wasn't until we went on a location scout in Europe that
it hit me. To see the ultimate symbol of an American
muscle car racing through the streets of London would
be unbelievable. This had to be Dom's car."
Diesel, too, was excited about
the prospect of Dom driving the
Daytona, which added pressure
to McCarthy to deliver the
car everyone expected. Says
McCarthy: "Over the years, one of
the toughest things about selecting
a car for Dom is that I have to top
it with something cooler in the
next film. There's nothing that says
'Dom' more than this car; it's the
real deal. If you want a muscle car
that's going to compete with exotic
European cars at high speeds, this
is the right choice."
Diesel was over the moon to
have the 1969 Daytona cast in the film. He was familiar
with the history of the winged aerodynamic beauty,
whose record high speeds got it banned from the
NASCAR racetrack in late 1970. The performer says,
"I was ecstatic because the Daytona is so unique and
there is such a history. In the same way that Dom went
ballistic on somebody at the track and was banned, so
was this Daytona. That's what's great about Dennis.
He's always thinking about Dom's character, the car,
their identities and how they're similar."
Thoughtfulness aside, McCarthy and his de part-
ment actually had to build their Daytonas. The cost
was prohibitive to buy nine of the classic cars, which
is what the two film units would need for filming.
Purchasing a single pristine 1969 Daytona could easily
cost upwards of $500,000, so the team began their own
assembly line, which gave the filmmakers the freedom
to customize each car to a specific task. The goal was
to re-create the styling of this model Daytona but have
the performance, power, reliability and drivability of a
2012 Charger or Challenger under the hood. Fiberglass
molds for the rear wing and the nose of the Aerocar
were fabricated, and a new SRT8 motor out of a 2012
Challenger with a six-speed transmission was added.
The majority of the Fast & Furious 6 cars were
built in McCarthy's Los Angeles-based shop and
then shipped across the U.S. before making the trans-
Atlantic trek by ship to the U.K. Often, the logistics of
completing the work on the vehicles and the shipping
times could be a nail-biter for both McCarthy and the
filmmakers, as the production was on a tight deadline to
start filming with both units in separate locations. There
were a couple of close calls but, all in all, McCarthy's
babies made it across the pond.
"The logistics of what Dennis and his team were
able to accomplish were absolutely astonishing," says
producer Townsend. "Not only was this team able to
modify these vehicles, they were laser-focused with the
production and shipping schedules. To the audience,
the way that Dom, Brian and the gang acquire these
amazing vehicles looks seamless and extremely quick.
That's 100 percent due to the outstanding gearheads we
have on both sides of the camera."
Each chapter of the Fast films has a standout
automobile that resonates with audiences across the
globe. In Fast & Furious 6, the Flip Car, a highly
functionalized one-of-a-kind machine, is that stellar
piece of art. It was Lin who came up with the idea of
a specialized vehicle that could
plow through oncoming traffic.
As the script evolved, the Flip Car
went through several incarnations,
and with each refinement, Lin,
McCarthy and the team got more
and more excited.
McCarthy explains what all the
fuss is about: "The Flip Car is the
one car Justin was the most adamant
about. He called me early on asking
for something that could run head-
on into vehicles and launch them
into the air, which is a great idea.
It's a pretty spectacular visual. So
I started sending him mock-ups.
My favorite cars are all about pure function. Granted, it
looks super cool, but that wasn't the original intent. It's
basically built for function, and that was the fun part.
We are thrilled with the way it performs."
Driven by both Shaw and Vegh in the film, the final
version of the Flip Car is a low-profile 3,600-lb., three-
seat, heavy-metal-exposed skeletal-framed car with an
angled ramp-like nose that is able to easily dispatch
a vehicle into the air. The build, which took up to 10
weeks to create, is ostensibly a Formula One race car
base retrofitted with a supercharged Chevrolet LS3
500-horsepower engine for speed. It includes four-
wheel rear steering for stunning maneuverability and
the ability to wreak havoc on any car in its path.
Ultimately, the production would need to build two
additional Flip Cars to accommodate the simultaneous
shooting schedules for both film units. Luckily, once
the specs were set and all the specialty parts were
manufactured for the initial car, the build times clocked
in at three weeks. Talk about your Formula One.
From aesthetics and functionality to maneuverability and safety, the Flip Car had to satisfy a
number of criteria. To ensure the safety of stunt players
while executing solid practical action, the second unit team of director SPIRO RAZATOS, second unit stunt
coordinator ANDY GILL and special effects supervisor
JOSS WILLIAMS, an Academy Award winner for
Hugo, tested every car and stunt rig multiple times
prior to filming.
When it came to the Flip Car, they quickly realized
that because of the way that McCarthy designed and
constructed it, they wouldn't need to wholly rely on a
pipe ramp -- a device that normally can launch a car
in the air and flip it. "We were pleasantly surprised to
discover the Flip Car really could flip the police cars
higher than the pipe ramp did," Razatos provides.
"Amazingly, the footage in Fast & Furious 6 is actually
the Flip Car driving head-on at the police cars. So two
of our stunt drivers were going head-on with each other,
and it all really happened."
The Flip Car continued to exceed expectations and
pro ceeded to contribute to the film's graveyard of several
hundred totaled cars. Although Walker eyed the car
throughout filming, he never got the chance to take her
out for a spin. Evans, however, was lucky enough to drive
her, as the cockpit of the car was built to accommodate
Evans' 6'1" frame. Good thing stunt drivers MARK
HIGGINS (a U.K. rally driving champion) and TILLY
POWELL have a similar build
to the Welsh actor, as it isn't
easy to get in or out of the
Still, Walker had his shot at
a number of the gorgeous autos.
Anyone who has worked with
Walker knows he's an avowed
gearhead who has always had
an affinity for cars; it's in his
DNA. Recalls Walker: "I was
indoctrinated early on by my
grandfather, who was real
mechanical and always had car
magazines lying around. He
was a Ford guy and realized
that he just had a knack for making things better. Back
then in Southern California, the best way to showcase
your ability mechanically was to get behind the wheel
of a car and drag race or go to the racetrack. So he'd
get behind the wheel of the car and he'd race. He had
the first Ford Falcon to break 160-plus mph, which was
really a feat at the time."
Over the course of Walker's five films in this
franchise, he's always had input into Brian O'Conner's
cars, which have primarily been Nissans. In this chapter,
however, he gives a nod to his grandfather and drives
the vintage 1971 Mark 1 Ford Escort, the premier rally
car of its time, in the tank sequence.
Another mainstay of every Fast film is the
underground tuner party, the freewheeling bacchanal
where car owners showcase their customized,
supercharged eye candy and driving skills -- set to the
backdrop of stunningly beautiful women. From the
gritty late night processions of cars in East Los Angeles
to the jam-packed multilevel parking garages in the
Shinjuku section of Tokyo, the car culture is alive and
kicking in every corner of the world.
London's underground tuner party has a decided
sophistication to it and its high-end exotics fit in perfectly with the regal stone architecture of the HM
Treasury building, where filming took place over the
course of two very cold nights. Located several blocks
from the official residence of the prime minister, 10
Downing Street, the loud music, hot girls and revving
car engines livened up the night.
The challenge for McCarthy was finding enough
luxury cars whose owners were willing to have
hundreds of extras dance on and manhandle their
prized possessions. "I like to fill those party scenes
with the best cars we possibly can, and London was
a little trickier than most as far as acquiring them,"
reveals McCarthy. "London has a huge car culture,
but it's not L.A. Open casting calls for cars are not
going to pull 200 car owners like we're used to. Public
transportation is essential in London, so cars aren't as
plentiful. It was a much lengthier process but, once
again, the end result was great."
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