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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 vehicular weapon.

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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