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The Need for Muscle Cars and Super Cars
Casting requisites on "Need for Speed" extended far beyond the principal actors. The filmmakers needed to select and locate cars that would deliver the right look, attitude and performance on screen.

For decades, cars have been a vital part of American culture. There is a strong association between drivers and their vehicles and they are often seen as an extension of ourselves, representing who a person is and what they stand for.

"As a teenager you define yourself not by when you can vote, but by when you can drive," says Waugh. In the end, a variety of classic '70s muscle cars and pricey European super cars were chosen. The film starts off in Mt. Kisco, New York, which is a blue-collar town with hard-working Americans and the sort of culture that has always gravitated toward muscle cars, and many of the super cars have been featured in the video games.

"Whether you like muscle cars, super cars or anything in between, this movie will satisfy 'Need for Speed' fans," says O'Brien.

The Mustang that Tobey and Julia drive en route to The De Leon was designated the film's hero car. The "it" car of 1964 symbolizing freedom, romance and America, the Mustang launched the American muscle car movement and went on to become a worldwide icon.

Once Ford Motors heard about the film and the significance of the Mustang to the story, they were eager to get involved. The company worked with production to design a special "Need for Speed" Mustang based on the 2013 Shelby GT500. Carroll Shelby, a legendary American racer turned car designer who created the performance-based Mustang for Ford in 1965, had been working on the 50th anniversary edition when he passed away in 2012.

Ford was intrigued by the premise and collaborated with the filmmakers to style a car they hoped was similar to what Shelby would have created. Both parties wanted to respect the vision Shelby might have made without making it look too futuristic, but they did keep two of Shelby's signature design elements, the blue stripes and chrome. According to Waugh, "If you wanted a Mustang you always wanted the Shelby Mustang because it was an amazing car."

The frame was altered by celebrated Ford designer Melvin Betancourt and built by Techno Sports in Detroit. Some of the alterations made to the "Need for Speed" Mustang include: a wider body, 20-inch alloy wheels (to help facilitate easier stunts for the stunt drivers), and a V8 engine topping out at 190 miles per hour. The interior console was adapted to accommodate an iPad for Tobey to use when communicating with his crew and when monitoring the Monarch, and the futuristic side-view mirrors were turned into cameras.

Seven different Mustangs were eventually built, each serving specific purposes ranging from beauty shots, stunts and driving shots to a model that could be lifted by and hang from a helicopter.

In addition to the Mustang, other iconic American muscle cars featured in the film were the '69 Ford Gran Torino, '68 Chevy Camaro and '66 Pontiac GTO.

One of the focal points in both the crucial race between Tobey, Dino and Little Pete and the climactic showdown at The De Leon are the European super cars. They include a Swedish Koenigsegg Agera R, a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, a GTA Spano, a Bugatti Veyron and McLaren P1, all of which were featured in the video games, and a Saleen S7.

Multiples of each super car were needed for use when shooting as well, each one serving specific purposes as well and each one getting rigged to accept camera platforms. But due to their exorbitant price tags (over $1 million apiece) and the fact that they could not be placed in situations where damage was possible, the cars would have to be built.

"There are only a few super cars in the world and they're not really camera-friendly," explains Waugh. "You're not going to drill into the side of a two-and-a-half-million-dollar car ... they're art pieces, that's what everyone forgets. You're going to replicate it to wreck it so the real one is still there."

Luckily the manufacturers were enthusiastic to get involved and shared confidential CAD specs with Reel Industries in Los Angeles who then created 15 chasses and fiberglass shells for each make and model which could then be swapped out.

The Koenigsegg, Bugatti and McLaren all had 105-inch wheel bases, the Lamborghini a 101-inch wheel base, and the Spano a 100-inch wheel base; and with the Koenigsegg, a high-performance mid-engine two-seater which can reach speeds up to 270 miles per hour, 10 cars were needed.

Three camera cars were also used during principal photography for unique moves the script called for, which were a Mercedes Benz with a 24-foot telescopic Russian arm, a Porsche Cayenne used to push or pull a picture car, and a Saleen-supercharged Mustang.

The sidekick to Tobey's Mustang in the film, The Beast, is driven by Joe Peck (Rodriquez) and Finn (Malek) on the cross-country trip. The Beast, along with the helicopter flown by Benny (Mescudi), are Tobey's eyes and ears as he races towards The De Leon starting line. Picture Car Coordinator Steve Mann and his crew constructed it from a Ford F-450 truck raising it seven inches and outfitting it with giant 37-inch tires, a utility bed, and new front and back bumpers.

Mann and his team of mechanics had to complete restorations on a number of vehicles prior to and during production and in short amounts of time when the cars were damaged. One day they were restoring Tobey's Gran Torino from the ground up and on another day taking apart a crashed GTO and putting it on another frame. "It's unheard of what these guys can do," says Mann, "but they are great mechanics who feed off adrenaline and thrive under this kind of pressure."

Pod cars, which are duplicates of the race cars designed so the actors can sit behind the wheel and deliver dialogue while a stunt driver steers remotely, were also used during production. The portion of the pod with the stunt driver's seat and controls is a cage mounted outside the body of the car that places the stunt driver above and behind the actor. The pod cars were driven by famed precision drivers Tanner Foust, the most successful driver in X Games history and a world record holder for the longest jump in a car, and Rhys Millen, a Formula D champion and two-time world record holder for speed. They were joined by professional high-performance drivers Rich Rutherford, Tony Brakohiapa, Brent Fletcher and Paul Dallenbach. The six drivers drove the super cars in The De Leon as well.

According to Foust, who races cars for Ford and Rock Star and is a host of "Top Gear USA," "The pods are scary. You have a very fast car but with a pod mounted on the back, so it's like strapping yourself to the ski rack of a sports car and driving it from that position."

He continues, "The steering can be rather challenging too, especially when you're going door-to-door with a bunch of other cars at 100 miles per hour and you have an actor inside the car with you as well. There's a lot of pressure."

It was scary for the actors as well, but on a different level, as they were racing in cars reaching high speeds but with someone else sitting behind them doing the driving.

Cooper explains, "At first it is absolute terror, particularly if you're someone who enjoys driving as much as I do. The first time around I had my foot slammed against the brake pedal purely on instinct hoping it would help but knowing it did nothing. But you know the guys in the pod are a billion times better drivers than you, so eventually you begin to let go and trust."

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