Vin Diesel, the frontman of the Fast and Furious franchise didn’t plan on returning for any sequels. He needed some persuading to reprise his role as Dominic Toretto, the hotheaded leader of the series’ team of heroes. After making a cameo appearance in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, director Justin Lin talked him into coming back for the fourth installment. After eighteen years and nine films later, the rest is history.
In a quote provided by the Los Angeles Times, Lin said, “Vin’s a big Dungeons & Dragons guy, and we talked about what this franchise lacked: a mythology.” Having created a world full of characters, themes, and cars audiences love, the creators have also managed to stir up tales that caught on with the public.
Many of these tales have gone through a proverbial polygraph in which the filmmakers themselves have either verified or denied their validity. With so many fans loyal to their favorite cars seen on screen, the number of tall tales to come out of this franchise are abundant. There are, however, a handful that end up being true.
We’re going to comb through the entire Fast and Furious franchise from beginning to end and take a look at some of the legends to come out about cars, stunts, and actors. Then we’re going to look at whether they ended up being true in the end, or completely wrong based on what the actual filmmakers had to say about them.
When we say we’re looking at all the movies, we really mean every single one—which is why you should also check out things wrong with Tokyo Drift.
16 TRUE: THE FILM CREW BOUGHT AFTERMARKET PARTS ON EBAY
It may surprise some viewers to learn this, but the filmmakers didn’t always buy from the original manufacturer for parts. Being that the cars required lots of mods and extra work, the team was always in the market for car parts.
According to Fast and Furious Facts, they made many of the car mod decisions based on budget. That means they often had to turn to cheaper, aftermarket parts. For the Civics used in the original film, technical advisor Craig Lieberman said they bought $50 mufflers off eBay. Tuners might feel like they have more in common with the filmmakers after learning this.
15 TRUE: AUTOMAKERS LOAN OUT CARS FOR THE FILMMAKERS TO USE
The filmmakers weren’t completely left on their own when it came to making the cars for the movies. Automakers at times lent a helping hand. After all, they wanted their cars to appear in major blockbusters everyone would see. One such example includes Mitsubishi, which loaned out many 2002 Evo VIIs. One of the advisors on the film reports that the cars didn’t have taillights, however, so the crew still had their hands full in making the cars look the part (Fast and Furious Facts).
For those who don’t recall, this car featured in 2 Fast 2 Furious that both Brian and Tej drove.
14 TRUE: VIN DIESEL HAD TROUBLE FITTING INTO A CAR
When audiences see Vin Diesel and the cast in action on screen, they believe these actors really are professional drivers. Not only do the actors make their roles convincing, but the filmmakers do a good job of making them look the part. As much as audiences believe these actors really love cars and know their way around them though, every once in a while there’s slippage.
According to Fast and Furious Facts, a technical advisor named Craig Lieberman confirms that Diesel had trouble fitting inside the RX-7 at first. Part of that had to do with the roll cage though, and once they took it out he had no problem getting in.
13 TRUE: CARS GET PAINTED AND MODIFIED…THEN CHANGED BACK AGAIN
When audiences see cars they love (and loathe) on screen, it’s easy to imagine them always being that way. In reality, though, they’re presented in a final state that took a long time to reach. The work that goes into these cars in making them look the way they want them to is much more drastic than many might realize at first.
For example, Letty’s 240SX went through major changes before the cameras rolled. According to Fast and Furious Facts, Craig Lieberman, who worked on the film, said it got a new paint job and a body kit. After filming, some cars even get repainted again either for new owners or for use in the next film.
12 TRUE: SOME OF THE CARS END UP IN MUSEUMS, OTHERS ROT AWAY
While some of the cars used in the films managed to make it into museums, others rotted away. One that made it into a museum was Brian’s 1995 Eclipse according to the site Hollywood Star Cars Museum reports, for example.
The Civics from the first film, however, fell on the opposite end of the spectrum. According to a technical advisor who worked on the film, as per Fast and Furious Facts, the production team treated these cars as if they were “disposable.” As a result, the film crew weren’t afraid to drive these into the ground and constantly threw them on and off trailers.
11 TRUE: SOME CARS JUST NEEDED A LITTLE PUSH WHEN THE CAMERAS ROLLED
Just because a car is in a scene and looks like it’s running doesn’t mean it actually is. In the case of the 240SX and RX-7 in certain shots, as per Fast and Furious Facts, the engines were completely off even though the sound effects suggested otherwise. An example includes the race wars scene.
According to technical advisor Craig Lieberman, when both the 240SX and RX-7 roll up to the starting line, there’s really a whole crew pushing the cars from behind, hidden from view. While it may not seem very glamorous or practical, that’s the kind of work that goes into making a film, which often entails preserving the illusion.
10 TRUE: LEGENDARY RACER KEIICHI TSUCHIYA MAKES A CAMEO APPEARANCE IN TOKYO DRIFT
He may not be as big of a name as Vin Diesel, but the car community may know Keiichi Tsuchiya for his exploits. While the actors and characters in Tokyo Drift aren’t really racers, the film did feature Tsuchiya, who knows his way around a race car. Instead of being behind a car though, the racer actually played the role of what Top Speed confirms was a fisherman.
In the movie, he even made fun of Sean Boswell, the main character of the movie while he attempted to improve his drifting skills. That makes the cameo all the more meta considering Tsuchiya’s background.
9 TRUE: MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ FOUND OUT WHEN AUDIENCES DID
It would seem that even the cast of these movies don’t get a heads up when filmmakers make decisions involving their characters’ fates. Even though Letty bit the dust early on in the series, the producers behind the movies found a way to bring Michelle Rodriguez back for future installments.
They revealed this development in a post-credits scene and Rodriguez confirms an intriguing detail: she had no idea her character was back from the dead. Unlike actors who suddenly get written off in an off-screen death, Rodriguez must have been pleasantly surprised to find out she’d be back in a money-making franchise (Top Speed).
8 FALSE: THEY PUT AN AUDIO SYSTEM INTO DOM’S MAZDA RX-7
How things look in a movie are not always as they are in real life. The filmmakers behind the franchise have done a good job of showing viewers cool cars with even cooler mods, but it’s often with a caveat. In the first film, audiences become familiar with Dom and his Mazda RX-7 with its recognizable Veilside body kit. Many will even remember the awesome sound system in the car.
According to Craig Lieberman, who was a technical advisor on the first three movies, shots of the sound system were really of a different car entirely (Fast and Furious Facts).
7 FALSE: THE PRODUCERS CAN GET ANY CAR THEY WANT
Fast and Furious may be a major film franchise, but it doesn’t mean that any car is available for use. One of the nicest cars to end up in the Furious 7 was the 2014 Lykan HyperSport. It wasn’t the original car the filmmakers wanted though. They had hoped to get a LaFerrari. “You have to have owned a number of Ferraris before, and get approved by Ferrari to buy one…it’s not the kind of car you can just walk in and write a check for,” said Dennis McCarthy, as per Top Gear.
Despite all the amazing cars these films showcase, the legend that they can get any car they want isn’t true.
6 FALSE: ALL THE SUPRAS THE FILMMAKERS USED HAD TURBOCHARGERS
It may not have been around as long as Dom’s Charger throughout the series, but one could argue it’s just as memorable. Brian’s 1994 Toyota Supra Turbo was special because of its turbocharged engine, when really not all the cars on screen actually had turbochargers.
According to Craig Lieberman, who worked on the original film as a technical advisor, they had four cars total that looked like the Supra. Only one of them actually had a turbocharger though. As an added bonus, the car wasn’t even orange, to begin with, but yellow when they first rented it out (Fast and Furious Facts).
5 FALSE: CARS HAD ACTUAL NITROUS SYSTEMS HOOKED UP
Every film series has its recurring devices in the story. In the Fast and Furious franchise, it’s nitrous oxide systems. It all started when Brian O’Conner had it in the first film during a street race. It later becomes a reference by Letty, Dom, and others.
There’s something of a legend surrounding this series that filmmakers use real NOS in cars they film with. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. According to Craig Lieberman, at least when it comes to the first three films, real NOS tanks were never used in the actual cars during filming to the disappointment of fans.
4 FALSE: ALL THE CARS ARE “REAL”
While some cars are actually made using CGI, most of the cars audiences see on the screen are real. What does that mean exactly? They have a working engine and will get drivers from point A to point B. Not all of them are as they seem on the surface though. Top Gear reports that all the cars get stripped of their engine and instead replaced with a Dodge or Chevy V8.
With that understanding, then, it’s clear that the cars are not actually real as in whether they’re factory. It’s more accurate to say all the cars are stock since Dennis McCarthy and his team work on them.
3 FALSE: THE FILM CREW TREATED THE CARS WELL DURING PRODUCTION
A warning to car enthusiasts: the following may hurt to know. There are many fans of the films who become fond of the vehicles that appear on-screen. Take the heist civics, for example. These cars were lesser than what would come later in the series but featured near the beginning of the original film. With it being the first film and still early on in the franchise, these cars ended up going the way many do throughout the series: forsaken.
According to the technical advisor on the film, the cars weren’t treated well and ended up stowed away in a California warehouse covered in dirt (Fast and Furious Facts).
2 FALSE: LUCAS BLACK WAS GOING TO REPLACE PAUL WALKER
The jury is still out on this one, meaning it could technically still happen. Though the news first circulated in the lead up to The Fate of the Furious, that movie has come and gone so enough time has passed to warrant this inclusion. Paul Walker’s sudden and unfortunate passing not only struck a blow to the cast on a personal level but also put the franchise’s future in doubt.
The filmmakers were exploring ideas on what they could do, including what Christian Today suggests was replacing Paul Walker with Lucas Black. In retrospect, it seems appropriate considering Black’s role in Tokyo Drift, but never happened.
1 FALSE: VIN DIESEL BIT THE DUST AFTER A FAILED STUNT ATTEMPT
The rumor mill churns out the craziest things. One that came out of the Fast and Furious franchise had to do with its lead star, Vin Diesel. PolitiFact reports that a rumor went around that Diesel met a tragic end after failing to perform a stunt while on set. For one, stunt doubles tend to take on many of the major stunts in the Fast and Furious films. Secondly, it was an outright false report.
Unfortunately rumors plague actors all the time in this business, even going so far as to fake their deaths. We hope and expect there to be more Fast and Furious films starring Diesel for years to come.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Fast and Furious Facts, Top Gear, PolitiFact, Christian Today, Top Speed