News Culture

How Hollywood Chose and Built the Cars for The Fast and the Furious

The movie's producers made an iconic street racing film with less than $2 million worth of cars—no easy task, as one explains here.

As important as 2001’s The Fast and the Furious was to car culture, there’s a better time and place for a commentary on the landmark film. You’re here because you want to know how Paul Walker ended up in a Toyota Supra, Vin Diesel in a Dodge Charger, and “2JZ, no shit” in Chad Lindberg’s mouth.

It all has its roots in the influence of a fellow named Craig Lieberman, who was brought aboard the production as a “technical advisor” when its script was still titled Redline. Lieberman was tasked with identifying the best “tuner” cars at the turn of the millennium and then weeding out which cars would be too expensive or difficult to acquire. That meant that the Nissan Skyline GT-R (R33)—originally considered a candidate for Paul Walker’s car—was out, leaving the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4, an RB-swapped Nissan 240SX, and the Toyota Supra (of course).

Lieberman explained the acquisition process in a newly released video on his YouTube channel, which outlines how F&F changed the way Hollywood treated movie cars—a necessity given the film’s surprisingly small budget. Despite estimates that the movie would cost $50 million at bare minimum to make, only $38 million or so was earmarked for production, just $2 million of which would be allotted to cars—mods, transportation, even gas included. That meant that the production couldn’t simply buy and modify every car it needed for the film; it instead rented the “hero” cars and built bottom-dollar replicas out of “beaters” bought off eBay. Many were automatic and had tinted windows so you couldn’t see the lack of Greddy gauges or N2O tanks.

Care to hear the details in full? Listen to Lieberman himself explain how Universal Studios selected, bought, and built the cars needed for the first Fast. It’s an enthralling video, even if you’re not the type who has to rub their eyes when Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again comes on.