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“The Fast and the Furious” may have been built around tuner cars, but a muscle car stole the show in the 2001 hit movie’s final minutes. The Dodge Charger became one of the most iconic cars in the franchise, with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto driving some form of Charger in almost every subsequent movie. Craig Lieberman, technical advisor for “The Fast and the Furious” has the full story on that original Charger.
Four or five cars were used in filming, according to Lieberman. Most were 1970 models, but at least one car was a 1969 Charger, he said. As is often the case in movies, different cars are modified for specific stunts or shots.
The massive supercharged engine seen when Toretto first reveals the Charger was borrowed from a Midwest engine builder and only used for one closeup shot, according to Lieberman. The alcohol-injected engine was based on a 1950s-era 392 Hemi V-8, but was bored and stroked to 445 cubic inches.
Drag race scene from ‘The Fast and the Furious’
However, that engine was only for show. The cars did use Mopar engines, but they were either 383 or 440 V-8s, Lieberman said, noting that there is still some confusion over which engines were used. The sounds used in the movie are from a naturally aspirated Hemi. The lack of supercharger whine is a giveaway.
The superchargers seen on the cars in the rest of the movie are fake too, as is the wheelie Toretto pulls in the final drag race. The car was lifted up using nitrogen tanks, and smoke was added to make things more dramatic. At the end of the race the Charger was flipped using a hidden ramp.
At least two of the cars survived intact, according to Lieberman. One is owned by Universal Pictures and another is in a private collection in Italy. A wrecked stunt car also appeared at a Mecum auction in 2015. As for future films, a second-generation Charger can be glimpsed in the trailer for “Fast and Furious 9” whose release has been delayed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.